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Electricity in Poland: plug and voltage?


Philip66
12 Apr 2010 #31
England is in the EU, silly billy! Not all the plugs are the same, Ireland, Malta, Cyprus etc... They may be two-pin but do not always fit into one another's sockets e.g. Italy, non-EU Switzerland, Spain. The voltage, however, is 230v. Philip, England
plaiddino 4 | 3
29 Jul 2010 #32
Thread attached on merging:
Electronics

I have a question about electronics because I'm moving to Poland from the United States. If I bring electronic stuff (laptop computer, playstation / video games, etc) will I be able to use them in Poland? I know I'll need to buy a converter for the wall plugs, but will my stuff get fried if I turn it on?

Thanks!
aphrodisiac 11 | 2,437
29 Jul 2010 #33
if you get a proper attachment, it won't. I got an expensive one for my laptop, but for the rest of the equipment I just got some inexpensive stuff.
wildrover 98 | 4,441
29 Jul 2010 #34
but will my stuff get fried if I turn it on?

Unlikely....the plug in the wall will either fall out , or the Polish wiring will melt...its normal...!
sausage 19 | 777
29 Jul 2010 #35
Voltage in Poland is 220V (compared to 110V) in the USA...
some laptops and some phone chargers are designed to work with a variety of voltages. So check your equipment. Double the voltage will mean quadruple the current and kaboom!
peter_olsztyn 6 | 1,098
29 Jul 2010 #36
but will my stuff get fried if I turn it on?

Probably not. Majority of modern, external switching adaptors tolerate input voltage from 100V to 240V so US 110V and EU 230V standard may be covered by one device. They produce 18.5V or 19V output voltage (Hewlett Packard). Check the label on adaptor.

But if you plug in non intelligent 110V device like hair dryer or bulb into 230V socket it may burn or blow up
s2good2 1 | 72
14 Feb 2011 #37
Merged thread:
Voltage converter: 240 Polish to 110 American

Could anyone give me some GOOD links to any store that has 220v to 110 V converters? 50 to 250 Watts?
peter_olsztyn 6 | 1,098
16 Feb 2011 #38
If the weight doesn't matter you can just use transformer 2:1 (230v --> 115v)

voltageconverterstore.com/6-step-up-down-transformers
skysoulmate 14 | 1,294
17 Feb 2011 #39
Thank you Simren, I have found a two pin adapter and ordered it on-line. It's only £2.99 and says it is ok for Poland so I will use this:-

Okgirl - the picture you provided is NOT a converter but merely an adapter for the plug in. The terms are used interchangeably nowadays but there's a difference.

IF your devise has an internal converter (it'll say 110-230V on it) the adapter will work. Most laptops, electrical shavers, etc. have it already and you simply need a plug in adapter. However if your device is strictly 110V, 60Hz then you'll need a converter (transformer). Do not confuse the two devises.

Adapter (adapts one type of power plug-in into another)

A

Converter(converts 110V to 230V and vice versa [or 220V pre 2004, works the same] Converters usually also work as plug in adapters. )
InWroclaw 89 | 1,911
29 Dec 2014 #40
Merged: Electricity plugs - UK and Poland L & N

This is a UK plug (note Neutral-blue is left, Live-brown is right)

UK plug

...and this is a Poland plug

PL plug

So how do UK to PL adaptors work? Do these adaptors swap around the N and L polarity? Because it seems L is left in Poland (with Earth pin uppermost) and right in the UK.

What have I missed?
gumishu 13 | 6,134
30 Dec 2014 #41
Do these adaptors swap around the N and L polarity?

polarity does not really matter for alternated current electric appliances - this is no direct current (DC) where polarity matters - no need to swap anything
InWroclaw 89 | 1,911
30 Dec 2014 #42
Thanks for replying, but doesn't a transposing of L and N perhaps mean that the fusebox/RCD electronic safety circuit gets confused or impaired and unable to detect a problem?
kpc21 1 | 763
30 Dec 2014 #43
Fuse shouldn't be applied on the N wire. After it blows, device doesn't work but it is still under voltage.

In Poland there is no fuses in plugs and sockets, so there is no problem with it. In the wall wiring the L and N are distinguished (for the sake of the main fuses, RCDs etc.), as well all the way from the local transformator station to the house, but in the device - they shouldn't.

In older installations you may meet even one fuse for the whole flat, or for example three ones, one for each phase, for a detached house. These old installations are often made with only 2 wires, where the N wire plays role of PE too. It's quite dangerous (and in such a situation there should be definitely no fuse on the N wire), but it's how the wiring was made in the past, and it is still commonly met in Poland. In newer installations one modern circuit breaker might be for example only for lightning and another one only for sockets in one room, there are three wires and there is an RCD, at least for the bathroom (although according to the current norms the whole installation should be secured by RCD), but it is an idealistic case. Sometimes the electrical wiring is installed by people that aren't even electricians, or they are electricians, but they don't really know how to do what they are supposed to do (for example they finished their education in their profession 40 years ago and they didn't extend it any more) - and investors, especially private ones, use their services wanting to save money. Unfortunately - skimping on safety.

