Who's rewired their house for this hobby?

Brent Hilpert hilpert at cs.ubc.ca
Sun Nov 23 16:12:15 CST 2014

On 2014-Nov-23, at 1:15 PM, Holm Tiffe wrote:
> Noel Chiappa wrote:
>>> From: Holm Tiffe
>>> I think the US should have modernized the entire System long before
>>> now..
>> Two words for you: 'installed base'. :-)

> The two words make sense, but only now. It is to late to change anything,
> but in the past it was possible. We have taken the chance, the US not.
> ...
> but sine you already have 240V outlets, it should be possible to change the
> distribution slowly to 3 phase power.. it's a matter of time and the only
> needed thing for compatibility are the transformers with modified
> secondaries.
> I don't think that this would ever happen since the US is the biggest US of
> the world and other people are just dumb aliens, aren't they? :-)

All these systems have their varying benefits and detriments.
Between fire safety, shock safety, simplicity, ease of wiring, power efficiency, copper efficiency, they all present a varying mix of trade-offs.

In Germany you readily have 3-phase in your house, but 3-phase wiring is not as simple as split-phase.

The ring system in Britain with fuses in the plugs provides a safety factor of appropriately limited current at the wall.
On the other hand, in NA the vast majority of in-wall house wiring is done with #14 wire(15A circuits), which is a lot easier to work than whichever gauge Britain uses for 25A or 32A circuits.

The benefit of the North American split-phase system vs EU/Britain is you have the energy & copper-efficiency of 240V available for heavy appliances, but you have the safety factor throughout the house of never having more than 120V between you and earth.

Yes, it makes me a little nervous having 15A available in the simple lamp socket at the end of  #18 wire, but it would make me more nervous if it was 240V at 3A.

> But with that stone age power system you are stumbling over your own feet
> all the time..

NA has gone through various evolutions: getting rid of 25Hz, getting rid of DC mains, requiring grounded outlets as standard, in my jurisdiction (for example) distribution ('pole-top') has evolved from 12KV to 25KV, etc.

The split-phase system may be the oldest but for residential use it's quite elegant and efficient. 3-phase is there for where it's needed, commercial or multi-unit residential buildings, it's done for smallish pump-houses within residential neighbourhoods. In the big picture I haven't seen anything to suggest an overall benefit to changing to some other system.

One could well suggest the reverse, that EU move away from that "highly dangerous" 240V system.

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