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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The induction hob is certainly better than the electric rings we had in the past, but I still miss the gas!
Still, they used to be 3-phase not long ago so OP is also correct.
e.g. look at pretty much any Miele stove/oven combination.
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?
The oven is separate and connected with a standard plug though.
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.
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 . 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).
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.
The word you are looking for is subsidies.
Not every Latin-derived word also works in English. ;)
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.
Actually about 50 % of households use gas, about a quarter uses oil and the remaining quarter is Fernwärme, heat pump, solar etc.
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 source electric heat pumps are on the rise, but it'll be decades before they catch up to gas.
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.
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 :) ).
Maybe this is the reason people still talk about 2 phase systems.
And we don't do electric heating.
Meanwhile American homeshops cannot use high grade equipment or have to use VFDs on each machine or rotary converters to create three phases.
Two conductors, phase and neutral (+ ground where needed).
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).
 which is possible even for full 11 kW stove, if you have 40A single phase power.
https://media3.bosch-home.com/Documents/bosch.html?matNumber... see "Basic Settings"
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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".
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.
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.
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.
That's not always a pure positive though: as kettles work fine I've never seen a thermo pot in europe.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
Is this the case for new construction too? 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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
That suggests the cause is inertia. Plain electric stoves are very impractical, but they've been around for a long time.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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)_/¯
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'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!!)
I've not seen non-induction electric stove installed in any building younger than 10 years.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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).
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).
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
As I wrote in https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=20799176, in Germany, electrical house heating is very uncommon.
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.
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.
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?
Induction stoves are also much easier to clean compared to gas, since the entire heating surface is flat glass. 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.
Lots of older houses like mine have their Tesla socket beind the stove and only 230V in the garage unfortunately.
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.
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.
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.
I’ve often wondered how many of the differences between Europe and The United States are the result of population density.
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…
I've survived quite a few shocks thanks to the GFCI removing voltage from the socket.
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.)
I think this has been the rule now for c15 years so depending on your installation it might have been that that saved you.
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.
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.
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) 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.
 ±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%
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 are also common.
In the US there are about 140 fatalities per year, so per-capita fatalities are very much on the same level.
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 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.
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.
A recessed design means this isn't possible so is safer as this type of misspecification isn't possible.
That seems completely independent from the actual plug design. You can certainly get sockets with switches 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.
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.
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.
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.
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...
If you need more power you can always build another regular outlet much cheaper than setting up USB C.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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...
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 mean, is infrastructure overall cheaper in that regard? Are wires less likely to be stolen? Things of that sort.
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