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Safety Tips on Universal Socket-Outlets
Universal socket-outlets are intended to accommodate a variety of plug types used in countries outside of Singapore. These universal socket-outlets are commonly installed in hotels and other locations where international visitors are prevalent.
Examples of Universal Socket-Outlets
However, universal socket outlets pose certain risks, and should not be installed in homes for daily use.
Dangers involved with the use of Universal Socket-Outlets
i. Risk of electrical shock
Due to the nature of universal socket outlets requiring them to accommodate different plug configurations, they typically do not have safety shutters to protect users from touching the live contacts. The use of un-shuttered socket-outlets in households and similar locations is prohibited under Singapore’s Code of Practice for Electrical Installations - SS 638 specifically cl 553.1.201L, due to unimpeded access to live parts within the socket-outlets.
In addition, as universal socket outlets allow different plug types to be used, unsafe plug designs such as un-sleeved 2-pin plugs used for certain overseas appliances, could be connected. The un-sleeved pins could be accessible during plug insertion and withdrawal. These pins could potentially be live and if touched, could result in an electric shock.
The lack of shutters also allows for incomplete insertion of plugs, for example it is possible for only a single pin of a 2-pin “Europlug” to be inserted, leaving the other pin exposed and if touched, could result in an electric shock.
ii. Risk of fire
Some universal socket-outlet designs will accept plugs rated at 100 - 120 V AC for the connection of electrical equipment having a similar 100 - 120 V AC rating. Such electrical equipment, specifically those containing motors and heating elements such as hair dryers, travel irons and kettles, will not operate safely at 230 V AC. This could cause overheating and fire.
Purchase and installation of Universal Socket-Outlets
Switched socket-outlets are classified as Controlled Goods, regulated under the Consumer Protection (Safety Requirements) Regulations (CPSR). Controlled Goods are required to be tested to their relevant safety standards (i.e. SS 145 for socket outlets) as specified by the CPSO.
Universal socket-outlets will not be able to comply to the requirements stipulated in SS145, and therefore cannot be registered with a valid Safety Mark in Singapore.
Due to the serious potential hazards associated with universal socket outlets as outlined in this article, the CPSO warns consumers against installation and use of universal socket-outlets in homes.
Consumers are strongly encouraged to look out for a valid Safety Mark label when making purchase of any product that falls within any of the 33 Controlled Goods categories.
*Content compliments of BEAMA taken from their publication on Universal socket-outlets and thank you to Electrical Safety First for the use of images and references from their test report.
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