Now you're teasing us.
This is a great idea and perfect for traveling. Am I going to have to wait 7 years before this is available?
Carrying power plugs - especially Britain's big ones - can be the bugbear of any gadget-laden traveller. But one designer may have come up with a solution: a folding plug. Can't see the video? Download Flash Player from Adobe.com Although still just a prototype, designer Min Kyo Choi has essentially rewired a traditional …
There's nothing wrong with the other folding pins type near the front of the video. Only about 8mm fatter than this one!
Trust a Macbook Airhead to sacrifice safety for MOAR THINNAR!
Oh, and Good Luck™ getting BS1363 certified! UK plugs are regarded as the safest in the world for a reason, folks.
The hardest part of this idea is probably making the mechanical fold-out part work. Because of the high voltages there are serious safety problems if it isn't reliable. And the mechanism has to be small and cheap, neither of which help with reliability.
Equally hard may be to get approval from the standards and safety people to sell this design.
But it's a neat idea.
(Incidentally, in the picture of a hand holding one of these plugs, the "plug" is just the plastic model after it's been painted. I.e. it's a solid blob of plastic in the shape of the folded plug).
It's a lovely idea - very ingenious. Being able to use it folded is brilliant. If they ever sold one, I'd buy it like a shot.
However. It would fail approval in the UK due to the finger access issues.
1) You can use it in a standard socket with the live and neutral pins in position, but with the finger shield still folded.
2) In "compact" mode, the live pin would be too accessable.
The pins are shrouded which might improve matters - someone nearer to the approvals process could say if this shrouding on modern plugs means that the minimum faceplate dimensions are now smaller.
Maybe if the shroud folded forwards it would be a goer?
You used to be able to get a plug with folding pins - but the manufacturer stopped making them.
Epic win. If these can be made durable and safe, this is awesome. I know our plugs are bulky, but I maintain that we have the best system in the world. The format of the sockets and the overall durability and safety are unrivalled. Now French plugs on the other hand... an earth pin STICKING OUT OF THE WALL!? Who on "earth" thought that was a good idea. They look awful and hurt if you accidentally bash yourself on one.
I cant think of a way to make that work that wont result in the thing melting/catching fire/lasting 2 days.
The UK plug is the safest in the world and yes it is a bit clunky but hey, having hd US plugs bite me/fall out the wall/arc till they melt I quite like ours.
Good luck getting approval
seems obvious now someone has said it - like all good ideas!
however there is the concern about the twist part and long term reliability, as well as a potential issue with the fold out safety flaps being nothing more than a pointless gesture - i doubt you'd get any sort of safety certification, but i don't think that safety certificates are needed for honk kong's ebay sellers! but safety would be a problem for any mass produced products wanting to use it
also nice timing with an article about a plug design, because saturday i was stamping on the floor (drunken dancing) bare footed and was reminded of the biggest problem UK plugs have, the hard way... did it so hard that a big black lump and associated pain is still there now - still can't walk properly and it hurts to wear even just socks :(
I've never understood while all mobile devices don't come with the folding prong plugs shown at the start of the video; they half the tickness of the plug and remove the prongs that make fitting them in bags so much more difficult.
This new design would be a substantial improvement, especially if they can be used in their folded state. However the regulations for plug safety in the UK are very high and I don't think this device would easily pass the tests. Saying that though, there is no reason with modern plastics why a plug like this couln't be made to standard. It would be a question of whether it were economical or not... Guess that won't be a problem for the mac crowd, they love spending over the odds for things. Just remember to put an apple on it along with the £10 plice tag.
That is really neat!
Where can get one?
One? sod that, where can get a whole load?
If she can get the folded flat version approved too then I'll have them by the bucket load.
Just so long as I don't have to have a bloody airbook too.
Now there really is no reason for foreigners to be allowed to carry on endangering themselves using other plugs types. Please get this accepted as the world standard plug ASAP!
...although I can't say I'm entirely convinced about the safety aspect. Lots of folding seems likely to lead to lots of fatigue in parts which are also carrying lots of current. Okay, so the actual contacts will slide rather than fold, but still.
I liked the placement of the fuse, and the ability to stack plugs was a genius touch. If it could be made safe and reliable, this would win my vote.
One quick point: I'm not sure I can see how I'd rewire it... ;)
(@Kev K: You're kidding, right? Tell me you're kidding.)
the multi adapter is much more interesting, even if the plug is made permanently folded, if 4 of them are sold with the multi adapter it will be a winner. The folding plug I suspect will not make it to market, too many moving parts for conductors carrying 220V to make it cheap and safe.
Might need a bit of work for BS1363, but that won't affect HongKong and Malaysia and other countries that use the same plug.
@Nice but ..
Transformer? 90% of the world uses the same voltage as us, and there are dual voltage power supplies/chargers supplied with most laptops, phones, MP3 players, etc. nowadays, for the backwards countries that still use 110V.
However, the adaptor[s] you need to carry will be bigger than the plug.
Ah yes, but for some reason there isn't a plague of electrocution-related carnage in the rest of the civilised world. Could this be due to the use of proper circuit breakers or spring-loaded, quick blow fuses with multiple redundant levels of protection at the source in the more sensible parts of the planet? Why yes, it could!
Actually British plugs are regarded as the laughing stock of the world if you're sat in any part of it other than Britain. Elsewhere they like to fix the problem at source rather than slapping a patch over it.
