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#135387 - 01/03/03 04:03 PM does CENELEC need to change plug and light fitting standards completely?
djk Offline

Registered: 12/26/02
Posts: 1269
Loc: Ireland
Looking at the exsisting standards in Europe there seem to be a number of major problems that are FAR more fundemental than the colour of 3-phase cable or ot the size and shape of electrical wall boxes.

1) Lightfittings

It simply should not be possible to touch a live terminal in a lamp / light fitting.

Neither the Bayonett nor the Edison system should be acceptable they both have a pair of open live terminals that are almost designed to insert your finger(s) into. There MUST be a more sensible way of connecting a bulb!!!!

2) There are way too many varieties of Europlug based connection.

Personally i think despite the fact that they are universally accepted and very common CENELEC should do something to produce a completely new standard that wipes out the various 2 pin arrangements in europe, many of which aren't exactly safe.

Grounded appliences are regularly plugged into non-grounded outlets (despite regulations) in France, Spain, Portugal, Italy (have no experience of elsewhere).

People fit under-rated 2-pin plugs to large appliences in France to make them fit into a "bedroom" socket too.

and on another point with the advent of so many plug-in transformers (especially for mobile phones etc) many european sockets are incapable of holding the weight of a transformer..

Try plugging one into an italian flush outlet or a french non-grounded outlet. Even Schuko (or French) grounded sockets are very poor at holding a 2-pin transformer plug. They regularly just fall out onto the floor (something i've never seen happen in the UK or Ireland with BS1363)

Some sockets are shuttered, some arn't, some are fused, some arn't. They're all protected by various different combinations of circuit breaker/RCDs and no one seems to be sure just how well protected an applience is (including UK/Ireland)

I think it's pretty fundemental that a socket system should be polarised too. Schuko isn't, the french system is (but only for earthed appliences), italian system isn't etc..

Ideally a new standard should be superior and wipe out the exsisting systems in the same way that BS1363 replaced a wide range of aging and generally unsafe BS546 (and other) systems used in the UK and Ireland. (I'm not mentioning ring circuits!, they're another issue!)

We must be able to come up with something that is fundementally safe, easy to use and that everyone can agree on as a phased-in new standard.

All you'd have to do is make plenty of adaptors available in the interim period. Perhaps like the European-UK adaptors that are actually physically fitted to the europlug (it sits inside a closed adaptor). I mean in Ireland / UK the change to BS1363 took a few decades but it has generally happened very smoothly. The change of plug/socket also highlighted how old some installations were and encouraged owners to upgrade. I've seen many French farmhouses working away happily on 1930's and 1940's wiring and fittings, in the UK / Ireland that would be immediately obvious and inconvienient due to the incompatability with modern fittings.

When the EU expands we'll also be taking in a load of systems based around old soviet standards, earthed, non-earthed, scucko and other.. it would make a lot of sense to start to move to make all of these systems standardised and safer!!

Appliences could ship with the new plugs and all new installations could start using them in many cases all that would be necessary is a simple change of wallplate, in others a full rewire (e.g. UK ring systems would be a little tough to tackle unless the new system was to include plug-top fusing, which wouldn't be unreasonable simply to satisfy UK, Ireland, Cyprus (and all the other countries that might have to switch along with the European users of BS1363 .. HK, Singapore etc potentially up to 100 million people!!!!) It's not like it's the Danish standard or something (no offence denmark! but it has a signifigant user-base)

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#135388 - 01/03/03 07:00 PM Re: does CENELEC need to change plug and light fitting standards completely?
Hutch Offline

Registered: 05/27/02
Posts: 383
Loc: South Oxfordshire, UK

Your thoughts echo a lot of mine which I verbalised in this previous thread not so long ago ...

I even dared to suggest a socket standard which, according to one of our members, already enjoys a support base of 1000000000 people!

Beware though - the topic can raise passions in Euroland. A bunk hole is recommended.

... Hutch shuffles gently towards the shelter to avoid the ...

#135389 - 01/03/03 08:19 PM Re: does CENELEC need to change plug and light fitting standards completely?
SvenNYC Offline

Registered: 08/19/02
Posts: 1685
Loc: New York City

...avoid the who? The Austrian fellow?


