UK- USA Electrical Differences
British vs. American Electric Terms
Almost 5% of visitors to my site are from the UK. To help them feel more at home, I offer this UK- USA Electrical Differences chart.
Within a country there will be some variation in electrical terminology, but between two that have the same language, the generally accepted lingo can be markedly different. In the electrical trade, some of this is due to actual differences in materials, installation, and regulations.
Here are some differences that I have been able to gather from several sites on the internet (not from any experience by me abroad). Please offer me additions. corrections, and comments (feedbk "at" thecircuitdetective dott com), especially if you are a tradesperson or do have dual-nation experience. Also see my American home electrical glossary.
|UK||US / Canada||Comments|
|Miniature circuit breaker||Circuit breaker|
|Ring main or ring circuit||n/a|
|Radial circuit||Branch circuit|
|Live||Hot||This is hotter (230v to earth) in UK than in USA (120v)|
|Multi-strand||Stranded||A core/wire type|
2 core and earth:
2-wire with ground:
Wires in cables:
black or blue (UK)
bare or green (US)
3 core and earth:
blue, yellow, red,
gray, black, brown,
3-wire with ground:
black, white, red,
|Mounting box||Outlet box|
|Junction box||Junction box|
|Ceiling rose||Ceiling light box|
|n/a||Wirenut||UK terminations are part of device or fixture|
|One-way||(Single location)||Switch system|
|Two-way||(Two locations)||Switch system|
|Double plug socket||Duplex receptacle|
|RCD||GFI (GFCI)||30ma trip-setting in UK, 5ma in USA|
So a UK visitor here may wonder if my website is of any use for, say, troubleshooting UK electrical problems. Good question. For specifics, I would say no, since the applicability of things here in the colonies to back home will never be certain. But for basic concepts and approaches to troubleshooting, I would say yes. I'm thinking especially of the overall approach in the Troubleshooting page.
I am fascinated and unsure how problems on a ring circuit would be troubleshot. One bad connection along the ring wouldn't make itself known until a second one on the same line (live or else neutral) showed up. If one of the two were discovered, the other should be pursued also, but finding either would be a bit different than what I suggest about Locating an open.
Yes, UK- USA electrical differences are more than just a difference in words.