I like that the plug also seems to have solved another "issue" with the UK plug - those with weaker fingers can't grip it tightly enough to remove it - the hole in the main body should make that much easier. Though if removing a plug is an issue for you I guess the fiddly folding mechanism won't be much easier.
but i can see the fuse slot getting lose very quickly and the fuse comming out all the time
What it needs is a drop down latch or something.
i would never give up our easy to disasemble and re assemble plugs compared to others i have painfully used
now i dont know what icon to use
After watching the video and paying special attention to the few short glimpses it gives into how they intend to connect the pins to the wire leads, I have to say that this looks impractical.
Apparently, they intend for the pins to have spring-loaded wipers that contact slip-rings on the pivot. I think the safety/certification folks might have a bit of an issue with that.
Nice try, guys. Now, on to rev. 2, once you find an electrical engineer to help you.
(mine's the one with the wires hanging out of the pocket)
If you get a shock grabbing the neutral and ground / earth wires at the same time, you have serious wiring issues. I have done exactly what you suggest and suffered no ill effect. Anyone doubt me? Take a volt meter and measure between neutral and ground / earth. If you read more than a volt or two there is something wrong, call an electrician.
@Trygve Henriksen: of course there is. Once you have devices on teh circuit, of course, there will be some voltage there also.
The city of Delft in teh Netherlands used to have no neutral - just 2 lives out of phase. Ask them how well that worked (rolls eyes)
I like the idea, but why don't you brits just adopt the plug standard northern europe uses? A double-insulated device like a laptop PC shouldn't need a ground pin, so you could then use the nice, small europlug standard. Which is also less than 1cm. While you're at it, have the Euro too.
That having been said, this is still a brilliant idea!
>>"Grab the 'Neutral' and the Ground wire at the same time..."
>>"I'll bet you get the same shock as if you grab the 'Live' and Ground wire..."
Fair enough, neutral isn't always close to ground, but it's usually close enough to avoid fatal-level shocks, even if it might tingle a bit.
Just checked it out now, (with a suitable meter).
Where I am there isn't an earth/neutral difference (<0.1V), so I guess the neutral is locally earthed here.
"Our plug and socket standards just happen to be superior"
Oh please. Let me count the errors: All pins contact simultaneously, rather than earth first. Earth is at the top, disconnecting under gravity. The pins are square, so the socket will be weak in the corners.
You can see the hack with the insulation to prevent people contacting the pins on a partly-removed plug. But of necessity that retrofitted insulation is much thinner than desirable.
But worst all of all is the fuse. It is something that *looks* safe, but isn't in the real world. In the real world plugs are made with plastic injection, giving a huge amount of insulation, even between components of the plug. So even when the plug fails it is somewhat safe. But the UK plug has a fuse in the middle of all that -- wires all over the place for a detached wire to contact.
Don't get me wrong. The UK plug is a vast advance on the way we used to ship hardware to the UK -- with bare wires and advice on installing your own plug. The US plug is only a marginal improvement on bare wires. But comparing the UK plug with the other 15 national plugs here I doubt claims to its superiority.
TeeCee - I agree 100%. In my experience, if the Germans and scandinavians are in consensus that something is plenty good enough, it will be a better choice than whatever half-baked crap the Brits use as an alternative. There's no excuse for a plug that's bigger than many of the gadgets it's attached to.
@Lionel Baden. Easy to disassemble? Why in the name of god should you need to disassemble a plug in this day and age? Most consumers can barely be trusted to sign their own names without drooling. Letting them assemble a plug, or replace a blown fuse with whatever they have lying around that fits in the hole, is nothing but a fire hazard. Remember when they changed the law to insist on molded-on plugs with appliances because of the number of people doing it wrong?
Trygve Henriksen - Blimey, there are two of us. Are you by any chance the prolific Psion enthusiast that everyone keeps mistaking me for?
If the plug twisty thingy breaks in the socket, you have two prongs jammed in the sockey that need prying out with something thin like a metal knife. How much that some muppet with do this, but forget to switch off the socket first?
British Safety regs will have a field day on this one, they barely allow the old style screwed up plugs, it's all molded ones now wherever possible!
The most portable British plug is the 2 pin northern European plug and a plastic screwdriver or pen or plastic stylus to push into the earth pin to open the shutter. It really is that easy, push the plastic widget into the earth hole, the shutter for the live and neutral open up, plug the 2 pin european into the live neutral holes, you can take you the earth widget out after that.
A 2 pin northern European plug will work in 3 pin European sockets, UK 3 pin sockets (but need the plastic shim to for the earth shutter). Chinese dual sockets etc. pretty much anywhere outside the US.
Presumably every international jetsetter knows this??
Just silence the safety nazi in your head caused by years of conditioning and you'll realize how stupid it is having a plug bigger than the charge it connects to, with a fuse that has long been superseded by an electronic box on the mains, and an earth pin on a device with no earth. Safety nazis hold up progress.
Typically AC is carried by the power company in three phase (i.e. three separate wires carrying AC power wrt ground with a 120 degree phase difference) and a common neutral. The effect of this is that when averaged out, the three phases should have a potential wrt ground of 0 volts, so the neutral wire should carry no power (it all cancels out), and will somewhere in the power infrastructure be grounded (but not in your house!).
