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North American versus European distribution systems (2011) (electrical-engineering-portal.com)
166 points by nabla9 57 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 236 comments



I think from a practical perspective the biggest advantage of the European system is that every household gets three phases. This is I guess likely the reason you have many more gas stoves in the US than in Europe where you can easily install a high power electric/induction stove instead.


Actually many homes were built all electric in the US in the era between 1960-1980 because the nation was promised limitless, cheap electricity from Nuclear power, etc.

In the 80s oil and gas prices plummeted in the US, but electrical power prices did not, and it then became cheaper for gas and oil.

The proliferation of gas in the United States is also probably due to less-regulated environment. Gas companies are profitable and expanded their networks and distribution to expand. I would guess fewer environmental regulations and building regulations make it easier to expand a than in other countries.


> The proliferation of gas in the United States is also probably due to less-regulated environment

Gas is expensive to transport. The United States has a lot of gas and a lot of transport infrastructure. As a result, gas is cheap.

The same is not true on continental Europe.


Also for a long time gas was a waste product from oil production. So if you were close to oil fields, like California and the gulf states then nat gas was really cheap.


In the UK gas-cookers, and even gas-based boilers/heating, are extremely common.

I moved to Finland, here gas is an oddity, and not so common at all. I really miss the speed of a gas-based hob.


Check out induction tops. They've been beating out gas in some speed-based things, namely boiling water. When I reach the point of needing to buy a new stove, I'm going for this. As a bonus, many of the pots and pans I have will work on it.


>As a bonus, many of the pots and pans I have will work on it.

Bit of a stretch to reframe limited compatibility as a 'bonus', dontcha think? Outside of induction hobs, the norm is for any pot/pan to work on any stove.


You would think so, but many folks are under the impression that you have to get special pots and pans for it or that they are expensive - which isn't the case. Many will find that their current pans will, indeed, work on the induction hobs.

As far as the second... yes and no. IIRC, some of the reason for the decrease in enamel cookware was that it couldn't be used on some burners. The same goes with glass saucepans: I don't think you are supposed to use them with gas cook tops - even though these were popular for some time. Making sure the material was suitable for your cooking surface has been a concern for quite some time. It just happens that most cookware can be used on most surfaces.


Funny you say that, after living in this new flat for a couple of years we recently renovated our kitchen and now have an induction hob.

The induction hob is certainly better than the electric rings we had in the past, but I still miss the gas!


Induction is great, but of course still not as fast as gas and pots get expensive. I'm return much safer - I'd prefer my old townhouse not to be filled with ancient gas lines.


Most natural gas in the US is transported via pipeline. The US has over 2.5 million miles of natural gas pipelines.


Electric stoves in Europe (well, the UK, France and Belgium at least) run on standard two-phase 240V. Few houses have tri-phase power installed, you have to pay a premium for that, and get a tri-phase meter installed.


Pretty much every electric stove in Germany runs on tri-phase 380V. The only one I’ve ever seen that doesn’t was in a student dorm.


In EU most new ovens are 240V, partially thanks to the efficiency improvements of hot air ovens.

Still, they used to be 3-phase not long ago so OP is also correct.


A typical german stove uses 11kW for the stove + oven combination. Pretty much every stove/oven combination uses 380V 30A for power nowadays.

e.g. look at pretty much any Miele stove/oven combination.


Are you sure? 11kW is a huge number.

Just checked one random German oven (AEG) that specifies typical usage around 1kw and max at 4.8kW. Electrolux which is known for energy efficiency claims max 3kW for a similar oven.

Maybe stove is responsible for the rest?


For my relatively cheap Ikea stove, each cooking plate of my induction stove uses around 1.5 to 2 kW with "Booster" to 2.5 and 3.5 kW. It's connected to three phases and ground through three separate fuses.

The oven is separate and connected with a standard plug though.


Standard power for 4 "burner" stove is 7.2 kW, and can be hooked up on 2 separate phases or on one with a 32A breaker.


Germany is one of the few countries that do this though probably because it's common to have electric heating for the house. In such cases you can't get too far on 240V (which used to be 220V not long ago). If you go to the south or the east the chances of having 380V in anything but new buildings are low.


> Germany is one of the few countries that do this though probably because it's common to have electric heating for the house.

In Germany, electric heating for the house is very uncommon (in opposite to France, I think) for the reason that in Germany, electricity is rather expensive.


I just happen to live in a city where this is quite common - whole streets where every house with multiple apartments has electric heating (overall not a majority by any means but still common). I was contrasting with other countries where this is not only uncommon, it's basically completely non-existing. Even in countries like Bulgaria, Romania, or Moldova despite having some of the cheapest electricity in Europe. [0]

If I understand correctly from other comments below, Belgium seems to use this form of heating despite having some of the highest prices for electricity [0]. Is that the case?

And yes, it is expensive (for a 2 floor house with electric heating including water, total electricity was in the 3-4K Euros per year range). I assume there's no viable alternative for the particular buildings. Usually the rent is substantially lower for those houses (I lived in houses where the rent was lower than the nebenkosten+electricity for this exact reason).

[0] https://ec.europa.eu/eurostat/statistics-explained/index.php...


> I just happen to live in a city where this is quite common - whole streets where every house with multiple apartments has electric heating (overall not a majority by any means but still common). I was contrasting with other countries where this is not only uncommon, it's basically completely non-existing.

You extrapolated from "common in my city" to "common in my country", and a fairly large one at that. That isn't contrasting anything; its just plain wrong.


It's only common with old houses built for renting, where the owner doesn't have to pay the energy bill, and where modernization as part of insulating the house and building central heaters isn't feasible or economical eg. historic buildings. The devices are heating at night, and emit heat during the day to save energy costs. Not sure if this model makes much sense today. However, heating with electricity, as inefficient as it is, might actually grow compared to heating with gas or oil because of renewable energy subventions (similar story with e-mobility).


> renewable energy subventions

The word you are looking for is subsidies.

Not every Latin-derived word also works in English. ;)


AFAICT electric heating in houses is not common at all in Germany. It would be ridiculously expensive with local electricity prices. A few households have night storage heaters. A few others have heat pumps.


Electric heating in Germany would be insane. A sure way to get very poor very quickly.


Considering average electricity prices around 0.34€/kWh, that’d be the fastest way to bankruptcy imaginable, beating even the "what’s the fastest way to become a millionaire? be a billionaire and buy an airline" joke.

Most German houses run on "Fernwärme", a district heating system where the cities reuse the leftover heat energy from waste incineration plants or powerplants. Another major heating source is gas. Only a tiny minority in rural regions uses oil, and that’s pretty much it — electricity is pretty much never used at all.


Adding to blattimwind, the average electricity price is 30ct/kWh, not 34, and would be lower if people bothered to switch to cheaper providers: https://www.bmwi.de/Redaktion/DE/Artikel/Energie/strompreise... (see chart at the bottom of the page for composition and history of electricity prices)


> Most German houses run on "Fernwärme"

Actually about 50 % of households use gas, about a quarter uses oil and the remaining quarter is Fernwärme, heat pump, solar etc.


