European Continental Electrics Are Bad compared to
Notes from a
mail that I wrote. May be tidied later.
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 Tyrol)
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 several
- 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 bathroom.
- Wall light & fan switches, not ceiling pull cord.
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
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
- 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 can
- 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
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