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Power problem

We're in London and my wife plugged a 110 only charger in to the hotel room wall outlet. There was a loud pop and now no outlet in our room works. What do I do and what could the consequences be? Thanks

Posted by
10344 posts

Since you'll need electricity during your stay, you'll have to contact hotel personnel and confess.
They may not be thrilled with your actions--but chances are this happens frequently with American tourists being in their hotel, so they may not be too, uhm, shocked.
Hopefully, the fix will be as simple as the hotel personnel flicking a couple of panelboard switches. But, depending on the wiring, it's possible that, in addition to your device being fried, you may have damaged electrical circuits in other rooms or parts of the hotel. Hopefully not, keep your fingers crossed on that.
You've probably figured this out by now--electrical in England, and most of Europe, is 220 volts. If you have any 110 volt only American devices (that aren't yet fried), you won't want to use them during the rest of your vacation.

Posted by
7 posts

Yeah, I would have to think this isn't a rare event. But my mind is racing about what could be an electrician hire!

Posted by
10344 posts

You're not the first Americans to have done this. To get electrical restored to your room, you're going to have to confess and plead ignorance. Unless the circuit box is in your room.

Posted by
3106 posts

I certainly can't tell with certainty , but you may have only tripped a circuit breaker . Take a look around the room and see if you can locate the panel ( They are small , and not usually obvious ) and see if any of the switches are in the off position . It may ( and I emphasize - MAY ) only require resetting the switch to on .

Posted by
3106 posts

By the way , sometimes the panel is hidden in a closet

Posted by
4555 posts

Also, check to make sure the switch on the outlet is actually turned on.

Posted by
9363 posts

Sounds like you just blew a breaker. Confess, and they can fix it. Since it's likely that others were affected, too, it's not going to be a secret for long. You might have also blown your device.

Posted by
3319 posts

My niece did exactly the same thing the first time she went to Europe...plugged in her blow dryer with just the adapter plug and bang - blew the circuits. She was embarrassed but the hotel was able to fix it right away.

Posted by
31303 posts

eaglemgmt,

Hopefully Nigel or one of the other U.K. members can shed some light on exactly what occurred. As I recall, wiring in the U.K. uses a ring bus, and most outlets are fused. Based on your description, it sounds like all the outlets in your room may also be connected to a common fuse or circuit breaker, thus providing some isolation from other parts of the electrical system. I agree with the others, ask the hotel staff for assistance.

I suspect the charger that you connected may be damaged also.

Posted by
26020 posts

Well breakfast time has come and gone and ........ ?

Posted by
8889 posts

Ken,
"As I recall, wiring in the U.K. uses a ring bus, and most outlets are fused." - The outlets are not fused, the ring is fused, or to be more precise in all modern installations there is a circuit breaker.
It is probably this circuit breaker which has tripped, which would explain the symptoms "now no outlet in our room works". Lights are on a different circuit, I assume those are working as eaglemgmt didn't complain about being in the dark.
So, as other posters have said, it is just a matter of finding the circuit breaker box and resetting the trip switch. Probably one circuit breaker for all sockets in one room.

If you can't find the box just tell reception, and accept the embaresment.

Posted by
4536 posts

Did you use a fused adaptor (as required) or an unfused one (as often incorrectly sold as suitable for the UK abroad)?

If you did, get a suitable fused one.

Following up from Ken it is not the sockets that are fused in the UK it is the plug. If you bring in unfused plugs from abroad you should use a fused adaptor. Although in this case it is likely that the circuit breaker would have tripped anyway.

Posted by
7 posts

Thank you all for your help. You gave me the confidence to deal with it. I finally decided that I didn't want to go another night without my CPAP! Lol. So I called down tonight and just said the plugs stopped working. He came up and said he first wanted to check using his adapter, which happened to be fused. I've been to several travel stores prior to this trip and no one said one word about fused adapters. Every one only sells non fused. I noticed because of one of the responses on here. So that was a great point made on this thread! Anyway, he called someone else and about 3 min later the power came on and he said "you know electricity".

