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rv



Joined: 30 Oct 2004
Posts: 22

PostPosted: Sun May 03, 2009 3:17 am Reply with quoteBack to top

i guess this simple question needs a little background story
i live in Iceland
a regular 230 volt country with everything electrical buzzing at 50Hz
Now here used to be an US airbase near the town of keflavik a short drive from the capital where i live.
By the time i moved to the capital two years ago the American military had decided to shut down the base pack their things and leave... (kinda expected it to happen sooner with the cold war long over and all)
now the group of houses that used to be the base is divided in two:
residential houses that once housed base personnel and a closed off area where essential buildings to the still in use international airport stand... of course the entire area was fenced when the military was there but when they left the fence was moved or torn down...
now the residential area is being transformed to civilian use... buildings in bad shape being torn down... some buildings are student apartments... other stand empty and are just being maintained until someone buys them (i think)

now being an electrician student this place has intrigued me a bit since it's the only place i know of in the country where the electricity was american 110 volts 60Hz... i took a peek through windows of a few empty blocks where no attempt had been made to replace the electricity yet... it amazed me how all outlets and light switches look the same there... and with that i started noticing this on American TV shows and movies that most of the time the power sockets and light switches are almost exactly the same...
i visited a building that was being torn down it was Sunday and no worker to be seen at the site... about 50% of that apartment building had been removed... i entered in hope of getting a few examples of american electricity... i hit the jackpot... more american electrical stuff than i could imagine... only it was all brown bakelite (i really wanted a white switch like i kept seeing on tv Razz)
but i got them later in another newer building being torn down... plus some standard wiring used... it's probably more than twice the diameter than wires used in 230 volt countries... naturally because you have twice as much current...
but this simple question still remains in my head and i've had no chance to ask an american about this thing
here in iceland as in most 230 volt countries there are many different light switches... small or big... luxurious or simple... many different types...
but it seems that for the last 20 years (at least in the movies Razz) houses in america have this standard lever-type light switch
i wonder why.

i hope you excuse the long post about nothing special... i'd just like to hear from 110 volt - lever switching people about what the deal is with the lack of variety...

and i'm bored so i bothered with a long post on a forum i haven't posted on in years Razz
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T-R-A



Joined: 02 Oct 2004
Posts: 576
Location: Western NC

PostPosted: Sun May 03, 2009 12:19 pm Reply with quoteBack to top

Well, guess we (and other folks in Canada, Mexico and other "local" countries) aren't really keen about change (plus electric codes here pretty much limit what can be sold):

http://www.kropla.com/electric2.htm

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Electrical_Code_(US)

Though we do have various switches:

http://www.electricalmarketplace.com/Decorative-Switches-C128.aspx

and I'm sure that even though the base was in another country, it was just wired with standard switches for familiarity and 115VAC/60Hz to allow soldiers to bring their own stuff from home without using power-converter bricks...
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rv



Joined: 30 Oct 2004
Posts: 22

PostPosted: Sun May 03, 2009 1:40 pm Reply with quoteBack to top

Quote:
and I'm sure that even though the base was in another country, it was just wired with standard switches for familiarity and 115VAC/60Hz to allow soldiers to bring their own stuff from home without using power-converter bricks...


i agree... but it looks like it's more than that. loads of equipment they brought there didn't need to be changed saving money prehraps... however it is very expensive to have buildings and transformers especially to change the electricity... it was probably calculated some 50 years ago when the base was built and this was the best solution

here is also an electric code... based on european standards... and having studied that code it is very strict in many ways... it's hard to explain to a layman why i can't have grounded and non-grounded power receptacles in the same room... or why bathtubs need a grounding wire with area at least 6mm square (roughly AWG 3)... luckily it doesn't give a specific order about the manner of light switches.. except tha they should handle at least 10 amperes and not be connected by the neutral wire unless it is a two pole switch... oh and if it's bigger than 10A there has to be an indicator on it telling the status on the switch kinda like i see on these 15A lever switches io acquired from those buildings... they also handle 120-277A says on them.. i think i can use those things here without breaking any regulations... yet the workers i talked to at the place told me they were told to replace everything (except the wires which are more than capable of handling half of the current they once carried) they said something about it having to have an european certification... probably just because the buildings are now student apartments and this is an insurance thing
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wdegroot



Joined: 03 Feb 2006
Posts: 488
Location: pennsylvanai

PostPosted: Sun May 03, 2009 9:29 pm Reply with quoteBack to top

remember that america has been "electrified" for over a century.

