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Electric Circuit Amperage in 220 Volt Countries?

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  • Electric Circuit Amperage in 220 Volt Countries?

    The recent thread on compressors has brought up a question in my mind. I know that in the US, where 110 Volt wiring is the most common in buildings, 15 and 20 Amp. circuits are by far the most common. In a home you would expect to find 15 Amp. circuits to be the most common and in a commercial building the 20s. Not exclusively or in every case, but probably the most common.

    Now, with 220 Volt wiring you would have two times as much power for a given Amperage and I am just wondering what the most common Amperage is in countries with 220 Volt power distribution. If the wire size is the same, then the same size breakers could be used. On the other hand, perhaps economies are the concern and the breakers may be smaller. I can see arguments in both directions. Perhaps it is different in different countries.

    I live in the US and have zero experience in other countries. So, just for my own information, what breakers are most common in these countries? And what wire sizes are commonly used? In the US it would be 12 or 14 gauge.
    Paul A.
    SE Texas

    Make it fit.
    You can't win and there is a penalty for trying!

  • #2
    Norway: 230 volt single phase. Circuits are fused at 10, 16 and 20 amp. My main supply circuit is 400 volt 3 phase and fused at 50 amp (3 phase domestic supply is not very common).

    I don't know the wire sizes.

    Phil

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    • #3
      220/230 V - Depends on the wiring. Common is 1.5 square mm - good for up to 15A. Many outlets have a 10A fuse build in and can be used like an on/off switch. The fuses in a house will determine how many Watts are safe for a given circuit.

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      • #4
        AFAIK in the UK they still use a 13a ring main system, the 240v circuit for outlets leave the breaker and pick up all the 13a outlets required and return to the same breaker.
        Each plug for the outlets have a fuse inside the plug, and can be sized as required up to 13a.
        Way back before I left the UK the outlets were wired in what was known as 3/029 3 conductors at .029 (could have been 7/029) if I remember rightly.
        Now it is in metric sizes 1.2mm² and 2.9mm².
        Max.
        Last edited by MaxHeadRoom; 05-18-2012, 02:52 PM.

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        • #5
          I'm no electrical expert, but Max is correct, we use a 13A ring main system in the the UK. This is wired with 2.5mm2 cable (which I believe is 14A AWG) and the circuit is protected by a 32A breaker

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          • #6
            Originally posted by Stuart Br
            we use a 13A ring main system in the the UK.
            I recall one of my first assignments was to assist flipping Oxford Observatory over to 230AC from the original 120VDC!!
            Max.

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            • #7
              What sort of plugs do we use?

              Furteen amp!

              http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oaGpaj2nHIo
              Peter - novice home machinist, modern motorcycle enthusiast.

              Denford Viceroy 280 Synchro (11 x 24)
              Herbert 0V adapted to R8 by 'Sir John'.
              Monarch 10EE 1942

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              • #8
                The common household supply in New Zealand is 230V single phase 50Hz. I think our house has a 60A feed.

                Wall sockets are wired on a 20A circuit with individual sockets usually 15A but we can put a 20A socket on the same circuit. We use the multiple earth neutral system and modern houses are wired with electronic earth leakage circuit breakers.

                Three phase is very uncommon in suburban homes, farms are more likely to have 3 phase. Older farm installation had three wires which I believe was two phases.

                I think Australia is the same although their nominal voltage (used to be?) is 240V. We use a lot of their electrical fittings and their 240V light bulbs are very good for long life out in the shed etc.
                Last edited by The Artful Bodger; 05-18-2012, 05:10 PM.

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                • #9
                  220v here in France, 16amp to the normal plug sockets, although you encounter high current sockets with large 32amp plugs but they have to have a different diameter of wiring also. All wiring is star wired back to the panel and there are all sorts of regulations (normes) for what size wire for each class of socket etc.
                  Its also not uncommon to find 3 phase into a domestic house, and for high power fixed appliances to use all three phases (heating, water heaters, air conditioners, cookers etc). Our house has 380v 3 phase supply.
                  We pay for the max current to the house in a tariff which is calculated amongst other things on maximum amperage drawn, and our panel's have a current limit device set to what you pay for. For instance we can take 25amp per phase before the limiter (a "Disjoncter") kicks in, but we could pay more per month and have a higher limit accordingly. The limiter also doubles as a earth leakage circuit breaker.
                  No plugs or sockets or light switches have fuses, all fusing is handled back at the panel unless its a device's internal fuse, the logic being no fires from giving someone the chance to replace a 5amp plug fuse with a 16 and suffering a fire. Our fuse box has 5 rows of trip's in it...

