Tuesday, 3 November 2009

Why So Many Different Plugs?

Why So Many Different Plugs?: "

I went to China and took an electrical adapter with eight different plug-ins, and still managed to stay at one hotel in which none of them fit. Why are there so many types of electrical plugs and sockets in the world? When household electric use began in the late 1800s, different areas of the world settled on basically two voltage systems, 110-120 and 220-240 (with some exceptions). Then each nation had their own reasons for developing the plug-in system they have.

But once they were set up, who cared what style plug their customers used? What were you gonna do, lug your new vacuum cleaner across the ocean on a boat? Early efforts to standardize the plug by organizations like the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) had trouble taking hold—who were they to tell a country which plug to adopt?

For example, Britain incorporated fuses in the appliance plug instead of the wiring system because of a shortage of copper at the time.

You know how the British had control over India for, like, ninety years? Well, along with exporting cricket and inflicting unquantifiable cultural damage, they showed the subcontinent how to plug stuff in, the British way! Problem is, they left in 1947. The BS 1363 plug—the new one—wasn’t introduced until 1946, and didn’t see widespread adoption until a few years later. So India still uses the old British plug, as does Sri Lanka, Nepal and Namibia. Basically, the best way to guess who’s got which socket is to brush up on your WW1/WW2 history, and to have a deep passion for postcolonial literature. No, really.

Despite widespread global travel, the expense of rewiring electrical grids all over the world means there won’t be any standardization of plugs anytime soon. Read the whole story at Gizmodo. Link -via Geeks Are Sexy

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