Author Topic: Best manufacturer for mains sockets and similar  (Read 1260 times)

Best manufacturer for mains sockets and similar
« on: March 29, 2018, 03:33:46 pm »
I was having a quick hunt around, for some electrical (mains) double sockets, and saw that some comments shed doubt on the current quality of MK parts.  Historically I've mostly bought MK stuff, because they had a good reputation, and my own experience bore that out.  Cheaper sockets can be unreliable, have a short lifetime, and can be fiddly to fit.

What is the panels experience with buying such items?  Do you think MK quality has dropped?  Who do you use currently?

... also on a related note, what about double sockets with integrated USB power connections?  MK, and others, make these, with wildly varying prices, and placement of the connectors.  Is this a good idea? is having a transformer (or some sort of switching regulator) integrated into the socket a good idea?  Does the USB socket place have any significance in safety and/or convenience?
Actually, it is rocket science.
 

Kim

  • 2nd in the world
Re: Best manufacturer for mains sockets and similar
« Reply #1 on: March 29, 2018, 03:40:39 pm »
I heard rumours that they make special batches of cheap and nasty versions of their fittings for the likes of B&Q.

I'm wary of the USB ones, simply because the one thing worse than a cheap shitty USB charger from China is a cheap shitty USB charger from China that you can't readily disconnect from the mains.  On the other hand, I can see how they can be extremely convenient, particularly in public or semi-public places, or in an office or workbench type environment.
To ride the Windcheetah, first, you must embrace the cantilever...

Re: Best manufacturer for mains sockets and similar
« Reply #2 on: March 29, 2018, 03:43:08 pm »
Agree, MK quality has gone downhill.  I think Crabtree are still pretty well engineered.

Re: USB integration - I've not bothered with them myself.
1. some sockets have a permanent light on the USB port which is a PITA if it's next to your bed and you like it nice and dark so check if they are or aren't lit up before you buy.
2. There is a safety risk if the ultra low voltage is not properly separated from the 230V side:
https://www.electricalsafetyfirst.org.uk/electrical-professionals/product-safety-unit/usb-socket-outlets/
3. The USB sockets will draw current even when not in use, which is wasteful.
4. The USB outlet current may be less than your dedicated phone charger
https://diy.stackexchange.com/questions/15732/do-usb-sockets-draw-power-when-not-in-use

Kim

  • 2nd in the world
Re: Best manufacturer for mains sockets and similar
« Reply #3 on: March 29, 2018, 03:44:44 pm »
1. some sockets have a permanent light on the USB port which is a PITA if it's next to your bed and you like it nice and dark so check if they are or aren't lit up before you buy.

On the other hand, a friend made good use of one of these to provide low-level illumination of their stairs (which, due to bad planning, lie between the bedrooms and the bathroom).
To ride the Windcheetah, first, you must embrace the cantilever...

Re: Best manufacturer for mains sockets and similar
« Reply #4 on: March 29, 2018, 03:55:47 pm »
Our sockets are what was provided by the forum's resident sparky, John the Sparky.  The brand escapes me but they are plain, functional and reliable to date.

We also have some USB sockets.  They have a double USB socket positioned centrally below the outlet switches.  They are well used now and seem to be reliable.

Although we have installed two of these to date we have not noticed any variance in our electricity consumption.   If they do use some whilst not in use it is a vanishingly small amount.

Re: Best manufacturer for mains sockets and similar
« Reply #5 on: March 29, 2018, 03:57:00 pm »
I have a couple of the usb (2A) double sockets in the attic bedroom. No lights and very convenient. I understand and share the concerns raised, although mine are isolatablenas I put the supply in accordingly.

Worth being aware that one type of these was recalled by B&Q as they were overheating getting too warm off load. That probably tells you all you need to know about the engineering choices made, but hopefully lessons also learnt

Mike

Kim

  • 2nd in the world
Re: Best manufacturer for mains sockets and similar
« Reply #6 on: March 29, 2018, 04:00:55 pm »
Although we have installed two of these to date we have not noticed any variance in our electricity consumption.   If they do use some whilst not in use it is a vanishingly small amount.

