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"Plug ugly" - Off in the distance
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May 2016
 

The Bellinghman
Date: 2010-09-23 13:01
Subject: "Plug ugly"
Security: Public
Tags:travel
When it comes to mains plugs, the British Type G is probably the gold standard. Three pin so you can't insert it the wrong way, with socket shutters so kiddies can't poke into the live socket hole, part insulated shafts so you can't get a shock from the pins, fused so a short in the wire can't start a fire, it's been built with a safety-first attitude. It says "Yes, this electricity stuff is powerful and dangerous, and we need tiger bars to keep it contained".

You can also swing one on a cable as an effective anti-burglar weapon.

And that's its problem: it's bloody massive. On our recent trip, we had a bunch of universal plug adaptors with us, and for one item we took the Euro mains lead, because it was lighter than the UK plug lead and we'd be able to use it anyway.

So it was with some interest that we encountered the Australian socket for the first time. For our adaptors, using a .au socket meant bringing out the US two blade section, and gently twisting the blades so they were angled apart. And into the socket and hey - unlike the US case itself, where the weight of the adaptor would pull the whole thing down, these stayed where put.

The downside was that on a double socket, we couldn't get two in - the sockets are set much closer together. Happily, there were enough sockets around we could always make use of three adaptors.

(As for HK - they use the Type G - so we used the adaptors for that Euro lead).
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User: ramurphy
Date: 2010-09-23 13:07 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
:) And we Americans are totally bewildered at UK electrics.
Why, for instance, must the bathroom light switch be not in the bathroom? Why are houses not equipped with ground fault circuit interrupters instead of every small appliance having its own fuse?
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The Bellinghman
User: bellinghman
Date: 2010-09-23 13:23 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Yep.

Much of the regulations go back to the days when 'ground fault circuit interrupters' weren't available (or 'earth leakage detectors'). Now that they are, well, having fuses as well is still nice.

As for the bathroom issue, when you have 240V (OK, now 230V), and wet hands, you want to make sure that people don't get killed. This means that you either keep the switch outside (in the hope that hands have been dried by then) or use the pull-cord that is pretty well endemic in domestic situations.

As in the basin plug post, I'm intrigued by the way that different places come up with different solutions. The US one is of taming electricity to 120V before it's allowed into house wall circuits. To a Brit used to untamed 240V raging through the mains, the comparatively flimsy US fittings are scary, because they are inadequate for 240V.
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User: ramurphy
Date: 2010-09-23 13:27 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
The part of that which bewilders me is why then is it perfectly all right to have the kitchen light switch in the kitchen? There's water in kitchens too.
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The Bellinghman
User: bellinghman
Date: 2010-09-23 13:32 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
That's a fair question, to which I guess the answer is that the difference between the bathroom and the kitchen is that in the kitchen, bare wet feet are less common.
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Autopope
User: autopope
Date: 2010-09-25 21:09 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
IIRC regulations also require a minimum 1 metre distance between mains sockets and sources of running water. (My kitchen may currently be illegal :-( )
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Autopope
User: autopope
Date: 2010-09-23 13:27 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Simples: because 240 volts at up to 13 amps is Not Your Friend -- especially in a damp climate or a room with running water!

The fuse thing is because the current standard for British mains current wiring pre-dates cheaply-available circuit interruptors. But if you look in the household mains distribution board you'll see a bunch of ring mains, each with a separate circuit breaker *as well* as the one-per-plug fuses. Result? We can haz electric kettles that can brew up a pot of tea in less time than has elapsed since the last ice age, without burning the house down.

Edited at 2010-09-23 01:28 pm (UTC)
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User: ramurphy
Date: 2010-09-23 13:30 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I do think electric kettles are brilliant. The US is sadly lacking in them, though I guess they can be bought at considerable price. And Canada has 'em.
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Tim Illingworth
User: timill
Date: 2010-09-23 13:43 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
They are now common in Walmart (in the last year or so) at around $20 and up.
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Sheep with a guitar
User: sbp
Date: 2010-09-23 15:18 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I can't remember the last time I used a "manual" one. Or indeed the first :-)
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