Talk:AC power plugs and sockets

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Former featured article AC power plugs and sockets is a former featured article. Please see the links under Article milestones below for its original nomination page (for older articles, check the nomination archive) and why it was removed.
Main Page trophy This article appeared on Wikipedia's Main Page as Today's featured article on September 10, 2004.

Move all detail info to group-specific articles?[edit]

(continuing discussion from previous section)

──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── Deucharman: That "suggestion" (more of a "caution", really) was not meant to be a summary of recent events, but an example of a situation we would like to avoid. The more different articles there are in a topic area, the more doubt and disagreement can arise as to where exactly things should go. Even if a "history of" article is not created I think there needs to be some clearer understanding of just what goes here and what goes in the "detail" articles.

One way to do that would be to shift practically all of it to the "detail" articles. The bulk here could really be reduced to a paragraph or two for each "country or region group" (NEMA, UK and others using UK-like standards, Europlug-compatible, etc.), giving the defining characteristics (two flat parallel blades for the most common North American connector, two round pins of specified length and diameter for the Europlug group, etc.), saying where each is used, showing how each fits into the overall grand scheme of AC power plugs and sockets... and pointers to the detail articles for everything else. Jeh (talk) 22:33, 19 November 2013 (UTC)

Jeh, that may be a constructive approach worth looking at. I am going to mull over it. I`ll be interested to see what others think. Is there a precedent/method for developing new articles in parallel with existing articles without changing the existing until the new is in shape? I guess it will be tomorrow before there is any response from Deucharman and other European based editors. Mautby (talk) 23:49, 19 November 2013 (UTC)
Sure. You can create a "sandbox" that starts out by being copied from the existing article, usually in something like talk:articlename/sandbox1. The first edit comment on that page should point back to the specific version of the existing article it's copied from. You work on that, and then when done, you just copy the text of the sandbox on top of the old article. You link back to the sandbox page in the edit comment when you make the changeover, so people can find the edit history (for copyright, etc., purposes), and you leave the sandbox with a "do not edit or delete" notice at the top, and rename it to _archived as a notice that it should not be deleted.
See for example this one, the development of which was discussed here and in the first two sections here; and finally here is where the sandbox was copied into the real article. Note that "sandbox" in the edit comment is a link thereto.
The same could be done for each detail article, but I think that most of those changes could be made in situ as it will just be a matter of adding info to them, not a re-org. We should of course make this proposal on the talk page of each existing detail article, so that editors who are watching there, but not here, won't be caught unaware and can have some input. I would think they would be happy about not having to worry about coordinating those articles with this one.
I suppose this article could remain the place for historical devices with no obvious ancestry to current types. Clearly, historical (even if not "obsolete", e.g. the 5-gang receptacle) devices that are obviously related to current ones would go in the type-specific articles. Jeh (talk) 02:41, 20 November 2013 (UTC)

──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── My initial reaction when I read this earlier today was not good, but I held off commenting and the more I think about it the more I like it. The BS related types (pre-standards, BS 73 (obsolete 2 pin ), its derivative BS 4573, BS 546, BS 1363 and the clock connector are currently spread across this article and 2 others (BS 546 and BS 1363). Gathering all this, along with the derived South African and Indian standards, is quite attractive. I can see how a Continental Europe related article could draw the individual histories into the present situation of multiple socket types which all accept the Europlug as well as their own plug types, and include the IEC 60906-1 with its derived Brazilian and South African standards. The Euro related articles to be combined would be Europlug, Schuko, IEC 60906-1 (One possible snag, probably unavoidable, is that it would split the overarching South African standard SANS 164 across two articles, but I suppose that relating them would be one of the functions of the stripped down version of this article. Another would be how to deal with GOST 7396.)

