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GPL v3

GPL v3

Posted Aug 16, 2012 19:08 UTC (Thu) by Kluge (subscriber, #2881)
In reply to: GPL v3 by nix
Parent article: GENIVI: moving an industry to open source

I think you'll find that most toaster-induced fatalities are fires and electrical-system failures (particularly in the US with your literally terrifying electrical regulations, plugs that can shoot sparks when you unplug devices and all that)...

This is waaay off-topic, but I would be very interested in hearing how and why the US electrical regulations are so terrifying.


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GPL v3

Posted Aug 16, 2012 21:37 UTC (Thu) by Cyberax (✭ supporter ✭, #52523) [Link]

US electrical plugs are horrible. They can be too easily unplugged and it's actually _possible_ to touch plug's tines while they are still in contact with the wall socket. Doubleplusungood.

Most European countries adopted a plug design where the plug is recessed into the socket so any sparks are contained within it and naked live wires can't be physically touched.

Besides, US voltage is 110V versus 220-240V in Europe, so it gives rise to much higher (4 times) currents and much higher ohmic heating of wires.

GPL v3

Posted Aug 16, 2012 21:47 UTC (Thu) by dlang (subscriber, #313) [Link]

> Most European countries adopted a plug design where the plug is recessed into the socket so any sparks are contained within it and naked live wires can't be physically touched.

that must be a relatively recent development (it wasn't that way the last time I traveled)

what do the power strips and extension cords look like that have this sort of protection?

by the way, as for the voltage difference, the argument can also be made that the higher European voltage is more dangerous.

but voltage differences are not "terrifying regulations", nor are they regulations that allow "shoot sparks when you unplug devices" (something that's more likely with higher voltages)

GPL v3

Posted Aug 16, 2012 23:47 UTC (Thu) by Cyberax (✭ supporter ✭, #52523) [Link]

It's ancient, at least 30 years old. Extension cords look like this: http://ufa.dorus.ru/photos/1109129.jpg or http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/e/e1/Surge_...

>but voltage differences are not "terrifying regulations", nor are they regulations that allow "shoot sparks when you unplug devices" (something that's more likely with higher voltages)
Sparks probably also happen within European plugs, but they happen _within_ them.

GPL v3

Posted Aug 17, 2012 12:16 UTC (Fri) by man_ls (guest, #15091) [Link]

Yes, sparks do happen and I've seen them even recently (due to a voltaic arc between socket and plug pin, I believe). But as you say they are contained in the socket. With the old flat design sparks could come dangerously close to fabrics or even your own hand.

GPL v3

Posted Aug 17, 2012 13:19 UTC (Fri) by ekj (guest, #1524) [Link]

If you design the plug like this: http://www.electronic-shisha-charcoal.com/images/euro-plu... (that's a non-grounded one), with only the tips made out of conductive material, then the entire conducting surface is inside the hole before electrical connection is made.

No, this ain't new. It's been this way for atleast a decade, possibly 2.

GPL v3

Posted Aug 24, 2012 22:24 UTC (Fri) by JanC_ (guest, #34940) [Link]

The radio I got as a kid had such a plug. That was in the late 1970s or early 1980s… (so about 30-35 years ago).

GPL v3

Posted Aug 24, 2012 23:49 UTC (Fri) by anselm (subscriber, #2796) [Link]

It's been this way for atleast a decade, possibly 2.

As a matter of fact, that type of plug was standardised in the early 1960s. It has been around literally for generations.

This »Europlug« design is popular for devices requiring up to 2.5 A which do not need to be grounded, in all European countries except the UK, Ireland, and a few other places that use the UK system like Malta or Cyprus. The Swiss system is also subtly different. There are other, more sturdy plugs used for equipment that requires stronger currents, must be earthed, or is used outside.

The UK system uses large plugs with three rectangular prongs. These plugs are usually fused, and are incompatible with the Europlug, although UK bathrooms will often feature Europlug sockets to accommodate electric shavers. It is possible to manufacture »converter« plugs that fit around a Europlug, contain the requisite fuse, and have the three prongs required for a UK socket.

GPL v3

Posted Aug 17, 2012 13:21 UTC (Fri) by nix (subscriber, #2304) [Link]

I will admit that the European recessed design is nice: I wish the UK added recessing to its earthed socket design, but changing the entire installed base of plugs and sockets is so hard that it's unlikely ever to happen.

GPL v3

Posted Aug 20, 2012 9:50 UTC (Mon) by etienne (guest, #25256) [Link]

> UK ... earthed socket design

Ever seen someone using a pair of scissor in the earth of a UK socket to open the live holes and plug-in by force a european 2 pin plug?

GPL v3

Posted Aug 20, 2012 12:08 UTC (Mon) by BlueLightning (subscriber, #38978) [Link]

For conformant EU plugs and UK sockets, the pins are too large and narrowly spaced for that to work.

GPL v3

Posted Aug 20, 2012 22:25 UTC (Mon) by nix (subscriber, #2304) [Link]

Yes, but there do exist (cheap and horrible firetrap) adaptors which convert EU prong spacing into UK prong spacing without bothering to provide anything as plebeian as an earth prong. Then the scissor trick is needed.

It is perhaps thirty years since I saw anyone resorting to *that*. :)

GPL v3

Posted Aug 17, 2012 13:19 UTC (Fri) by nix (subscriber, #2304) [Link]

The plug and socket design is horrible: two pin, no earth, easily broken, easily touched when removing or inserting plugs, with live interiors of sockets often accessible trivially (not shielded). None of this is true of (in particular) UK three-pin sockets, which are almost always switched and separately fused, with further fusing at the house ring mains, in the street, and at the transformer (which is *not* per-house, but often per-street or per-block, allowing significantly greater efficiency and protection than the per-house scheme common in the US). The higher voltage also means that it is exceedingly rare for plugs or cables to even get warm, let alone hot enough to set anything on fire.

There are minimal regulations regarding electrical equipment in waterlogged areas like bathrooms: the UK forbids anything not internally earthed, anything running at above trivial voltages and in certain parts of the bathroom forbids anything electrical at all modulo pull cords. You never, ever see things like washing machines in bathrooms, and it is very rare for people to get electrocuted in bathrooms (the primary cause is manufacturing defects in electric showers).

Electrical fires and fatal electrocutions still happen in the UK, but they are so rare as to be national news when they do happen. So, yes, from my perspective US domestic electrical regulations are terrifyingly lax.

The real reason for all this of course is that electric kettles are ubiquitous in the UK, and we need our cups of tea fast! :)


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