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I’ve been here so long

I ordered a new laptop for work. Mistakenly, it came with the plug on the right. I’m ashamed I spent three days thinking, “Looks funny. Is this a European plug of some kind? Dutch, maybe?”

It’s American, Weasel! That there’s an American plug!

The one on the left is a British one. Yes, all their plugs are like this. My electric toothbrush charger has a honking big dryer plug on it. And it has a fuse in it. And every electric outlet has an on/off switch at the wall. Electricity is scary here.

Uncle B says engineers have ruled the UK plug the safest in the world, but it just looks like overkill to me.

I took the picture to send to Deepak, the Dell customer service representative, but I thought I’d share it with you. Good weekend, everyone!


Comment from OldFert
Time: July 30, 2021, 7:12 pm

There’s a clickbait thingie that I’ll pose to Weasel’s court:
Why are there holes in the prongs on the US plug?

Comment from Uncle Al
Time: July 30, 2021, 8:14 pm

If I’m remembering correctly, the holes provide a bit of abrasion to clean any oxidation from the plug and socket contacts whenever you plug or unplug whatever your electrickle gadget may be. Too much oxide and you’ll get resistance heating that with higher current flow can start a fire.

Comment from durnedyankee
Time: July 30, 2021, 8:57 pm

UK engineers ruled that.
And UK doctors said you were all gonna die.

But then our experts said we were all gonna die too, and there’d be bodies in the gutter and zombies too.

That plug won’t work in California approved wall sockets though, and California is the 6th largest gorilla economy in the world and controls what the rest of us get here.
And if California thought that UK plug was safer, by thunder we’d be using it, and be warned that electricity and plastic and wire and plugging things into wall outlets are all known by the State of California to cause cancer!

The holes – allegedly – heat dissipation or for locking mechanisms or they allow the molding machines to hold the plug in place while the mold is completed for the plug or…or….the net is rife with ‘reasons’.

If Uncle Al’s reason ain’t it and that one makes sense
I’m going with some skinflint accountant figured out they could save (x) amount of metal and achieve a cost savings of (n) for every 10 gazillion plugs produced.
Why not, sheet rock now comes in lengths of 3.99 feet X 7.99 feet instead of 4×8, all no doubt for some cost savings over (n) thousands of sheets produced.

Comment from Uncle Badger
Time: July 30, 2021, 9:23 pm

California wouldn’t adopt the UK plug. It would be too complicated for their politicians to understand.

Even the EU had to concede defeat on this one and God knows they hate us more than most.

Comment from Uncle Al
Time: July 30, 2021, 10:11 pm

@Uncle Badger:

California wouldn’t adopt the UK plug. It would be too complicated for their politicians to understand.

The only thing that the pols need to understand is that there’s something in it for them. That would be campaign contributions, expensive dinners, or even hookers and blow (the carrot), or continuing to not give all those those nasty photos to their political opponents (the stick).

Comment from Uncle Al
Time: July 30, 2021, 10:15 pm

Question for @Uncle Badger: I’m sure you’re right that the British engineers have declared those plugs the safest in the world, but I wonder what do the actuaries say?

Comment from p2
Time: July 30, 2021, 11:06 pm

Always thought the fuse was a good idea, but that the switch was overkill. Bear in mind UK mains power is 220 volt versus the wimpy 110 volt we have here in the US. As a side note, all my 110 stuff that had a clock (that I ran off transformers), the clock would run 6 seconds slow every minute. They were built for 60 hertz current, not the 50 hertz they were getting. Transformers would change the voltage but not the frequency.

Comment from Armybrat
Time: July 31, 2021, 12:12 am

When I was a kid we moved between the US and Germany several times. We used to have transformers we plugged into the German 220v and plugged the US 110v into. They hummed loudly. After the second move to Germany we just ended up with a box US shit and a box of German shit. I still have my trusty Pfaff sewing machine that I can switch between 220/100v and use with just a plug adapter. It’s 30+ years old now, stainless gears, cast aluminum housing. Last time I took it in to have it cleaned the tech whistled and said “man, they don’t make ‘em like that anymore.”

Comment from Uncle Badger
Time: July 31, 2021, 11:35 am

Uncle Al – It was an EU-wide assessment, not one by British engineers.

P2 – the fuse is a good idea, but sadly far from infallible. We had a small fire in a greenhouse a few years ago (bugs crawled into the works during the summer, I suspect). It melted the plug and socket before the RCD kicked in and froze the supply.

Armybrat – how true. Sadly, most of quality engineering from that era seems to have vanished. It’s hard to find good quality anything nowadays.

Comment from ExpressoBold
Time: July 31, 2021, 7:54 pm

Oh, why not? Here’s two bits worth of supposition about 110V prongs…

There are three reasons for the holes:

(1) If you were to take apart an outlet and look at the contact wipers that the prongs slide into, you would find that they have have bumps on them. These bumps fit into the holes so that the outlet can grip the plug’s prongs more firmly. This detenting prevents the plug from slipping out of the socket due to the weight of the plug and cord. It also improves the contact between the plug and the outlet.
(2) Electrical devices can be “factory-sealed” or “locked-out” by the manufacturer or owner using a plastic tie or a small padlock that runs through one or both of the prong holes. Construction projects or industrial safety requirements may require this type of sealing. For example, a manufacturer might apply a plastic band through the hole and attach it to a tag that says, “You must do blah blah blah before plugging in this device.” The user cannot plug in the device without removing the tag, so the user is sure to see the instructions.
(3) There also is a small savings in raw materials (metal) for the manufacturer of the actual plug prong. Every little bit helps!


Comment from OldFert
Time: July 31, 2021, 9:21 pm

Uncle Al, Durned Yankee, and Expresso Bold.
Thank you all for the answers. I shall rest easy.

Comment from Uncle Al
Time: July 31, 2021, 11:08 pm

I rather like twist locking sockets and plugs, such as the setup for the Hobart 30 quart commercial mixer/kneader I use to make bread dough at church. Very positive connection!

@ExpressoBold — I’m going to have to look up my Army electrical maintenance instructor from back in 1969 to let him know he was a bit off-base about the correct reason for those holes!

Comment from ExpressoBold
Time: August 1, 2021, 12:56 am

@Uncle Al,

If he’s still alive I hope he’s still sharp enough to remember what he taught and to defend his lessons… unless he’s changed his opinion along with the times.

Comment from durnedyankee
Time: August 1, 2021, 1:26 am

@ExpressoBold and Uncle Al –

Remember you’re allowed to change your answers and yell SCIENCE , even if you’re new answer is silly and completely unscientific and goes against literally thousands of years of reality and learning.

Comment from tomfrompv
Time: August 1, 2021, 6:08 am

Americans use 110@60hz because we had tons of copper and and no respect for the metric system. Brits use 220@50hz because the wires can be smaller in gauge and 50 is 1/2 of 100.

As I recall Brits limit their amperage to 5 amps too for your everyday sockets. And putting the switch on the outlet saves the cost of putting it on you toothbrush, iron, or hair dryer. Americans are now up to 20 amps on your average circuit. We love our power.

In my state of California, laws have been passed to ban certain computers and power tools for DIYers because they draw so much power. The rest of America gets monster chips in their PCs to win the video games.

Comment from Uncle Badger
Time: August 1, 2021, 12:45 pm

tomfrompv – it’s 13 amps in the UK.

Comment from Stephen Falken
Time: August 2, 2021, 9:21 pm

Twenty some years ago I visited England with a group of friends. One of them plugged in a curling iron and I don’t remember exactly what happened next but I think I recall the smell of burnt hair.

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