France and Belgium also have electric heating in most houses, and electric heating always runs on 240V. It really works just fine.


Direct electric heating typically runs on 240 V, but at least in Northern Europe (Finland, Sweden) electric heating is often a central heating via hot water circulation.

Here it used to be common that there's a rather large water tank (1 cubic meter or even more) that is heated up during night time when electricity was cheaper, and then gives out the warmth during day. This is no longer a feasible use case because night time usage of electricity has gone up and night electricity is not cheaper.

Heat pumps (operating with drilled wells going 100 m deep) have become more common. The pumps take 400V 3-phase.


Air-to-air heat pumps are really common. No new houses are built relying on direct (resistive) heating, at least they have water circulation under floor so you can later upgrade to alternative heat sources.


Exactly. Circulation under floor is good for heat pumps with drilled wells as heat source; there the water is not that hot (often around 40 degrees C after pump.)


Belgium does, in fact, not have electric heating in most houses. The most popular heate sources are gas and oil (diesel, often incorrectly referred to as mazout). Electricity is very expensive in Belgium.

Air source electric heat pumps are on the rise, but it'll be decades before they catch up to gas.


Don't know about France, but in Belgium almost every house is gas or oil heating. Although water/Air heat pump is getting more popular for new buildings.


Also, standard flow heaters for water are tri-phase.


For the Dutch perspective. Dutch grid operators consider 3X25A the default these days, but many older houses are indeed still only 1 phase (eg 1x35A).

There are mainly 2 categories for stoves, but I don’t think a 2 phase option exists: (source: just bought one)

1. ~7.4kW with a double group (4 pins) connection. That gives you 2x16A, but is still only one phase, just split over 2 fuses.

2. 10kW+ with a 3 phase connection (also 4 pins), in this case it actually is using 3 phases.

Dutch prices are regulated. The annual fee for a 3x25A connection is the same as for 1x40A. The next step at my grid operator (3x35A) is much more expensive.


3-phase is better future proof system. Electric stoves, dryers, oven, and soon EV chargers are everywhere.


Actually I think the 2x16A should have a different phase per fuse. Otherwise you hit the max of your phase fuse when you put all 4 (assuming a somewhat standard one) heating plates to the max.

In NL, assuming a somewhat modern setup, you have two sets of fuses: one per phase capped at the phase capacity ( commonly 25A), and then another fuse per group (usually: 16A).

(Source: lives in a recently renovated apartment in NL :) ).


Some older houses (< 1960, mostly early 20th century) have had 2 phase 127v systems in place in the Netherlands (either with or without neutral). They have gradually been replaced by 240v.

Maybe this is the reason people still talk about 2 phase systems.


So, like a mini Japan? What do people do when buying appliances? Are the plugs different? Do you use 127V or 254V for appliances and light bulbs?


I think it’s mostly been phased out by now, the few places (historic city centers) that have it will bridge the 2 phases to get a single phase of 220V. I think 127V equipment hasn’t been sold in like 20+ years


Phased out haha! :-D


Maybe it's my central European perspective that clouds this but the standard setup in Germany/Austria/Switzerland and Northern Italy is three phase power to your house.


Yes, same in Poland, 3 phases is standard (and houses from 70-ties also have 3 phases, not sure if they needed to pay extra for that or not).

And we don't do electric heating.


We do not do electric heating because that would be riddiculously expensive. Most single-family homes still use coal, some newer ones use natural gas.


For me, as a homeshop owner, it's really nice, because I can run pretty much any workshop/industry-grade equipment on standard CEE outlets. And for my own contraptions I have an endless supply of efficient, low cost, low vibration/noise, three phase motors.

Meanwhile American homeshops cannot use high grade equipment or have to use VFDs on each machine or rotary converters to create three phases.


To be picky, it is standard single phase 240V.

Two conductors, phase and neutral (+ ground where needed).


Hot-plate-only electric stoves are two-phase. Electric stoves with integrated oven are usually three-phase.


Not modern stoves. Buy anything from the past few years and it's almost certainly just comes with a 240V plug


Just checked e-shop - most ovenless induction stoves with 4 zones were 7 kW (two phase). Only small portable 2-zone induction hotplates have 240V plug. Regular induction stoves with 4 zones and integrated oven were ~11 kW (3x16 A).


I just checked. ~20% of the hot plate-only stoves with 4+ cooking fields from 2016 or newer consume 8KW+ according to a popular European price comparison site (these are certainly 3-phase). For induction it's about 10%. Almost all of them consume more than 4KW, so should be 2-phase minimum and obviously won't come with a Schuko plug.


Also country-dependent. In Sweden, most modern stoves would be 240V, but with the possibility to connect two (or even three) phases.

I imagine that the same stove models are sold all over Europe, but that in countries where multiple phases are uncommon, the stove would come with a 240V plug already connected (i.e. set up to use a single phase).


Even if the stove is powered by single phase [1], it may not be used with a 240V plug, as these are rated for 16 A. And 3.7 kW limit is enough ony for small portable 2-plate stoves.

[1] which is possible even for full 11 kW stove, if you have 40A single phase power.


Bosch (and I assume Siemens and Neff which are the same company) induction hobs are limited electronically. There is a setting that lets you configure the max power it can draw from 1000W - maximum (7400W for this model):

https://media3.bosch-home.com/Documents/bosch.html?matNumber... see "Basic Settings"


Is there an oven included in that power consumption for a stove? I can set my plates by wattages, and I rarely need more than 1kW for one plate, and never exceed 3.7 for all 4.


In France only few people have 3 phases.

But I think the a reason why high power appliances are more common in Europe is simply because the voltage is higher. Double the voltage means you can pass double the power over the same wires.


>Double the voltage means you can pass double the power over the same wires.

Wrong. It means you get 1/4 the resistive loss (in the wires) for the same power. So you can pass 4 times the power over the same wires if you want.


>It means you get 1/4 the resistive loss (in the wires) for the same power. So you can pass 4 times the power over the same wires if you want.

Wrong. P = VI and resistive losses are RI^2. For double voltage at the same power then yeah, R(I/2)^2 = 1/4 * RI^2. For double the voltage but 4 times the power then 4P = 2V(x*I) so x=2 and we square that so it's 4 times as much resistive losses. You can double the power if you double the voltage and keep the same resistive losses. The parent comment was right.

>It means you get 1/4 the resistive loss (in the wires) for the same power.

This is correct, but it scales with the square of the current, so you can't just extrapolate it linearly like that.


Most US houses have 240 (by combining two offset phases of 120v) but that is generally only available at special plugs installed for the range/oven and clothes dryer, not throughout the house.


Nowadays with devices with switching mode power a lot of appliances even sold in the US can accept voltages in the range of 100-240V, and typically these power supplies are more efficient if they are run at 240V. Why in new installations in the US homes don't you put 240V outlet everywhere? For me it would make sense to do that, for example if you have to plug in a computer, or TV, or practically everything modern.


Basically it's inertia. How would people handle using all the existing 120V devices with 240V outlets?

