I'm on vacation in France and I've been really surprised to see that the ground connections in wall sockets is a pin (rather than a port). I couldn't believe that this site was on HN, and of course there's a whole page on exactly this design. Sadly, the answer seems to be "we have no idea why it's like that, even though we've tried to find out."Reply
I like the Brazilian standard: https://www.plugsocketmuseum.nl/IEC60906-1.html :
But it has one flaw: you can't change the orientation of the male plug. This sometimes leads to awkward positions of devices or female plugs that get inaccessible because it is covered by another device.
- It has a ground pin and - it is very safe: when the contact is established all conducting parts are already hidden, untouchable by operator's hands.
A simple solution could be: the female plug could have 2 ground holes, this way the male plug would be able to connect in two different orientations. Anyone knows of a plug that has this feature?Reply
Tip: ask for a plug adapter in a decent European hotel, and you have a good chance to be given a nice one.
I live in a place with US style plugs, and I like to travel light. So in my suitcase I keep just one US-EU adapter, and employ the pen lid trick  to use it in UK style outlets. US, EU and UK style outlets cover basically 100% of my travel destinations. I can't recommend this trick, but it does work and saves me from carrying a bulky UK adapter.Reply
Great site design, great topic. 10/10Reply
I think Schuko is my favorite. It's (somewhat) compact, shields the live prongs, and feels solid. For a while I was running my computer/monitor from a fused German surge protector wired to a US 240V outlet.Reply
> BS 4573. British, but de facto international, socket for shavers only, rated at 115-230 Volt - 0.2 Amp. Shaver sockets accept the following not earthed plugs: British BS 4573, Europlugs (CEE 7/16), straight blade NEMA 1-15P and Australian type not earthed flat blade plugs.
Amazing. There's a wall socket that accepts any plug, "for shavers only". They know the pain.Reply
Only the kind of person to use HackerNews would be interested in a museum of plugs and sockets... hahahahaReply
Off topic: I wonder what kind of a projection is used for the map of Europe. It seems to be very badly wrapped.Reply
I feel like this will be an interesting side quest in a future fallout game.Reply
Australian plugs are the best I've used for the following reasons (amongst others, mostly mentioned in TFA): two and three-pin (earthed) use the same socket; irreversible (even the 2-pin plug is polarized); the flat pins allow a larger plug/socket contact area for current; small size; partially insulated power-pins stop shorts if stray conductors fall on partially-plugged in plugs. (I'm not Australian and don't live there.)Reply
This is an unusual topic for a museum. I found it rather interesting. Thanks for all your effort.Reply
We managed to standardize lightbulbs but we didn't manage to standardize sockets or mains voltage. It seems weird.Reply
On the one hand, this site is a very cool look at something I genuinely enjoy studying.
On the other hand, it makes me despair a bit for the future of technology. Such simple tech! So many basically equivalent solutions! And we'll be stuck with this chaos for how long?
The only prospect I see for unification would be USB-C, which is going from 100W to 240W max, and maybe isn't done growing. But given the delicacy of USB-C connections, that's probably even worse. "Honey, is the TV broken?" "No, the USB-C wall plug just fell out again."Reply
As a Brit, got to say that I wish we used Europlugs here. Ours are so bulky (a pain for anything portable), and the US ones seem so flimsy.
Also, there ought to be a museum of hotel electrics. Weird light switch behaviour, dumb (pre phone charger) socket placement, heating/cooling controls, etcReply
The variety here with no clear benefits/market niche for each shows how wasteful we humans are with our innovation efforts.
I'm sure many human-lifetimes went into developing and deploying every type of plug and socket there. Could those human lifetimes have been better spent inventing something actually new rather than something pretty much the same as a neighbour was also inventing?Reply
Oh good, they depict the NEMA family in the correct orientation. >95% of installations depict the "face orientation", which is partially responsible for USA outlet's bad rap.
- plugs are more likely to fall out or come loose
- flat things can fall on the blades
- it looks like a face! D=
Orienting the ground pin up helps keep the plug secured (think about the moment of rotation of the plug) and if it does come loose, the ground pin prevents something from falling and bridging the hot pins.
NEMA-5-15 gets a bad rap for being "loose" for a few reasons:
- the incorrect orientation (see above)
- the abysmal 1-15 outlet (no ground, even less retention, especially with wall warts)
- travelers staying in hotels with wallowed out receptacles that see daily use and need replacing. It doesn't help that they use the cheap ones with low spring force to begin with
Those infernal bedside lamp outlets are the trifecta of terrible: every hotel seems to have them, they are all cheap 1-15s that were loose when new and only deteriorated over time.
Properly installed NEMA-5-15R outlets of middling-to-good-quality never fall out on their own and feel very secure, even years later.
There's one feature I wish the NEMA non-locking series had: partially insulated contacts. Even just a few mm would help.Reply
I must say that the Type K 107-2-D1 from Denmark looks like quite the happy little plug. The Type I from Australia looks a bit surprised while the Type F from Germany looks quit robotic. For some reason, the Type A/B from N.America seems to be standing on its head.Reply
What a breath of fresh air!Reply
The front page says: "no cookies no password required". Bookmarked!Reply
The pictures for plugs from Brazil are not accurate. The majority of the 10A, 4mm plugs have sleeved outer contacts, just like the IEC standard pictured from South Africa. In conjunction with the recessed outlet, it makes it impossible to touch a live contact.Reply
It's a little out of date, South Africa has mandated IEC 60906-1 (SANS 164-2) on all new installations for some time now, replacing the huge old BS 546 (SANS 164-1) socket.
Incidentally, IEC 60906-1 was designed to be a new global plug standard but almost no countries want to go through the trouble of changing their own standards to adopt it. The Brazilian implementation is also not 100% compatible any more.Reply