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Joined: Sep 2002
Posts: 1,498
Likes: 1
C-H Offline OP
I know djk has touched on this subject on some occasions: International D-I-Y store chains.

In Sweden we have Bauhaus, who prefers to sell German equipment (with signs in German!). Therefore, you find some odd pieces of electrical equipment without a market in Sweden on their shelves.

There are some Swedish chains with operations in other countries. They too stock the same goods in different countries, but it's not as apparent since I'm in Sweden. It is probably be more noticeable in a store in Denmark or Norway.

What is the situation in your country? I understand that Ireland has the same situation (or worse).

(Now we also have the German food chain Lidl, which even imports the milk from Germany!)

Joined: Dec 2002
Posts: 1,253
djk Offline

We have a few of the large British DIY chains here B&Q, Homebase etc. and also a few of the large electrical retailers Dixons etc along with catalogue shop, Argos.

For most things it's not a big deal but there are a few differences and some products on sale that have no market at all here like I've seen rewirable fuse wire and Wylex plug-in MCBs!! We have never had that system. Yet they didn't stock Diazed/Neozed fuses, still used in a LOT of Irish distribution boards.

Also it's common to see Cooker Control switches complete with BS1363 socket which are illegal to install here. Same with BS546 sockets intended for use with plug-in lamps controlled by a light switch. completely illegal if used on a lighting circuit without RCD.
MK Cooker Control Unit complete with socket.
[Linked Image from]

The main area I've noticed problems with is telecommunications equipment. Often these stores just ignore the fact that the Irish phone network isn't the same as BT.

You regularly see UK chains selling BT wall sockets and extension reels!!! There is absolutely no market for these here it makes no sense and people seem to endlessy return them. Admittedly they seem to have gradually realised this makes no sense and either don't stock them at all or stock RJ11 equivlants.

They normally supply a small little UK - Irish adaptor which basically converts the BT plug to RJ11 and includes a ringing capacitor to deal with the 3rd wire ringing system used in the UK.
(looks like this)

[Linked Image from]

However, even with that many phones still don't really work properly connected to an Irish line.

Caller ID may not work as the BT system has a unique way of doing things. Before caller ID information is sent it inverts the polarity on the line. Irish lines send long burst of ringing then the caller ID data.

Callwaiting ID is not necessarily compatable either, sometimes it works, sometimes it doesnt.

BT phones incorrectly adapted to an irish line can do weird things including short circuiting the phone line by connecting A to B wires, refuse to ring, ring continiously or tinkle everytime someone picks up / hangs up a phone!

Apparently the way the ringing signal is applied to a line here is quite different. I don't really know exactly how it's done but I know that over here it's usually 75 V 25Hz applied out of phase on both legs, presumably the A+B wires. PaulUK might know what exactly that means! as I am not exactly sure how this is normally done or how it's done in the UK. The pattern is a long burst of ringing followed by UK style double rings.

Strangely enough US / Canadian phones (fixed line ones not cordless) often end up on the Irish market and appear to be 100% compatable with the Irish network. Caller ID works, callwaiting ID and they are normal 2-wire RJ11 phones. Even "Flash" seems to work fine in place of the normal "R" button.

Also it's not too unusual to find that a TV is sold with a UHF only tuner. This is completely useless here as we use PAL I on both VHF and UHF and on analogue Cable we even go as far as using "Hyperband" which basically gives you extra channels by using all the VHF & UHF bands. (Used extensively here.. like at least 1 out of 3 homes)


In the past we used to find all sorts of problems with 240V specified equipment particularly if it was used on a 220V supply in a rural area where the supply voltage might have occasionally dipped towards the lower end of the 220V tollerance levels.

It was a particular problem for imported gas boilers as they'd occasionally refuse to spark!

at least the common EU 230V specification is helping a little there!


Most other Irish specifications arn't too different.

except fixed cable ...

We use Striped (yellow/green), Blue (N). Brown (L) for single phase fixed cable

and now the standard Cenelec 3 phase cable colours too.

Supplying UK cable colours is totally illegal but it has happened in DIY chains.

Black has been banned in the fixed cabling colour scheme for some time as the seemed to be anticipating its use as a phase colour in the new 3 phase system.

(in the old system Black was neutral, in the 3-phase system it is now one of the phases)

Typical Irish Phone connection point:

[Linked Image]

Typical British phone connection point:
[Linked Image from]

[This message has been edited by djk (edited 10-09-2003).]

Joined: Jun 2003
Posts: 112
one thing i thought of the other day, i was installing a light fitting for a customer, who purchased it from a diy store,, it had an ES lamp holder, here in the UK the live has to go on the centre pin and not the thread.

in the instructions there is no mention of this, so it would be nice shock for mr diy,er to connect the live to the thread and then place his fingers on it while changing the lamp..