Most Americans don't know this, but there already are exiting NEMA 240V outlets in use in the US. There's, of course, the commonly-known "dryer outlet" and "stove outlet" (which are each unique to that application), but there's also some standardized ones for lower currents than those. Sometimes you'll see them in (older) houses that have very large window-unit air conditioners, because 120V isn't sufficient to run an A/C over a certain BTU rating. IIRC, these outlets look similar to regular 120V outlets except one of the prongs is sideways.

You're absolutely right that most electronics these days can run dual-voltage; they do this because it's very easy to do with modern switching power supplies, and lets you engineer and sell one product worldwide instead of making different versions for different markets, and all you have to do is include a different power cord. However, changing the infrastructure is a totally different proposition. Lots of things don't work on 240V: think about toasters, refrigerators, lights, etc. I even have a German-made electric toothbrush which only runs on 120V (presumably, it uses a simple transformer in the charger base, which is inductively coupled to the toothbrush; the charger base is only rated for 120V, since transformers have to be tapped for the appropriate voltage).

Basically, it would be cool if the entire country switched over to 240V outlets everywhere, as it would give us superior toasters, vacuum cleaners, etc., but there'd be huge confusion for a long time, probably some fires, and the benefit generally isn't worth the cost.


I'll also add that switching to 240V would give us lower line losses everywhere on the grid (saving energy). Just think of all the power wasted in house wiring multiplied by millions of households. For an illustration, get out your vacuum cleaner, and vacuum your house. Now that it's been running for a while, grab the power cord: it's rather warm, isn't it? The power also went through your wiring in your walls, through your panel, and up to the transformer for your house, at that voltage. (Even worse, since the US has 120V split-phase power, it was probably unbalanced, leading to even greater line losses.) Doubling the voltage to your vacuum cleaner would mean you'd only waste 1/4 as much energy in the form of heat due to wiring losses, assuming the vacuum has the same-sized motor.

Of course, suddenly switching everyone to 240V would also mean millions of vacuum cleaners and toasters going into the landfill, so that wouldn't exactly be environmentally-friendly either.


In the US, 240V is conflated with high amp circuits, and danger.

You would need at least a different plug and socket for this, but there are probably still a good number of appliances that are tied to the service voltage, so you would need to run separate circuits or point of use transformers for those. That's confusing and expensive.


That's an interesting point about using a different plug and socket. Perhaps this would be a good time to deploy IEC 60083 Type G plugs, which were carefully designed for safety at higher voltages? They already see some use, so there is an existing supply chain for plugs, sockets, adapters, etc.


If the US did start adding 240v circuits they would almost certainly use NEMA 6-15 or 6-20 plugs for compatibility with (the rare) 240v appliances like air conditioners or hotplates which use those plugs today.


Appliances which use universal power supplies tend to be low power. The highest-power device with a universal PSU that I can think of that the "average" person would have would be a computer, but even high-end gaming computers tend to top out around 500 Watts when running full-bore. Even large TVs don't usually draw more than 100 Watts at most. The rest of the devices with universal power supplies tend to be things like phone chargers which draw almost no power. None of these devices draw enough energy for the increased efficiency to matter. Devices where it would matter tend to have large motors or heaters that run directly off line voltage.


To my knowledge gaming computers are normally more in the 500W-1200W range, though granted you rarely max out the 1200W. I used to sit north of 500W with my relatively modest build a few years back (i5-2500K@4.2GHz and only one GPU).


American 240V outlets are two-phase (two hot plus neutral). A European 240V appliance (which is one hot plus neutral) cannot safely be plugged in to such an outlet.


European plugs aren't aware of any hot/neutral polarity and devices are not built to treat a neutral phase differently from a hot phase. A separate grounding wire is used for safety.


I'm assuming most European appliances use double-pole switches?


United States 240V is single phase. 120V is split phase, with the neutral drawn from the middle of the coil.


You're right, I was confusing that with true multi-phase power.


>American 240V outlets are two-phase (two hot plus neutral).

No, that's single-phase. The "phase" is measured across the hot wires; the wire itself isn't the phase. There's no such thing as "two-phase".


Yeah, I got confused because some people lazily refer to split phase as "two phase". Apparently I need a refresher session with my textbooks. :(


Actually there is janky 90 degrees out of phase two phase power. Who knows if there's anywhere still using it but it was a thing.


It is somewhat common to make some of the wall outlets in the kitchen 240V sockets, but definitely not common to equip all the outlets in the house that way.


Because any appliance that isn't build for 240V would break, if not hurt/kill you when powered with twice the voltage it was designed for.


Well presumably, they'd change the outlets to 240V-specific outlets. We already have NEMA outlets for 240V single-phase applications, even in residential buildings.

Of course, then you'll have the problem where someone moves into a new house and then they can't use any of their stuff because it doesn't fit into the outlet. Then they'll go to Home Depot and buy an adapter, which just converts the physical outlets (and has a big warning about not using for devices not rated for 240V), and use that with their heater or toaster or vacuum cleaner, and start a fire that burns down an entire apartment complex.


As well the long trend in the US is for devices outside the kitchen to use less power. Whens the last time you overloaded a breaker in a bed room?


I used to do it all the time, just by running my laser printer. I was in an old house that some amateur must have wired, so all the power for the entire second floor, plus both bathrooms, plus all the lights on that floor, were routed through a single GFCI outlet. It would pop every time I ran the laser printer, but only the first time. After I reset the breaker (in the dark, because the lights would go out), I could try printing again and it wouldn't pop that time.


In France, old houses have 3 phases. There are 3 phases going into the house from the street poles, and you can catch them at some plugs in the house depending if and where they were wired to (the only home appliance that can use 3 phases is electric stoves).

This used to be the "standard" setup until somewhere in the 20th century when it changed to single phase. Now there is only one phase going to homes.


I remember my grandfather who was a carpenter. He had a 3-phase woodworking machine in his garage. It was in the late 80s. He needed a special installation for it, and possibly a more expensive subscription.

He later changed it for a single phase machine, partly for that reason. And then he moved, and he now has only one phase like everyone else.


Yeah. Electric kettles are fine instruments in europe while they're infuriating in the US.

That's not always a pure positive though: as kettles work fine I've never seen a thermo pot in europe.


Europe is broad definition. E.g in Nordic countries tri-phase is ubiquitous, but that’s not true for whole continent, as there is lot of variance by country.


Not every household. E.g. in Berlin it is still quite common to only have a single phase in older flats. Source: I work at a metering company in Germany.


Power for electric stoves is easily provided for in the US. Power to the household is delivered via a split phase system. Transformers feeding households have a 240V secondary winding which is tapped at each end and then again in the center where it is connected to a grounded neutral. This results in a feed to the household consisting of two 120V lines which are 180 degrees out of sync and a single neutral. Dedicated 240V circuits which connect to both incoming 120V feeds are used for large higher power appliances such as stoves and electric dryers. For example the current national electrical code calls for stoves to be connected to dedicated 240V 50A circuits.