Nevertheless, regardless of whether the wiring is made correctly or not, whether it's old-fashioned one or modern one, the order of L and N in the sockets and plugs in Poland doesn't really matter. It is important everywhere between the transformator station and the socket, but between the socket and the device (and inside the device) - not. Again in theory, because sometimes some devices demanding specific order of L and N are met (it's especially about gas water heaters), but they shouldn't really be sold on the Polish market with plugs. They should have bare wires to connect them to the installation permanently through a switch. But the manufacturers don't care about this and also any apropriate institutions don't react. And - if they were produced without plugs, what most of people (meaning normal people buying such a heater, not electricians) in Poland would do is they would just install a plug and connect it to a wall socket. It's common with instantaneous electric water heaters of the power of, I think, more than 3 kW, which are sold without plugs, and what most of the customers do, is - you may guess :) They install plugs on their own.
gjene 14 | 204
30 Dec 2014 #44
to Plaiddino

on the external power unit for my laptop it does say that it is a dual unit capable of handling either North American or European power supply. if your laptop or play station have more or less external power units then another option would be to find a place to buy the appropriate power supplies for each item if you so desire. Either way, now you have something to think about.
InWroclaw 89 | 1,911
30 Dec 2014 #45
@kpc21
I thank you for your kind and lengthy explanation, but doesn't it still mean that the electrical appliance (radio or TV or whatever it is) is still live when using an adaptor that doesn't swap the N and L to the correct pin even after the circuit trips (ie the RCD triggers and shuts off the power) or if the circuit is switched off by someone? That could mean that someone thinks their appliance is off and dead because they turned the circuit off, but because N and L are not coming through the correct pins the unit is live even if it doesn't seem to switch on and work. Surely that could be dangerous, if I am correct. Also, that could mean the RCD doesn't prevent danger if it works the same way and only disconnects the one ('wrong') wire.

In layman's terms, if I am right, then a person can still get an electric shock even if an appliance appears to be dead, when the RCD or manual switch has disconnected the usually correct wire but which would not be correct when L and N are transposed by the use of a UK-PL adaptor. This could also, I guess, mean that any fault triggering the RCD could still occur and cause either a shock or fire risk.

As I am unclear on the risks when using an adaptor, I would be inclined to unplug the appliance from the socket/receptacle if in doubt about it rather than use the circuit or other switch

I also think it's a great shame that Poland sockets don't have an on-off switch. In the UK, most sockets do. Here, they don't seem to exist and the only option is to buy a plug with a switch or an additional adaptor with switch. I have never seen a socket/receptacle with a switch here. Additionally, plugs are hard to remove and sockets are poorly fitted into walls generally, even in some new buildings. (It seems to me that without a switch on a socket, there is a spark or risk of a spark when plugging or unplugging appliances.)
kpc21 1 | 763
30 Dec 2014 #46
doesn't it still mean that the electrical appliance (radio or TV or whatever it is) is still live when using an adaptor

There is no risk because there are no fuses, breakers, anything like this in plugs and sockets. RCD is somewhere in the flat (if somebody is lucky, because it's still not very common, in new installations it should be installed, but older norms demanded it only for "wet" rooms like bathroom, even older ones, from something like 30 or 40 years ago, didn't demand it at all; RCD is quite a new solution - earlier the only security means was a traditional fuse, often one for the whole flat, and the earth pins in sockets were connected to the N wire - when the voltage appeared on e.g. the metal casing of a device, it blew the main fuse, at least if the installation was made correctly and was in good condition, because for example breakage of N somewhere near the main fuse was very dangerous), but never in the plug, socket, never in the appliance, so the user can be sure that it breaks L, and not N.

In walls L and N are distinguished. Correctly N should be marked by a wire with blue isolation, PE by yellow-and-green one, L by brown one or of any other color. But never take this color markings for granted! For example in lightning circuits the yellow-and-green is used often as a live wire, because if you want to buy a 3-wire cable (to install in the wall), the easiest to buy is the one that has wires of colors: brown, blue and yellow-and-green.

If somebody is doing something inside an appliance and wants to be sure it's not live, he/she unplugs the plug from the socket.

Sometimes there are plugs with a switch (such ones to install them on the cable on your own, for example if the original one is broken - like in the photo a few posts before - rather than original ones installed by device manufacturer, which are impossible to disassembly), but they don't ensure that there is no voltage inside the device.

