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Socket It To Me

2442 Views 12 Replies 6 Participants Last post by  roofner
Hi there Fraternity

This is just a short one.

I’m not sure if this is borne out of necessity, or just pure boredom, but as I stood today in the workshop, I turned my mind away from actually creating something, mainly because I couldn’t think of anything to create and I thought about improvements based mainly on what annoys me when working in the shop.

To be honest the shop over time has developed and is not too bad and works fairly effectively. So I was down to nit picking and I rounded on my work bench. Earlier in the year I tore it apart and set it up more to my way of working, but the one thing that still annoys me is, not the availability of power but the access of said power. Now my 240v, 110v and air are all directly behind me when I am bench working and I am forever having to take detours around the bench to avoid snarl ups with the cables.

So what to do. Decided the 110v was staying put, due to not that much use and the air is augmented by an extending air drum to the left of my bench. So 240v it is.

I felt I didn’t want 240v drums above me, far too bulky, so decided on a drop system due to the machines I own all have a decent length of lead on them.

I started to rake about for parts and did manage to make them up but they were as you put it Eclectic, all different makes, styles and colours, and I wanted some form of unity. So, £20 for parts and away I went.

Now I had two spiral short extensions which were brilliant for the job but hung down too far and would have annoyed the life out of me, so choice was cut them in half, fit them on the other side of the bench or the one I chose, use a magnetic cupboard door closer to hitch them up out of the way, and I think it worked out quite well.

Wiring was easy enough as I had a ring main directly above.

Now at this point I had a decision to make. Either go with a couple of ceiling mounted 13amp fused spurred outlets, or 13amp plug socket outlets. I chose the latter and the reason behind this was that the trailing lead might end up directly on my head above the work piece and annoy the hell out of me, but if I use the plug-in method I could install as many ceiling sockets as I desired and move my trailing lead to which ever outlet I needed. In the end decided on 3. One on the end, one near the opposite end and one approx. centre. I have the future option of adding extra sockets.

I have also shown the wiring of a socket for the benefit of our Atlantic cousins. My son lives in Houston and when we visit I have a list of jobs to complete during my busman's holiday. One is the wiring of new socket outlets. During the time I wired my first one I headed down to Home Depot and bought the equivalent of our 2.5mm twin/earth, then proceeded to search for earth sleeve. Gave up and asked an assistant who laughed and told me he had the same problem as he was from Canada and they use the earth sleeve. In the end I bought green heat shrink. I could not bring myself the leave the bare earth in the box with the phase and neutral both having unprotected screw heads. There must be times the earth comes into contact with the live side, as you can see in the U.K. everything in the box must be totally protected including the screws. The other thing that surprised me was how loose the appliance plugs sat in the wall receptacle, unless they had an earth they wobbled about. This is not a criticism; just how different the two systems are. Well my son now has the only house in his street with all earth wires sleeved.

I’m not sure why the US is like that other than you are dealing with 110v rather than our deadly 240v. Also took a while to get used to the black being phase instead of our old neutral.

Could someone please enlighten me as to the reasons for socket wiring in the US

So that’s it lads, thought it might give some of you an idea or two if you are like retired, not allowed in the house until after dark, bored most of the time and the little things in life annoy you.

Ps. Just had a visit from the other half. Now she likes music, I like films. She also helps me clean the workshop. When it needs done I tend to dread it and I will stand in the mess looking like a lost boy not knowing where to start, while she rips through it like a whirlwind, god bless her. A lot of my comments from you in relation to my posts remark on how neat and tidy my workshop is, so now you know. Now yesterday she happened to say this would go a lot quicker if she had tunes to listen to.

So that lads, this is the next project. A stereo workshop, keep the workers happy.



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Looks really nice. Clean, uncluttered and easy to reach. Nice job
Earth sleeve? Please explain. I live in Canada, have been doing my own wiring for 45 years and I have no idea what that is. I understand the earth part. We call that ground. It's the sleeve part I don't follow.

Maybe with your phase being 230 volt there is greater potential to leak power but it isn't a problem with our 110-120 volt system. The screws need not be covered or protected. I've never seen it to be an issue (as in the metal tarnishing) or heard of it being an issue.
Almost all UK and similar countries use elcb trips on household wiring. These are so sensitive that the bare earth (ground) touching any metal inside the box can cause nuisance tripping.
My house has these, and even after switching off the mcb on a circuit I can trip the elcb by simply touching the neutral wire. Its almost impossible to be electrocuted in a properly wired house.

So all ground wires are sleeved in green / yellow striped sheathing right up to the screw connection. We even have rolls of insulating tape in green / yellow.
and sheathing to slide over wire ends.
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Here in the U.K. most of our modern consumer units now have RCD’s fitted (residual current device) which detects any leak to earth however small and immediately shuts down the consumer unit. The idea being that most people that accidentally touch a live conductor in the house are drawing the current to earth through their body. The RCD prevents this. We therefore cannot have any incidents of leaks to earth wires otherwise our consumer unit would be constantly tripping. Our units are what they call split boards where the RCD is only active on the ring mains etc and not the lighting circuits. They found that a light bulb blowing was enough to trip the RCD so the boards were split.
Here in the U.K. most of our modern consumer units now have RCD’s fitted (residual current device) which detects any leak to earth however small and immediately shuts down the consumer unit. The idea being that most people that accidentally touch a live conductor in the house are drawing the current to earth through their body. The RCD prevents this. We therefore cannot have any incidents of leaks to earth wires otherwise our consumer unit would be constantly tripping. Our units are what they call split boards where the RCD is only active on the ring mains etc and not the lighting circuits. They found that a light bulb blowing was enough to trip the RCD so the boards were split.
Here hey are called GFI Outlets...
Short for Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter, a GFI (also known as GFCI) is a type of electrical outlet designed to protect you and your family against electrical shock, fire, and/or fatal electrocution. Your GFCI outlet (receptacle) monitors the flow of current. If it detects a ground fault -- an unintentional electrical path to the ground -- it will immediately cut the power, to protect anyone in physical contact with the electrical system.
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Cyprus is even more cautious.
Every circuit in my house goes through an RCD (ELCB as was)

