Calculate the risk of overloading electrical sockets

01 March 2013

Socket Calculator

The Electrical Safety Council (ESC) has developed an online ‘Socket Overload Calculator’, so that householders can check the electrical appliances in their homes.  It was created in response to concerns raised by a number of Fire & Rescue Services about householders overloading their electrical sockets and causing easily avoidable fire risks in their homes.

The ESC’s interactive calculator is simple to use. It shows the power that is used by a range of typical household appliances, such as a TV or hairdryer, and helps people to find out what is safe to plug into a four-way bar adaptor and which combinations are potentially dangerous.

Most people have extension leads in their homes, using adaptors to increase the number of appliances that they can plug into a wall socket. But to avoid the risk of overheating and possibly fire, you should never plug into an extension lead or socket appliances that together use more than 13 amps or 3000 watts of energy. 

Just because there is space to plug in more than one appliance into an extension lead does not mean it is always safe to do so, with different electrical appliances using different amounts of power.

The ESC’s Head of Communications, Emma Apter, added:

“Most people use extension leads in their homes to enable them to plug more appliances into one wall socket. But what many people don’t consider is that there is a limit to the amount of power that can be plugged into a single socket.“When these sockets are overloaded it creates a fire risk, and at worst could lead to house fires, severe injuries or even death.“The Socket Overload Calculator makes it easy to see how much power TVs and other appliances are using and find out which combinations are too much in a fun and interactive way. But while using the calculator may be fun, the consequences of ignoring the advice it gives could be very real. We urge people to give it a go – it may save your life.”

The ESC is using the Socket Overload Calculator to promote electrical safety as part of its Appliance Safety Campaign to raise awareness of the wider issues of the misuse of electrical appliances.

To use the online calculator go to and plug in some everyday appliances to see if you are currently overloading your sockets and get some useful tips on how to avoid doing it in future.

For more information please contact Ben Stokes on 020 3463 5129 or at