Students Staff

Electrical safety advice

The University has strict rules on the use of certain electrical items. This is necessary to protect staff and students from the risk of fire and electric shock. Please take time to read this guidance, as it will help to ensure you do not have the unnecessary expense of having to replace unsuitable equipment.

  • Connecting to the UK mains supply

    Photo of a UK three pin plug

    A UK three-pin plug.

    Only electrical items that operate between voltages of 220–240v and at a frequency of 50Hz are suitable for use in the UK. Equipment that operates on any other voltage and frequency may be damaged if connected to the UK mains electricity supply. To avoid damaging equipment that has been purchased overseas, please check the voltage and frequency (which will be marked on your equipment) before bringing it to the UK.

    Connection to the UK mains electricity supply is through a three-pin plug, so connecting electrical devices designed for use outside the UK to the UK power supply can be complicated. You can either:

    Photo of a UK electronics lead and plug

    A UK electronics lead and three-pin plug.

    • purchase your electrical items (e.g. hair driers, rice cookers) in the UK: this is the safest option and will mean you do not have to bring equipment with you;
    • for equipment supplied with a detachable mains lead (e.g. laptop computers), you can replace the detachable mains lead with one fitted with a UK standard three-pin plug (as shown in the photo); or
    • you can purchase a travel adaptor. Travel adaptors must be fused and comply with UK safety standards. Please read the guidance below to ensure you purchase a suitable one.

    Travel adaptors

    Every year we find many examples of unsafe travel adaptors in study bedrooms. If your travel adaptor is found to be unsafe you will not be allowed to use it. So please follow the guidance below before you purchase.

    It is strongly recommended that you purchase your adaptor when you arrive in the UK. You will find University recommended adaptors available for sale at the University's Students' Union shop: Essex Essentials. A range of other electrical accessories, such as multi-way extension leads, are also available from EverythingEssex.

  • Prohibited electrical equipment

    You must not use equipment for heating, cooking, refrigeration or washing in the study bedrooms of University-owned or administered accommodation. This is because the equipment can produce significant heat which could start a fire or cause injury. In addition, the way items are heated or cooked can produce fumes which could activate the fire alarm system.

    The kitchens in our accommodation are equipped with a cooker, refrigerator, freezer, microwave oven, and kettle.

  • Chargers for e-cigarettes and mobile devices

    Photo of charger pins

    Check for insulated pins on your charger.

    There has been a significant rise in the number of fires in the UK caused by faulty chargers for e-cigarettes and other electrical devices. Follow the advice below to reduce the risk of a fire, electrical shock or damage to your equipment when recharging e-cigarettes and mobile devices.

    • Use the original charger supplied with your device.
    • If you need a replacement or additional charger, purchase a genuine factory replacement.
    • Avoid cheap unbranded replacements from the internet or market stalls.

    Check out the London Fire Brigade's information on spotting fakes.

    Use the 6 point safety check below, before turning on power

    • Does it have insulation on the pins?
    • Photo of charger label

      Check charger labels carefully to ensure safety.

    • Does it have a CE mark?
    • Does it fit in the socket properly?
    • Does it have a manufacturer’s brand name, model and batch number?
    • Does it have the correct output voltage (V) for your device?
    • Does it have the correct output current rating (mA) for your device?

    When charging e-cigarettes

    • Do not leave it charging for prolonged periods.
    • Never leave it on to charge overnight.
    • Do not leave it charging unattended.

    Please note: the University’s no smoking policy also applies to the use of e-cigarettes. The use of e-cigarettes is prohibited wherever smoking is prohibited.

  • Using multi-plug extension leads

    Photo of a multi-plug extension lead

    A UK multi-plug extension lead.

    These are used to increase the number of electrical items you can plug into a wall socket. However, although there may be space to plug in four or more appliances, this does not mean it is always safe to do so. Different electrical appliances use different amounts of energy. 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 (3kW) of energy. Items that produce heat, such as hair driers, use a lot of energy and so more than one should not be used together on one multi-plug extension.

    Use the Socket Overload Calculator to check what items can safely be used together on a multi-way extension lead.

    If you use a multi-plug extension lead, make sure that it has a fuse, as this will give additional protection. Some have surge protection, which should also protect your electronic equipment (e.g. laptops) from being damaged. Suitable multi-plug extension leads are available from Essex Essentials.

  • Purchasing goods from Essex Essentials and the Copy Centre

    You can purchase a range of electrical items and other useful products form Essex Essentials and Copy Centre safe in the knowledge that they have been approverd for use by the university.

  • Further information