The American article would presumably include the Japanese JIS C 8303, but would it also include the Australian, Argentine and Chinese types derived from the pre-NEMA 1915 Hubbell design, US Patent 1,179,728? Deucharman (talk) 13:36, 20 November 2013 (UTC)

Re your first paragraph: I would think Yes to including JIS C 8303, no to the others (but the common history could be explored here).
Since the summary article (this one) would be pretty darn short, we could probably sandbox it—or perhaps even just one or two sections—pretty quickly, just to give an idea of what it would look like. The material-to-be-moved-elsewhere would not have to actually be moved out of the sandbox yet, it could just be hatted. Jeh (talk) 19:55, 20 November 2013 (UTC)
OK, that sounds like a tentative way forward. Sounds like we would end up with the following set of articles:
AC power plugs and sockets - Overview
AC power plugs and sockets - American and related types
AC power plugs and sockets - Australian, Chinese and related types
AC power plugs and sockets - British and related types
AC power plugs and sockets - European and related types
Comments? Deucharman (talk) 20:29, 20 November 2013 (UTC)
As I have noted in my comments in the section above, there seems little doubt that Mautby's edits were justified. I find it strange that a situation like this can lead to a suggestion for a major overhaul of article structures when no substantive problems have been identified with the existing structures. I am not in favour of the proposed changes. SSHamilton (talk) 12:23, 21 November 2013 (UTC)
The point is not whether Mautby's edits were justified. The problem is larger editor workload to maintain consistency between this article and the detail articles. Which in turn is caused by having no consistent guideline as to what goes where. Editors come here and add, or change, details that are not in the existing detail articles. Or they put summary information that really belongs here in the detail articles. So we have some of the same points covered at both levels, worded differently. As edits are made to one and not the other, the two can drift farther apart. These issues will be avoided if there is a clearer idea as to what goes where. This reorg suggestion would "lead by obvious example" by putting almost no type-family-specific information here.
It affects readers too. Suppose someone comes here first and reads up on NEMA connectors. Then, if they're not sure they have all the info they need, they might check the linked NEMA article too. Hmm, there are a lot of the same pictures, but some different ones... and the text is different... in some cases quite different. The careful reader has to read both carefully to see if they're actually saying the same thing or if there are any new facts to be gleaned. If on the other hand they read either article alone they may be missing details that they need. The reorg would make it clear that details of connector outlines and of the various sub-types within a "type family" are in the detail articles.
Lastly, I don't think it's that much of an "overhaul." We already have much of the article structure Deucharman outlined; it is just that there is not a clear division of roles between this article and the detail articles. It is clear that the current structure "just growed" by agglomeration, without a design. It's time to fix that. Jeh (talk) 18:38, 21 November 2013 (UTC)

──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── In an attempt to move this forward I have prepared a draft of one of the articles suggested above: "AC power plugs and sockets - British and related types". This can be found in my sandbox. Please do not edit my sandbox, but make comments and suggestions here. I have also placed requests for comments on the BS 546 and BS 1363 pages. Deucharman (talk) 16:47, 27 December 2013 (UTC)

This looks like a good consolidation and provides a coherent picture of British plugs and sockets - I like it, and based on this I support Jeh's proposal. One possible query would be the position of the chronology, not a big deal but there might be a better position? If the other groups already mentioned could be organized as well as the British then we have the makings of a big improvement. FF-UK (talk) 22:01, 29 December 2013 (UTC)
Deucharman's effort validates Jeh's suggested restructuring, I support this. Mautby (talk) 23:55, 29 December 2013 (UTC)
Thank you to those who supported this. As there has been no dissent I have now created the article at AC power plugs and sockets - British and related types and will edit this article accordingly. Deucharman (talk) 13:09, 4 January 2014 (UTC)
I support the splitting (remember my past suggestion: "Splitting in a current standards description article and a historical description article ?"). It's another way to lighten a bloated article and give a simple overview in the main article, like in the British case, --Robertiki (talk) 05:53, 18 January 2014 (UTC)

──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── Since the creation of the new AC power plugs and sockets - British and related types article seems to have been well accepted, I am wondering if anyone has plans to create the other three new articles which were agreed above? I could pick up the new AC power plugs and sockets - European and related types which leaves AC power plugs and sockets - American and related types and AC power plugs and sockets - Australian, Chinese and related types. Any takers? Deucharman (talk) 16:04, 20 March 2014 (UTC)

I am planning to work on the "American and related types" piece. Since the "NEMA" article already exists it will be more a matter of moving things from here to there and looking carefully at the organization. But it won't be for another few weeks (unless I need it as a break from current for-pay projects!). Jeh (talk) 09:08, 30 March 2014 (UTC)


Weltkarte der Netzspannungen und Netzfrequenzen.svg
Weltkarte verwendeter Netzsteckertypen.svg

