British Plugs Are Better Than All Other Plugs, And Here’s Why

British Plugs Are Better Than All Other Plugs, And Here’s Why


I get a little bit patriotic sometimes. And
sometimes that’s for comedy purposes, and sometimes it’s genuine. And this is genuine. ‘Cos I really do believe that the British
plug is one of the greatest designs that has ever hit the world. For loads of reasons. I mean, there’s the
safety features that most folks, at least in Britain, know. Which is that it’s really difficult for a
kid to take, say, a screwdriver, and just poke it into one of the holes. ‘Cos up here is earth, ground for the Americans,
that’s the safety one. These two here are live and neutral, where
the actual danger is. But they’ve got shutters over them. I cannot — don’t try this at home
— I cannot poke a screwdriver in there right now. What I have to do is plug the earth pin — which
is slightly longer — the ground pin, here — in first. And when that goes in, little
shutters come up, and let the other pins in. So I can show that. ‘Cos this extension here
is really badly designed, which means I can put the plug in upside down. So if you have
a look at those shutters, when I put the earth pin in… …there we go. And there’s now a contact
for the other two pins. So you need to have a really inventive baby
to be able to put one in there and another in there and then get a shock. So that’s safer,
that’s brilliant. What about if you leave the plug half way
out? ‘Cos American and European sockets, you leave
the plug half way out, you’ve got live electricity that you can kind of touch. If you can get
a finger in there. Well, not here. ‘Cos on the live and neutral pins on the bottom,
you can see insulation extends half way through them. If the plug is far enough in to make
a connection… Like that. …all you can touch is the insulation. Okay. So that’s the obvious safety features. What about on the inside? ‘Cos you’ve got to remember, until 1992, the
British government did not require that electrical appliances had plugs on them. If you bought
a toaster or a washing machine, you would get, almost always, a bare wire at the end. And you’d be expected to wire the plug yourself. So I got taught how to wire a plug in school.
‘Cos that was still a required skill back then. Here we go. If I open this up… First: there’s a fuse. And that’s an artifact
of when the standard was made. Post-WW2, there was a copper shortage, and it was a lot cheaper
to require a fuse in every plug and just build the circuit as one loop of cable going round
the whole house than it was to have loads of individual copper strands going out all
over the house and a fuse for each. So they just made the house one giant circuit,
put a fuse in each plug. That’s now safer. Then you’ve got the three wires. Blue is neutral. B-L, L for left, blue goes
to the left. Brown is live. B-R, R goes to the right. Live
goes to the right. You can also remember that live is brown because
that’s the colour your trousers will go if you accidentally hit yourself with it. And finally, there’s this one. Green and yellow.
That’s the earth, or the ground wire. Now in normal operation, that shouldn’t be used,
but it’s basically a return path if all else fails. If something goes electrically wrong in the
plug or in the appliance, that will ground it and all the electricity will safely go
away from people. ‘Cos if that disconnects, and there’s a problem,
well, you could touch the metal bit of this toaster and the electricity could ground itself
through you, and through your heart. Which is bad. So instead, you have this wire here. And this
is the really clever bit, this is the bit that not many people know about. You see that slack in the wire just here?
In the event there’s a tug on this cable, something goes wrong, and all these start
fraying and coming out, the live and the neutral, the ones where the danger is, they’ll get
pulled out first. And then, the earth wire will come out next. So in the event of damage, of fraying, it’s
most likely that the earth wire is going to be the safe one, and no-one’s going to get
killed. So there you go: the British plug. Genuinely
one of the best bits of design I’ve ever come across, with one exception, which is that
if you just let it fall on the ground because you’re just throwing something out of the
way… …it will almost certainly end up with the
points pointing upwards. Which means in the middle of the night, when you stand on it,
it is really going to hurt. You can also remember that because the live
one is brown, because that is the colour your trousers will go if you accidentally hit yourself
with it. Er, and the big yellow and… …you OK there? [LAUGHTER] “I didn’t see that coming!” No-one ever does. Erm… [Translating this video? Add your name here if you’d like credit!]

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