We have a few of the large British DIY chains here B&Q, Homebase etc. and also a few of the large electrical retailers Dixons etc along with catalogue shop, Argos.
For most things it's not a big deal but there are a few differences and some products on sale that have no market at all here like I've seen rewirable fuse wire and Wylex plug-in MCBs!! We have never had that system. Yet they didn't stock Diazed/Neozed fuses, still used in a LOT of Irish distribution boards.
Also it's common to see Cooker Control switches complete with BS1363 socket which are illegal to install here. Same with BS546 sockets intended for use with plug-in lamps controlled by a light switch. completely illegal if used on a lighting circuit without RCD.
MK Cooker Control Unit complete with socket.
The main area I've noticed problems with is telecommunications equipment. Often these stores just ignore the fact that the Irish phone network isn't the same as BT.
You regularly see UK chains selling BT wall sockets and extension reels!!! There is absolutely no market for these here it makes no sense and people seem to endlessy return them. Admittedly they seem to have gradually realised this makes no sense and either don't stock them at all or stock RJ11 equivlants.
They normally supply a small little UK - Irish adaptor which basically converts the BT plug to RJ11 and includes a ringing capacitor to deal with the 3rd wire ringing system used in the UK.
(looks like this)
However, even with that many phones still don't really work properly connected to an Irish line.
Caller ID may not work as the BT system has a unique way of doing things. Before caller ID information is sent it inverts the polarity on the line. Irish lines send long burst of ringing then the caller ID data.
Callwaiting ID is not necessarily compatable either, sometimes it works, sometimes it doesnt.
BT phones incorrectly adapted to an irish line can do weird things including short circuiting the phone line by connecting A to B wires, refuse to ring, ring continiously or tinkle everytime someone picks up / hangs up a phone!
Apparently the way the ringing signal is applied to a line here is quite different. I don't really know exactly how it's done but I know that over here it's usually 75 V 25Hz applied out of phase on both legs, presumably the A+B wires. PaulUK might know what exactly that means! as I am not exactly sure how this is normally done or how it's done in the UK. The pattern is a long burst of ringing followed by UK style double rings.
Strangely enough US / Canadian phones (fixed line ones not cordless) often end up on the Irish market and appear to be 100% compatable with the Irish network. Caller ID works, callwaiting ID and they are normal 2-wire RJ11 phones. Even "Flash" seems to work fine in place of the normal "R" button.
Also it's not too unusual to find that a TV is sold with a UHF only tuner. This is completely useless here as we use PAL I on both VHF and UHF and on analogue Cable we even go as far as using "Hyperband" which basically gives you extra channels by using all the VHF & UHF bands. (Used extensively here.. like at least 1 out of 3 homes)
In the past we used to find all sorts of problems with 240V specified equipment particularly if it was used on a 220V supply in a rural area where the supply voltage might have occasionally dipped towards the lower end of the 220V tollerance levels.
It was a particular problem for imported gas boilers as they'd occasionally refuse to spark!
at least the common EU 230V specification is helping a little there!
Most other Irish specifications arn't too different.
except fixed cable ...
We use Striped (yellow/green), Blue (N). Brown (L) for single phase fixed cable
and now the standard Cenelec 3 phase cable colours too.
Supplying UK cable colours is totally illegal but it has happened in DIY chains.
Black has been banned in the fixed cabling colour scheme for some time as the seemed to be anticipating its use as a phase colour in the new 3 phase system.
(in the old system Black was neutral, in the 3-phase system it is now one of the phases)
Typical Irish Phone connection point:
Typical British phone connection point:
[This message has been edited by djk (edited 10-09-2003).]