Unfortunately, the real world is not so simple. Most inductive loads (read high power devices) cause a phase shift to the AC waveform, so the combined neutral may carry residual AC voltage, especially in a single phase installation. Also, when you are looking at power delivery to domestic houses, it is normal for each house to only be on a single phase, and the phases alternated down the street (so your each of your neighbours may well be on a different phase from you). This means that if you grab neutral, you had better be prepared for a shock, although it is unlikely to be a full 230V and *may* be negligible. It really depends on the difference in power consumption between you and everyone else attached to your local substation, and how good your regional electricity distribution company is at balancing the load between the phases.
This alternation of phases also explains why it is possible for some types of power cut to only affect some of the houses in a street.
"All pins contact simultaneously, rather than earth first. Earth is at the top, disconnecting under gravity."
Is that why the Earth pin on a UK plug is longer? To somehow not connect first?
And I've NEVER seen a UK plug "disconnect under gravity". Once in a socket, it stays there, even tugging on the cable doesn't budge it. You often have to use a lot of force to remove the plug.
Clearly a comment from someone who have never even touched a UK plug.
As for this invention, I like the idea of the compact plug-adaptor, which could remove a lot of bulky extension blocks in my house. Bulkiness is the main issue with UK plugs. Then again electronics is transitioning, maybe in 20 years new houses will be built with DC lighting circuits. Maybe one day we'll have a global plug socket too.
I'm impressed at the way someone has really "thought outside the box" in this case (instead of using it as a meaningless buzz-phrase!)
Yes, it's not perfect, but it's a start and I'm sure there are ways of fixing the problems if people are willing to think about the issues instead of just immediately dismissing it as "won't work, can't work, why bother changing what we've got" etc...
But it is a good concept, with the compact 4-way adding a huge extra benefit that is probably more useful that the ability to fold the plug in the first place.
I dont think it would be impossible to find suitable materials to make the design robust enough to get BS certified.
Now we just need a 10mm thick transformer to go with it.
"...like the idea, but why don't you brits just adopt the plug standard northern europe uses? A double-insulated device like a laptop PC shouldn't need a ground pin, so you could then use the nice, small europlug standard. Which is also less than 1cm...""
Why stop there? For the real Dutch experience move all your sockets half way up the wall - so you have fucking power cables dangling everywhere. Then remove the earth wires to all the sockets in the house except for the ones in the kitchen. (Because that extra copper would have cost at least a couple Guilders, right?)
The earth pin mates first and demates last, opening or closing the socket's mechanical live/neutral cover.
A fuse is useful in a socket in a consumer environment as it's easy to change and doesn't take out a whole ring main if something draws too much current. (Do you use ring mains where you are?)
The socket must be wired so that if you yank the cable out live, neutral and earth disconnect in that order.
Modern equipment is all supplied with molded sockets, they are solid and have a flip out fuse holder.
Also if you think that the UK plug/socket isn't that rugged, have you ever tried breaking one? It's pretty hard.
"All pins contact simultaneously, rather than earth first. "
Have you looked at a UK earth pin lately? It's bigger, fatter and LONGER than the other two. Given the slot nature of the socket, it's completely impossible for the other pins to reach contact point before the earth pin has already made contact. Likewise your appliance is earthed even after the live and neutral pins have disengaged.
>>"Remember when they changed the law to insist on molded-on plugs with appliances because of the number of people doing it wrong?"
What actually happened to that?
It did seem that for a while, practically *everything* had moulded-on plugs, but more recently, that seems to be rather less common, judging from new appliances I've handled.
Given the general drive towards stopping anyone going anywhere *near* their own electrics (unless they have a reel of red/black twin&earth stashed away) , that does seem a bit strange.
"Oh please. Let me count the errors: All pins contact simultaneously, rather than earth first."
Yes, let's count the errors. Starting with that one... Look at a UK plug. Notice how the earth pin is longer than the L/N pins. Consider what that might mean with regards to connect/disconnect sequencing.
"Earth is at the top, disconnecting under gravity."
Uhh, OK. Is the gravitational pull several orders of magnitude stronger in your part of the world than over here where these plugs somehow manage to remain firmly grasped by their sockets even when said plug has a dirty great transformer-based DC adapter embedded into its casing.
"The pins are square, so the socket will be weak in the corners."
True, rounded holes would reduce the potential for cracking, but the materials used in decent quality (i.e. not the cheapest imported rubbish you can lay your hands on that claims to be BS1363 compliant) sockets seem to be strong enough to withstand everyday usage without cracking. I've seen more cracked sockets on my travels outside of the UK than in 35 years of living here.
"You can see the hack with the insulation to prevent people contacting the pins on a partly-removed plug. But of necessity that retrofitted insulation is much thinner than desirable."
You can see the same "hack" on europlugs too... And what's worse - having thin insulation which will protect against some of the problems that non-insulated pins cause, or having no insulation at all?
"All pins contact simultaneously, rather than earth first. Earth is at the top, disconnecting under gravity"
The Earth pin is longer and the contact closer to the 'surface' of the socket, meaning the Earth connects first (and the other pins can't enter the socket unless the earth pin is in place)
Also, the fact that the cable exits the plug at right angles to, rather than in line with, the pins means there's less chance of the plug pivoting out of the socket.
You are clearly not from the UK or you'd know that you're wrong:
- The UK plug's earth pin *is* longer than the others precisely to ensure that it connects *first*.
Stop the 'connects simultaneously' bollocks and check your facts first!