Gas stoves and ovens are used more in the US because in many parts of the US natural gas is cheap and because gas stoves are considered to be superior to traditional electric stoves for cooking because the the heat is more evenly distributed across the surface of the pan, fine adjustment of temperature can be made visually and adjustments to temperature occur more quickly than with electric stoves. Even in areas where gas is not cheap people often choose gas stoves because of this.

For whatever reason induction stoves never really took off in the US. Induction cooking is mostly limited to small single or dual burner countertop units.


In switzerland we have a plug called "T 15". You can use it for just single phase or three phase. It is often used in workshops and places like this. I'm not sure, I think just the swiss plug system has such a dual use plug.

https://www.google.com/search?q=steckdose%20t15


In Sweden Perilex seems to be somewhat common for stoves.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Perilex


It looks a bit the same, but is not 1x230V or 3x400V.

With T15 you can plug in a normal just L-N plug (like a normal USB charger), a L-N-PE plug (normal computer) or a 3L-N-PE plug.


Nah, natural gas is just so much cheaper than electricity in the USA.


Supporting this model, the Pacific Northwest traditionally uses electricity for everything because it is extremely inexpensive. This part of North America has seemingly limitless hydroelectric power, and consequently having some of the lowest electricity rates in the world.

At $0.08/kWh, Washington not only has the cheapest electricity in the US, it is also much cheaper than any part of Europe. It makes sense that local building would take advantage of that.


Natural gas is still popular in colder parts of the country that have cheap electricity, because it's much cheaper to heat with.


Fair point. The PNW has both mild winters and mild summers, which moderates energy requirements for temperature control.


I was paying a whole lot more than 8c kWh in Seattle, my rates are actually lower in Texas, and my new roommate was paying less in New Mexico.


Even with the maintenance of the gas lines? Unless you use gas for something else (e.g. heating) then you have an opportunity to stop paying expensive gas line maintenance costs and use that money to buy more expensive electricity.

That's what's happening in some city centers in Europe as fewer and fewer residents use gas, those that do need to share the maintenance costs for the gas network, which makes it more and more expensive to keep using it so there is a spiral of people leaving. In stockholm it's now north of $200/year for a studio apartment even before buying any gas. You get quite a bit of cooking electricity for $200!


Good point, I'm sure the gas line maintenance is passed through the monthly bill.

Typically though gas is used in the U.S. for more than cooking (stoves): heating water. More and more people are shifting to on-demand tankless heaters but even with those the perception is gas is better than electric.


My home is heated with natural gas. The kitchen stove is also natural gas. In the post fracking era, it has been quite inexpensive. Natural gas is knocking on 20 year lows right now. There is a few dollar charge per month, regardless of use, for the connection.


Yes. It makes a world of difference that Pennsylvania is one of the largest gas production regions in the world, and can supply the population-dense northeast corridor. In Sweden, you have to pipe gas in all the way from Russia.


Seriously, Russia? Norway is much closer, and has cheaper gas. Is there some animosity between your countries that I don't know about?


My mistake, I thought the Nord Stream serviced Sweden.


A home with natural gas stoves often has natural gas for heating too. Usually the latter is what enables the former, because there's no incentive if you're already using electric heating.


In our area (NY, north of the city) if you can't get natural gas, you heat with oil not electric. Plenty of people also get propane just for the gas stove. The yearly propane tank rental is about $100, since you'll never meet the minimums for a free tank with just a stove.


> if you can't get natural gas, you heat with oil not electric.

Is this the case for new construction too? Why aren't heat pumps used these days?


> Why aren't heat pumps used these days?

They lose efficiency in very cold conditions (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Air_source_heat_pumps#In_cold_...). Albany, New York (https://www.weather.gov/aly/SpecialDataALB) has an official all-time record low of -28F (-33C), which is well below the point where air-source heat pumps have any meaningful efficiency advantage over even resistive heating.

Heat-pump solutions that use the ground as their heatsink are much more expensive because of the excavation required.


Majority of new single homes in Finland have used geothermal heat pumps for the last ~5 years now (source e.g. https://www.energiatehokaskoti.fi/suunnittelu/talotekniikan_...).


Yes same in Sweden. I mean I’m sure upstate New York is equally freezing occasionally, but if heat pumps work in Northern Finland/Sweden one would think few places would be “too cold”.

What we do have in Sweden is cheap renewable electricity so choosing heat pump over oil/gas doesn’t just mean electric it means renewable over fossil too.


> Why aren't heat pumps used these days?

Heat pumps are likely not used in New York state because most of them cannot warm the house sufficiently during the coldest winter temperatures (0F or less).


Air heat pumps are common in the Nordics with as cold, or coldet, climates. But ground heat pumps are better. (You want good insulation too obviously)


Same here, and in fact in countries that have some sort of access to gas. It's the same reason heating is usually done with gas rather than electricity.

So this is not the reason why the US has less induction stoves. In fact, cooking isn't a big expenditure on your energy bill. Heating is, and yet plenty of homes have central (gas) heating yet still have an induction stove. Simply because it's possible and convenient.

If the US indeed has less induction stoves than the EU, the fact that it would be less convenient due to the electrical wiring of American homes is a more likely explanation than gas prices.


> If the US indeed has less induction stoves than the EU, the fact that it would be less convenient due to the electrical wiring of American homes is a more likely explanation than gas prices.

Any house wired for electric cooking appliances should be able to handle an induction stove. Electric stoves are fairly common, but induction stoves are rare.


> Electric stoves are fairly common, but induction stoves are rare.

That suggests the cause is inertia. Plain electric stoves are very impractical, but they've been around for a long time.


I think the driving factors are cost and unfamiliarity. Induction has historically been seen as a premium option, but in the US, if one is getting a premium stove, they're usually going to get a gas stove.


It may also be cost of the appliance (rather than the fuel). The few induction stoves I was able to find are quite a bit more expensive than equivalent-output gas and resistive electric stoves. Not sure how much that is driven by inertia either, though.


Induction stoves cost a bit more because the BoM and complexity are higher than the regular radiant stove. But since this is the kind of appliance in use for years it's possible you can make up for the initial investment with the lower operating costs and maintenance.


> This is I guess likely the reason you have many more gas stoves in the US than in Europe

Is this true? Either way, gas stoves are so much nicer to cook on than electric hobs - electric ones take forever to heat up and cool down compared to gas.


Gas has an advantage against traditional stoves with a resistive element that heats up from electricity, that you place the pan/pot on. It has a disadvantage against modern inductive stoves, where there is a coil in the stove that directly inductively heats the pan/pot.

The only disadvantage is that you need to use a pan/pot with a large ferrous bottom for best effect, but it's well worth it. Lag from changing heating setting is similar to gas, but the big advantage (aside from safety) is that the stovetop is typically just a large panel of glass. Super easy and nice to keep clean.


Pure resistive heated stoves yes, most inductive ones are actually quite fast and nice to use.


I was pretty against electric stoves, but just moved into a place with a modern induction setup. Extremely impressed. It can boil water amazingly quickly and the exact heat control is great. I do miss the ability to char things, but not massively.


