How are we going to set about "measuring" safety? By the number of reported electrocutions and electric-related fires? The statistics for the former are probably quite reliable, but for fires it's been mentioned here before that statistics are somewhat dubious, in view of different approaches in various juridictions and the tendency to blame as electrical any fire whose cause cannot otherwise be determined.
C-H has certainly hit the nail squarely on the head as far as many Brits are concerned. I'd say that the majority of people in the U.K. class the British system as "the best in the world," although personally I would challenge that.
Another point is whether we're going to examine the safety angle from a fully code-compliant installation in each country, or whether we're going to take a typical system, which is often quite different.
#135617 - 01/20/0312:43 PMRe: the 'electricaly safest' country?
For asthetic reasons totally flush boxes.. not even the usual uk/US slightly raised ones.. socket/switch should fit into the box and fit totally flush to the wall.
I'd use UK plugs and sockets but specify slightly deeper boxes in the walls. Make sure that most appliences had a moulded-on plug and key the fuses so they're not interchangable. A 3amp in a 3amp only etc.. More asthetic wall fittings than schuko polarised and safer.
German distribution on 16Amp radial circuits max.
Add good quality RCDs
Light fittings.. something totally different neither BC or EC.. plug in bulbs of some type two prongs slip into a holder or something. Switches: Something a bit more stylish than the normal UK ones prefer something flush and flat.
US style conduits in walls.. Good quality metal conduits used to prevent problems. Extra work but they could be installed by a builder day one and the electricians life would be EASY..
I dont know which I'd use for heavy appliences (cookers etc)
European 3-phase has good and bad points UK MASSIVELY heavy cooker cable has good and bad points ..
hard to know
#135621 - 01/21/0307:54 AMRe: the 'electricaly safest' country?
Well, regulars won't be surprised to hear that I agree with our Irish friend about the unnecessary use of ring circuits in Britain. There's certainly room for a bad connection to open a ring and result in the overloading of part of the cable. They are also subject to being completely botched with DIY attempts (if we are to include DIY and "normal use" factors rather than just fully code-compliant installations).
The cable angle is also a big safety issue. Far too many times here cables are just loosely draped across attics, unsecured and unprotected. I've seen too many cases where a cable has been damaged by being crushed, caught and pulled etc.
Certainly the whole issue of device boxes here needs to be addressed. As DJK mentioned, they are generally far too shallow, which often results in pinched and damaged wires (the prevalance of masonry walls doesn't encourage the fitting of deeper boxes, of course!). American practice is far superior in this regard. The U.S. also uses those nice Romex connectors to securely clamp the cable where it enters the box. British boxes have no such facility, and a sharp pull on a cable can easily result in strained/broken connections.
The range (cooker) issue raises the question of what the highest available voltage should be in a residential system. I think North America probably has the best compromise here with using 240V to keep the cable sizes reasonable for heavy loads while still having only 120V to ground.
It's nice to see the NEC changed to require 4-wire range/dryer hookups though. This is the one aspect of U.S. practice that I've never felt comfortable with.
#135622 - 01/21/0310:45 AMRe: the 'electricaly safest' country?
I've seen a lot of 1960s and 70s homes in Ireland where boxes arn't really used. The wall plates are mounted onto plasterboard (drywall) usually a fairly substantial cavity and they just use like 3 inch or more long screws to hold it in place there are cable grips on the back of the plates though and they're usually carried in plastic conduit to the fitting. Boxes are absolutely required now, not sure if they were then too but there certainly are lots of them done that way!
Solid walls usually have conduit burried into the sub-plaster work (usually plastic)
In some houses dating from the 1930's & 40's where Schuko fittings were originally used the quality of wiring and workmanship is FAR higher than today.
All cables including in the attic space are carried in sealed black round metal grounded conduits fixed very neatly to the joists. You see no cables at all it looks like very neat plumbing.
No rings,10A, 12A or 16A circuits lots of Diazed fuses usually a very large black distribution board. or in some cases the fuses are in each room mounted over the door on a small black plate with a cover.
What ever specs they were following they were very high!
The sockets tended to be flush fitted into the skirting boards or onto wooden panneling (round fittings) all grounded, have never seen an ungrounded one. Very neat round flat usually dark coloured recessed socket. Where they're on a wall they're usually mounted in a circular carved wooden backing plate like an old lightswitch.
Switches were simple or ornate round brass tumblers mounted on round carved wooden plates (many of these still in use just rewired to remove old cabling)
Many of these installations were updated simply by replacing the cables in the conduits and fitting BS1363 outlets (much larger and uglier) and adding a modern distribution board and RCDs... All on radial circuits though.
I suspect that these installations were actually either done or certainly approved by the ESB (Electricity Supply Board) itself as the standard of workmanship is way beyond anything done in later periods or earlier.
Where BS546 was used in the 50's and early 60s the wiring is much less "organised".
Eventually all the above was replaced by BS1363 13Amp sockets & ring circuits.