- No UK plug would come out of a socket under gravity alone. And if the design was 'weak in the corners' I think you'd see sockets failing from this all the time, instead of never.
- The fuse may well be redundant now that we have RCD circuit breakers but it does allow UK products to blow a fuse at more than just one level of current. A fuse for a low-power device like a lamp is usually 3A: the power is cut if some cretin replaces a blown bulb with a too-large alternative.
I don't know whether it was a deliberate design choice or not, but one thing I really like about UK plus (and others of the same shape) is that the wire sticks out the side of the plug rather than the back. Coupled with the triangular pin layout this means that pulling the wire tends to impart a rotational moment on the plug, which locks it in place. It's extremely hard to pull a UK plug out of its socket by pulling on the wire.
Right now I'm in Korea, which uses grotty two-pin europlug type things. I tend to have to hold the plugs in place by pushing a heavy object up against them. 240V 60Hz, too...
"Just silence the safety nazi in your head caused by years of conditioning and you'll realize how stupid it is having a plug bigger than the charge it connects to, with a fuse that has long been superseded by an electronic box on the mains, and an earth pin on a device with no earth. Safety nazis hold up progress"
If you mean the type C plug (max 2.5amps) then yes, simply plug in as described. Arrange a bit of an overload somewhere, say 20 amps or so and you'll have a nice little fire going without tripping either the RCD or the 32A MCB on the ring main.
The regulations exist to prevent Idiots like you harming yourself and others around you.
Paris, because even she knows what you should and shouldn't be inserting.
Don't get me started on the ring main being the best thing since sliced bread. If they were that good many other countries would be using them, as it is only a few do. Radials are better in that when a break occurs in the cabling, it is obvious where the break is as sockets past it don't work. In a ring with a break, nothing is noticeable except that the current carrying capability has degraded leading to possible overheating etc. Rings were only invented to handle the UK population's need for electric fires not for any specific safety requirement.
The new style plug will be useful for the elderly and everyone else in that it will be easy to unplug using the built-in finger hook. I realise that you can get special plugs with finger hooks, but they can't easily be attached to equipment with prewired cables and molded plugs.
> Typically AC is carried by the power company in three phase (i.e. three separate wires carrying AC power
Um, no. Three Phase power usually requires 4 wires, although the Neutral may be omitted where 240v or 120/110v don't need to be provided.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Single-phase_electric_power and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Three-phase_electric_power
In North America most service to homes and small businesses is 3 wire 220-240v Single Phase -- two hot and a neutral. 110v is provided by (for lack of a better term I call) splitting the 220, using one hot and the neutral.
The same article says that residential service in the UK is also usually Single Phase, but later on says the 3 wire Single Phase systems are rarely used; perhaps that only applies to commercial service. Does that mean you get 3 wire 440v down from the pole and split it to get 240 on a circuit.
Elsewhere in Europe, the article says, Three Phase service is the norm. I gather that means 4 wire 415v down from the pole and then a hot and the neutral provide 240v to a circuit.
"The regulations exist to prevent Idiots like you harming yourself and others around you."
"If you mean the type C plug (max 2.5amps) then yes, simply plug in as described. Arrange a bit of an overload somewhere, say 20 amps or so and you'll have a nice little fire going without tripping either the RCD or the 32A MCB on the ring main."
And yet the Europeans use the two pin plug without problem, of course for your scenario to work, the short has to be after the plug but before the cut out in the appliance, it has to be low enough not to trip the electronic cut off, yet high enough to cause the fire. It has to somehow fail to trip the earth leakage circuit breaker too. And for the British plug to be safer, you have to ignore the scenario of the short *after* the fuse (e.g. between the pins).
So where are the statistics backing you up? Go on, if this is a problem, then because the whole of Europe uses this plug there must be clear statistics showing the problem.
To me it's simple, the plug was designed in the day of slow fuses and metal boxes, and cord flex and it has never been updated.
And Britain being full of safety nazis mean it never will.
"And yet the Europeans use the two pin plug without problem" -- yes, but they have massive distribution boards with a separate 10 amp or 16 amp fuse for every socket outlet (ideally; often you get one fuse serving two or more sockets). We in the UK have just one big 30 amp fuse for all the sockets, which are wired up in a ring with *two* lengths of twin-and-earth from the d.b. to each socket, and a fuse in every plug to protect the cable on each appliance.
Not to mention that the cable often projects straight out of the plug instead of turning through a neat right-angle so any force tightens the plug in the socket. Or the safety shutters.
>>"To me it's simple, the plug was designed in the day of slow fuses and metal boxes, and cord flex and it has never been updated."
>>"And Britain being full of safety nazis mean it never will."
What have safety Nazis to do with it?
If another system *was* actually safer, wouldn't safety Nazis be pushing for a change to that system?
If another system *wasn't* safer, why would people (safety Nazis or otherwise) want to change, if changing would be a cost with minimal obvious benefits?
Sure, I could change all my sockets, change all my plugs, and throw away all my extension leads (except for the ones I'd have to keep to plug all my UK-layout wall warts into), but doing that in order that I can more easily plug in a laptop or camera charger when on holiday would seem like a bad deal.
Maybe standardisation would be slightly cheaper for manufacturers, but I'd wonder if the fraction of any savings that filtered down to me would cover the cost of switching, even if I did everything myself.
To someone getting in an *electrician* in to change sockets..