Joined: Aug 2002
Posts: 1,691
Why would someone place their fingers on the screw base when changing a lightbulb? That's utter stupidity....

When unscrewing a bulb, you're supposed to hold it by the glass envelope!

Here in the 'states all our plug-in lamps used to be non-polarized until sometime around the 1980s....and then they started molding polarized plugs on them.

Of course that whole issue is moot when people replace the polarized plugs with standard ones.

[This message has been edited by SvenNYC (edited 10-10-2003).]

Joined: Dec 2002
Posts: 1,253
djk Offline

Relying solely on polarised plugs is absolutely stupid to start with.

There is always the possibility that the socket/outlet is wired the wrong way around (even in the UK/Ireland shock! horror!). Or that someone's managed to wire the plug the wrong way or make the connections in the applience on the wrong sides. I would think this would particularly be a risk with lamps since they're not exactly very high tech products and are often made by design companies.

As a rule of thumb always remove the plug before you stick your fingers anywhere near the supposedly neutral parts!

In Europe it's even possible that you could happen upon an old 127+127 = 220 supply [Linked Image]

Would certainly give you a bit of a blast if you touched either phase.

Joined: Jul 2002
Posts: 8,443
Likes: 3
Over here in New Zealand, we don't really have any International DIY chain-stores, but, the ones we do have (Mitre 10, Building Depot and Placemakers)are all making a killing from the weekend builder.
I've been down at the DIY store the odd Saturday morning and seen people walk in and grab all the tools (mainly Power tools) required to put up a fence or so forth.
A few of these places have little leaflets explaining things like, how to erect a fence, build a timber framed wall, even how to remove a wall safely from your house (this has caused a few disasters!), but they don't go into a lot of detail.
But it makes you wonder though, If you have to read a piece of paper to find out how a job is done, are you really up to the task?.
NZ was built on people that had a can-do attitude and people here in the 50's and 60's had the practical skills to tackle the most difficult of jobs, lots of people at the time built their own houses, unfortunately, these days a lot of people here can't even use a hammer to save themselves. [Linked Image]

Joined: Dec 2002
Posts: 1,253
djk Offline
Builders are DAMN expensive here as are plumbers and electricians so a lot more people take things into their own hands.

Joined: Aug 2001
Posts: 7,520
B&Q and the other big DIY chains are found in most big cities here, and many of them carry a rack of how-to leaflets on various topics: How to build a patio, how to wire an extension socket, how to plumb-in a new bath, etc.

DIY has really become a big thing in Britain recently, if all the TV shows dedicated to it are any indication. The shows have been around a long time, but these days there are dozens of them. (*)

I guess the UK-specific devices in Ireland are the consequence of being a nation of 3.5 million right next to door one of 55 million. But I wonder why places would stock items if nobody asks for them? The cooker/socket unit for example, might not be allowed under Irish wiring rules, but could it be that many people like to install them anyway?

We have Lidl stores in England too. My local has quite good deals on canned and bottled food and drink. They also sell electrical goods from time to time: Cheap portable TVs and computer monitors were on offer last time I was in there.

(*) An aside: I was watching a clip from an old DIY show (early 1960s) the other week, in which they were showing someone how to take that old-fashioned Victorian door with its fancy inlaid panels etc. and turn it into a nice modern door, with smooth finish and new knobs. Today's shows typically show how how to reclaim old Victorian doors and restore them to their former glory!

What goes around comes around, I guess. [Linked Image]

Joined: Dec 2002
Posts: 1,253
djk Offline

Supprisingly enough very few people here would attempt to install a cooker from scratch here at all. I would think that they may be stocked as standard as they're stocked in their UK stores. Electricians always simply fit a flush double poll 45 amp switch so you can't really retrofit a cooker control socket. However, there might be a tiny market for replacing broken exsisting sockets. If you ask an electrician to do it you can guarentee it will be removed and replaced with a switch.

Initially B&Q stocked BT phone extension reels which don't even physically fit into a socket here.

I think it's simply a question of over-standardisation of supply to stores. A manager sees "phone cords" and "cooker switches" and gets those sent.

Joined: Dec 2001
Posts: 2,498
Here in Austria we have Quester, Baumax, Bauhaus and Hornbach. First 2 are Austrian companies. Don't know about Bauhaus stock, but Hornbach definitely has completely different catalogues for Austria and Germany (Look which one contains the most awful bullshit like ugly garage doors "for replacement" and where the 13A breakers cost 4 times as much as the 16A ones and you've got the German one).

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