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#217153 05/18/16 02:53 PM
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Does anyone know what the mains voltage was in the GDR I'm asking because someone I know has some bulbs from there and they are rated at 125 volts I assumed that east Germany would of been on 220 volts can anyone shed any light on this(sorry no pun intended)

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230, as is all Europe. 125 volt lamps could be (very) old, or more likely for industrial use.
The following link is informative.

https://www.quantumbalancing.com/worldelectricity/electricityif.htm#voltage

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Thanks I agree that it looks like they have 220 now but I mean when it was a separate country

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I think you will find that they used a three phase 220volt system,not sure if that was everywhere. That would make it 220volt phase to phase and 127 volts phase to earth. A lot of the earlier Philips cassette recorders etc. had a 127 volt setting too.

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The official main voltage was 220V in the GDR.
However, there were some areas out of the standard.
220V 3-phase was around (220 between phases, 125 to ground) and also split-phase.

Those lamps should be older than 50 years.
What base do they have? E27?

Last edited by andey; 05/20/16 07:32 AM.
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Thanks that's what I wanted to know it makes sense if the lamps were 125 volts they would work nicely on a 127 volt supply. The bulbs have an ES base of normal size same as US have now

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127/220 V systems were mainly retrofits of 220/440V Edison DC systems because the existing cables could be used. Generally no neutral was supplied but there were some exceptions to this rule. The main difference between the "two Germanys" was that the western part phased out those non-standard systems much earlier. In the eastern part some have survived until today and are gradually being replaced.

Vienna (where I live) also replaced the last of its 19th-century DC supplies with 127/220 V AC in the 1950s but moved over to 220/380 V later. I think the last old supplies were converted in 1978. Fused neutrals are partly a legacy of those systems but were also used in 220/380 V supplies, probably out of habit. I know a 1960 block of flats where they seriously wired half the flat I worked in for 220/380 and half as if it were 127/220! There were two circuits,one had the standard black phase and grey neutral for 220/380 and the other just had two greens plus red earth. The incoming mains was 4 wire (no earth, that came from the water mains in the kitchen), grey neutral and three yellow phases but each circuit had two fuses, except for the cooker (a 3-phase 16 A connection).

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127 Volts systems were also used in The Netherlands.
These were from the old 127/220 Volts 3 Phase networks in the older cities e.g. Leiden, parts of Amsterdam ( off memory ).
Now these systems are more or less phased out.
The 127 Volts was taken off the Phase to Earth
Between 2 Phases or 3 Phases the voltage was 2 x 220 Volts.

Italy used to have an unusual voltage too of 150/265 Volts in remote area's.


The product of rotation, excitation and flux produces electricty.
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Thanks for all the information guys it's much appreciated. I'm glad I wasn't an electrician in Vienna those flats sound a nitemare. Presumably they had 2 supply transformers for the 2 different systems

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Originally Posted by annemarie1
Thanks for all the information guys it's much appreciated. I'm glad I wasn't an electrician in Vienna those flats sound a nitemare. Presumably they had 2 supply transformers for the 2 different systems


Nope, I'm sure that was just messy wiring and people not thinking straight. Basically wrong wire colours in parts of the place, not much else. And fused neutrals but that was common anyway because no one bothered to remove one of the fuses when supplies were converted from 127/220 to 220/380.

As I said, the meter tails were clearly original and intended for 220/380 3ph + neutral so the circuit wired with same-colour wires must have been a mistake or ignorance. There were other fun details too - apparently PVC conduit was still expensive back then so they tried not to use too much of it. When they ran out of space (2 circuits plus 2-way switch travellers in one 13.5 mm ID pipe) they switched to 0.5 mm2 doorbell wire for travellers, switched live for the bathroom fan, etc.!

We ended up rewiring a good half of the place, leaving only what conformed to the regs. Also added a whole bunch of sockets, mostly by replacing singles with doubles.

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