The rule of thumb with wall-warts (doesn't really matter if it's an inny or an outy) is that if it's not warm to the touch, it's not dissipating enough to make a dent in your electricity consumption.  If it is warm to the touch, it's either working hard or badly designed.
To ride the Windcheetah, first, you must embrace the cantilever...

Re: Best manufacturer for mains sockets and similar
« Reply #7 on: March 29, 2018, 04:05:12 pm »
They don't even get warm to the touch when charging and they do charge well.  Rated at 3.1A.

Re: Best manufacturer for mains sockets and similar
« Reply #8 on: March 29, 2018, 04:21:33 pm »
Crabtree.  MK still offer 15 year guarantee as far as I know. Contactum are supposed to be pretty good too.
'Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence'.

Martin John Rees.

Re: Best manufacturer for mains sockets and similar
« Reply #9 on: March 29, 2018, 05:32:20 pm »
The electrician I use always recommends MK.  The only socket that I can remember failing was in our office and that was a Crabtree one (although they are usually pretty good).  The failure was caused by an electric fire putting too high a load on it and the socket melting/burning.  The cable was not loose in the terminal and the electrician's theory was that they are made to withstand a 13A load, but only just, so if you get one slightly below spec then it will eventually fail if it has a constant high load on it.

Re: Best manufacturer for mains sockets and similar
« Reply #10 on: March 30, 2018, 12:02:09 pm »
The only sockets I've had fail, are ones that are in the "occasionally used for high power" category, and it's not an unusual scenario for failure.  They all seem to be a cheap brand, installed by the previous owners, who I'm fairly sure got one of their fathers to rewire the entire house (he appears to have been an electrician, so nothing specifically dodgy per se).  If they did the rewire with the expectation that they'd sell, then I'd expect them to have used relatively cheap parts, and my experience has borne that out.

I've ordered a small pack of Crabtree ones, to see what they're like.

I'm still unsure about the USB sockets.  Most of the points raised, are what worry me, mostly having the device, in effect, permanently on, and the associated risk of fire, especially smouldering away unnoticed for a while.  Power use, as others have said, is likely to be small, and probably dwarfed by things like the fridge, freezer, NAS etc.  As it is, I already have USB power supplies, almost permanently plugged in, so there would likely not be a dramatic change.

Given the price, I'm not going to rewire every socket with a USB version, but likely a couple by way of experimentation.  In an optimal world, I'd build my own, with plenty of redundancy and tolerance, but that would (i) be quite expensive, and (ii) unlikely to fit a standard patress. Part of the reason for using them, is to minimise significant adjustments to the house wiring.
Actually, it is rocket science.
 

Re: Best manufacturer for mains sockets and similar
« Reply #11 on: March 30, 2018, 12:19:01 pm »
Yes, a socket with a small load will almost certainly be fine whether it is a "premium" brand or the cheapest available; it's the high loads, where you are operating close to the 13amp limit that will find out the duds.

Re: Best manufacturer for mains sockets and similar
« Reply #12 on: March 30, 2018, 12:27:25 pm »
I'd be sad if MK has gone downhill.

We fitted the industrial metal type on the barge and boy did they get abused. One was even fitted to the end of some flex and still lives outside as a type of extension lead (it is shoved in a plastic bag). It has been thrown around, trodden on, subject to heavy current use and is approaching 9 years old. Still perfectly good, no faults.
<i>Marmite slave</i>

Re: Best manufacturer for mains sockets and similar
« Reply #13 on: March 31, 2018, 09:18:51 pm »
cheap sockets fail if they are used to carry high currents or are used to switch high currents.  I recently replaced one that failed because it was routinely used to switch a heater on and off. The switch had a plastic-ended spring loaded plunger on it to provide the overcentre action; the switch got so hot that the plunger end melted onto the back of the switch rocker.

