What is a GPO Electrical Socket

In the United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand, a GPO refer to an electrical outlet that allows several appliances to be plugged into one socket.

 A single household may have several types of GPOs in its home including standard outlets, which are connected directly to the main power supply, and multiple sockets connected via a relay system.


WHat is a GPO?

A GPO stands for General Power Outlet and is an obsolete term for what is now called a ‘socket outlet’ or ‘power point’. It carries electricity from the main power supply to appliances.

  • It refers to an electrical socket that allows several appliances to be plugged into one connector.
  • The Australian standard AS3000, which is used in country Australia (but not metropolitan Sydney), defines GPOs as 3-pin flat pin 10 amp sockets like this one.
  • “GPO” is also used to refer to groups of multiple outlets connected by a relay or light switch system, often installed at venues such as hotels and airports for reasons of convenience.
  • These are defined instead as socket outlets (or S/O). There is no current international standard that covers these devices; though there are standards for electrical relays and power distribution systems.

What Are GPO Power Points?


Socket outlets (or S/O) are defined as “a single or group of outlets provided on a distribution board, with each outlet being separately controlled by on off-only switching means, and all of which are supplied through the one input line” (AS3000 – Australian Standard for Wiring Rules).

A socket outlet device can allow several appliances to be plugged into it at once.

They’re typically located in groups in GPO fields – something which you may have come across in hotels and airports.

The devices that make up GPOs include: relays and light switches.


Relays consist of an electromagnet and an armature; when electricity runs through the electromagnet, it activates another metal object called the armature.

A relay is a switch which activates when it’s energised, and deactivates only after the last of the current has passed through it.

GPOs are comprised of relays or light switches that allow several appliances to be plugged into one socket outlet device by connecting them in series.

What Are Multiple Socket Outlets?

Multiple socket outlets (M/S O) are “outlet devices with more than one outlet per device” (AS3000 – Australian Standard for Wiring Rules).

A multiple socket outlet makes it possible to control power in groups, or at different levels. For example, you can turn the entire house’s power off by operating an M/S O located in your main breaker box; or you can turn off just a single socket outlet in your kitchen if you need only to use the kettle.

The latter is known as ‘isolating’ an M/S O; this means that all of its outlets will be turned off even though it may be connected to sockets with their own on-off switches.

One of the simplest types of M/S O is a light switch which allows you to control one particular socket from different rooms.

For any further information regarding GPO’s and what’s best for your home, you may contact your local electrician.


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