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                  • #10
                    In Canada we use 220V for baseboard heaters, Oven, Dryer, water heater for general household.
                    I'd say the most common use is for baseboards and 14AWG so 15A breaker. We use red PVC sheathed cable containing a Red, a Black and bare copper conductor.
                    Mike

                    My Dad always said, "If you want people to do things for you on the farm, you have to buy a machine they can sit on that does most of the work."

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by The Artful Bodger
                      ...
                      We use the multiple earth neutral system and modern houses are wired with electronic earth leakage circuit breakers.
                      ...

                      What exactly is "multiple earth neutral"?

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by tlfamm
                        What exactly is "multiple earth neutral"?
                        It is a protective system where appliances have active, neutral and earth connections. Neutral and earth are joined at the distribution board. The earth conductor is only conducting in a fault condition, and then only long enough to open the fuse.
                        Last edited by The Artful Bodger; 05-18-2012, 05:52 PM.

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                        • #13
                          Bodger, the normal domestic sockets in New Zealand are rated at 10 amps, not 15. The wiring is 2.5mm2, and the circuit breakers are 20 amps.
                          It is possible to get 15 amp outlets with the same pin layout, so they will take either 10 amp or 15 amp plugs (I have one in my shop, for the MIG welder. Weirdly, the only difference in the plug is that the earth pin is longer! The phase and neutral pins are exactly the same as those of the 10 amp plug, which suggests that the 10 amp socket can safely, if illegally, be overloaded by at least 50%.)
                          Light circuits are wired with 1.5mm2 cable, and the breakers are 10 amp.
                          I live out in the country, where a three-phase 11kV line serves the whole road. To spread the load, most houses have two phases plus an earthed neutral coming in from the transformer on the nearest pole. One transformer will usually serve two or three houses, and the cable into the house is rated to (I think) 60 amps. The main fuses are 63 amps.
                          If one opts to have all three phases brought in, the power company treats one as a commercial enterprise, and charges far more for each kilowatt-hour of electricity used. And one has to pay the full cost of the line company's three-phase transformer.
                          The whole installation of my two year old house is protected with earth-leakage circuit breakers.
                          The MEN system has the neutral earthed at each installation as well as at each pole transformer.

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                          • #14
                            I am curious, in N.Z. and Australia, do the service company deliver a Ground conductor, or is ground referenced locally, i.e. water supply, ground rod etc?
                            Max.

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by The Artful Bodger
                              The common household supply in New Zealand is 230V single phase 50Hz. I think our house has a 60A feed.

                              Wall sockets are wired on a 20A circuit with individual sockets usually 15A but we can put a 20A socket on the same circuit. We use the multiple earth neutral system and modern houses are wired with electronic earth leakage circuit breakers.

                              Three phase is very uncommon in suburban homes, farms are more likely to have 3 phase. Older farm installation had three wires which I believe was two phases.

                              I think Australia is the same although their nominal voltage (used to be?) is 240V. We use a lot of their electrical fittings and their 240V light bulbs are very good for long life out in the shed etc.
                              +1 for Australia.

                              We once had an "over-night" electrical storage hot water heater which had 2 x 2400W elements - one for "day rate" (expensive) and the other for the cheaper "night", rate - that heater is long gone since we had natural gas connected. We also had a 220A 2-phase "chokie" welder - which is still hard-wired in.

                              The shop has 2-phase 60A per phase (ie 2 single 60A phases).

                              The shop and the house have seperate electronic switch-boards with all curcuit-breakers and a multiple earth neutral system and electronic earth leakage circuit breakers.

                              Australia and New Zealand use national standards that are common to both for just about everything - "electrical" very much included.

                              I have no idea at all as to what wire sizes etc. are as I leave that strictly to a Licenced Electrical Contractor (as is mandatory here).

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