Few other benefits of induction are easier cleanup (you can wipe it down) and no long term "soot" accumulation around the stove.


> Few other benefits of induction are easier cleanup (you can wipe it down)

With the downside that the surface is more fragile and susceptible to permanent damage, particularly if you have heavy cookware.

> no long term "soot" accumulation around the stove

I have lived extensively with propane, natural gas, and electric ranges/cooktops. I have never seen a "soot" accumulation, or really any difference in discoloration between any of those fuels.


> I have never seen a "soot" accumulation

You're just generalizing your individual experience and it's just plain wrong. Very few people dismantle gas burners after every spill to properly clean around and under the burner plate so eventually there will be a burnt layer of soot. The uneven surface of a gas stove doesn't make cleaning too easy either.

A perfectly flat and smooth glass surface it's a lot easier to clean. It's a matter of wiping it, especially on induction stoves that don't really heat up that much. And in case of more serious neglect you can use a cooktop blade to scrape this soot.


> You're just generalizing your individual experience and it's just plain wrong

That's unfair, and TBH a bit rude - they didn't generalise, they explictly stated "I have never seen...".

Another data point here, from someone who's been cooking with gas for a looong time, and who does regularly take the burners to piece and clean them well.

I've also never seen any soot accumulation. Maybe it varies and happens on some models ¯\_(ツ)_/¯


> That's unfair, and TBH a bit rude

You are correct but I'm sure OP didn't mind and might even agree with me. That's quite literally a quote from one of their comments responding to a similar assertion.

> Maybe it varies and happens on some models

I think it's mostly because of people's cleaning habits. Since cleaning a gas stove is a lot more involved it's likely that more people are putting it off until the soot is there. Old stile electric stoves (with elevated burners, no glass plate) are in a similar situation, albeit still easier to clean than gas stoves. I assume that if you're cleaning it thoroughly after every spill (or just don't spill) this wouldn't happen.


I meant for "regular" electric hobs - it's absolutely true that these are horrible to cook on.

I've only cooked on induction hobs a few times, and I was surprised by how good they were - not as good as gas, IMO, but miles better than a standard electric hob.

I'd meant to meantion this in my original comment, but couldn't remember what you called the "good" electric hobs (ah, induction!!)


For the cooktop. You're still stuck with a crappy (relatively-speaking) resistive element in the oven.


I have an induction stove I cannot tell a difference in speed. If anything when I use the overdrive button thing I boil water with it quicker than on a gas stove.


Induction can be way faster than gas.

I've not seen non-induction electric stove installed in any building younger than 10 years.


I've seen non-induction electric stove in many brand new swedish apartments, and they are still sold and installed.

Are you sure you have not seen any halogen stove at all in the last 10 years in modern construction ? That seems very odd, I see quite a few of them in France as well.


> I've not seen non-induction electric stove installed in any building younger than 10 years.

You've never been to the hell that is belgium then. For some fool reason the standard remains the absolute shit that is vitro-ceramic electric cooktops.


This is so not true. Induction (or at least the one I have) is ridiculously fast and goes way hotter than any gas stove I've ever seen in a house. It goes so high it can make the bottom of my pan orange glowing if I turn up the heat enough. It even has a boost mode, but I never use it because it will literally burn your food black in around 5 seconds without stirring or 2 minutes when continuously stirring.


> electric ones take forever to heat up and cool down compared to gas.

Induction electric stove are pretty much the best you can get there, they heat nothing but the pan, they heat quickly, and the cooldown is instant.

They're not as flexible as gas, but they're more than sufficient for >95% of the population, and are safer & more efficient.


Call me paranoid, but I prefer not to have a gas line in my apartment, because it eliminates the risk of the whole place being blown up when a gas leak happens.


Here in the UK, most buildings have gas central heating anyway, so a gas hob makes a lot of sense.


Yes, because gas is significantly cheaper than electricity for water and space heating.

Its not scary - you just need to ensure it gets maintained properly and preferably have an annual inspection requirement for the gas plumbing and appliances in each apartment in an apartment building, along with proper design to prevent fires from spreading from apartment to apartment too quickly.


>This is I guess likely the reason you have many more gas stoves in the US than in Europe where you can easily install a high power electric/induction stove instead.

You'll need to redefine Europe.

Loosely in some countries electricity is "cheap" (example France), whilst in many other ones it is "expensive" (example Denmark, Germany).

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electricity_pricing#/media/Fil...

And of course prices need to be compared with actual income level, 16.4 in Norway is very different from 16.1 in Slovenia (Net average monthly wage of Euro 3,452 vs. 1,128).

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_European_countries_by_...

If you prefer, in Italy - as an example - we actually can have the three phases and relatively high amounts of power, but we simply cannot afford it (and thus most of heating and cooking is gas based).


I can only speak for the west coast of the US, but in my experience, having lived in probably 35 or 40 different places, nearly every house has dedicated 240 volt outlets for things like ovens and clothes dryers. Where natural gas is available, it's primarily used for central heating and running the water heater. That isn't to say there aren't gas stoves here, but they're not especially common compared to electric ones.


I agree, most appliances in the US run on 240 volts, but this is separate from 3 phase. Most households only wire up single phase electrics. Both can support 120v or 240v appliances, but appliances designed for 3 phase are more efficient in their energy use and less prone to overload your breaker.


Not trying to be snarky, but it seems like for an oven to be less efficient, it would need to be releasing energy as something other than heat.


I was not referring to the efficiency of a specific appliance. I didn't mention an oven in my comment. Three phase distribution is more efficient and mechanical appliances designed for three phase can take advantage of that.


Or it doesn't insulate as well and has to inject more energy to maintain a certain temperature.


Gas ranges in the US are seen as premium. So lots of new construction in the mid+ tier comes with that by default. I don't know of anybody who chose gas because it was cheaper (a range uses so little gas that sometimes it does not even register on the meter, if that is your only gas appliance). Almost everyone chooses it because historically the typical electric range was the dog slow kind and gas is so much nicer to cook with.


In Greece three phasing power is optional and very few houses choose it. Normal power output for a house is at 8KWh which is enough to operate most appliances simultaneously. A typical electrical stove won't consume more than 2-2,5KWh.


I always assumed it was cost.

Electricity for heating my home, hot water is expensive compared to gas. May as well run a line to the stove while I'm at it.

As for ovens I find it to be more of a "variety" in the US rather than just gas or just electric.


In Portugal a three phase connection is rare due to costs.

The electrical bill is structure so that you pay for the peak power consumption (kVA's) and how it's structured to favor 1 phase connections.

1 phase kVA options: 1,15; 2,30; 3,45; 4,60; 5,75; 6,90; .... 3 phase kVA options: 6,90; 10,35; ....

The kVAs levels increase by 5 Amps on each phase so you get much more levels on 1 phase connections.


In the UK we usually only get a single phase. They will alternate the the phases down the street to balance the 3 phases.


To add - the standard UK domestic supply for new installations is 100A single phase and voltage is 240V at 50Hz (despite the standard saying 230V, the tolerance is 230+10%/-6% and the UK never changed its actual supply voltage) so this is plenty for most houses even if they are electrically heated and have all-electric cooking appliances.