DJK: I noticed your mention of adapters. I'm not too keen on those things...most of them are usually so cheaply made they don't offer proper contact...plugs are loose and fall out.

That could lead to danger (overheating and fire) - the less things between the plug and the receptacle the better, I think.

I've never seen a wall-wart (those plug-in transformers) fall out of a socket, except when the socket contacts are so worn they lose spring-action. Then it's time to replace the socket because even little two-pin plugs slip right out.

Sometimes it's also useful to make small pigtails using a standard plug and an in-line female connector on a short length of flex in order to connect the transformer. Yes I know I'm breaking my rules regarding adapters, but for those who should not go anywhere near do-it-yourself wiring devices, these "pigtails" are already manufactured and sold in some electronics stores.

[This message has been edited by SvenNYC (edited 01-03-2003).]

#135390 - 01/04/03 10:19 AM Re: does CENELEC need to change plug and light fitting standards completely?
lyledunn Offline

Registered: 06/30/02
Posts: 159
Loc: N.Ireland
Re; light fittings. When my daughter was small she stuck her fingers into a table lamp bulb holder. She was very lucky not to have been killed! In a local hospital dealing with the mentally handicapped, believe it or not they had an entertainment area which had foot lights around the stage which were simple BC lampholders! So I am all for shrouded lampholders. I understand that MK make these and as responsible electricians we should all encourage our clients to use them.
To get CENELEC standardization for socket outlets is going to be difficult. I know that UK representatives who sit on the CENELEC committee will tenaciously wish to retain our BS1363 system. Now that the europlug adaptor is available I think a europe-wide common system will be a long time coming. I would not like to see the demise of the UK system as quite honestly I feel it is a sound system that will be hard to replace with something similarly robust!

[This message has been edited by lyledunn (edited 01-04-2003).]

lyle dunn

#135391 - 01/04/03 10:31 AM Re: does CENELEC need to change plug and light fitting standards completely?
j a harrison Offline

Registered: 05/22/02
Posts: 112
Loc: southampton, england
As an electrical engineer working in england,
ALL BC lampholders fitted to domestic (or commercial) properties are the fully shrouded types that until the lamp is placed within the currrent / voltage is not connected to the pins.

They are a bit more expensive but we like our clients to stay alive !!!

The commercial side of our business we now use mostly energy efficient lighting fittings instead of the battenholder or pendant lamp holder, ( as per the european regulations in force for such things.

Yours ( very safely ) John H

#135392 - 01/04/03 12:08 PM Re: does CENELEC need to change plug and light fitting standards completely?
pauluk Offline

Registered: 08/11/01
Posts: 7693
Loc: Norfolk, England
I've also pondered on the conflict between the ever-increasing sleeving, shileding etc. of plugs vs. the BC or ES lampholder which offers up exposed terminals.

MK have been making the safety BC holder for some years, although I've yet to see one myself. I assume that the BC contacts are held away from the supply contacts until the locating lugs of the bulb release some kind of safety latch. John, if you use these regularly now, how exactly are they arranged?

On the plug-pack transformers, personally I don't like them one little bit. I admit that the UK style types do hold in pretty well compared to other types, but there is another problem. As most of these don't need a ground connection, they often use a plastic earth pin in the molding (needed to open the shutters of a BS1363 outlet). I have seen cases where the unit must have received a blow and has snapped the plastic pin off in the socket.

I just don't like the idea of hanging, in some cases, over a lb. of weight on a plug.

#135393 - 01/04/03 01:55 PM Re: does CENELEC need to change plug and light fitting standards completely?
Texas_Ranger Offline

Registered: 12/17/01
Posts: 2343
Loc: Vienna, Austria
how do you plug a grounded italian plug into an ungrounded receptacle?????
Saw off the ground pin?
Re: adaptors: I don'T like them either, and if I ever have to use an international adaptor (i.e. if I travel to a country more than once) I take 1m of 3x1.5 cord and fit a national plug and a female Schuko cord cap to it. As a British version I'd probably put in a 13A fuse, equivalent to our standard circuit fuses.
I've never had a plug-in transformer fall out of the receptacle, not even with badly worn ungrounded outlets. It stops making contact long before it falls out.
I feel that BS 1363 plugs are just too bulky to be perfect. Fused plugs are user serviceable, hence a risk. It's unlikely having a customer fit a bigger breaker to his panel, but putting in a 13A fuse or no fuse at all is easy. Also a flat receptacle never gives the stabilization a recessed one would give.
And one thing: I've _never_ seen a Schuko plug fall out of the receptacle, or even with bent or broken pins. So why do you think BS 1363 plugs need to be that solid?