Why in this day and age have we not also got low voltage DC plumbed into houses? Put a 12V supply in, and you could almost certainly do away with the vast majority of the black bricks that litter our houses. It is much easier to go 12C DC to 9V or 5V DC in a compact manner (look at car devices), and once it is in as a standard, especially if it is a plugless track system, then small devices will be made to work from 12V directly and not need a step-down. We then no longer need bulky 230V 13A plugs!
This would also allow us to move from inefficient transformer/rectifier devices (the majority of cheap power supplied) to a more efficient larger central switch-mode power supply to keep all of the greens happy and reduce our power bills.
Only problem would be the high current demands of certain devices.
this is the most ingenious thing i have ever seen in the last 10 years.
also the adaptor to put 3 of the folded plugs into an normal one, or share it with a ac to usb power control block is pure genius !!
It should be possible to pass safety standards if the ground pin is solid copper and the power and neutral pin are shrouded to only have the tip be copper.
The rotational part is no problem as it uses friction contacts. so there are no wires that need stretching or shortening.
the only weak spot would be the swivel itself. every time you pull the plug out the entire force lands on the swivel. ( inserting is no problem since the 'wings' spread the pressure over the rotating part.
I said three carry the power, and a common neutral. 3+1=4. Yes? Please read the comment before posting.
Single phase. Yes, domestic properties just get a single phase. Commercial properties quite often get three phase, but this is used as three 230V feeds which go to different parts of the property, unless you have something like a mainframe or an IBM SP/2 (RIP). But even these (I believe) separate the circuits out to 3x230V into 40V(?) DC converters, and then distribute this around the frame.
When I was at college, we found that the two sides of our dining hall (where we had bands playing) were on different phases. Caused no end of earth-loop hum on the PA equipment we used until we worked out what was going on. And you could get quite a belt between the EARTHs of the two different sides, as they were earthed separately (we measured 120V AC between the earths).
When they say three wire single phase, I presume they mean 2+Earth. Normally, Earth is a local earth, with just 230V Live and Neutral on the cable from the electricity company.
If you have three phase, they also provide a neutral, thus requiring a four wire, three phase installation. Only specialist equipment runs 415V between phases, and this is not the norm for most sites, although I will probably get flamed for generalisation.
Oh dear me. You don't have a fucking clue what you are talking about either!
There are in fact 2 types of 'European' plug. Try your trick with a Type E/F 16 A earthed plug and you are very likely to come a cropper. Admittedly no great loss to the world, but there is the risk that your stupidity would result in the injury or death of others.
Wonderful, very well done. The UK standard plug is dated and this is a well thought out idea. I wish it success.
On a different note, it is about time we changed the UK style of plugs and sockets- it would be a long term project but should we not make Euro plugs and sockets acceptable in the UK?
"If another system *was* actually safer, wouldn't safety Nazis be pushing for a change to that system? ..If another system *wasn't* safer, why would people (safety Nazis or otherwise) want to change, if changing would be a cost with minimal obvious benefits?"
I don't want the safety nazis to drive anything either way. I want them to stop inventing bogus scenarios that don't measurable happen in the real world to scare people into being afraid of change. The 2 pin is safe, you have not shown any reputable reference showing otherwise.
There has been zero progress on the problems with the 3 pin.
"Sure, I could change all my sockets, change all my plugs, "
No, just buy the 2 pin euro version of any power adapter if you want to use it in most sockets without a who bunch of adapters! If you like, use the earth pin of a British plug to open the shutter (rotate it 180, use the earth pin to open the shutter, bingo). No doubt someone will invent a load of scare stories about it, but it's really fine.
It's a pity there is no progress on the 3 pin socket, it could support 2 pin shutter operation (like the 2 pin euro ones do - you have to push both pin in simultaneously to open the shutter), it could support both euro and UK plugs. But it doesn't. It could be less bulky, but it isn't.
No, electrician actually.
"If you mean the type C plug (max 2.5amps) then yes, simply plug in as described. Arrange a bit of an overload somewhere, say 20 amps or so and you'll have a nice little fire going without tripping either the RCD or the 32A MCB on the ring main."
"And yet the Europeans use the two pin plug without problem, of course for your scenario to work, the short has to be after the plug but before the cut out in the appliance, it has to be low enough not to trip the electronic cut off, yet high enough to cause the fire"
I don't know where you get the idea that all appliances have cutouts, they do not. The scenario I described is perfectly possible with a fault placing a 12ohm load on the circuit. A damaged flex can do that.
"It has to somehow fail to trip the earth leakage circuit breaker too."
My point was that the earth leakage circuit breaker (RCD) would not trip because there is no leak to earth, just an overload insufficient to trip the breaker or blow the fuse, but plenty to melt the insulation on the wire after the plug. Admittedly, if you were holding the wire when the insulation melted and you touched the conductor current would flow through you and the RCD may trip before you die but there is no guarantee of that. :-)
"And for the British plug to be safer, you have to ignore the scenario of the short *after* the fuse (e.g. between the pins)."
Not true and I assume you might mean before the plug fuse as a short after the fuse will just blow the fuse. The plug pins are designed to have sufficient capacity to pass enough current to trip the breaker quickly or blow the fuse safely.
"So where are the statistics backing you up? Go on, if this is a problem, then because the whole of Europe uses this plug there must be clear statistics showing the problem."
As someone else pointed out, the Europe system is not protected by 32A breakers/30 fuses like UK ring circuits, but lower ampergae fuses. I don't deal in statistics or how you feel about something, I deal in facts and the facts are as I stated, and that is why the regs exist. If you can prove my calculation wrong feel free.
