From: John Wilson
User-Agent: Mozilla/5.0 (X11; U; Linux i686; en-US; rv:0.9.4) Gecko/20011126 Netscape6/6.2.1
Subject: Re: American vs foreign electrical parts and installations
NNTP-Posting-Date: Tue, 17 Sep 2002 16:13:29 GMT
Organization: AT&T Broadband
Date: Tue, 17 Sep 2002 16:13:29 GMT
George Gonzalez wrote:
> "Bob Wilson" wrote in message
>>North American plugs and sockets are the worst-designed crap in the world.
>>Not only are they flimsy, they are dangerous. A bloody embarrassment!
> Yes, they look flimsy, but IMHO are a very cost-effective and reasonably
> safe design.
> Thinking back over 40 years, I don't recall a single instance of getting a
> shock from a plug or outlet, nor any time one has failed and smoked or
> flamed. Not too bad a record.
My personal experience includes a number of flamed receptacles. Where I
work, everybody wears badges, and we had to put in a special rule
banning metal bead-chain badge holders, because one employee was injured
when she bent over to plug something in, and the badge holder chain was
hanging in contact with the prongs of the plug when it made contact in
the wall. Bad burns.
A particularly insidious trap is that ground contacts often fail. We've
had a regular stream of incidents where grounded appliances were not
really grounded. It's not uncommon to check pin tension on a receptacle
and find that you have ok tension on the power prongs and none on the
grounding prong. This means that the plug feels normal when you insert
and remove it, but the ground contact is not making up.
The standard horror story involves toddlers sticking things like table
knives into receptacles, which is impossible with European-style
receptacles. You have to buy special covers to prevent this; it happens
all the time. A friend had a cat badly injured when the critter sprayed
a receptacle and caused a short circuit and shock.
Going further afield, we had a short circuit in a light fixture caused
by use of wirenuts to make up power connections. The wiring had two tiny
fixture wires and two #14 power conductors in each wire nut, and after
the lousy connection had cooked for a while, the wire nut disintegrated,
the black conductor contacted the box, and ZAP. Scared the you-know-what
out of my wife. I've seen lots of other nasties involving wirenuts; I
don't consider them suitable for power wiring.
I fully agree that the US standard household fixtures are crap. OTOH, I
also have the impression that NEMA-standard industrial equipment
(circuit breakers, motor starters, etc.) has more "guts" than the
equivalent European (IEC-standard) devices. I don't know of any problems
with IEC gear, which we use a lot of, but it's just a general impression.