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 Electrical safety in the Edwardian home
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 Return to top of page · Post #: 1 · Written at 9:06:26 PM on 5 October 2020.
Brad's avatar
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 Location: Greenwich, NSW
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Tonight I bumped into a documentary on the safety (or lack of it) in the typical Edwardian home in Great Britain. We were fortunate here in Australia in that we learned lessons early and adopted many safety features early on. It's hard to believe that in the beginning of the era of electrical homes that insulation on cabling was a luxury!

Here it is.


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A valve a day keeps the transistor away...

 
 Return to top of page · Post #: 2 · Written at 10:43:53 PM on 5 October 2020.
GTC's avatar
 GTC
 Location: Sydney, NSW
 Member since 28 January 2011
 Member #: 823
 Postcount: 6081

Some hair-raising stuff there!

Yes, we appear to have avoided a lot of those risks, but seems to me the Brits have gone to the other extreme.

Watching UK electricians on YouTube going about their work, I often find the UK regulations to be over the top. One example is that worksites usually have a 110 volt centre tapped to earth supply and on-site tools and lighting operate on 110 volts.

Then there's the extensive testing for Electrical Installation Condition Report (EICRs) made doubly difficult because of the Brits' slavish devotion to the anachronistic ring main wiring system, not seen anywhere else in the world.

Re insulation, interestingly in Edison's 1892 patent for insulating electrical wire, among the purposes for it he doesn't mention prevention of electric shock from touch:

QUOTE: The object of my invention is to effectively insulate wire, so that it will be waterproof and capable of being used in moist places and even under water without detriment to its insulating qualities, and also fire-proof, so that if by accident the wire becomes red-hot the insulating-covering will not be set on fire and burned, but only oxidation will result, which will leave the wire pyro-insulated.

The main feature of the invention is the use as an insulating-covering of a mixture of rubber with an infusible material in the form of a powder.


 
 Return to top of page · Post #: 3 · Written at 11:22:08 PM on 5 October 2020.
Brad's avatar
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 Location: Greenwich, NSW
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The ring main is just a waste of cable in my view, especially since having a single feed in from the switchboard provides sufficient current carrying capacity, especially in a country not known for the blistering heat we get here. I sare say it has something to do with the fact that the British system's first line of circuit protection lies in the fuses in plug tops rather than those in switchboards. Again, fuses in plug tops were probably more relevant in the 1930s than they are now.

Australia's system is a conglomerate of the good design elements of the British 3 phase four wire distribution system with the bayonet light globe base and the US plug top design that was slightly adapted to what we now have as our national power point pin pattern plus the MEN earthing system. Added to that mix is a range of electrical accessories which are ultimately better designed and employed than either the British or US system. Even today, looking at overseas TV programming, one can notice how behind the times these richer countries are with design - neither the British or US, for instance, can fit six light switches on a standard pattern plate or have the choice of mounting the plate vertically or horizontally.

Strangely, I've been told by Irish acquaintences that the biggest electrical brand in Ireland for decades has been Clipsal and this was years before Clipsal was taken over by Schneider.


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A valve a day keeps the transistor away...

 
 Return to top of page · Post #: 4 · Written at 10:09:35 PM on 6 October 2020.
Brad's avatar
 Administrator
 Location: Greenwich, NSW
 Member since 15 November 2005
 Member #: 1
 Postcount: 6435

Here is another episode from this programme - safety in the 1950s which includes a few issues relating to the 'modern' electrical appliances of the time.



An off-topic subject covered included the chemistry sets on offer at the time. Going by what was included and the lack of safety-related instructions, accidents were always going to happen. With these kits aimed at boys, it compounded the issue because by our very nature, we always like to make a small bang into a big one - it just looks more impressive.

I am glad I was more into physics, but that led to issues too. Even in my teens I was, on occasions, experimenting with voltages higher than 12 volts - okay, a lot higher than 12 volts. I did manage to survive though.


‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾
A valve a day keeps the transistor away...

 
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