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#136840 - 05/07/03 12:32 PM Which plug is most common?  
C-H  Offline
Joined: Sep 2002
Posts: 1,497
Stockholm, Sweden
I plugged the list of the sockets used around the world into Excel to see which plugs were the most and least common. As I can't tell the number of sockets installed, I used the number of countries instead.

Excel returned the following:

Socket outlets without earth
Two round pins, 124 countries
American 15A, 58 countries

Socket outlets with earth
British 13A, 55 countries
German "Schuko", 53 countries
American 15A, 47 countries
French, pin earth 41 countries
Old British 5A, 40 countries
Australian 10A, 23 countries
Italian 10A, 9 countries
Danish, 9 countries
Old British 15A, 8 countries
Swiss 10A, 7 countries

I know the data is very, very shaky, but I thought I could share it with you.

[This message has been edited by C-H (edited 05-07-2003).]

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#136841 - 05/09/03 06:21 AM Re: Which plug is most common?  
pauluk  Offline
Joined: Aug 2001
Posts: 7,520
Norfolk, England
That certainly makes for an interesting comparison, but as you say, the data doesn't allow for the actual numbers in use.

Many of the 55 countries listed as using the British 13A plug, for example, will be ex-Colonial islands, African countries with little use outside of major cities, etc.

#136842 - 05/09/03 11:21 PM Re: Which plug is most common?  
Trumpy  Offline

Joined: Jul 2002
Posts: 8,217
SI,New Zealand
There's a lot of countries that use plugs without earthing contacts.
Is it true that when you purchase an appliance in the UK, it has a bare end on the flex and you have to fit your own plug?.
If so, why is this?. [Linked Image]

Let's face it, these days if you're not young, you're old - Red Green grin

#136843 - 05/10/03 11:03 AM Re: Which plug is most common?  
David UK  Offline
Joined: Oct 2002
Posts: 134
Inverness, Scotland
Re UK appliance cords.
Not true nowadays, since 1993/4 it has been mandatory for appliances to be fitted with a 3 pin 13A plug. In practice most appliances were fitted with plugs for a few years prior to that, but that was when it was required as part of UK consumer safety law.
The argument that used to be quoted for not fitting plugs was that BS 546 sockets were still in common use. In reality I think most sockets were BS 1363 by the late 1970's.
Some appliances are still not fitted with plugs, but only fixed ones intended for permanent connection. Examples would be wall mounted panel heaters, cooker hoods & appliances with loads in excess of 13A.

#136844 - 05/10/03 01:17 PM Re: Which plug is most common?  
C-H  Offline
Joined: Sep 2002
Posts: 1,497
Stockholm, Sweden
In most countries where sockets without earth is used, sockets with earth are also used. (Old versus new) The list I compiled should not be read like the countries used this plug exclusively. That would land the number of countries in the world at several hundred. [Linked Image] (There are some 200 countries in the world)

[This message has been edited by C-H (edited 05-10-2003).]

#136845 - 05/11/03 04:59 AM Re: Which plug is most common?  
pauluk  Offline
Joined: Aug 2001
Posts: 7,520
Norfolk, England
British appliances always came with either a card fitted over the cord or a page in the front of the instruction book which told buyers how to wire their own plug.

It also included instructions on what rating fuse must be fitted.

#136846 - 05/11/03 11:35 AM Re: Which plug is most common?  
djk  Offline
Joined: Dec 2002
Posts: 1,237
Unlike much of the rest of Europe our old sockets are completely incompatable with BS1363 so there was some logic to supplying appliences without plugs at one stage. However, by the early 1980s it really didn't make a lot of sense. In the rest of Europe things have remained relatively compatable. Schuko having being around since at least the 1920s.

There are still some BS546 outlets (in UK/Ireland) and the odd schuko outlet (in ireland). [The term "Schuko" was never used here. It was always refered to as "2-Pin side earthed."] So for safety sake they always include an information card attached to the cable.

This card seems to have a semi-standard text and is attached to EVERY applience sold.