Not every household gets 3 phases. When we bought our current house, we were surprised to discover we only got 1 * 35A, instead of the more common 3 * 25A. And having only one phase was a problem, considering we wanted an induction stove.


> And having only one phase was a problem considering we wanted an induction stove.

Why's it an issue? 230V 1 phase works fine for induction stoves unless you have a lot of burners (like 6~8) and / or very large diameters.


It was not enough for the stove he had already selected.

It has 5 zones, but it also has a boost setting that boils a pan of water quicker than our electric kettle does. And those electric kettles aren't that far below what a regular group can take, so heating more than one pan would likely blow a fuse.

And we don't want our cooking experience crippled for many years to come due to a stupid construction mistake in our house. Better just fix it right away.


Fair enough.


Countries that have historically relied on gas or other such power sources for heating and stoves most likely have single phase for homes. You're more likely to get three phase in countries where electrical stoves, ovens, and even house heating are more common (Germany being the most obvious example).


Well, my experience is Netherland, where we have 3-phase current, gas stoves, gas heating, and electrical ovens. And people are increasingly switching to induction stoves simply because they can and induction is nice.

When I was a kid in the 1970s, we did have a gas oven, but soon replaced it with an electrical oven that still had a gas stove on top. The simple fact is that electrical ovens are safer and more practical than gas ovens, while gas stoves were more practical than electrical stoves before induction stoves became available.

So having access to both 3-phase current and gas, we make our choices based on what's convenient rather than on what we're forced to use.


> You're more likely to get three phase in countries where electrical stoves, ovens, and even house heating are more common (Germany being the most obvious example).

As I wrote in https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=20799176, in Germany, electrical house heating is very uncommon.


> electrical stoves, ovens, and even house heating are more common

My point is that it's still more common than other countries, especially south and east of Germany, as I made very clear above (that even was there to help make the point). And in this comment I didn't forget to mention electric stoves and ovens which are very much a common thing. According to the spec my stove (radiant) and oven together top up at 9.6KW usable, not just adding numbers for each burner. That's double or triple what you'd get out of any regular 240V wiring (usually ~2.5KW/10A, sometimes ~3.6KW/15A, haven't seen 4KW 240V sockets so far). With an induction stove you could go lower overall but almost all electric ovens out there are in the 3-3.5KW range. I imagine it's the reason every single house I lived in had 380V.


I seriously doubt the reason US households have gas stoves is power related. It is much cheaper in the US and you can find reserves local to the US.


Gas is cheaper in Netherland too. Many people are still switching to induction, because it's possible, convenient and we need to get rid of gas.


Don't most people in North America get at least 2 phases so they can hook up a split-phase 240V electric stove and dryer?


We get single phase 240V that is delivered to most electrical sockets as split phase 120V. For dryers, stoves, ovens, air conditioners, etc, it is wired to be the full 240V.

Given how many newer electronic appliances auto-switch when presented a higher voltage, I wonder if it will become more popular to connect some wall sockets with full phase 240V. It's an easy retrofit in many cases. Kinda depends on circuit density however.


I think consumer grade induction stoves commonly found in Asia work well in a single phase.


Split phase 240V is plenty for stoves.


> I think from a practical perspective the biggest advantage of the European system is that every household gets three phases. This is I guess likely the reason you have many more gas stoves in the US than in Europe where you can easily install a high power electric/induction stove instead.

Why would you prefer an electric stove over a gas stove though? I was under the impression that many places in Europe did not use gas in the home because there was no abundance of natural gas and no easy means of distributing it.

At least in rural Greece in the mountains, my theory makes sense and most people will haul propane for home use. Even in America in more rural places many homes have external propane tanks for heating and cooking.

EDIT: really unclear why this was downvoted. Because I asked about the use case for electrical stoves?


At the risk of getting into the tabs v.s. spaces debate of cooking: Electrical stoves are good enough, electric induction stoves (unlike the old electric stoves) can near-instantly change their heat output, which was the main benefit of gas over electric.

Induction stoves are also much easier to clean compared to gas, since the entire heating surface is flat glass[1]. In The Netherlands there's an established gas infrastructure, but when renovating many people are opting to switch to induction over gas, even though they have the ability to keep using gas.

Those homes will usually keep a gas-powered boiler for central heating, which will be the only remaining household use of gas.

1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Induction_cooking


Having 400V 3-phase is excellent for EV charging. Guessing any new garage construction in europe makes sure to put in a 3-phase socket.

Lots of older houses like mine have their Tesla socket beind the stove and only 230V in the garage unfortunately.


I'm seeing some broad generalizations in this thread, and some downvotes in disagreement. Please remember that Europe is a big place, and is not necessarily homogeneous. There are large differences between countries, and sometimes between smaller regions within countries. Just because A has 3-fase power cookers, doesn't mean B does too, for example.


When you say "European", please also say "excepted UK" who (like usual) does things differently. E.g ring cabling.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electrical_wiring_in_the_Uni...


The article doesn't talk about end-user cabling within a house or building, but about the design of the whole grid, which is similar in the UK and on mainland Europe as far as I know.


Maybe the article is trying to stay relevant in a few months :)


Last time I checked UK will still on the European continent for the foreseeable future ;)


It's always been just off the continent. I think they'd sail away if they hadn't been tethered to us by that tunnel.


Japan is also an island, but you don't see anyone trying to make the claim that it's not part of Asia. I wish people would stop conflating Europe and the EU.


From the UK, "the continent" refers very specifically to continental Europe, which means Europe without the British islands.

While Japan is an island, I would not consider it part of continental Asia, although that might be less of a common concept than continental Europe.


> When you say "European", please also say "excepted UK"

Hasn't that always been implied? IIRC, just about every story I've heard that includes both has always used some variant of "Europe and the UK" to indicate that.


It seems like the trunk primary / long secondary style is far more suited to laying out the primary in a ring-main arrangement.


This article seems to only cover the residential distribution system. I say that, because it covers the single phase, center-tapped 240V (120V-Neutral-120) that's conventional in North American residential circuits. However, in commercial buildings, I've seldom seen single phase 240/120V service from the utility. Rather, I've seen 3-phase 480/277V. If 208/120V is to be used, there's usually another transformer on premise to step down the voltages.

I wish the article covered how the secondaries for commercial distribution was done as well, but at least its coverage of residential service is informative.


And Norway (+Albania?) mostly have a system totally different than rest of the world called IT-system where there is no ground. This require two errors to be present (on different wires) to give a problem. It’s the same systems as used internal in hospitals.


> For urban systems, the European system can take advantage of the flexible secondary; for example, transformers can be sited more conveniently. For rural systems and areas where load is spread out, the North American primary system is more flexible.

I’ve often wondered how many of the differences between Europe and The United States are the result of population density.


