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Wiring a ring main
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This is the ring of wires that circles through the house, each house normally has 3 ring mains, 1 for the downstairs, 1 for the kitchen and 1 for the upstairs. The power starts from the consumer unit arriving at each socket and finishing at the consumer unit.

Both ends of the cable are connected in the same terminals in the consumer unit. The 2.5mm cable which comprises of a live, neutral and earth and is protected by a 32A circuit breaker unless you have an old consumer unit and then it will be 30A (if yours is an old consumer unit you should consider an upgrade see our electrical safety page,

The benefit of a ring main is the current runs in both directions witch imposing less load on the cables. If the cable didn’t return to the consumer unit then it would be called a radial circuit. The maximum distance for a ring main is 100metres and on a 32A circuit must not exceed 7200WATTS. There is no maximum number of sockets allowed on the ring main although there are still restrictions on how much power and for how long, a ring main may carry.


The picture below shows the back of a socket on a ring main

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There is two 2.5mm 2core and earth cables at every socket in the ring, this is the same for a radial circuit apart from the last socket will only have one.


There is no limit to the number of sockets you can have on a ring main but there is a limit to the number of spurs. If you want to add an additional socket in a room you may consider a spur from the ring main, the only thing with a spur is, you are limited if you ever want to add any more sockets from the spur. You are only allowed to spur from the ring main once so I would always try to keep any addition socket you require in the ring main a spur should always be the last resort, then if in the future you ever require any more sockets you would be able to do so easily.

See extend the ring main

For regulations governing heights of sockets etc, please click here

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