"To me it's simple,"
Well that's where you went wrong....
"the plug was designed in the day of slow fuses and metal boxes, and cord flex and it has never been updated"
Like most designs, over the years it has been improved significantly, changing the binding post type, insulating the pins so little fingers can't touch.
"And Britain being full of safety nazis mean it never will."
In some instances yes, there are safety zealots and in some cases it is justified. You don't protect a 5A flex with a 32A fuse and expect there to be no consequence in the event of a fault..
Why are so many people on here so damn desperate to be 'European' ? why cant we be different and do things our way? Personally, having lived in several different countries, I prefer the british plug on both use and looks. I can see this being a decent solution (with some development) but only for 'travel' devices and lets face it, if youre travelling you are more likely to need a foreign plug anyway.
I am more concerned that the designer seems to have no idea how the british plug is wired! and his colour coding is wrong as well... doesn't bode well!
As for the 'safety nazis'... I totally agree, why should we have to pander to the lowest common denominator? if you cant wire a plug and something goes horribly wrong then thats darwinism in action and you deserve to be removed from the gene pool!
still lookin for a Paris hilton angle on this one.... :o)
I have to say the BS1363 plug is designed to deal with a better class of idiot. Exit of cable at right angles to plug a good idea.
Living here in Singapore (BS1363 sockets as standard) I have seen a couple of innovations in resolving the 'problem' of 2 pin plugs. (we even get unfused 'BS1363' plugs on cheap cables made out this way)
Someone over here makes a mint on little plastic adaptors (like the ones used to stop young children poking things in to sockets) with 2 small holes in the to allow the 2 pin adaptors to be plugged in to a 1363 socket, with out the use of a pen / stick /....... I know they make a mint, I've shipped a few back to UK over the years.... I think the BS plug is great, but on occasion the adaptors are very useful.
I have also seen a twin socket with an additional 2 outlets for 2 pin plugs, a very nice solution. well made, only one issue and that is there is no fuse. Like several posters above, I think a Fuse in the plug is a good plan. One more device trying to save a life.
Having said that, I worked in electrical safety testing for 2 years, and saw a few classics...
The Kit Kat Fuse (it is not a myth)
Bell wire as flex
Earth & Neutral switched
Live & Neutral switched
Earth cut off...
and my all time favourite, (in a chemical Lab at a client) a metal junction box in the cable of an oil bath, with a hole in the side (no grommet or strain relief) out of which poked a loop of live wire (who ever made it used solid core singles). The modification was to allow the lab to measure the current going into the oil bath (via a clamp meter). The Lab manager went ballistic as I cut the plug off (it made the kit safe ;-) ) and condemned the kit . It was so dangerous.....
The stacker plug looks great. I would use it. Not so sure about the moving parts of the folding plug, but with some decent mechanical engineering I am sure it could work. Any one Interested in funding the development? (I know the Beer Fund is more important!!)
The call for household 12 V is also worthy. Getting rid of transformers on all sorts of kit.... Perhaps also a little more eco friendly? Could have a 12 Volt system that used mains and had some form of solar charger as well. Not so easy to use solar to charge 240VAC.
Mine's the one with the plastic plug adaptors in the pocket.
Some of the commenters clearly don't know what they're talking about.
There's a set of standard connectors, including the 3-wire "kettle" lead still used for the desktop machines. Well, almost. The "kettle" lead is specified for a higher operating temperature, and has a notch in the plug. You can use if on your computer without problems, but you can't use the lead from a computer in a kettle.
A lot of smart people have worked out this stuff, and I'm not sure that a plug like this is ever going to be safe enough.
I can get really grumpy about the variety of rather flimsy and short-lived DC connectors which get used on the other side of the PSU. Even reputable computer companies seem willing to ignore specified current limits.
There's are very obvious reasons why we don't use low voltage DC, even for quite modest power users (say a PC and monitor at maybe 200-300W).
These include the following
1) many items of equipment (like PCs) use multiple voltages or work at whatever voltage you care to deliver on a common system. They therefore have to generate these internally and would
2) For the same power consumption the current required goes up in direct proportion to the proportionate voltage reduction. That 1 amp which would power your 240W PC/Monitor becomes 20 amps at 12V. The copper conductors have to be at least 20 times thicker to carry the current (including that plug). Power losses in the house wiring will be dreadful unless you increase wiring cross-section disproportionately. If that 240W appliance loses 0.5W in your household wiring (which would require only 0.5 ohm) and you just increase the copper cross-section by a factor of 20 to carry the current, then you will increase that loss to 10W. To get the loss down to the same level you need to increase the cross-section by a factor of 400. Trying installing that - even if you limit yourself to a few hundred watts.
3) high current DC systems are an appalling fire hazard - a slight increase in resistance due to a connection fault and much hifgher current will rapidly lead to localised hot spot, and I mean really, really hot. Certainly that could happen far before any circuit breaker tripped. It's also a lot more difficult to make reliable connections at higher currents than low.
4) even if you do succeed in delivering your DC at even these quite modest level, then the voltage will not be reliable (due to resistive drops) and very likely not at your required DC voltage so it would need a DC/DC converter anyway.