My old house and the one next door,. built in the 1880's had gas ligts and pipes running thru the walls.
later wires wer run alongside, often tearing up the floors, and a casting was slid ober the pipe in the center of the ceailing and a BX stel armored cable was passed thru a side hole
a thuld be nailed to a beam. and tubes abut 3/4" diameter so individual wires could be passed thur a floor beam.
NO SHORTS were made of brass and sliped over the metal jacketed cable. ( bx) lihjy switched were either brass bat handled. no like a toggle switch as the nbody oif the switch was 3" wide.

later plastic wiring was used.
early electical services were 15-30 ams TOTAL
and only 115 volt.
later services were 230 volts and had the center for common for each leg being 115 v.
typical was a 60 amp service with 2 pull outs "range" and "main" the stove was 230 volts.
and the rest was split so some outlets were on one
side and some were on the other.

In the 1960's a possibe hookup was to run 230v to eash "duplex 115v outlet, break off a little tab
so one side was common and the other provided seaparate 115v outlets. there will eb 3 wires in the 2: x 4: outlet box
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rv



Joined: 30 Oct 2004
Posts: 22

PostPosted: Mon May 04, 2009 4:41 am Reply with quoteBack to top

yes... i've read something about split phase method in america to get 230 volts out of 2x115 phases 180° apart... here sometimes electricity is two out of three phases 120°apart... then each line is roughly 130 volts i think... the house that i am in has this configuration... i need two sets of circuit breakers for each circuit...

another thing i noticed about that base electricity are the connectors in the walls...
you americans seem to use these plastic twist on connectors as opposed to the screw type connector that is used in europe... i took a few samples of those and tried them... very comfortable and convenient i must say
maybe if a am in a good mood tomorrow i'll photograph some european type electric infrastructure just for fun Razz
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wdegroot



Joined: 03 Feb 2006
Posts: 488
Location: pennsylvanai

PostPosted: Mon May 04, 2009 3:26 pm Reply with quoteBack to top

the usual setup in residential areas is
older homes now have 100 amp 230v service
and newer homes especially those with electric heat ( electric baseboard heaters) will have a 200 amp service
I don't think any residences have multi-phase or poly phase service.
when I helped set up a plant in georgia, they used 3 phase and no capacitors of anything tricky was required. the motors started with full power and could eb reversed by swapping any 2 leads.
at home, depending on the use single phase motors are often 2 ways
if the startup load is moderate , clothers drier furnace blower a motor with a set of contacts are used to start the motor spinning, this can draw as much as 20-30 amps. as soon as the motor starts to spin a centrifical switch opens these contacts and the motor runs on another winding that draws less power.
something that is expected to have a load like a table saw or a pump will use a motor with a capacitor
older stype drills saws and portable tools use a universal motor that has brushes and a commutator. ( like an old auto generator)
originally these moors would run on ac or dc, but most have soloid state speed controllers and will only runb on ac.

In nyc and other places that adapted electricity early,. some places only had dc power.
on the early 1950's radios and tv sets were "transformerless" if intended for use in these areas.

Imagine the RF noise from a refrigerator with a brusg type motor 20 years old?

in october 1963? when they had the big power outage
elevators still were operated by dc power.
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T-R-A



Joined: 02 Oct 2004
Posts: 576
Location: Western NC

PostPosted: Mon May 04, 2009 4:13 pm Reply with quoteBack to top

Quote:
another thing i noticed about that base electricity are the connectors in the walls...
you americans seem to use these plastic twist on connectors as opposed to the screw type connector that is used in europe... i took a few samples of those and tried them... very comfortable and convenient i must say


I gather (from your description) you mean "wire-nuts":

http://www.twacomm.com/catalog/dept_id_1104.htm

I'd be curious to see the "screw-type" you mention (never knew of any other kind)...
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Puckdropper
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Joined: 02 Oct 2004
Posts: 759
Location: Not in Chicago

PostPosted: Mon May 04, 2009 10:06 pm Reply with quoteBack to top

A few rare residences do have three-phase power. There was a fellow on Usenet who mentioned he had it and ran his woodworking tools (like table saw) with it.

240V center-tapped 200A is the most common form in newer homes. Some might even have 400A service!