This could also, I guess, mean that any fault triggering the RCD could still occur and cause either a shock or fire risk.

I am not an expert, but according to this:
ise.pl/index.php?option=com_jfusion&Itemid=39&jfile=viewtopic.php&f=23&t=13209 (forum of electricians)

RCD controls the geometrical sum of currents in wires: L1, L2, L3 and N - if it's greater than the given value (parameter of the RCD) it will break the circuit.

If there is short circuit to the appliance casing and then to PE or to ground (L-PE, N-PE) then the current leaves the circuit omitting the RCD - thus geometrical sum of currents is much greater than the one with which the breaker is triggered.

If there is L-N or Lx-Ly short circuit, then the RCD will not work (but then the traditional fuse or breaker works).

The current flows in to the circuit, the same current doesn't flow out, because it flows through a human to ground - then it doesn't matter if it has a way to return to the RCD, or not, RCD will be triggered.

But remember that if it's an installation in Poland, there is very often no RCD at all. And it might be OK from the legal point of view - it depends only on the time when the installation was made.

RCD won't disconnect N unless it's incorrectly installed or workers of the energy supplier made a (very costly) mistake and exchanged L and N somewhere outside the flat. There were even situations then during works they connect by mistake two different phases instead of L and N and then in sockets there is 400 V instead of 230 V (of course for a moment, until they see their mistake). This is even more costly, the energy suppliers must return money to people for the damaged devices, but I've heard about such situations.

I would add that in the past it was very common that the lightning switch disconnected N instead of L. Normal switch, of course, not a breaker.
InWroclaw 89 | 1,911
30 Dec 2014 #47
Thanks again, kpc.

I wouldn't fiddle with the lighting switch or sockets myself, not here in Poland. But thanks for the tips. Btw in the UK I think they made it illegal for householders to do certain types of work on their own electricity sockets and switches and installations, just as it is illegal there for a layman home owner to install gas appliances like a cooker or boiler.
kpc21 1 | 763
30 Dec 2014 #48
In Poland any of these is legal, the only thing is that if for example a cooker is installed not by a licensed specialist, it has no guarantee. The case is just different mentality of people. Of course the owner of the house as a person responsible for it would be in big problems if somebody is killed by gas or electricity there and the installation is made against the norms that were valid when it was being made.
peter_olsztyn 6 | 1,098
1 Jan 2015 #49
InWroclaw Also, that could mean the RCD doesn't prevent danger if it works the same way and only disconnects the one ('wrong') wire.

RCD always disconnects both L and N wires.

(It seems to me that without a switch on a socket, there is a spark or risk of a spark when plugging or unplugging appliances.)

Sparking always occur when disconnecting heavy load visible on socket contacts or hidden inside the switch. Switch rated 16A make socket more expensive and less reliable than a direct wire.
InWroclaw 89 | 1,911
1 Jan 2015 #50
RCD always disconnects both L and N wires.

All RCDs? Because elsewhere online an electrician claims otherwise. Much to my dismay, I might add.

Switch rated 16A make socket more expensive and less reliable than a direct wire.

I don't know what you mean unless you're saying a socket with a switch is less reliable.

In the UK we have these

UK 3 pin socket

I have never known one to fail if made by the proper manufacturers there such as MK

I am astounded at what to me looks like notably behind the times electrical installations in Poland, even in office blocks.
peter_olsztyn 6 | 1,098
1 Jan 2015 #51
InWroclaw All RCDs? Because elsewhere online an electrician claims otherwise.

I have not seen one which doesn't do that.

InWroclaw I don't know what you mean unless you're saying a socket with a switch is less reliable.

Just another thing in the current path to fail. Every switch, contact, connection, junction is a resistance and may heat or melt. You are reasonable user but someone may want to connect a welding inverter and angle grinder together. In this scenario PL socket may be more fool proof.

InWroclaw In the UK we have these

I lived in the UK for a while and couldn't resist to learn how it works :)

InWroclaw I have never known one to fail if made by the proper manufacturers there such as MK

Because electrical things are treated very seriously in the UK.
InWroclaw 89 | 1,911
1 Jan 2015 #52
And not so much in Poland?? Gulp.
What do you think about aluminum wiring? There is some where I am, along with copper too. I am thinking of getting rid of it because I'm told it's dangerous.

Also, what is that internal switch called which keeps a light on for 30 seconds? I don't mean the movement sensor. Are they easy to fit if I isolate the circuit and remove the old standard switch? In the UK, I used to do lots of DIY including replacing Grundfos heating water pumps, wiring in shaver sockets and light fittings, adding new sockets on a wall (from a spur, not the box) and burying cables in conduits. Here, I'm frankly rather scared. And I'm not sure why, perhaps because of the loose sockets and bad stuff I see all around.

