Dangerous Devices - Mains Travel Adaptors

Devices designed to allow electrical plugs from one country to be used in another.

The Video

View this video on Youtube.

The Intention

These products are designed to allow electrical appliances with various styles of plugs to be used in other countries which have different socket outlets.

The idea is good. This implementation is not.


Both of these items have several serious design issues. They will accept several styles of 3 pin plug, typically used with appliances requiring an earth connection. Despite there being a moulded section for the earth pin, this is completely empty - no metallic contact at all, so any plug inserted will NOT be connected to earth.

The protective shutters over the line and neutral socket holes are pitiful - they can be moved aside with any object that happens to fit into the holes, and as such serve no purpose. Properly designed shutters should only open when a pin is inserted into both holes simultaneously.

The rear pins have no interlock to prevent multiple sets being exposed simultaneously. This will result in live exposed parts when one set of pins is inserted into a socket outlet. If the socket is metal faced, this could result in the adaptor shorting out the mains supply.

The USB version

The adaptor containing the USB power socket is even worse. Due to the position of the USB board, the top pair of pins are unsupported inside the enclosure, and can move against the incoming supply contacts even when in the retracted position.

Those same pins also press against the metal shroud of the USB socket - potentially making that shield live, destroying whatever is connected to it and creating a shock hazard to the person using it.

If both pins contact the metal shroud and the incoming supply contacts, the mains will be shorted out.

Surge Protection?

Both devices claim to contain surge protection. One of them contains a single MOV between the line and neutral pins.

The adaptor with the USB socket has no surge protection at all.

Lack of fusing

If used in the UK, the adaptor should contain a fuse. Socket outlets in the UK are typically connected to a 32A circuit breaker, and all UK plugs (BS1363) contain a lower rated fuse to enable smaller size flex to be used on appliances.

This adaptor has no fuse, so if used in the UK with another type of plug, flex only rated to 10A or even less is now connected to a 32A circuit. In the event of a fault, this will result in the flex overheating and becoming damaged. For very small flex, fire could result.