In early January I removed the maps from this article, neither have any external sources, and include errors. This article is not about voltage or frequency, so that map is completely redundant in this context. The general quality of the maps, with no textual indication of country names, adds nothing useful to the article. There have been a number of attempts to reinsert these maps with no justification provided, most recently by an anonymous user who claims removal was vandalism! Would all editors please desist from inserting rubbish back into this article as this hinders the process of its transformation into a genuinely useful and properly sourced article. Mautby (talk) 16:38, 20 March 2014 (UTC)

If you removed the maps without prior discussion, you can't be surprised that people keep adding them back. You haven't stated what exact errors the maps contain. Furthermore, your claim that the maps add nothing useful to the article because there is no textual indication of country names is offensive - you'd hardly find any similar map here on Wikipedia where all the countries are labelled. I repeat, you haven't stated a single meaningful reason of the repeated removal, so one can only wonder what exactly you are following by this.-2A00:1028:83CC:42D2:60B6:3C80:EC2A:AAF6 (talk) 17:54, 20 March 2014 (UTC)
I fully agree with Mautby, which is why I have been undoing the anonymous editors additions. As Mautby said back in January at Talk:Mains electricity by country Here are some examples of significant errors in the maps: Brazil is shown as using plugs to IEC 60906-1 whereas the Brazilian National Standard is NBR 14136 which does NOT conform to the IEC standard. The main plug in China is Type I, but that is not indicated on the map. The maps have no stated sources and must not be allowed to remain. Deucharman (talk) 18:19, 20 March 2014 (UTC)

As a casual visitor to the article, I would find such maps at least entertaining, even if somewhat vague/inaccurate and of uncertain informational value... Many WP articles fail to facilitate a global view of the subject, have very incomplete coverage of many countries, make it hard to see the "big picture", don't have good cross-cultural analysis content, etc. I hope the two sides of this dispute can find some relevant and appropriate maps for the article. (I don't see why such a world map would need to be cluttered with country names, but I do see why it would be better to have more relevant and accurate content.) Examing the disputed maps further, I find that they would be quite interesting to me (in whatever articles they might belong in) -- if only they were done better: the colors are not well chosen, and the key/legends are problematic... - (talk) 12:34, 11 July 2014 (UTC)

NEMA plugs and sockets[edit]

We probably have more application detail here than is needed, after all, there is an article for the NEMA connectors. A NEMA 14 has a neutral blade, so was not a good example - NEMA 6 types have two line conductors, both of which may carry significant voltage with respect to ground, and no neutral blade. The voltage to ground is not necessarily half; window air conditioner receptacles might be wired to two legs of a 208/120V panel, for example. --Wtshymanski (talk) 19:14, 25 April 2014 (UTC)

You could even have an isolated sytem where the voltage to ground is not tightly defined and would be half only by good luck and symmetry of leakage. --Wtshymanski (talk) 20:13, 29 April 2014 (UTC)
Wtshymanski, please stop being fixated on NEMA (the Concepts and terminology section is about just that) and 3 phase (which this article is not concerned with). The passage you keep tinkering with clearly refers to situations where the line voltage is split in two, such as the systems used for power tools to minimize voltage, and technical power systems. We do not need to spell this out in detail, but it is correct to mention the concept and to acknowledge that this type of connection is used. Mautby (talk) 02:44, 30 April 2014 (UTC)
As I type this I'm looking at the apartment block next door, in which every unit has single phase air conditioners plugged into sockets with two pins, each 120 V to ground, but only 208 V pin to pin. Why is it so important that Wikipedia give a precise and wrong value when with a little generaliazation it could make an accurate statement? And not every Schuko plug is on a system with grounded neutrals, either - you could have 230 V pin to ground and 400 volts pin to pin. It's got nothing to do with NEMA. It's quite possible to have systems where the pin to pin voltage is not exactly twice the pin to ground voltage. --Wtshymanski (talk) 13:25, 30 April 2014 (UTC)
I'll agree with your aircon example, but not Schuko which are rated only at 250 V. Mautby (talk) 16:04, 30 April 2014 (UTC)

Recent move and reverted move of the British standards article. Hyphens and dashes and colons, oh my![edit]

Aleksa Lukic (talk · contribs) recently moved AC power plugs and sockets - British and related types to AC power plugs and sockets — British and related types, citing "correct form". Don't see a difference? Most don't. In any case, Deucharman (talk · contribs) reverted the move. I support the revert, if only because we have quite a few people working on these articles, and changes of this sort should not be made without at least asking those of us who have a considerable investment in time here.

