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#138053 - 08/11/03 04:30 PM They don't use boxes over there, you know  
C-H  Offline
Member
Joined: Sep 2002
Posts: 1,497
Stockholm, Sweden
I was googling the net for something and found an FAQ about international wiring. Never mind where, but the company has very good information and a range of international sockets, plugs and a whole lot of other things.

Reading the FAQ I noticed the following part:

Q: Why can’t I find mounting boxes for European wall outlets, like those used in the U.S.?

A: The reason mounting boxes can’t be located is European’s don’t commonly use them. Because building practices and materials differ so greatly in Europe, and because the Building and Safety regulations are different, mounting boxes for electrical outlets have not been devised. Most, if not all, mounting boxes that are in existence were custom made for individual socket outlets by U.S. manufacturers who wished to have them. It may sound dangerous to us, that the Europeans don’t use boxes to mount their wall outlets.
---------

I contacted them and got a friendly reply, promising to look it up.

>We have some employees here that have lived in Europe for a
>number of years, and we have asked our socket suppliers (from Europe) about
>this in the past, and they have all indicated that boxes are not commonly
>used or available in continental Europe, except in the case of outdoor or IP
>rated sockets.

To this I responded the following. [Note: I leave out the pictures I included in the e-mail]

I believe there must have been a misunderstanding between you and your manufacturer.
Sockets like the single Schuko, 88010610, is the type you find mounted in
equipment. These need no box, as far as I know. Standardised boxes are only used
for in wall mounting. Your duplex Shucko socket 88010200 appears to be designed
for use in a standard 60 mm in-wall box.

The type of box used in many continental countries is a round box with screws on
60 mm centers. (The screws come with the box or separately, not with the
device.) The boxes can be ganged, in which case the distance between the center
of the boxes is 70 mm. Devices can be placed in single, double, triple etc.
frames. This way devices are in separate boxes, but share a common front.

See picture Boxes_60mm.jpg which shows the simplest boxes available here in
Sweden. The boxes are for different wall thickness and ganged for the catalog
photo only. The "tubes" are for holding rigid plastic conduit. In countries
using cables instead of conduit, boxes don't have these. For example see the
French mounting box in Simple_box_60mm.jpg.

See socket_outlet_in-wall.gif for a simple Schuko socket outlet intended for use
in a frame.
The picture frame.gif shows a typical double frame. You can put different
devices, like one socket and one switch in the frame. The frames are
manufacturer and model specific. (If the socket and the frame in the pictures
doesn't seem to match it's because the pictures are from different
manufacturers.)

Note that some countries, like Denmark, the UK and Italy have their own
standards. Also some countries might still stick to the old screwless box. In
this case, the device is fastened not by screws but by claws on the device. It
was probably the simplest solution when boxes were introduced in the 1930's, but
the shift to plastic boxes in the 1960's made it an obsolete design. See the
Switch_with_claws.jpg to see the claws. These fold out and grab hold of the box
when you tighten the screws. (And, it's a dimmer, not a switch.) Although most
switches and sockets have claws, all devices have screw holes too.

There is supposed to be a new IEC world standard box, but CENELEC has it on hold
until it has figured out what socket we are to use in Europe. Not this decade...

For surface mounted devices, the boxes used are manufacturer or series specific.
In some cases the box is even device specific. The design of these boxes depend
on the IP rating. For IP20 devices, simple frames with open backs are used. The
picture Socket_with_on-wall-box.gif shows this type of box with a timer and a
socket in a double frame.

To complicate matter somewhat, surface mounted devices are often designed as
self-contained units without need for a box. See picture
Socket_outlet_on-wall.gif . This is used "as is". Just make a cut in the gasket
at the bottom and pull the Romex style cable in. Rated for outdoor use, IP44.

Junction boxes, ceiling boxes and boxes for large devices appears to be
completely unstandardised.

----------

Do the ECN members agree with me?


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#138054 - 08/12/03 06:05 AM Re: They don't use boxes over there, you know  
pauluk  Offline
Member
Joined: Aug 2001
Posts: 7,520
Norfolk, England
Well, I've seen a few houses here where somebody decided to save money by not using any boxes, but this is typical of some of the misinformation that's floating around out there.