#135394 - 01/04/03 03:04 PM Re: does CENELEC need to change plug and light fitting standards completely?
djk Offline

Registered: 12/26/02
Posts: 1269
Loc: Ireland
I'm not talking about a full schuko plug but when a 2 pin (ungrounded) plug with a transformer attached is inserted into a schuko socket it doesn't provide very good grip. It doesn't have the support of the side-earth springs or the socket's groves.

I have seen transformers fall right out of Spanish (flush and ungrounded) and Italian sockets. I pluged in a heavy europan version sony minidisk charger in italy and heard a large crash in the middle of the night and discovered it smashed on the floor (the outlet was quite high up)

As for adaptors surely a plug could be designed with a kind of "bolt on" adaptor ? Along the lines of the ones that convert Europlugs to BS1363 for long-term use (e.g. sony Ireland fit them to all of their tvs, vcrs etc..) it just looks like a slightly oversized BS1363 plug but actually contains a 2 pin Europlug. I wouldn't approve of using cheaply made poorly constructed and poorly designed adaptors. The harmonised plug could be designed with this crossover period in mind and perhaps a range of adaptors (BS, Schuko, Italian, Danish, Swiss ...) could be designed along with it.

BS-1363 is a good standard though (ignoring the ring circuits) I don't see any problems with it as a system. Its not any more bulky than an earthed schuko and it's a lot less ugly ! Schuko outlets are very obvious on a flat wall, BS 1363 if properly flush-fitted are very neat. it's the same when the plug is inserted it's neat and doesn't protrude from the wall (ala some versions of schuko/europlug)
It's robust, has good grip (without being difficult to remove), supports heavy plugs (power adaptors) very well and as a system it's very simple. Having all these endless ratings of plugs, grounded, ungrounded etc is just dangerous. I really can't see what's so terribily inconvenient about a small neat moulded BS1363/A ? They're a bit bulkier than a 2-pin euro plug, but they're no bigger than a standard fitted schuko.

One thing that would make BS1363 safer would be a slight change to the fusing on fitted moulded plugs making. Most appliences now ship with a moulded plug fitted and the appropriate fuse already in place so, why not just make it impossible to insert a larger fuse. Key the fuse carriers or make them different sizes. It wouldn't be that difficult. You couldn't do much about re-wireable plugs, but they're becoming much less common. Rewireable plugs always pose a risk anyway.. I remember someone wiring the yellow & green to one of the phase terminals of a schuko plug and wondering why the power tripped when they plugged it in! He was very lucky he didn't get fryed! It was a washing machine and just grounded to the pipework it was in contact with behind it blowing the trips.

#135395 - 01/04/03 03:12 PM Re: does CENELEC need to change plug and light fitting standards completely?
djk Offline

Registered: 12/26/02
Posts: 1269
Loc: Ireland
For those of you who have never seen a "euro conversion plug" (i.e. a permanent fitted adaptor plug) as used by the likes of Sony on equipment sold in Ireland anyway (not sure about the uk)

click on this link

#135396 - 01/05/03 03:17 AM Re: does CENELEC need to change plug and light fitting standards completely?
pauluk Offline

Registered: 08/11/01
Posts: 7693
Loc: Norfolk, England
I've seen the first type of adapter (flat Europlug) on that link sold here, but not the full Schuko adapter.

The semi-permanent adapter satisfies the new rules in the U.K. that state that all new equipment must be sold with a ready-fitted BS1363 plug. All the new Sony (and other brand) equipment I've seen in stores here comes with a molded-on BS1363 cord set.

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