European Continental Electrics Are Bad compared to
Notes from a
mail that I wrote. May be tidied later.
British square pin are 13 Amp.
German continental etc are not.
This (Polish?) socket (
posted by Adam Nowacki nowakpl at platinum.linux.pl
) looks similar to French. French are (marginally
better than German & Austrian & North Italian/South
Continental wiring standards I've seen are shamefully
dangerous compared to British (which are to better standard,
cost more per equipment & more work to install)
In a typical rental flat in Munich, Germany, built &
first rented in 1986, one of several hundred in a big, not
cheap city centre complex , there are just 16 A & 10 A
fuses. (Trip fuses, though older German buildings have screw in
clunky things a little smaller than golf balls.
Normal by German & continental standards, appalling to a
- I suspect a lot is spur wired, not ring main. Certainly
it's combined lighting & floor power on 1 fuse per
- No Earth trip, though I'm told it should have one (but I
wont commit myself if it Should by law as built in '85, as
I've not myself researched German law/ standards on that,
& people who tell me what they believe should be, are not
- Naked socket with unscreened holes & no switch,
between the 2 hand basins in the bathroom, inches apart from
the basins. No not a low current transformer isolated razor
socket like in UK, but full power ready to kill, courtesy of
a splash or hair dryer falling in bath.
- a 2nd socket for clothes washing machine in
- Wall light & fan switches, not ceiling pull
What is shown in http://tepeserwery.pl/DSC_0178.JPG
I suppose is Polish, looks just like a French style socket
(same material used as German & Austrian & very North
Italian (=Sued Tyrol), But the French (& I see Poles) at
least achieve the possibility of differentiating neutral from
live, by virtue of the offset earth pin.
These (type of) sockets are rubbish compared with British
13A sockets. Reasons:
In Munich, a shop in Schiller
Str (the main computer/ PC street) sold British polarised
square plugs & sockets as high quality luxury equipment at
several times UK prices.
- No chance of a switch (cheap British one don't, but
decent ones do).
- Big reason: see the tiny claws (more visible on left) ?
Leftmost screw pushes them sideways into the wall. That's all
that holds socket in wall, 2 claws; after a while they work
loose. If you've got a vacuum cleaner or kettle plugged in
(that needs firm contact for all the current, to avoid
getting hot), there's a heavy outward force out of wall when
unplugging. (I always use one hand on plastic to help it stay
in wall, with other hand on plug to pull out.
- Another reason: all that naked metal when the cover is
off (a British socket is a lot more covered, much lower
chance of electrocution at 230V in Europe)
- Another reason: UK plugs also have variable 2/ 3/ 5/ 13
amp fuses in plugs. Continental sockets supply up to room
circuit fuse rating, a lot more than many appliance cables
Another reason: Polarised Live & Neutral (French &
Poles achieve that, Germans Austrians & North Tyrol
fail. They like bad sockets on the continent, as seen in
picture 'cos you just a use combi circular saw with drill
in the middle, to quickly pilot a hole, then sink bigger
circular hole in wall. & then bung in a cheap circular
plastic cylinder (that the metal claws eat into &
scratch out of over the years)
In Britain, you hack out a square hole (a lot more work,
then put in a more expensive galvanised steel square cavity
box, then bang in several masonry nails sideways to hold
the steel box in place, then screw in the more expensive
better socket, with proper metal thread screws into screwed
holes that make a good grip.
- The plastic cover on British sockets is much thicker
Much continental wiring is Sub Standard & would be
condemned under British (ex IEE as was) wiring regulations.
British plugs are admittedly more painful if you walk on
them accidentally bare foot, pins upward, & clunkier in
slim laptop cases, but the plugs & sockets are _Much_
better. What cost a life or a burnt building. ?
Continental plastic covers are bad, thin, less strength,
single tightening screw right next to Live. British tightening
screws are well away & safe.
I've seen many loose continental sockets, relatively few UK
When mean or shops closed, I remove socket & file the
contacts of the holes (after fuse off :-) Fine emery (black
sand) paper is good to polish plug contacts. I've know many
public in Britain & Germany use plugs for many decades,
till pins are really dirty, & they never think to polish
plug pins (or screws are tight or check cable gland/retainer).
So easy to do, even if it takes an electrician to remove &
replace or clean (or tighten springs in) a socket. Admittedly
British plugs with brass or similar tarnish quicker than
continental's made out of steel, (but maybe the steel may rust
faster if exposed to damp).
PS 2 pin multi way continental adapters are also bad: Insert
2 pin plug fully in a 2or 3 to 1 adapter, & you can feel
the metal contact is sometimes off, or often almost off, ready
to be high resistance or fail, 'cos its gone in too deep, 'cos
too much of the shaft is plastic, & not enough metal along
the tip, or more likely not enough contact metal in socket.
(Can occasionally be cause of eg laptops, electric
toothbrushes, & razors etc not charging.