So congratulations, this proposal will lead to a vastly higher usage of copper resources, and incredibly difficult system to install due to the thickness of the copper, a much larger power loss, it will still require voltage converters in many devices (but of the DC/DC typle, not AC/DC) and a vast increase in fire risk (I'll allow you reduced danger of being electrocuted).
In all this is about as unworkable an idea as I can imagine.
Yes, I quite probably AM that Trygve that you get mistaken for all the time...
If you want to reach me, why not drop by my forum at www.totallytrygve.com/phpbb3/
(trygve.com is taken by another Trygve, in America. Ask him nicely, and he'll link to you, too)
About the Live/Neutral debacle.
What I absolutely abhorr is that the word 'Neutral' is used on a wire that is quite probably carrying a voltage potential.
Also, I dug out a Fluke and stuck the probes into a socket.
It showed 230V between the two LIVE wires(it's 'a bit inaccurate over 200V', and about 130 between EITHER of the LIVE wires and the GROUND wire.
AC = Alternating Current, and frankly, that works best if it's symmetrical. If it's symmetrical around a third wire or not(see euro-plugs which doesn't have the Ground wire), or whether it's 1 or 3 phase, I couldn't care less.
The flat plug could be safe if the wings provided a switching action to the live pin - perhaps by completing a connection to the fuse?
BS1363 has strictly laid out requirements for the plug, but the design could pass provided they can get an exemption from or revision to the standard. I used to work for an electrical testing lab, so know a bit about this area.
Different countries have different systems for historical reasons. The UK needed to conserve resources when rebuilding after WWII so went with the single-loop idea as a way of conserving copper. It would be hideously expensive to convert to a new standard so it is unlikely to change (you got an upgrade incentive by way of the Luftwaffe last time).
As to superior electrical wiring systems, they all have pros and cons. European systems are not polarised so you need double-pole switching. The system here in NZ (and Australia and parts of China) is generally quite good but has also had extra safety features added - and if you think the sheathing on UK plug pins is a bit pointless you should see the problems when you do that with the relatively tiny ones in our plugs. (The US / Canadian system is the most backward one I have seen. No chance of changing that in a hurry either, of course.)
@ Trygve Henriksen - your wiring has a fault, get an electrician. (And your multimeter sounds broken, too. Flukes are not normally "a bit inaccurate".)
>>"I don't want the safety nazis to drive anything either way. I want them to stop inventing bogus scenarios that don't measurable happen in the real world to scare people into being afraid of change. The 2 pin is safe, you have not shown any reputable reference showing otherwise."
>>"There has been zero progress on the problems with the 3 pin."
Change would be costly and inconvenient, for minimal obvious benefit.
And that's not even including having to listen to years/decades of moaning from Europe-haters who'd blame the EU even if the idea actually made sense, *and* came entirely form the UK government.
>>" No, just buy the 2 pin euro version of any power adapter if you want to use it in most sockets without a who bunch of adapters! If you like, use the earth pin of a British plug to open the shutter (rotate it 180, use the earth pin to open the shutter, bingo). No doubt someone will invent a load of scare stories about it, but it's really fine."
Sure, it's fine.
That'll be why the only UK sockets I've had to replace recently were ones that were broken by visitors from Europe trying to plug their plugs into our sockets, either from plugs being rammed in when shutters were closed, or from the pins bending the socket contacts, due to the Euro plug tilting under a gravity load.
And where am I supposed to be euro versions of power adaptors for new equipment in the UK? People don't sell them because nobody wants them
>>"It's a pity there is no progress on the 3 pin socket, it could support 2 pin shutter operation (like the 2 pin euro ones do - you have to push both pin in simultaneously to open the shutter), it could support both euro and UK plugs. But it doesn't. It could be less bulky, but it isn't."
I'm sure there were *some* sockets around at one time that did have a 2-pin rotating shutter, rather than a 3-pin sliding one, but there was hardly a selective advantage to be exploited when all plugs were 3-pin.
Maybe if someone could make a good UK socket that also accepted Euro plugs, that'd be an idea for hotels, airports, etc, but I doubt there'd be huge demand elsewhere
@ Trygve Henriksen
>>> What I absolutely abhorr is that the word 'Neutral' is used on a wire that is quite probably carrying a voltage potential.
It should NOT be carrying any dangerous voltage<period>
>>> Also, I dug out a Fluke and stuck the probes into a socket.
>>> It showed 230V between the two LIVE wires(it's 'a bit inaccurate over 200V', and about 130 between EITHER of the LIVE wires and the GROUND wire.
Then if this was supposed to be a standard UK installation it is faulty.
Now there are situations where a balanced supply is used - 110V supplies (yellow plugs used on building sites for example) are 55-0-55 but also use an isolation transformer. In some special cases, school science labs come to mind, they do in fact use a 120-0-120 system but also use a VERY sensitive RCD.
@ Glen Turner 1
>>> But worst all of all is the fuse.
Actually that is one of the best features of the UK plugs - the only problem is the fact that it's easy for clueless f***wits to fit the wrong size. In hindsight, it would have been better if there's been a way to make the larger ratings not fit where a smaller one should have been used.
By having a fuse, it means we don't have to fit 16A capable cable (assuming 16A fuse/breaker on radial circuits) on every appliance - even that teeny 15W soldering iron I have that currently has a nice thin cable that doesn't drag the iron and it's stand off the bench. It also means we can use a ring main which is a great economy on cable - to redo our house PROPERLY in radial circuits would end up with something like a 60 way distribution board and the vast amount of cable required, and it would be very wasteful of copper providing a 16A circuit to every outlet when most of then won't need anything like that. Of course, you could have two current ratings and so use thinner cable for many of the sockets, but you have two different and incompatible plugs, and will always find you've run out of one type or another.
