Here's what you do when you come back from overseas with an appliance fitted with a US plug
A slight twist to the pins ensures it fits the local socket thus:
The authorities don't like it of course given the obvious result, though given how prevalent this practice is I've never heard of someone receiving a shock. Depending on how soft the plug material is and how well you've twisted the pins you can get more of the plug into the GPO, but the above is a typical example. Does anyone have other examples of plugs and sockets used this way? I have heard of the Continental 2 pin plug being forced into the UK square pin socket, though I believe it causes damage by forcing the socket pins apart.
[This message has been edited by aussie240 (edited 07-27-2005).]
G'day Aussie, nice photos. For the "Outstanding Plug Pin Molestation" award, I'd like to nominate Sound Engineers for snapping the earth pin off of plugs supplying sound equipment to get rid of "annoying 50Hz interference". LOUD APPLAUSE.
#143500 - 07/28/0507:36 AMRe: US plug in Aussie powerpoint
A slight twist to the pins ensures it fits the local socket
Don't you mean "almost fits" ?
Does anyone have other examples of plugs and sockets used this way? I have heard of the Continental 2 pin plug being forced into the UK square pin socket,
Yep, I've seen that done.
With the basic-style shutters, you just need to poke something into the earth pin to open them. Some of the newer shutter mechanisms rely on equal pressure on line and neutral covers to open the shutters, in which case the plug will go straight in. We now have some shutters which need pressure on all three points to open, which would make it a bit harder to do this trick.
Apart from the obivous contact/damage issue, the two other big problems of course are that a Schuko plug inserted thus will have no earth connection on it and the only overcurrent protection for the cord and appliance is likely to be a 30A fuse!
#143501 - 07/28/0510:08 AMRe: US plug in Aussie powerpoint
You generally can't get a schuko (grounded) plug into a UK socket as the pins are *just* too wide and you will definitely damage the contacts.
However, the "europlug" (ungrounded flat plug) has pretty slim pins and is only rated at 2.5amps. I don't really see how it would damage a UK socket's terminals. However, on a ring circuit it's not a very good idea to have an unfused plug connected for very obvious reasons.
There's a pin bending trick done here with those 2-pin europlugs though. The older MK outlets required that you applied equal pressure on the outside edge of the shutters on the line and neutral recepticals.
So, if you bend a Europlug's pins so that they're slightly wider apart than usual it will just slot straight in opening the shutters on its way... makes perfectly reasonable contact too.
I have noticed some terrible breeches of safety regulations here in hotel and other kitchens, that were mostly staffed by eastern european chefs. Schuko plugs forced into BS1363 outlets. The socket face actually cracked around the pin recepticals, no earthing.... etc etc all for the sake of a 1.50 adaptor or changing the plug!
On challanging the chef who had forced it in he basically made some comments about the "crazy irish plugs" and couldn't see anything wrong with just pushing a schuko plug in by brute force.
There were microwaves, steam ovens and various other pretty heafty kitchen devices plugged in this way. All of which had stainless steel metal bodies.
I explained it to the manager ... she didn't give a toss. So phoned the Health and Safety Authority as it's a serious shock hazard to both staff and members of the public. Also, because the schuko plugs damage the BS1363's terminals by bending them out of shape it can cause the outlet to get pretty warm and you also introduce a fire risk. AND.. there was no guarentee that some of these appliances wern't rated >13amps either.
It's not normal practice in Ireland to use BS1363 in a commercial kitchen other than for very small appliances (E.g. hand held blenders etc).. You're legally required to use CeeForm for pretty much everything as it's steam / splash resistant and capable of taking a hard knock without cracking.
It's pretty unlikely that you'll come across sockets wired on a ring here though. So the fusing issue tends not to really pose much danger.
Even in my pokey dublin apartment there's a full distribution panel (consumer unit)
<Main Switch> --- Main fuse (neozed) --- MCB 6A (Emergency lighting) --- RCD --- 2 X 6A MCB (lights) --- 30A MCB cooker --- 4 X 20A MCBs Sockets.
(1 bedroom apartment!)
[This message has been edited by djk (edited 07-28-2005).]
[This message has been edited by djk (edited 07-28-2005).]
#143502 - 07/28/0511:40 AMRe: US plug in Aussie powerpoint
You generally can't get a schuko (grounded) plug into a UK socket as the pins are *just* too wide
It possibly depends on the design tolerance of the components. I just tried a Kopp brand Schuko plug (fairly solid, not the molded sort where the prongs will flex easily) in an old 1960s BS1363 adapter and it went it easily once the shutters were opened.
The same plug in an old MEM BS1363 socket just wouldn't go. Well, it probably would if I'd hit it with a hammer......
