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Offering some basic advice on how the electricity is laid out in your home. Even though it is almost always best to leave it to someone who knows what they are doing, every home owner should learn how their house is wired. This will stop them from overloaded their electrical sockets.

Development of home entertainment and home computers have led to two places where you are likely to have several appliances connected to multi-gang adapters, if you pay some attention to how your house is wired up, you may reconsider this.


The electricity sockets in your home are wired in one of two way, either on the ring main or on a spur. It can be important to know which socket is wired in which way.

The ring main is the most typical circuit. This is due both to the inherent safety offered by a ring main and for the simple fact that it is cheap and simple to set up.

Essentially a ring main is a long cable which runs from the breaker or fuse box to the first socket. Then it continues to the next and so on until it has served all of the sockets and then it returns to the breaker or fuse box. This is where the name comes from, the electrical circuit runs in a ring, usually one per floor of the property.

To the layman, this layout can seem quite odd, but it is in fact safer and simple. It provides for a reduced load on all of the cables. Each circuit is protected from overload by a thirty two amp circuit breaker (or in older boxes a thirty amp fuse). As with every electrical installation in the UK, there are strict rules dictated by building regulations about how these circuits are laid out.

Part of an electrician's job will involve ensuring that these circuits are in good working order, properly and safely distributing electrical power around your home. This allows you to use everything from your home computer to your desk lamp and everything in between.

An single ring main can typically serve a property of one hundred square meters of area. Theoretically there is no limit to the number of electrical sockets on a ring main, but there is a limit to the length of cable used. This is dictated both by physics and the law.

Extensions added to a ring main using a single length cable are called spurs. These are connected to the ring main either at a socket or a junction box. Using a junction box is more flexible as it allows connection at any point of the ring main.

Each spur can have only one electrical socket or fused connection, for safety as any more can overload the cicuit. You can put as many spurs on a ring as there are sockets, but this should be plenty for any home.

Contact your local electrician to find out more about how your home is wired up and how to safely connect all of those devices sat in the corner of your living room.

Remeber, just because it doesn't blow a fuse when you turn everything on, it doesn't mean that it is necessarily safe.

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