(And of course, Happy 2015 to you, Peter.)
jon357 74 | 21,790
1 Jan 2015 #53
Also, what is that internal switch called which keeps a light on for 30 seconds?

You get those in the UK too sometimes especially in the hallways of flat conversions, though they're much rarer and I haven't seen a new one for a very long time. It's just a simple mechanical thing. Movement sensors seem to have replaced them.

nd I'm not sure why, perhaps because of the loose sockets and bad stuff I see all around.

The loose sockets are very common - probably due to the way they're fitted (though I once heard a Polish lady married to a Brit swear blind she'd never seen a wobbly socket in PL !). Generally the electrics in PL are OK - just a different system to the UK (the UK system of ring mains is unusual, partly due to lack of copper during post-war reconstruction). Perhaps I've been lucky. I used to get a tingle from the sink when the electric kettle was on (this in a fairly posh 1991 building), I've had wiring earthed to old lead pipes that had been replaced by plastic ones (I also had that in the UK, so not just a Poland-specific problem) and once, believe it or not, (again in the 1991 building) had several sockets which were blanks - they were fixed to the wall for decoration, but nothing, not even a hole, behind them!
InWroclaw 89 | 1,911
1 Jan 2015 #54
You get those in the UK too sometimes especially in the hallways of flat conversions, though they're much rarer

I know the one you mean, probably - a push in round button that slowly pops out and then the light goes off. Often seen in bedsit land hallways.

What are they called in Polish?

several sockets which were blanks - they were fixed to the wall for decoration, but nothing, not even a hole, behind them!

I've also seen that - in the UK!

I used to get a tingle from the sink when the electric kettle was on

Ooh err, inclusive in the rent I bet, when as some people have to pay for that sort of thing...
kpc21 1 | 763
1 Jan 2015 #55
What are they called in Polish?

Automat schodowy. In Poland it is usually used in stairwells in blocks of flats. Typical solution how it was constructed, at least in the past (now they are probably based on electronics): en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Relay#Time_delay

The switch is a normal doorbell switch (such one that returns to the "off" position immediately after pressing it), the delay of the turning off is generated by the relay.
InWroclaw 89 | 1,911
1 Jan 2015 #56
Thanks kpc, but it doesn't seem to be the same thing on Allegro (ie a light switch with a delay timer) allegro.pl/automat-schodowy-as-222t-firmy-ff-pabianice-i4924179934.html
kpc21 1 | 763
2 Jan 2015 #57
This thing from Allegro seems to be a more modern one, based on electronics. But the operation is the same. It is triggered by a doorbell switch (meaning such one with a spring, that closes the circuit only for the moment when it is kept pressed) and then keeps the lighting on for some time (which can be set by the potentiometer). This one keeps, in addition, the light dimmed (probably it decreases the voltage by half, because, according to the description, it can't be used with fluoroscent lamps) for about 30 sec. before turning off - to let the user turn the light on again safely (i.e. not in darkness - remember that it's used mostly in staircases) before it goes off.

google.pl/search?q=staircase+light+timer

I have never met in Poland such one that would just be:

a push in round button that slowly pops out and then the light goes off

Probably nobody have come into this simple idea in the continental Europe and nobody was so smart to copy this solution from the UK :)

On the other hand, I heard that in the UK you have always two separate taps for the cold and hot water above sinks. And it's always driving people from the continental Europe crazy :)
InWroclaw 89 | 1,911
2 Jan 2015 #58
Probably nobody have come into this simple idea in the continental Europe and nobody was so smart to copy this solution from the UK :)

This is the UK one ebay.co.uk/bhp/timed-light-switch

Am I actually going to have to buy one in the UK?? Poland doesn't sell a simple switch like this? I'd also have to buy the relay box you mentioned? Ale jaja FFS.

On the other hand, I heard that in the UK you have always two separate taps for the cold and hot water above sinks.

Some people prefer that and some people have a mixer tap. Most fitted kitchens have had mixer taps for 40 years. We certainly had a mixer tap in my kitchen when I was a child and we had one for the bath and shower. But for the bathroom sink we had 2 individual taps. It all depends on what someone wants.
peter_olsztyn 6 | 1,098
2 Jan 2015 #59
InWroclaw What do you think about aluminium wiring? There is some where I am, along with copper too.

Aluminium tend to heat more than Cu and crack easily when moved with loose socket. In older (2-wire) instalations there is a danger of breaking PEN wire and Live voltage can appear on metal parts of appliances. You can change it for Cu 3x1.5mm2 for lights, 3x2.5mm2 for sockets and 3x4mm2 for kitchen appliances (if heavy loads installed)

Do siego roku!
InWroclaw 89 | 1,911
2 Jan 2015 #60
I'll assume from that a rewire to the box is better than a risky join or pigtail.

Do siego roku!

Thanks :)


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