Consumer-facing question:

Does anyone know if the higher European voltage at the socket produces statistically more severe or more frequent injuries among consumers? The 240v plugs themselves are designed differently (wider spacing between prongs) which I imagine is partly because they're supposed to safely handle higher voltages…


If there's any heightened danger due to the voltage, I'm pretty sure that it is offset by the safer design of the plugs themselves. European plugs fit much more snugly into their sockets and require noticeable force to insert and remove, and their pins are much harder to bend out of alignment than North American plugs. Plugs falling or sliding out of their sockets are virtually unheard of with a standard combination of European plug and socket, but it seems to be a common occurrence with North American plugs.


Should be noted that GFCI devices are MUCH more common; they're mandatory to be installed for the entire house, so the entire circuit benefits, not only in bathrooms or missing entirely like common in the US.

I've survived quite a few shocks thanks to the GFCI removing voltage from the socket.


I notice that some USB adapters don't fit in some extension cords because their pins are slightly out of alignment. No idea why they do that, but it's getting annoying.

As for electrocution: I can speak from experience, having been electrocuted by my 3 year old son when he wanted to turn on the light while I was fixing it. Really annoying, but it didn't kill me. (There might be some selection bias involved, though.)


At least in the UK, any new electrical domestic installation must be protected by RCDs (which protect human life from electrocution in the event of ground fault by disconnecting phase quickly enough) and not just MCBs or fuses (which are to reduce the risk of electrical fire from occurring in the wiring due to too much current being carried).

I think this has been the rule now for c15 years so depending on your installation it might have been that that saved you.


It could very well be that one of those saved my life, and I'd have been dead without it.


> I notice that some USB adapters don't fit in some extension cords because their pins are slightly out of alignment. No idea why they do that, but it's getting annoying.

That's intentional for Euro plugs. They are meant to flex slightly upon insertion to ensure contact and holding force, because their pins are thinner than what the socket normally accepts.


It's resulting in them not fitting in many power strips, though. It's a bad idea.


Then they are out of tolerance.


Typically not, the installations are typically more safe, plugs are safer, and every circuit is protected by a RCD/GFCI located in the main consumer uni, while in the US you have typically have GFCI in the sockets (and even not everywhere), that means that the circuit in the house is not protected (if you were to do some work on a live circuit, which you shouldn't but we all do it, and accidentally touch a wire you are still protected)

Consider that 110V is more dangerous in terms of creating fires, higher current means lower amperage, that means that you don't typically have connections that can be bad and overheat or arc and cause a fire. That is the reason because in the US you need to have AFCI while we in Europe don't, because 240V is less likely to cause an arc, also because typically connections and plugs are more solid.


> The 240v plugs themselves are designed differently (wider spacing between prongs) which I imagine is partly because they're supposed to safely handle higher voltages…

It's mostly because they're supposed to be safe at all, which US plugs really are not.

230V (that's the actual EU voltage[0]) will break down poor insulation faster, but AFAIK that's about it, 15mA across the heart will kill you and neither has any issue with this.

[0] ±6% officially, with byes to +6-10 and +10-6 so countries formerly 220±6 and 240±6 are "in-bounds" without having to overhaul their grid in the short-term — therefore effectively 230±10%


These are the plug types common in germany: the TypeF/Schuko [0], which does not close the circuit until it has sunk into the socket and the TypeC/Europlug[1] which has partially non-conductive prongs for the same reason.

You can also step on them, the rounded prongs and its general shape means they're unlikely to pierce your soles.

I don't know what the situation in america is, but here residual current circuit breakers[2] are also common.

[0] https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/2/23/Schuko_p... [1] https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/6/63/Euro-Fla... [2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Residual-current_device#Purpos...


Electricity accidents are very rare, generally not fatal, and the victims are mostly electricians. In Germany there are around 30-40 fatalities each year.

In the US there are about 140 fatalities per year, so per-capita fatalities are very much on the same level.


According to some friends (hearsay I know) who work at/around the ER the voltage is not going to kill you but the secondary effects are most likely to injure you (with death being the most severe injury).

I've touched 240 myself and it's not pleasant but I'm still here.

Don't try this with small people (kids) as a sufficient current across the heart will kill anyone, 120/240v doesn't really matter.


The UK plug causes far less injuries than any other plug due to its incredible safety design.


Type F and E plugs in Europe have the same safety as the UK plug but they are less bulky.

The reason why F and E have similar safety but don't require fuse as UK plugs have is the use of ring circuits in the UK.


> Type F and E plugs in Europe have the same safety as the UK plug but they are less bulky.

I don't know that they're exactly as safe as UK plugs, though they're not far: all three designs ensure the plug is earthed before the "power" pins make contact, but historically UK plugs require an earth pin to be inserted before opening the "power" pin shutters while in type E/F it's just the insertion of the power plugs which force the shutters open.

Type E/F plugs also use recessed sockets rather than insulated pin roots but that should not make a difference.


Certain designs of UK extension strips are small/'not tall' enough to allow a plug to be inserted upside down with only the earth pin in, opening the shutters without anything blocking them. This is a potential safety hazard when you consider this is something children might do without knowing the danger. This type of design is technically not to spec but widely sold eg by IKEA.

A recessed design means this isn't possible so is safer as this type of misspecification isn't possible.


F and E don't have switches on the wall, and don't have the same shutter-safe design. They're likely closer than some even worse plugs, but the UK plug (aside from bulk/cost) really is the safest plug in the world.


> F and E don't have switches on the wall

That seems completely independent from the actual plug design. You can certainly get sockets with switches[0] it just isn't very popular (or, frankly, useful).

> and don't have the same shutter-safe design.

What you're saying is a bit unclear, do you mean the part where UK plugs need some sort of earth inserted to open "power" shutters or do you mean having shutters at all? Because the latter is definitely the case, and as an other commenter notes there are widely available plugs which can be inserted "inverted" and open the powered shutters with little efforts. While the E/F design is "less safe" in the best case scenario it's also less conducive to easy misuse.

[0] https://www.amazon.de/dp/B000ONWKXS


The sockets are however not recessed making them less safe than type E and F as it now becomes possible touch the the live conductor if the insulation at the base is damaged (or is completely absent for some cheaper cables).


> now becomes possible touch the the live conductor if the insulation at the base is damaged

If the UK plug isn't pushed all the way in the contacts aren't live. So, nope. The insulation is an extra safety measure on an already over-engineered plug.


That's not actually true. The pins mate on the side and have quite a bit of play when they make contact (otherwise the connection would be quite unreliable and might even be a fire-hazard). The insulation is _not_ an extra safety feature.


The UK plug is only better if you assume 100% perfect implementation, and 100% accurate use.

If you insert it wrongly in certain power strips, you can directly insert metal objects. And many manufacturers implement british plugs incorrectly, with full-metal prongs, leading to possible electrocution risks.

The Schuko plug is much safer in such situations — even if the manufacturer fucks up as much as they can, it still will ensure it’s impossible to touch the prongs as soon as they’re inserted.


I'm not from UK, but having seen the UK plug, I think that the most common injuries it causes would be blunt trauma and possibly stabbings.


Standing on UK style plugs with bare feet is the big risk.


Been there done that. I concur that it is painful. Morever they nearly always stand with the sprongs pointed upwards


I assume they have a secondary role as caltrops for home defence or civil unrest scenarios.