#143503 - 07/28/0512:48 PMRe: US plug in Aussie powerpoint
In Belgium, the sockets are CEE7 style with the protruding earth pin in the socket outlet, as used also in France. The trouble is that the borders of Belgium abut also Germany, the Netherlands and Luxembourg, where they all use sockets that have the earth clasps at the top and bottom.
There is no co-ordination for the multi-way adapters. There is no availability of adapters that work either way except for multi-way extension leads bought in Luxembourg or Germany: these do work well and I have several of them. They have nice chunky cable, and they carry 16A at 230V without even getting warm and provide good earth connections.
I often see non-extension-lead ones where someone has "Francocised" a German or Luxembourgoise model using a heated tent peg or a slow drill to pop a hole through the plastic body where the earth pin ought to go, but of course these don't then provide any earth protection, so that's a worry.
Equally worrying are the French adapters that have been "Germanated" to fit a regular Shucko clasp-earth style socket by the wholesale chopping out of lumps of insulation from the plug bit of the adapter, because they also have no earth, and they lose a lot of the benefit of the recessed Shucko design as regards moisture protection, not to mention structural strength.
All else being equal though at least my iBook, for example, which has a europlug-type 2-pin connector has managed to plug in safely in every European country I've tried* without using any adapters at all, except for the UK.
Of the Australian thing. twisting pins on plugs like that sets a bad example, because some appliances won't appreciate the voltage and frequency differences in supply, no? I know that a lot of (especially consumer electronic) kit that uses switched-mode supplies is nice and tolerant, but a lot of it isn't, especially not ones that are a bit older!
* Belgium, Netherlands, Germany, Spain, Italy, France, Luxembourg, Finland, Ukraine, Portugal, Denmark, Poland, Austria, but I believe the 2-pin Europlug is used far more widely.
#143505 - 07/28/0508:45 PMRe: US plug in Aussie powerpoint
Of the Australian thing. twisting pins on plugs like that sets a bad example, because some appliances won't appreciate the voltage and frequency differences in supply, no?
Most such appliances coming into Australia with US plugs are bought from duty free shops in South East Asia and have voltage selectors so are ok here. Fortunately the manufacturers always seem to have set the mains voltage to the 240V setting prior to leaving the factory. The appliance in the pic is a JVC radio cassette recorder that my mother bought in Singapore in 1986. I have been occasionally handed a few US or Canadian only appliances to repair. When I see the 117V only rating and the fact that the pins were twisted it's a pretty easy guess as to what's happened. Usually, replacing the power transformer with one having a 240v primary is all that's necessary. For frequency critical things like clocks it can get tricky. These days with clocks being electronic and based around an LSI chip, the chip data will usually reveal that a certain pin has to be taken high or low to select mains frequency. Some chips are even clever enough to make the distinction automatically between 50 and 60 cycles. These and crystal controlled clocks need no modification. While the twisted 2 pin plug appears to be relatively harmless, the issue I have is when I see the 3 pin US plug used here without an adaptor. The round earth pin invariably gets pulled out with a pair of pliers leaving the appliance not earthed.
the only overcurrent protection for the cord and appliance is likely to be a 30A fuse!
Yikes! I'd totally forgotten about the ring main method of power wiring when I first heard this story. Isn't it amazing what people get away with?
#143507 - 07/28/0509:17 PMRe: US plug in Aussie powerpoint
That kind of plug is readily on sale even in the supermarkets here.
I was referring to multi-plug adapters, though, not plugs :-)
Those ones either have the classic Shucko design (no point of entry for the earth point in a French/Belgian socket) if one gets them in Germany or Luxembourg, or else one can buy the ones designed for the French/Belgian sockets and people do mutilate those to make them fit in the sockets in Germany if they need to take them over the border.
I use a three-way trailing multi-point extension socket unit that has sockets with the clasp not the earth prong (abnormal here) to accept a plug that has a switch on it and that won't go in the regular CEE7 we have in the kitchen to run a 3kW salamander (it is also used for plugging in an occasionally-used electric whisk or a blender). Thinking about the risks, it works out safer than my chef partner plugging things in and out with wet hands, though in the long run it's not going to stay like that.
I use another that runs the computers because five appliances are there (modem, printer, hub, router, fileserver) and I used a three-way adapter plus a Luxembourgoise three-way adapter to plug into one of them. There is no unacceptable risk there because they are all drawing small numbers of watts each, and they are properly earthed, and I fear a lot more the safety of those "wall wart" PSUs. Those ones will stay as they are for now. Before long the kit will be obsolete, and that's the time to wonder if it needs to be changed.
The hacked-around adapters are not much of a surprise because I think in Belgium a lot of people have a pretty blasé outlook on electrical safety matters.