#138055 - 08/12/03 09:58 AM Re: They don't use boxes over there, you know  
C-H  Offline
Member
Joined: Sep 2002
Posts: 1,497
Stockholm, Sweden
Paul,

what are the dimensions of the British boxes? The distance between the screws?


#138056 - 08/12/03 03:11 PM Re: They don't use boxes over there, you know  
djk  Offline
Member
Joined: Dec 2002
Posts: 1,237
Ireland
I love the way people like that make pronouncements about 500,000,000 electrical installations based on a visit to a cheap, badly built, 1950s appartment on the costa del sol, an old French farm house last rewired in 1921 or something [Linked Image]

I could equally come up with massive generalisations about the US system based on a few personal experiences but I know they're not the norm.
Sparking ungrounded outlets.. etc etc..

And I know that most american's don't connect their vaccuum cleaners to the lightbulb holder! (I saw this happening in one place in Georgia... long story!)

[This message has been edited by djk (edited 08-12-2003).]


#138057 - 08/12/03 07:02 PM Re: They don't use boxes over there, you know  
David UK  Offline
Member
Joined: Oct 2002
Posts: 134
Inverness, Scotland
C-H,
Standard UK flush metal boxes are sized as follows:

1 Gang (square): 70mm X 70mm, Fixing centres: 60.3mm

2 Gang (rectangular): 130mm X 70mm, Fixing centres: 120.6mm

Both 1 & 2 gang boxes are available in various depths:

16mm - Suitable for standard light switches only.
25mm - For switches, sockets & connection units.
35mm - For standard accessories & 32/45A switches where smaller cables are used.
47mm - For all standard accessories, 32/45A switches, cooker control units, shaver sockets & any application where extra wiring room is required.


#138058 - 08/13/03 06:53 AM Re: They don't use boxes over there, you know  
Texas_Ranger  Offline
Member
Joined: Dec 2001
Posts: 2,399
Vienna, Austria
I've seen "boxless" switches from time to time, but they're definitely not the norm. These guys just punched a hole into the wall and secured the switch with the claws. (In one case there was a surface mount switch, and they applied nearly 3cm of tile adhesive (which meant concrete back then) and tiles onto the wall, leaving a hole for the switch/Schuko receptacle combo (no ground wire, the neutral for the receptacle was one half of a 0.75mm2 zip cord put in plaster, even though the wiring was in conduit, in the other case they drywalled over the wall and just tore out the old box and mounted the switch in the empty hole).


#138059 - 08/13/03 10:57 AM Re: They don't use boxes over there, you know  
C-H  Offline
Member
Joined: Sep 2002
Posts: 1,497
Stockholm, Sweden
David,
thanks!

Quote

1 Gang (square): 70mm X 70mm, Fixing centres: 60.3mm

2 Gang (rectangular): 130mm X 70mm, Fixing centres: 120.6mm


I see you do like the Americans and have special 2 gang boxes instead of ganging two standard boxes.

With mounting screws 60.3 mm apart in Britain and 60 mm on the continent, British and continental devices should be interchangeable. Has anyone tested?

[This message has been edited by C-H (edited 08-13-2003).]


#138060 - 08/13/03 07:07 PM Re: They don't use boxes over there, you know  
pauluk  Offline
Member
Joined: Aug 2001
Posts: 7,520
Norfolk, England
Sorry for my longer-than-usual absence -- Slight computer problems!

What threads are the mounting screws on most Continental boxes? British types are M3.5 these days, previously 4BA (British Association).


#138061 - 08/14/03 08:32 AM Re: They don't use boxes over there, you know  
Texas_Ranger  Offline
Member
Joined: Dec 2001
Posts: 2,399
Vienna, Austria
Plastic threads for whatever wood screw you want to use. 1950ies and older metal boxes had the same thread as all electrical stuff (terminal screws,...), no idea which one that is.


#138062 - 08/15/03 05:24 PM Re: They don't use boxes over there, you know  
pauluk  Offline
Member
Joined: Aug 2001
Posts: 7,520
Norfolk, England
Plastic threads which you can tap with virtually any screw you want? Different.....

Our standard steel boxes have mounting lugs with the M3.5/4BA thread already tapped. Even the plastic plasterboard boxes with their plastic mounting lugs normally have a tapped brass insert for the device screws.



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