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wdegroot



Joined: 03 Feb 2006
Posts: 488
Location: pennsylvanai

PostPosted: Tue May 05, 2009 12:59 am Reply with quoteBack to top

I have seen wire connectors that looked like " wire nuts" But were a metal cylinder with a set screw.
and shaped so a conical plastic cap screws over it.
wire nuts vary a lot. most are hard have wire conical springy inserts.
some are all plastic . old ones are ceramic.
may years ago they twisted wires and soldered them. wrapped them with cloth "friction tape"
later there was a soft rubbery tape.
best use are tiny "wire nuts" for inside clocks and small appliances.
some are softer plastic and some are hard plastic with "ears"
everybody has a better idea on how to make one.
One old thing was " wires cannot depend on solder for
strength. and connection" (safety code issue)
meaning twist the wires and then solder
( this was before "wire nuts"

a big problem 25-30 years was aluminum wire.
some had a copper plating and was safe.
but aluminum wires would "thermally ratchet" and work "slightly" loose causing heating. and even fires.
a squrt-on matal paste called Pentrox would be added to preven this.

many very cheap switches were made and sold
but a military base would use SG ( specification grade) that was stronger and lasted longer.
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rv



Joined: 30 Oct 2004
Posts: 22

PostPosted: Thu May 07, 2009 1:22 am Reply with quoteBack to top

hello

i was going to post some images yesterday... but have been busy helping people (i am visiting my old hometown and a lot of ppl needed my help with various things)

i will try and post a few images tomorrow...
i will also photo some of the american stuff for comparison even though it all looks like plain old stuff to you guys Razz
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rv



Joined: 30 Oct 2004
Posts: 22

PostPosted: Thu May 07, 2009 12:17 pm Reply with quoteBack to top

the order of things is a mess... but i put together a flickr group of pictures

there it is:
http://www.flickr.com/groups/1110467@N23/pool/

hope you find it interesting
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wdegroot



Joined: 03 Feb 2006
Posts: 488
Location: pennsylvanai

PostPosted: Thu May 07, 2009 6:20 pm Reply with quoteBack to top

some looks "normal" other things look odd, but different parts of the USA
may have used different components.
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rv



Joined: 30 Oct 2004
Posts: 22

PostPosted: Fri May 08, 2009 1:12 am Reply with quoteBack to top

well... naturally some of it is the american stuff i had recently acquired that i put there for size comparison since i assumed you would roughly know the basic switches and their sizes...
it'd also be nice to hear if you are familiar with any of the stuff i photo-ed Razz
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T-R-A



Joined: 02 Oct 2004
Posts: 576
Location: Western NC

PostPosted: Fri May 08, 2009 8:03 am Reply with quoteBack to top

I guess most of it looks pretty plain to my "US-eyes", but I'm curious if the ranges, dryers or any other heavy-duty items were wired for some of our "standard" heavier-duty outlets:

http://www.jkem.com/uscords.html

or with a European counterpart? (if such exists---forgive my ignorance if that sounds really, really stupid)

Interesting how you mentioned the "left-right" install of switches vs. our "up-down" method. I'd love to say that "our" method comes from the digital age (with up being "one" and down being "zero"), but obviously it goes back much further than that (likely a "convenience" factor where the switchbox was mounted to a single stud in the wall)....
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rv



Joined: 30 Oct 2004
Posts: 22

PostPosted: Fri May 08, 2009 1:02 pm Reply with quoteBack to top

i went to two types of buildings... first i visited a concrete block which had half been demolished and all that was left were six bachelor apartments (and four joint bathrooms) so any heavy duty plugs there must have been gone by the time i went there...

the other were more of apartments... (what is this type of house called ? http://ogbygg.is/H%C3%B3lava%C3%B0%2013-27%20S%C3%B6luuppl._files/H%C3%B3lava%C3%B0%20-%20view1.jpg ) those were made of wood and were proper apartments. unfortunately i didn't have time to visit those houses in daylight and didn't think of checking the stoves... but when i first saw them and glimpsed a wall that used to be a bathroom of one apartment i think i did see what looked like the broken remains of one of those twist on connectors... so i assume they had heavy duty US connectors... in europe... well at least where i live there are heavy duty connectors in houses meant for stoves (25Amps) but dryers only use 16 Amps and the standard german plugs we use handle that but regulations however say that to use 16A breakers as opposed to the normal 10A that particular circuit must go to a single outlet... there already are 230 Volts so no special higher voltage plugs are used but when current goes over 16 ampers they use more powerful plugs... there are also a few types of those here... industrial... home type... single phase... multiphase... not sure though if there's as much variety as on that chart...

as for the up down position of the switches... they are usually up/down here too but the boxes that would fit them if there are any go side to side... then they can fit about three small switches where one american switch would fit... that is the italian type. the "normal" switches and outlets go into circular plastic ... ehm...boxes usually one or two switches per box
those are muh more common though... italian switches are mostly in older buildings
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