Until you step on it! It's way more dangerous plugged out on the ground, than being plugged in.


My British American friends say American plugs are way safer. Because stepping on a UK plug in the dark sucks big time.


OTOH chances are low that a UK plug will burn down your home.


Are there any actual statistics on this?


For anyone that does not know why, as rarely as I recommend videos I very much suggest Tom Scott's video "British Plugs Are Better Than All Other Plugs, And Here's Why":

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UEfP1OKKz_Q


there is a higher risk associated with 240V, but now all new home circuit require RCD (30mA in France is the norm now together with the big 500mA RCD from the utility). I've done the circuit in my home, sometimes with live current, but I always ensured that I am behind a 30mA RCD. I've touched the live phase several time without any injuries. The injuries happen through second effects, like you touch the live phase while on a ladder and you fall.

The way the euro plugs are designed, means it is impossible to touch a live part, except maybe for the one which have no earth, though it is also very hard to do.


More importantly they are insulated on the beginning of the prongs so if only partially inserted there is not a section of live wiring that can be arced.


Good to see, at the end of the article, that there are people thinking about different voltages and more sophisticated systems for transforming voltages. Now that so many devices are capable of running at quite low power it might be worth using USB-C alongside the usual power outlets for more than just computers.


Not really, just like it's not worth it having any power supply embedded into a power outlet. It's also a bit dangerous, it can malfunction and burn your place to the ground without triggering circuit breakers. Also USB-C power in particular is pretty inefficient by design, as having say a 150 watt power supply to efficiently deliver 5 watts of power is rather complex and expensive to achieve.


What makes the risk of malfunction higher compared to a standard power supply plugged into an outlet?


As sibling says, no cooling but also no easy way to disconnect the supply eg if it gets hot or starts smoking or sparking.


No airflow for cooling.


5V USB transformers embedded in sockets have definitely started appearing in the UK; I have some myself and they're convenient. If we were to embed anything new in the walls I think it ought to be Ethernet, then make people use PoE.


Ethernet PoE is nice, but USB-C I can see as the future for most power requirements both because it can carry a lot of power and it has a small form factor (Ethernet is too bulky for more and more products these days).

The biggest issue with USB-C is unfortunately the zoo of different options. Not all USB-C cables and ports support high power output and it’s not trivial to figure out what cable or port to use. So much for universal...


USB C cables are extremely expensive compared to Cat6 there’s no comparison. 802.3af can run 48v for 100m I doubt USB C can run that far. Power delivery is a non-issue most devices can handle POE just fine and I have 3 Cameras, 2 APs, a switch, and a Pi all running off a single 150w UniFi switch.

If you need more power you can always build another regular outlet much cheaper than setting up USB C.


If you solder a 802.4af to a USB C socket you can get the same distance at the same voltage. USB C no longer has a specified maximum length, the only requirement is that the signal makes it across.


Can you even buy a splicer that will put on USB C ends?

Doesn’t any cable just required the signal to be enough? I mean you could put Poe injectors or signal amplifiers for coax every X meters.


Not quite, the cable needs to be suitable for differential signaling and it has some tight inductance and RF property requirements, otherwise the wire just leaks all over the spectrum and doesn't work.


You obviously have never thought about the use of PoE. You just cannot compare PoE and USB-C Power delivery as these are made for entirely different applications.

I'd rather buy a WiFi router that gets its power over the ethernet cable that I have to run to the location I'm putting it anyways rather than place a USB-C outlet next to it so I can power it via USB-C. Same goes for small switches and other network enabled equipment, especially IoT stuff (if it's wired). Also, having one beefy PoE enabled switch in the basement providing power is much more efficient than having a bunch of small transformators around the building.

Now, charging Laptops on the other hand is a completely different story.


> You obviously have never thought about the use of PoE. You just cannot compare PoE and USB-C Power delivery as these are made for entirely different applications.

They're replying to a very specific comment:

> If we were to embed anything new in the walls I think it ought to be Ethernet, then make people use PoE.

and they're noting that providing ubiquitous USB-PD seems more useful and practical than providing ubiquitous PoE. "Wired-network" devices keep getting rarer, and new devices are significantly more likely to be powered over USB than ethernet if they're using any sort of standard power supply.


Yes exactly this.

I’m also thinking outside of computer equipment. Clocks, TVs, Lamps, Fans, chargers for vacuum cleaners, blenders, mixers, dehumidifiers, heaters, microwaves, fridges, speakers, etc anything you can plug into a typical home power point today.

I realise it’s not going to happen for a few reasons but to me the ideal of a single socket type that works around the world without special adapters would be an amazing achievement. We’re already seeing this partially when it comes to computing devices and USB, but would love to see a USB standard that could support all other kinds of typical home and office power requirements. Something I hope the designers of the next USB standard are also interested in.


USB-C cable length is an issue: https://community.cypress.com/docs/DOC-10693

I suggested Ethernet because the data carrying capacity remains valuable, compared to congested wireless bands.

Adapters exist but seem currently very expensive: https://www.amazon.co.uk/GAT-USBC-802-3at-Wifi-Splitter-Ethe...


From what I'm currently experiencing here (Sweden) three phases also allows for interesting issues like partial power outages that take down only some of your house... Never saw anything like this in Australia where it's probably the US style


There was a sponsored ad below the article, ‘How to Make Electricity for Free.’


I block ads, but that kind of "chum" is horrible - here's an article with some info on it https://www.theawl.com/2015/06/a-complete-taxonomy-of-intern...


"Reference" is a little conservative. A majority of this post is copied right out of the Electric Power Distribution Handbook by T.A. Short.


Does having a higher voltage make a substantial difference in the quantity of copper used?


Twice the voltage - four times the power with same loses and same wire.

And resistance is inversely proportional to the area of the cross-section of the wire.

So, if you want the same power - you can use 2 times less copper with 2 times higher voltage.


I understand that. Does it have a particular meaning on a large scale?

I mean, is infrastructure overall cheaper in that regard? Are wires less likely to be stolen? Things of that sort.


For sure it is cheaper. On the scale of a house, it is not so much, i spent maybe 300€ of wires alone for my house (mix of 1.5 and 2.5mm2).

But you need also to add the manpower cost. With 240V 16A (standard for a 5 plug circuit) breaker you can wire your house with 1.5mm2 wires. For 20A you need 2.5mm2 wires, and for stove (32A) you need 4mm2.

By experience, I can tell you that wiring your house with 2.5mm2 is way harder to manipulate (bending, taking turns etc...) than the flexible 1.5mm2, and you need bigger enclosure in the walls. Your electrician will charge you higher because of this.

Edit: section for copper, with aluminium you need a higher cross section

Edit 2: my god, in the US you need a wire awg12 (4mm2) for a 20A 120V plug, to have a mere 2400W. This can be wired in europe with 1.5mm2 wires on 16A breaker, and you have 3800W of useful power ! It must be a pain to be electrician in the US


I think it is great to have everywhere a 3-phase system here in europe.




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