So thanks for the encouragement!

Posted by
8390 posts

I hope this is not a terribly stupid follow up question but how do you tell if you have a fused adapter or a non-fused one?

Posted by
4536 posts

I would hazard a guess that 90%+ of the adaptors sold outside the UK supposedly for use in the UK fail at least one electrical safety code point. They may be safe if used in countries that use the same sockets but with radial wiring, but many would be unsafe under any conditions.

The ones sold in the UK high street don't seem to cost any more than these. Maybe if you want one in advance it is possible to order from a UK shop.

In summary ANY of the following points means it should not be used in the UK:
Unfused
Live/neutral pins unsleeved
Live/neutral pins very close to the outside of the plastic case
Socket unshuttered
Accept earthed plugs without an earthed connection (only plastic)

Posted by
6059 posts

Question for UK friends: is there a seal, stamp, or other mark that can be found on electrical devices which certifies compliance with UK code requirements? In the US we have Underwriters Laboratories (UL) markings on devices indicating the design meets electrical code.

Posted by
4536 posts

The appropriate standard is BS 1363-3:1995. Unfortunately some of the fake plugs/sockets may carry a reference to it even if not compliant.

They should not have a CE marking as it is a national standard; having one again is a sign of a fake or a clueless manufacturer at best.

This site gives examples: http://www.bs1363.org.uk/html/adaptors.html

And as a test, use the above site to work out how many things are wrong with this adaptor: https://store.ricksteves.com/shop/p/uk-power-adapter ...

Posted by
8390 posts

Thanks for all the info! I checked my adapter which is a Travel Smart by Conair brand. It does not have the sleeves and nothing on the box indicates it is fused. I have successfully used it for 3 trips to UK. I only use it for my smart phone ( which is of course critical!) but not for a blow dryer or something that would seem to take more power. I dont know if that makes a difference or not.

I am sorry the OP had a problem but am so grateful for the ensuing discussion. I guess I will be stopping to pick up a new adapter on my next trip. Boots? Better to stop somewhere in Heathrow after Immigration but before transport in to London?

Again, I appreciate the education.

Posted by
31303 posts

Marco,

In summary ANY of the following points means it should not be used in the UK:
Unfused
Live/neutral pins unsleeved
Live/neutral pins very close to the outside of the plastic case
Socket unshuttered
Accept earthed plugs without an earthed connection (only plastic)

Are there products available that fit all those criteria? If so, I'll try to obtain some approved Plug Adaptors next time in the U.K. One other question, is the Fuse replaceable?

Posted by
1293 posts

From RoSPA on how to change the fuse in a UK plug. It says Northern Ireland but the same plugs are used across the country. It is just the page is sponsored by NI Electricity.

Posted by
4536 posts

Adaptors are easily obtainable from high Street shops in the UK: Boots, Wilkos etc as well as arrival shops in airports.

It is correct that low powered devices are going to be less likely to cause problems (with the possible exception of wall wart chargers), but it is all too possible to make a mistake or cause an accident as in the incident in this thread, especially if it is one of the adaptors without sleeving or multiple unshuttered inputs or ill-fitting pins.

Overseas students are usually warned if the problems - there have been fires caused by faulty adaptors and chargers.

Posted by
3106 posts

The first line of defense is to inspect the charger for your device ( phone , tablet , camera , etc. ) It will clearly state if it is dual voltage ( 110 - 220 ) or terms to that effect . I just purchased a new beard trimmer ( Wahl ) that also is dual voltage . Phones , tablets and the like are low draw so there is usually no problem ( with the correct adapter ) Be more careful with high draw devices , such as a hair dryer . Remember that voltage is analogous to pressure , amperage is how much power is provided . phones etc. draw very low amperage .