Dunno if MK quality has dropped or not in recent years but a new MK one replaced the cheap one that failed. The house I grew up in was wired with MK sockets (circa 1956) and they were all (apart from one) still going strong in ~1990.

cheers

Re: Best manufacturer for mains sockets and similar
« Reply #14 on: April 11, 2018, 07:59:36 pm »
inspired by this thread I thought it would be a good idea to take a closer look at an MK switched double socket in my kitchen. There is a microwave oven and Dab radio plugged into the two sockets and both items are turned on/off at the socket rocker switches. When I turn the Micro on/off there is quick buzzing noise which seems to be coming from the socket and has been getting worse lately. There is no sound when the Dab is switched on/off. I'm sure this isn't right and an 'Electrician' in the pub suggested that i could spray a little WD40 around the switch because it sounded like a dry contact. Anyway I looked at this a bit more today and found that if i swap the plugs over then the rocker that buzzes changes too i.e it seems to be something to do with the Micro that is causing the buzzing. I am a mechanical person so please keep any suggestions/explanations reasonably simple please. I am about to go away so will take another look when I come back, if the house hasn't burned down. Maybe I should leave the Micowave switched ON permanently? Thanks for your help.


SoreTween

  • Most of me survived the Pennine Bridleway.
Re: Best manufacturer for mains sockets and similar
« Reply #15 on: April 11, 2018, 08:46:49 pm »
Don't spray WD40 on it, it is not contact cleaner and the contacts are enclosed anyway.  Also, spraying a flammable liquid delivered by a flammable propellant anywhere near a spark source is a Bad Plan.
Since the socket is still making the noise having swapped the sockets it is probably not the switches making the noise.  First unplug the microwave, take the cover off the plug and check the terminals are tight and the wire into them looks in good order, that's if it is not a molded plug.  Next turn the breaker off, remove the socket and check the terminals are tight.
If you don't find any loose terminals start replacing things, socket first, then microwave.

To answer the OP I second Contactum, that's the own brand of TLC-Direct.  I don't rate the redesigned MK stuff that highly, it is not as robust as the old very square design.  Nor is Contactum as robust as the old MK but it's a close run thing compared against the new MK.   However, Contactum is a lot cheaper.
2018 targets: Survive
There is only one infinite resource in this universe; human stupidity.

Re: Best manufacturer for mains sockets and similar
« Reply #16 on: April 12, 2018, 02:44:55 pm »
Contactum isn't a name I've come across before, but they do seem to have relatively good specs and reviews.  Interestingly they apparently still manufacture their parts in the UK.

They do a USB Double Gang Socket, where each USB socket can provide 2.4A which is unusually high.  Most similar sockets, tend to have a maximum value lower than that, and often only one of the two sockets can provide a high current.
Actually, it is rocket science.
 

Re: Best manufacturer for mains sockets and similar
« Reply #17 on: April 16, 2018, 09:30:40 pm »
I too thought it could be a duff plug so I cut off the moulded-on one and fitted an unused one that I had. It still buzzed. I then moved the micro over to a different MK socket and the plug, switch or socket still buzzed. Maybe next I should try a non MK socket?

thing1

  • aka Joth
    • TandemThings
Re: Best manufacturer for mains sockets and similar
« Reply #18 on: April 16, 2018, 10:06:25 pm »
Another downside of USB sockets is in 5 year's time everyone else is happily charging laptops with 20V supplied via USB-C, a house full of USB-A sockets is going to feel very inadequate.

Re: Best manufacturer for mains sockets and similar
« Reply #19 on: April 16, 2018, 10:15:36 pm »
I replaced every socket and switch in the house with Crabtree ones around 15 years ago and they've been flawless.

I chose them because they have screwless low profile face plate you put on afterwards, and are therefore very easy to achieve a perfect paint finish around because you just take the front plate off to paint right up to the edges. Mine are shiny silver ones but they do SS ones too.

Valiant

  • aka Sam
    • Radiance Audio
Re: Best manufacturer for mains sockets and similar
« Reply #20 on: April 30, 2018, 07:38:25 pm »
MK went though a bad phase recently where they introduced a budget range. I believe this may be where the bad reviews come from, people expecting full MK quality for half the price. Either that or they may have been Chine cloned.
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Woofage

  • Ain't no hooves on my bike.
Re: Best manufacturer for mains sockets and similar
« Reply #21 on: April 30, 2018, 08:55:20 pm »
I put MK in here at Woofage Towers and didn't have any problems. However, my (cyclist) electrician friend who connected it all up always uses Crabtree. Don't have any integrated USB ones so can't comment.
Pen Pusher