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Thread: World Voltage, Frequency and Single Phase Plug Standards

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    Default World Voltage, Frequency and Single Phase Plug Standards

    Gentlemen,

    We thought that the following detail may be of general interest. Europe and most other countries in the world use a voltage which is twice that of the US. It is between 220V and 240V, whereas in Japan and in most of the Americas the voltage is between 100V and 127V. The system of three-phase alternating current electrical generation and distribution was invented by a nineteenth century creative genius named Nicola Tesla. He made many careful calculations and measurements and found out that 60Hz was the best frequency for alternating current power generation. He preferred 240V, which put him at odds with Thomas Edison, whose direct current (DC) systems were 110V DC. Perhaps Edison had a useful point in the safety factor of the lower voltage, but DC couldn't provide the power to a distance that AC could.

    When the German company AEG built the first European generating facility, its engineers decided to fix the frequency at 50Hz, because the number 60Hz didn't fit the metric standard unit sequence (1,2,5). At that time, AEG had a virtual monopoly and their standard spread to the rest of the continent. In Britain, differing frequencies proliferated, and only after World War II the 50Hz standard was established. 50Hz 20% less effective in generation, it is 10-15% less efficient in transmission, it requires up to 30% larger windings and magnetic core materials in transformer construction. Electric motors are much less efficient at the lower frequency, and must also be made more robust to handle the electrical losses and the extra heat generated. Today, only a handful of countries (Peru, Ecuador, Saudi Arabia, Guyana, the Philippines and South Korea) follow Tesla's advice and use the 60Hz frequency together with a voltage of 220V - 240V.

    Originally Europe was 110V, just like Japan and the US today. It has been deemed necessary to increase voltage to get more power with less losses and voltage drop from the same copper wire diameter. At the time the US also wanted to change but because of the cost involved to replace all electric appliances, they decided not to. At the time (50s - 60s) the average US household already had fridge, washing-machine, etc., but not in Europe. The end result is that now, the US seems not to have evolved from the 50s and 60s, and still copes with problems as light bulbs that burn out rather quickly when they are close to the transformer (too high a voltage), or just the other way round: not enough voltage at the end of the line (105 to 127V spread!). Note that currently all new American buildings get in fact 230V split in two 115V between neutral and hot wire. Major appliances, such as ovens, are now connected to 230V. Americans who have European equipment, can connect it to these outlets.

    There are 214 countries listed below. 175 of the countries use 220-240V (50 or 60Hz). 39 of the countries use 100V - 127V (50Hz or 60Hz).


    World Voltage, Frequency and Plug Standards
    Last edited by Dr. Jonathan Hughes; 18-01-2018 at 11:17.
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