This applience has been supplied with a moulded plug conforming to BS1363/A (IS 401/A) which has been fitted with a 13 amp fuse. If this plug is not suitable for the outlets in your home cut it off and dispose of it carefully. Fit a suitable plug making sure that the applience is protected with appropriate fusing at the distribution panel.

There's usually a note about safe disposal of the moulded plug as it could be leathal if inserted into a compatable outlet elsewhere in the house etc.

Where a non-moulded plug is used it's fitted but for some reason it often has card fitted to the front of the plug explaining how to re-wire it!

Plugs are still relatively easily available.. most supermarkets etc. will have them in stock. Although they're most definitely not as common place as they were even 10 years ago.

Rewirable schuko and BS546 (15amp and 5amp) are usually available in most hardware stores.

Strangely enough the Schuko plugs on sale here never seem to have the recepticle for the French earth pin which makes them really useless for fitting to appliences before going on vacation to France. They're are still conforming to a piece of Irish electrical safety legislation which refers directly to the DIN standard for CEE 7/4 "pure" Schuko rather than to CEE 7/7 (the version that bridges the French-German earthing incompatability)

C-H: For your website

You might add the British shaver/toothbrush plug to your list. It's not the same as "Europlug" although it looks extremely similar and is fitted to almost all shavers and electric toothbrushes sold in the UK and Ireland (and Hong Kong)

The pins are shorter and fatter and slightly closer together than Europlug.. I think it may be derived from the 2-pin 2amp version of BS546 and called BS4573.

They appear to be rated 2.5A max

It's impossible to insert one of these plugs into a normal European outlet.
[Linked Image]

They look VERY similar though!

[This message has been edited by djk (edited 05-11-2003).]

#136847 - 05/11/03 11:44 PM Re: Which plug is most common?  
SvenNYC  Offline
Joined: Aug 2002
Posts: 1,691
New York City

Are there replacements still available for these two-pin shaver plugs? If so, I think I have one.

Can't take a picture of it but here is a description:

Circular bakelite disk with two fat round pins. A hemi-spherical cap screws onto the disk. The dead-front is stamped 250 volts 5 amps. Is this still the proper and commonly available replacement?

I bought this thing last year at a hardware store in New York. It was in a bin with a bunch of standard two-pin American plugs. Don't know how it ended up there but a dollar later it was mine! [Linked Image]

I hope these things are available...what do you do if the cordset on your shaver gets damaged and it's not a detachable one?

(P.S.: I don't own an electric shaver, so I don't know first hand what is available)

#136848 - 05/12/03 06:11 AM Re: Which plug is most common?  
pauluk  Offline
Joined: Aug 2001
Posts: 7,520
Norfolk, England
Does your British plug look something like this?
[Linked Image]
[Linked Image]

This is a typical 1940s/1950s era 2-pin 5-amp plug. The barrier strip between the terminals has a notch at either end around which the wires are wrapped to act as a strain relief. This type of plug is certainly not manufactured anymore. New electrical regulations in the 1970s banned the use of plugs where the cover can be removed without the use of a tool. ("Too easy for someone to unscrew the cap and touch live terminals" they said.)

Here are a couple more 5A plugs of different styles:
[Linked Image]
The one on the right is a side entry type, with a single screw to hold the top in place. The one on the left is the flat-type, with a single fixing nut and bolt which holds the two halves of the plug together. These are probably of late 1950s/1960s vintage.

Anyone searching for a replacement plug for his shaver in the normal shops these days is going to have a hard time finding one. I haven't seen 2-pin 5-amp plugs in the likes of Woolworth for years.

[This message has been edited by pauluk (edited 05-12-2003).]

#136849 - 05/12/03 07:23 AM Re: Which plug is most common?  
djk  Offline
Joined: Dec 2002
Posts: 1,237
I don't know about the UK but I've personally never seen a re-wirable 2 pin British plug on sale in Ireland. Maybe they were during the 1950s.

The only 2-pin plugs I've seen sold here as rewirable units are Schuko.

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