The UK mains plug (also used elsewhere in the world, but best known from the UK) is a large and chunky lump of plastic. That’s not a bad thing – it sits very positively in the socket compared with mains plugs from other parts of the world, and isn’t easily pulled out. It’s not perfect though – just about everyone in the UK knows the pain of stepping on one (prongs upwards) with no shoes on. And that positive fit in the socket can cause a trip hazard.
Its size is perhaps its biggest problem though. Once you start stacking a few of them together into a distribution strip or multi-socket adaptor you can end up with a large, unweildy mess. Which is why this concept design for a new approach to the UK plug appeals to me so much: it will fit into a normal mains socket, but could also be more readily stacked when several devices need to be plugged into the same socket:
It’s an interesting idea, but far from perfect. The most obvious problem I can see is the fuse. With the standard UK plug design there is no way to remove the fuse without first unplugging the device – a useful and obvious safety mechanism. This concept design not only makes live fuse removal possible, but it even routes the exposed live connection round to the most accessible part of the plug when the fuse holder is out!
A tweak to the design could move the fuse carrier to the other side of the plug, making it accessible only when the plug is out of the socket. Making it a captive fuse holder which cannot be completely removed would also ensure that the holder has to be pushed fully home before the plug can be used.
Technical problems aside, I applaud the idea of re-examining the design of the UK plug. We’ve had it for a long time now, and it was designed to solve problems that no longer really exist. Changing to a radical new plug design across the country would be a monumental task, but perhaps an innovation like this could give us a new design complete with support for legacy sockets, allowing such a change to take place at a more practical pace.