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Electricity Around the World

WHILE EXTREME CARE HAS BEEN IMPLEMENTED IN THE PREPARATION OF THIS SELF-HELP DOCUMENT, THE AUTHOR AND/OR PROVIDERS OF THIS DOCUMENT ASSUMES NO RESPONSIBILITY FOR ERRORS OR OMISSIONS, NOR IS ANY LIABILITY ASSUMED FROM THE USE OF THE INFORMATION, CONTAINED IN THIS DOCUMENT, BY THE AUTHOR and / OR PROVIDER.

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World Electrcial Standards

There is no iron clad standards through out the world, therefore you must exercise caution when trying to use an electrical item obtained in one country and use it in another.


In addition to the outlets themselves being different - The color of wires can also be different, for example certain colors are can be identified as used as an ungrounded conductor (hot) in Canada or the United States may be used as a grounded conductor (neutral) in some other countries.
 

Among the differences are...

a) Wire colors

b) Voltage standards

c) Outlet types

d) AC cycles per second - the most common being 50 or 60 cycles per second.  This is the number of times the voltage cycles between + and - per second.  Some electrical items can be affected by this others can handle the chance.

I would highly recommend if bring a laptop computer when travelling to make sure it comes with a switching power supply, these are ones that an operate on power ranging from 100 to 250 volts or more, and the only adapter that will be needed is to adapt to the outlet itself in the foreign land.

There is also a major concern for people using battery operated mobility devices - such as wheelchairs and scooters.  Ones that are specially designed for travel may come with a switching power supply that can charge the unit and handle 100 - 250 volt power, others do not - however do not assume it check the labels, and talk to your mobility supply provider. Also it may be a good idea to carry a small voltage meter (one with probes) that you can test the outlet at the hotel if in doubt, you can ask at the hotel desk and hopefully they should know, but the common counter person may know nothing more about electricity other than the fact when they plug something in it should work.  You still must do your research before you travel, after a long day of travel you do not want to arrive at your hotel a half a world away and find out that you do not have the proper charging unit to charge your wheelchair or scooter. To play it safe always have the capabilities to charge the mobility device in both 110 - 120 and 220 - 250 range, and the proper outlet adapters so you are always prepared.

I have occasionally come across hotels that use some 110 volt outlets in a country that normally would use 220 standards.  So if you use your own electrical items that do not have a switching power supply you must be sure before using it there.

Since I have never removed outlets and the like in places I visited (why would I), I am going to rely on external links to other sites that have some of the world standards documented, of course I personally cannot state the accuracy of the information on these sites but hopefully the information there will be useful to you.

(will open in a new tab / window)

http://www.worldstandards.eu/electricity.htm

http://www.allaboutcircuits.com/vol_5/chpt_2/2.html

http://wiki.answers.com/Q/If_your_light_fixture_has_a_brown_and_blue_and_yellow-green_wire_and_you_think_the_yellow-green_wire_is_the_ground_which_of_the_brown_and_blue_is_neutral_and_power

Written: March 22, 2012
Revised: July 2, 2013
Proof Read / Released: July 11, 2013
By: Donald Kerr

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