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General Chat Thread, Daisy Chaining electrical extension/multiboxes etc in General; Common sense says it's dangerous. But is it illegal? I'm trying to find some documentation which confirms this. I can ...
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    kearton's Avatar
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    Daisy Chaining electrical extension/multiboxes etc

    Common sense says it's dangerous. But is it illegal? I'm trying to find some documentation which confirms this. I can find information on the web relevant to the USA, but not the UK. (e.g in the USA it's illegal to plug a multibox into another one. It's also illegal to use *one* for more than 90 days (i.e they're for temporary use only etc))

    Can anyone point me in the right direction for UK-specific info please?

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    Ric_'s Avatar
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    Re: Daisy Chaining electrical extension/multiboxes etc

    I believe that such a setup would not pass an electrical inspection... the sight test part alone!!!

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    Re: Daisy Chaining electrical extension/multiboxes etc

    Yes, but is there documentation somewhere which clearly states this?
    I thought I was getting close looking around the HSE website, but nothing concrete thus far...

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    Re: Daisy Chaining electrical extension/multiboxes etc

    It's a bad idea because the cable used in each splitter socket (or whatever you want to call it) is only designed to take the load of however many devices can be plugged into it (ie 2, 4, 6 etc)

    If you were to chain a second 4-socket splitter into the first one, and had devices plugged into all of the free sockets (so 7 devices) you're likely to overload the max. power rating for the cable in the first splitter (as in the one plugged into the wall) and get a burn or worse...a fire.

    I've seen it happen in the past where someone has done this and it's gotten too hot to touch!

    As for legality I'm not sure, common sense should rule on this one to be honest.

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    Re: Daisy Chaining electrical extension/multiboxes etc

    Quote Originally Posted by Joedetic
    It's a bad idea because the cable used in each splitter socket (or whatever you want to call it) is only designed to take the load of however many devices can be plugged into it (ie 2, 4, 6 etc)

    If you were to chain a second 4-socket splitter into the first one, and had devices plugged into all of the free sockets (so 7 devices) you're likely to overload the max. power rating for the cable in the first splitter (as in the one plugged into the wall) and get a burn or worse...a fire.

    I've seen it happen in the past where someone has done this and it's gotten too hot to touch!

    As for legality I'm not sure, common sense should rule on this one to be honest.
    Can't comment on the legality either

    As for overloading well that'd be quite difficult if you were in an office environment and everything connected to the leads was PC equipment and peripherals. Things like monitors draw a few hundred milliamps at most...in total you'd have to have an awful lot of PC equipment to overload a 13amp lead/socket. However plug a electric heater into that lot and all bets are off......NOT a good idbea.

    consider this, if you have no free electrical wall sockets to plug into
    getting a qualified spark to add another spur to a circuit for additional single or double gang socket is also a hell of a lot more costly than buying yet another extension lead to daisy chain what you already have.

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    Ric_'s Avatar
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    Re: Daisy Chaining electrical extension/multiboxes etc

    There is also the issue that it is a trip hazard which is definately against H&S regs.

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    Re: Daisy Chaining electrical extension/multiboxes etc

    Well, yes, if all you're running are things like PCs and lower powered devices then you're not going to run into much of a problem. But when it comes to kettles (which are quite often found in offices ), and maybe portable air con units (which some people use in server rooms) the amps start to rack up and in turn the power.

    If you were to speak to your site manager and ask about getting a quote it couldn't do any harm. It makes it a bit easier if you've already got a ring main in with dado-level trunking.

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    Re: Daisy Chaining electrical extension/multiboxes etc

    Quote Originally Posted by Joedetic
    Well, yes, if all you're running are things like PCs and lower powered devices then you're not going to run into much of a problem. But when it comes to kettles (which are quite often found in offices ), and maybe portable air con units (which some people use in server rooms) the amps start to rack up and in turn the power.

