Some general notes on U.K. domestic practice. A reminder: All units are 2-wire (plus ground) 240V.
WASHING MACHINES Unlike their U.S. counterparts, the majority of British washers incorporate a heating element, almost always 3kW. They also, on average, tend to be smaller capacities than in America. (That pretty much sums up everything in Britain!)
Some machines have only a cold inlet, while others take both cold & hot supplies. Even on a cool wash setting the blend of water is usually such that the internal heater is needed to achieve the required temperature.
Top loaders are available, but front-loading washers are much more common these days and generally cheaper too. Dedicated laundry/utility rooms are not so common here, so the majority of machines end up in the kitchen area under a worktop (perhaps another reason for the popularity of the front loader?).
Power is most often via a regular 13A plug & socket, the latter generally being part of the general-purpose 30A ring. A dedicated circuit is found occasionally, but is very rare.
DRYERS Despite the notoriously fickle and unpredictable weather in this country, many people prefer outdoor "natural" drying, so dryers aren't so popular as in the States. (And in some small British homes there just isn't enough space for one.)
Like washers, dryers here tend to be of smaller capacity, and most have a 3kW heater so that they can run on a normal 13A plug/socket. Again, this is most often one on the 30A ring. A few (very few) units are higher powered -- about 4kW -- and these need their own dedicated 20A circuit.
Gas dryers are available, but very rare.
DISHWASHERS Just about the same comments as for clothes washers apply here: Built-in 3kW heating element, cold or hot/cold fill depending on model, and usually powered by a normal 13A outlet.
There you have it. I have some views on the unsuitability of our present electrical arrangements for these appliances, but I'll wait a while before getting on my soap-box.
Comments? (Threats? )
[This message has been edited by pauluk (edited 12-16-2001).]
Yep, we use 'em by the box full. All appliances up to 3kw now have to be supplied with a ready-fitted 13A plug by law. That came in a couple of years ago, although many were already so equipped.
Certainly up until the 1980s it was usual for most new appliances (including TVs, table lamps etc.) to be supplied without a plug -- A hangover from the days when there were still many different types of receptacles in use.
By the way, fixed appliances can also be hard-wired to the ring by way of a "fused connection unit" or "fused spur unit." It fits the same size box as a single-gang socket and takes the same type of fuse as a 13A plug. Available with or without switch, the latter being common for alarms etc.
Re: U.K. Washers, Dryers, & Dishwashers#133005 12/18/0106:34 AM12/18/0106:34 AM
Yes, I noticed during my time over there that hard-wired appliances don't seem to be very common -- Wall A/C units, panel heaters, etc.
Over here many fixed wall heaters, exhaust/extractor fans etc. are hard-wired. In domestic work, just about anything over 3kW is hard-wired as the only connectors available over 15A are bulky industrial types.
I should have also mentioned spin dryers and twin tubs.
SPIN DRYERS I don't remember seeing any on my travels, but I guess you must have had something like these in the States before fully automatic washers and tumble dryers became commonplace.
They were very popular here years ago as an aid to hand washing. They just spin and drain water -- Nothing more.
The top loading drums are normally tall and of fairly small diameter so that they can operate at much higher speeds than the spin cycle of a washer, e.g. 2000 rpm plus.
For that reason alone, they are still favored by some people because they can extract more water before hanging the clothes on the line to dry. Although largely displaced now, I think a couple of manufacturers still make them.
TWIN TUBS These were very common in the 1960s and early 1970s before fully auto machines took the lead.
They are basically a top-loading washer and a top-loading spin dryer side by side in the same cabinet, except that the washer side doesn't have a spin option and the fill, agitate, drain, rinse cycle is under manual control (a few "luxury" models had a timer for this).
Most models were designed to be wheeled out for the weekly wash and came with rubber hoses to push onto the kitchen faucets and to hook into the sink.
Obviously after rinsing it is necessary to transfer the clohes by hand into the spinner section. The "complexity" of the whole operation and the fact that it can't go for 90 minutes unattended leaves some kids these days staring in horror!
But there are plenty of people who swear by these machines, for the high-speed spin they give and the degree of control over the wash and rinse.