It looks like all AL did was change the hyphen to an em dash (the "longer" dash - the width of a letter m), claiming "correct form".

But actually, if you'll look at MOS:DASH, an em dash with spaces around it is NOT the correct form. But then, neither is a hyphen. Hyphens are just for hyphenated words, where the first word modifies the second and the whole is followed by a noun, like "line-operated appliance". (I feel hyphens are overused in such constructs, but that's just me.) When you want to indicate a "pause", then per MOS:DASH, you are supposed to use either an em dash with no spaces, or an en dash with spaces.

This does apply to article titles. But for article titles you are additionally supposed to create redirects wherein the dash (whichever type) is changed to a hyphen so that searches will work, since most people don't know to use, let alone how to type, anything but hyphens.

(It seems to me that the search issue should be addressed by making WP's search engine smarter: When the search target includes a hyphen it should also hit on both types of dashes, and "minus signs" too, as well as hyphens... and ignore surrounding spaces in the search prospects as well, since MOS aside, there is a great deal of variability in how people type these things. But I digress.)

Not to throw another monkey wrench ("spanner" to our British-English-using friends ;) ) into the works, but I'm wondering if colons would be better for the detail articles, e.g.

AC power plugs and sockets: British and related types

thereby eliminating all the hyphen/dash nonsense. Of course I suppose we should still create redirects from the names with hyphens and dashes. Jeh (talk) 00:43, 26 April 2014 (UTC)

I should add that I don't think this is a huge issue. In fact I'd be content to leave the spaced hyphen. But if we have to change it I'd prefer to change to a colon. Jeh (talk) 06:14, 26 April 2014 (UTC)
I don't think it is a big issue either, but I don't think the colon would be appropriate. It might be if that article were considerably renamed to something like: British AC power plugs and sockets: BS 546, 1363, 4573 and related standards. A colon signals a subtitle, a nonessential elucidation of the main title, so it's not really appropriate to use it to separate out an essential subtopic title from the main topic title. I don't think we want to consider any sort of a large rename, so if we decide to rename that article (and similar ones) it should be to AC power plugs and sockets—British and related types or the analogous AC power plugs and sockets (British and related types). Carolina wren (talk) 21:03, 27 April 2014 (UTC)
There was quite a lot of discussion on the creation of these new sub-articles before any change took place. Some of this was quite heated, but as far as I remember the proposed titles were never queried, they are clear and meaningful. Does that not tell us something? I can find nothing that says the existing form cannot stand, so think we should keep it, and use it for the remaining (yet to be created) articles. Mautby (talk) 23:58, 27 April 2014 (UTC)
It just goes to show that we had no one at the time who was pedantic about punctuation. For most people the difference between hyphens, en dashes, and em dashes is pure balderdash, but there are those who care about such things. Carolina wren (talk) 18:51, 28 April 2014 (UTC)
My tuppence would be to leave the title as is, mainly on the grounds that nobody - not even the most pedantic amongst us - would type an emdash (or endash) into a search field when looking for a specific article title. Chaheel Riens (talk) 21:04, 28 April 2014 (UTC)

No outlet switches in US[edit]

Why are outlets with switches so uncommon in the US? Safety aside, they would often be convenient! - (talk) 21:12, 10 July 2014 (UTC)