    If you were to speak to your site manager and ask about getting a quote it couldn't do any harm. It makes it a bit easier if you've already got a ring main in with dado-level trunking.
    In terms of cost I was referring to a home office, where you're equipment can easily mount up (adsl routers, hw firewalls, lamps etc.) and in a small room you may have only a single double gang socket. Adding additional power points isn't an issue if you know what you're doing or able to follow the correct guidelines. But if you're not comfortable doing it an additional extension lead is cheaper and less hassle. I use to cascade 2 4-way extension leads with portable electric heater and never had any problems - i know it's not anywhere close to extreme but my point is if you're sensible as to how you distribute you're load and don't go nuts then it's not a massive problem cacading up 2 or 3 extension leads.

    But as i mentioned electric heaters, and yes portable air condiitoing units could easily blow a fuse - so i'd be wary of certain equipment.

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    Re: Daisy Chaining electrical extension/multiboxes etc

    Quote Originally Posted by Joedetic
    It's a bad idea because the cable used in each splitter socket (or whatever you want to call it) is only designed to take the load of however many devices can be plugged into it (ie 2, 4, 6 etc)
    That is just not true. If the extension is rated at 13A, the cable is good for 13A. It is true that if you try to run 13A out of each socket you'll be in trouble, a few PCs and monitors will not present a problem. Very long leads should be avoided, but for different reasons.

    Our H&S advisers deprecate the indiscriminate use of extension leads. If you do a quick mental risk assessment you may well find them to be the most appropriate method to get a couple of extra sockets at a desk.
    Trip hazard? Any risk of heaters/kettles being added? All low load devices? Current PAT test? Made to BS (shouldn't be any that aren't, but check)?

    I have started de-rating the fuses in the few we have around as this guarantees that heaters don't get used in them.

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    Re: Daisy Chaining electrical extension/multiboxes etc

    I have decided to make the job of setting up laptop trolleys in each room a lot easier today.... by running a long extension lead from 1 corner of the room to the back of the room - right by the door. This prevents having to move desks / cause disruption when moving the trolley into and out of classrooms.

    I plan to cable tie the power lead (and accompanying network cable) at many intervals, and use sticky cable tie fixer pads to secure the cable to existing skirting boards etc.

    I'm not sure of the legality either, but each socket will have a sign on it saying "For laptop trolley use only" and will be securely attached as much as possible to a wall.

    Vandalism here is pretty much non-existant here (touch wood) - so bar a few people who "forget" to release the snag on the network cable when removing it, it should be ok!

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    Re: Daisy Chaining electrical extension/multiboxes etc

    The Electrical Equipment (Safety) Regulations have not changed since 1994

    So as far as "Legality" goes in the workplace the only requirement is that all electrical equipment must be "Safe".

    There really isn't any "LAW" against having 15 trailing sockets/extensions into each other as long as they are all "Safe".

    H&S is a totally different subject, it cannot encompass or regulate how a consumer/worker uses electrical appliances or installations.

    If you plug 3 leccy fires and a kettle into a 4 gang trailing lead with a 9 inch nail as a temporary fuse you will obviously be responsible of creating a hazard of immense magnitude and the H&S Inspectorate could close the premises.
    The only regulation you have broken however is to make an installation "Unsafe"

    Who classifies an installation as "Safe", well a suitably qualified person of course!

    I recently had to have a qualified electrician check my entire house and install a new consumer unit and a switched spur for a shower unit.

    It took him an entire day to test everything by removing all wall sockets and lightfixings.
    His magic leakage tester still detected a short circuit between L&N.
    As he was about to leave for the day after telling me my house was "Unsafe" I had to point out to him that his tester was no good whilst the transformer for my Dect Phone was still plugged in!
    As soon as I unplugged the transformer my house "Passed".

    £1200 pounds and 4 days later I had my Part P certificate.

    Then when I turned on my landing lights the main RCB blew!

    I called the electrician back after 4 hours of the electricity going on and off, I had to diagnose the fault myself.

    A previous house owner had used a split circuit to power the US landing lights.
    EG. The lights Neutral was taken from the US circuit, the Sw Live from downstairs.
    Now when operated the new RCB the "Qualified Electrician" Installed detects the potential difference and pops the RCB.

    The Electricians answer, cause another £1000 worth of wall chasing and make good damage just to run a 4 core cable from ground floor to loft.

