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Joined: Dec 2004
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Good point about the 127/220V systems wired phase to phase, in some places. I had forgotten to mention them.
Didn't the Netherlands (or was it Norway?) use systems like that at one point, as well.

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djk Offline
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127/220V systems were common in Europe until the 1950s as 127V bulbs and appliances vanished from the market and any existing systems were modified to provide 220V using hot-to-hot to bring them into line with the 220V 50Hz standard.

These systems pretty much followed a similar wiring arrangement to modern US systems i.e. you had 127V circuits for lighting and small appliances and 220V for heavier appliances.

In some systems, 127V and 220V were metered differently! The 127V supply used exclusively for lighting and charged at a lower rate to compete with the gas companies.

After WWII there was a huge rebuild of power infrastructure in Europe as vast amounts of it, particularly the distribution and transmission systems were destroyed. At that stage, most of the local power companies ended up being nationalised to allow major re-organisation and re-building of networks.

At that stage, everything was standardised at 220V 50Hz which had already become the de facto standard and was the most common system in use (the UK opted for 240V 50Hz for some reason...).

The old split phase systems were simply abandoned.

They remain in use in some former European colonies e.g. you can find 127V in service in parts of the Caribbean, some countries in the middle east and far east etc.

In Europe it was just considered to be of no practical advantage to have two voltages in a home. 127V doesn't really provide any great safety advantage over 220V and it makes wiring more complicated and creates complications in the appliance markets too i.e. you had to know if your appliance was 220V or 127V, rather than just buying any appliance and plugging in and it works. There is also a preference for TN-C grounding and a dislike of floating neutrals. So, in general hot+hot socket outlets are not allowed in modern building. Hence the demise of 127V

Standardisation towards 230V happened in the 80s and 90s to bring the UK, Cyprus and Malta into line with the rest of the European Area (not just the EU).

Northern Ireland has used 230V 50Hz for decades as it sat between Great Britain (240V) and the Republic of Ireland (220V) and appliances from both areas ended up on the market up there. So, it made sense.

230V 50Hz is now the nominal voltage for low voltage supplies in Europe.


Last edited by djk; 11/16/08 09:01 AM.
Joined: Sep 2005
Posts: 153
W
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Some more details to djk's overview.

1. In rural areas of Belgium 3 x 230 V TT is still pretty common (no neutral, no ground supplied). RCD is therefore mandatory. Personally I know a lot of those installations in the area of Eupen (very East).

2. Also in Germany there are a few transformers left, some of them private owned ones. They usually provide 3 x 230/133 TN as described above, 133 not in use anymore.

3. In Central Europe two voltages (now 230V/400V)remained very common, being typically used for oven/ranges. But only Swiss appliances are only 400V, other ususally use a Y arrangement and 230V for the heatings.

Last edited by Wolfgang; 11/17/08 06:15 AM.
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djk Offline
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Typical home installation here in Ireland would be 230V 50Hz and depending on the age of the installation and the size of the home the main fuse will be either rated at:

50 amps (very old)
63 amps (old)
80 amps (modern)
or
100 amps (modern)

63amp supplies are pretty widespread though.

3 phase is rare in homes, although it does exist. You'd need a specific reason to have it e.g. a workshop or, sometimes for spreading the load on large electric heating systems (rare!)

TN-C-S is the preferred system and the most common by far, although TT exists, but it's typically single phase and supplied with a neutral, the neutral is just not connected to earth locally and would not be considered safe to bond to. Typically, those kinds of supplies tend to be found in rural areas or sometimes in old overhead urban systems.

I've noticed a lot of newer ovens meant to be installed anywhere in Europe accept various supplies i.e. simple single phase + neutral or various 3-phase configurations. In reality the oven elements only run on 230V regardless of which way you connect them up they don't use 400V at all, just split the load over the phases available

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C-H Offline
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I had an old flat some years back which had been converted from 220 V phase-phase to 220V phase - neutral. Strange looking setup with two main switches, one no longer in use and all fuses in pairs, with one unused in each pair. Sure enough, when I put the voltmeter across the main fuse and its abandoned twin, I measured 400V. I presume the wires had simply been moved in the fuse box when the utility changed to voltage from 12/220 to 220/380V.

Joined: Jul 2005
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Originally Posted by djk
've noticed a lot of newer ovens meant to be installed anywhere in Europe accept various supplies i.e. simple single phase + neutral or various 3-phase configurations. In reality the oven elements only run on 230V regardless of which way you connect them up they don't use 400V at all, just split the load over the phases available

This has been the situation in Australia for many years; domestic electric ranges can be configured for single or two phase operation. There is a shorting strap connected across the phase terminals when only a single phase supply is used. Of course, being a resistive load, whether the two 240V feeds are in phase or not doesn't matter. Two and three phase supplies to houses are fairly common here so many ranges take advantage of this.

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Originally Posted by aussie240

This has been the situation in Australia for many years; domestic electric ranges can be configured for single or two phase operation. There is a shorting strap connected across the phase terminals when only a single phase supply is used. Of course, being a resistive load, whether the two 240V feeds are in phase or not doesn't matter. Two and three phase supplies to houses are fairly common here so many ranges take advantage of this.

Wouldn't you still need a neutral for the controls on the appliance?

Joined: Mar 2005
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Not really, there's nothing inherent about the neutral that makes it special to controls or any other components. It's conveninent to use lower voltages where higher power levels aren't required, but the controls work just fine at 220V, and 220V is just as easily transformed to 12V as 120.

Last edited by SteveFehr; 11/19/08 09:38 AM.
Joined: Jul 2005
Posts: 223
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Originally Posted by Trumpy

Wouldn't you still need a neutral for the controls on the appliance?


Most definitely! If the neutral went missing you'd get some bizarre effects; for one thing none of the elements would get the correct voltage, and more than one element would have to be switched on to get anything at all. Timer motors and oven lamps would not be happy with 415V across their terminals.

Joined: Jan 2005
Posts: 5,316
Cat Servant
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In the spirit of compromise, I suggest that the entire world chnge over to 165v, 55hz electricity.

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