Some one mentioned fittings with two pin sockets in them. Well in our house we used to have sockets that had a 13A socket and two 2A round pin sockets on one face place (and a fuse for the lighting sockets). Trouble was, the sockets weren't switched, and we didn't have any of the small plugs - so we just changed them. It would certainly be possible to make a socket that combined 1 or maybe 2 13A sockets, a fuse, and 1 or more 'continental' 2 pins sockets - but what sort ? German ? French ? Italian (which one !) ? Spanish ? Something else like Shuko that's 'sort of' compatible with more than one ?
The fact that not one manufacturer has done it sort of suggests that they don't see a market.
is Neutral for a Reason, Yes its AC but its driven from the LIVE and absorbed into the NEUTRAL the only reason you get a reading from the neutral is because it is connected to the live through any other device. live =240v neutral = 0v. you can only draw a current from the neutral through other devices! hence why its bad to cross the live and neutral. and why if you draw 3Kw for an iron through your TV the fuse blows or your house burns down. (ever wondered why your light bulbs kept blowing??)
In the UK Dont mix up the Live & Neutral!
As stated by someone above two pin networks eg europe provide live to both pins this is driven 50/50 hence it doesn't matter which you use.
" I don't know where you get the idea that all appliances have cutouts, they do not. The scenario I described is perfectly possible with a fault placing a 12ohm load on the circuit. A damaged flex can do that."
And yet we and every almost everyone else on the planet don't use the fuse and don't have a problem.
" Not true and I assume you might mean before the plug fuse as a short after the fuse will just blow the fuse. The plug pins are designed to have sufficient capacity to pass enough current to trip the breaker quickly or blow the fuse safely."
Ahh, but in your scenario, you created a 12ohm short, in my scenario I similarly create a 12ohm short... and like you, my bogus scenario creates a fire that kills people. As long as you're not tackling real problems and instead tackling fake made up ones, then my fake made up one is as good as yours.
Not only that the British plug has a flat back, and the pins stand upright. Someone might step on it in the dark, fall, break their neck. It's double plus unsafe! Some call me a safety nazi for worrying about this, but I call myself a safety zealot!
" Like most designs, over the years it has been improved significantly, changing the binding post type, insulating the pins so little fingers can't touch."
No, it's a hulking great mess that's too big, and requires 3 pins even for 2 pin appliances.
" In some instances yes, there are safety zealots and in some cases it is justified. You don't protect a 5A flex with a 32A fuse and expect there to be no consequence in the event of a fault.."
And yet there isn't a problem in Europe or the rest of the world? You hypothesize a problem, then use your hypothesis as evidence!
What if the pins have bird flu on them, stepping on them with their square pointy pins could pierce the skin and give a person bird flu! Some call me a safety nazis, but I am a zealot! We need to add some sort of disinfectant coating to the pins! As evidence of the problem I offer my previous hypothesis! You can't make a pointy pin plug that by default points the pins upright in this bird flu infected day and age and expect no consequences!
"And yet there isn't a problem in Europe or the rest of the world? You hypothesize a problem, then use your hypothesis as evidence!"
If you read other people's replies you would see that the reason there is no problem in Europe is that the European system is different to the UK system. European plugs are safe on a European system, not when forced into a socket on a UK ring main, for the various reasons given. The hypotheses are to help you understand why that is.
I guess hysterical ridicule is the way to go when you run out of argument....
A simpler explanation:
A fuse or mcb is designed to be the weakest link in a circuit, and should a fault occur the weakest link will fail safe and isolate the affected circuit. By doing as you have suggested the weakest link now becomes the cable or what ever is connected to it.
Hope this helps.
The chances of a flex short happening and being anything other than 0R are slim, but it does happen. Having seen what happens when 32A tries to floe through a fig 8 lead I can back up electricial.
Not every fault is reported and normally when these things go, they go big and someone intervenes. However no matter how good a forensics expert is they can only say 'electrical fire' in most cases. This coveres idiots with 13A fuses in 3A appliances, Mice eating cables, lighting cables used for ring mains, PC wiring used for kettles, freak accidents etc. Sometimes there will be telltales but not enought o provide the statistics you ask for.
Also not all items can be made withplastics or double insulation, the first all plastic washing maching should be a giggle, but even then as you are handling water you'd still need an earth.
A lot of time and effor in many countires has been spent providing an earth, it has a serious function and it cant be chopped out for want of a 'prettier' plug.
The same applies to using radial wiring because its easier, yes I'm sure it is and there is a time and place, you will find radial wiring in UK installs in the form of spurs, and they'll often have their own fuse at the point of origin too.
I've done work as a sparky overseas and I have to say a lot of what goeson in europe and the US is scary. The US still think ist a good idea to just twist wires together.
At the end of the day, if you are in europe, then carry on doing what you are doing, you wont ever get the UK plug there so it doesnt effect you. We know, as do most international experts, that our plug is one of/the safest and we are happy with that. Its arguing for the sake of arguing using flawed arguments now (erm does that make sens to anyone other than me)
Oh yes, they BLOODY hurt when stamped on too, but you only tend to do it the once. 40pin DIP chips do as well.
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