This is just my downstairs board;


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Only some of our circuits are required to be protected from faults. We have two options in some cases. One is a GFI at the distribution panel and the other is an outlet which can be wired to protect only that outlet or it and all downstream outlets (but none upstream). In the past only the bathroom outlet and all outside outlets had to be fault protected. I’m not up to date on code and maybe there are more now. Newer code requires many arc fault breakers now. I’ve still never heard of anyone wrapping up the ground wires. It’s required to be attached to the outlet box, even on switch boxes, so I don’t see the point personally.
When I moved into this house, brand new, we had an intermittent fault on the outside wall lights. The sparky came back and inspected the circuit. He found an unsheathed earth wire that (although connected properly to the earth system) was over long, and as the wires were squashed back into the socket to tighten the plate, the earth wire was brushing against the neutral wire terminal at the back of the switch tripping the RCD.

Wire sheathed, 10 years on, not a murmer.
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Our plug ins have no bare contacts on the back. The only exposed parts are the screw terminals at the sides. Ours do have holes in the back where a wire can be pushed into a spring loaded contact but here in BC at least we are prohibited from using them and in the few cases where I’ve seen them used anyway they had a bad tendency for the wire ends breaking off in them. Which is probably why they are prohibited. I’d be interested in seeing a photo of the back of your plug-ins.
UK Wiring

Hi there, this one is for Charles who asked to see a typical wired plug in

Just thought I would show you a few photos of the UK type of domestic plugs etc.

The first photo is our boxes sometimes referred to as Patrice boxes. The are what we call single and two gang.

The top pvc ones are for plasterboard, your equivalent to drywall. They are very popular especially for after market installations. They fit any thickness of board and require no fixings of ground wires.

The next down are our metal boxes with pop outs, normally 20mm where you insert a rubber grommet to protect the cable. These boxes being metal require a built-in ground and come with a terminal for earthing. They are used mainly on new build and fitted on electrical first fix, they are also suitable for conduit systems.

The bottom two are for exposed or surface mounting

The second photo is our connectors, for joining two wires together in a box, starting at 5 amp and going up to about 20 amp, we don’t use the twist type you use, they come in strips and you just cut off what you need.

Next is our ring main sockets, some are double connections to facilitate a ring main i.e. loop in loop out. All domestic sockets must have isolation this is mainly achieved simply by a switch on the face plate
Lastly is a typical plug we use for appliances etc. In the UK every appliance must have a plug fitted by the manufacturer. All our plugs are fused to the rating of the appliance being used. 3amp fuse up to 13amp the maximum fuse. I noticed that some of my sons plugs in Houston have only two pins, I suspect because the appliances are double insulated and no ground is required. Here in the UK we have the same, but we still retain the ground pin to stabilise the plug into the wall receptacle.

Now to give you some idea of how we wire our boxes I have made up a dummy one. The wires are longer than I would use, but to enable your viewing I stretched them a bit. As you can see all the grounds are sleeved as per UK 17th Edition regs. Little chance of tripping the consumer unit.

Our conductors are brown and blue, but used to be hot or live Red and negative or neutral Black. When we joined the EU, we had to change to what you see before you to allow anyone working in the EU to recognise any wiring system in any member country. We did the same with all utilities.

The one thing that really got my goat was the 3 Phase. The UK cable was red/blue/yellow on the phase and neutral black. Earth was stranded. When I wired my workshop with 3 phase all my cable arrived in the new EU colours i.e. the three phase wires were black/black/black/ It was a nightmare. Ended up metering every roll and getting three rolls of different coloured insulation tapes and colour coding all the ends.

Anyway, I diverse. Hope this gives you a little insight in our wiring

Ps. As for the ground sleeve, it used to be a solid colour until colour blind electricians were having a problem. Not so much crossing live and neutral but earth in live is a different matter. So now it’s stripped to alleviate that problem.



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Thanks Colin. I see a few differences. Attached is a photo of our receptacle, which you'll be familiar with by now but other non North American members may not be. The only metal showing on the back are the rivets that hold the mounting ears to the rest of the receptacle. Those ears and the box must be attached to the ground wire by code so it makes no difference if they touch the bare ground wire. The neutral and line connections are on the sides which when installed stay at least 3 mm from the sides of the receptacle box. We have plastic boxes also but there must be integral straps that connect all those grounding parts.

Another difference I see is that our boxes must have clamps either integral (which most of us prefer) or installed in the knockouts after. These prevent the wire being pulled on and damaging the receptacle or pulling a wire loose and causing a short. The clamps are such that no sharp edges can contact the wire so the rubber grommets are not needed. The plastic boxes have a bendable tab sticking into the wire opening and when you push the wire through they are supposed to grab the wire if pulled back and prevent it moving. They don't always work and I'm not a great fan of those type boxes.

If the wires dead end at the box we just connect them to the receptacle. However, if they carry on to other appliances or lights we have to join the ends and add a "pigtail" and the pigtails then attach to the receptacle outlet or light. What's the policy there if your wiring carries on to other locations?


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