    Pre 1994 solution would have been to sleeve a spare ground wire with a red sleeve and use this as the switched live.
    This he was not prepared to do as it was not "Safe".

    Accepted solution - Disable the US/DS landing two way switching so now we have to go upstairs in the dark to switch on the landing lights - which interestingly enough is in now in breach of building regulations.

    I now have 3 different Part P Certificates for the same job, I still can't switch my US landing lights on/off from downstairs.

    It's all complete load of "B@LL@XS!!".

    Electrical Safety is Common Sense, Standards can protect you up to the wall outlet, after that it's up to the idiot consumer what and how it is used!

    For those that want to know more, then here is some more bueracratic eyewash to ponder....
    http://www.berr.gov.uk/files/file38628.pdf
    http://www.berr.gov.uk/files/file34588.pdf
    http://www.berr.gov.uk/files/file39727.pdf

    What's the Polish for "Certified Electrician" and "Cowboy"

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    Re: Daisy Chaining electrical extension/multiboxes etc

    Quote Originally Posted by Joedetic
    It's a bad idea because the cable used in each splitter socket (or whatever you want to call it) is only designed to take the load of however many devices can be plugged into it (ie 2, 4, 6 etc)

    If you were to chain a second 4-socket splitter into the first one, and had devices plugged into all of the free sockets (so 7 devices) you're likely to overload the max. power rating for the cable in the first splitter (as in the one plugged into the wall) and get a burn or worse...a fire.
    Sorry, Joe, got to argue here. These things are almost always rated at 13A, which means 13A cable is used from the plug to the bar. And don't worry about the bar itself - I've seen inside enough of these, and the internal conductors are almost always solid metal busbars - a heck of a lot thicker than the cable conductors!

    To cause a problem, the total load on all the outlets would need to exceed 13A (assuming all adaptors are 13A rated).

    Granted, it's not the best of ideas, but it's not always a hideously dangerous thing to do. I wouldn't do it at work, but I wonder how many of us could run our technical home empires without using adaptors??

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    Re: Daisy Chaining electrical extension/multiboxes etc

    @Andrew_C: You're absolutely right that is just not true!! What I'm thinking and what I type appear to be two separate things these days. I meant to put something about subtle hints in design not to plug too many things in to reduce the risk of overloading or something like that. But in the end it's a moot point because this is part of the reason fuses were invented.

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    Re: Daisy Chaining electrical extension/multiboxes etc

    God what have I started.

    @crc-ict: I've seen someone powering several guitar amps, one of those big Yamaha electric pianos, some PA kit and some lighting from one 13A socket through the help of daisy chained splitter sockets so that's why I really don't like the idea. It was really getting very hot and I'm not exaggerating!

    Of course it's down to common sense, but come on....we're talking about the people that call up IT services and ask what to do when their monitor doesn't work and the answer is "turn it on at the wall."

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    Re: Daisy Chaining electrical extension/multiboxes etc

    I was told the main reason you shouldn't daisy chain extension cords was because for each plug socket the current passes through in a circuit, there is a certain amount of resistance placed in the circuit. Therefore too many chained together could introduce too much resistance into a circuit, affect the items plugged into it and also generate heat.

    Also use of the coiled up ones while still coiled is very dangerous if you overload them, as it will melt the cable and the fuse only blows when it's almost too late. Yes I've done it, yes I felt silly, but it goes to show how a momentory lapse of concentration almost led to disaster with extension cords. It was smoking away quite nicely when I discovered it, good job I was around as I'm sure it wasn't far from actually catching light when I caught it!

    Saying that, several aeas of my house have extension leads plugged into extension leads, and I know of a lot of areas in the school were this is the case, particularly when they use the laptop trollys and run extension leads round the classrooms to keep them going when they've previously not been charged! We keep advising against it, but it still happens no matter what we say.

    As for the legalities of it, I seriously doubt that it is actually illegal, if it was I'm sure we would be aware of it. It is definitely not adviseable, and it dead against the advise issued in leaflets included with any extension lead.

    Mike.

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