Probably cost, lack of requirements, and perceived lack of need. Anyone desiring this functionality can specify a combination switch and receptacle in a duplex outlet format, wired appropriately. This setup works and I have seen it, but only rarely, in some laboratories. In short: It can be done and it works, but nobody is pushing hard to make it a standard. By contrast, there has been a big push for GFCIs and AFCIs as producing big safety benefits, and they are now widely required by standard electrical codes. YMMV. Reify-tech (talk) 21:25, 10 July 2014 (UTC)
That sounds reasonable to me, but leaves me curious about the cultural/historical factors behind some countries having built-in switches for most standard outlets, and how this is all evolving over time. (And it puts me in mind of the possibility of using a GFCI test button as an OFF switch for that outlet pair. On the one hand, most GFCI outlets are not tested as often as they are supposed to be. On the other hand, how much usage can they sustain before wearing out?) (Never heard of AFCI -- very interesting read!) (This talk page is getting auto-archived too aggressively for my taste.) - (talk) 12:53, 11 July 2014 (UTC)
In the UK the original reason for switched outlets was that (with DC supplies) the arcing which occurred when withdrawing the plug was excessive. A number of methods were used to minimize this, they included hand shields (see the illustration of the "Tripin" plug in the historical section of the article), insulating shutters which snapped across the aperture to break the arc as the plug was withdrawn, and switches designed to minimize arcing which could be used before withdrawal. According to Mellanby, both shutters and switches were incorporated in sockets as early as the 1880s. When the BS 1363 socket was planned it was determined that, as it was for AC use only, there was no need for a switch to be incorporated, so there was no provision in the original BS 1363:1947. However, there was public pressure for switched sockets for BS 1363 plugs, so a separate standard, BS 2814:1957, was introduced for them. It was not until 1967 that switched sockets were incorporated into BS 1363 itself. FF-UK (talk) 14:26, 11 July 2014 (UTC)
I've regarded the differences between North American power plugs and British power plugs as extreme examples, in an interesting case study of alternative paths in the development of consumer-level technology. The American electrical system (with radial building wiring) was not as frugal in its use of copper as the British system (with loop building wiring), but the US did not experience the severe copper shortages and rebuilding tasks that the Brits faced after WW2. The elaborate British BS 1363 fused plug and switched receptacle made each connection to AC power a relatively big deal, taking up a fair amount of physical volume (some 4 to 6 American NEMA 1-15 non-grounded plugs and compact receptacles can fit into the space taken up by a single British plug and receptacle). Indeed, the British plug by itself is as big as the entire volume of many small American plug-in devices in common use. As a result, the North American market is full of little gadgets (such as free promotional night lights using neon, and now LED emitters) that are casually plugged into multi-receptacle adaptors, and the omnipresent extension cords and outlet strips. I doubt that the typical British home has anything near the multitude of little devices plugged into AC power as in a typical North American home. For a memorable at-a-glance picture, do a side-by-side comparison of the minimal AC plug-in USB power adaptor Apple sells in North America versus its British equivalent.
The safety tradeoffs have been argued endlessly, but I haven't found a relatively objective statistical comparison of the rates of fatal electrical shocks or electrical fires between the systems (any help finding such studies would be appreciated). The radial American wiring setup facilitated the adoption of GFCI and now AFCI safety technology, which are becoming widespread in new construction and major renovations; I'm curious how far these technologies have spread in British households. As another footnote, American codes now require the installation of shuttered receptacles in permanent building installations, whereas British BS 1363 always seems to have required this. Reify-tech (talk) 16:10, 11 July 2014 (UTC)
Thank you both for those very interesting notes! You lead me to wanting to know more about DC outlets/plugs and arcing, and about loop vs. radial building wiring. (Despite decades of experience with US tech I see how ignorant I am about cross-cultural basics.) I am thinking that most every country deserves a separate WP article discussing history of evolution of plugs/outlets/wiring etc... - (talk) 16:31, 11 July 2014 (UTC)
By editorial consensus, the ample coverage of the British standard has already been spun off into a separate article, AC power plugs and sockets - British and related types. Coverage of North American NEMA standard AC power plugs and sockets likely will be spun off sometime in the future. Breaking up this overview article into subarticles for each country would be very premature; the whole purpose of this article is to give a worldwide overview of the topic, allowing comparisons and understanding of patterns and trends. But when detailed coverage of a particular country or group of countries reaches a certain size, it makes sense to spin it off separately, to keep this overview from becoming too large and unwieldy. If you are so inclined, I suggest reading through the constellation of articles on electrical power in different parts of the world. There isn't yet an infobar template other than the "Electronic components" one at the bottom of the article to guide you, so you'll have to rely on Wikilinks and "See also" sections for pointers. Reify-tech (talk) 17:23, 11 July 2014 (UTC)
Where would I start to get the best global-history overview summary introduction to 50hz vs 60 hz and 120v vs 230v? (Has there been a century-long thrilling battle for world domination?) Looks like Utility frequency and War of Currents would be good places to start... - (talk) 18:24, 11 July 2014 (UTC)
Those are useful places to start reading about your topics of interest. If you intend to read a lot of Wikipedia articles about electric power, it would be helpful to compile a list of such related articles. Eventually, you or some other editor could turn the list into an infobar template, to give a better overview of these related topics. Reify-tech (talk) 04:11, 13 July 2014 (UTC)