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!]

100 Replies to “British Plugs Are Better Than All Other Plugs, And Here’s Why

  1. The South African plug has the same features(minus the fuse) but the pins are rounded so your feet dont get hurt so badly.

  2. Having a fuse in the plug seems like a real pain in the ass rather than a mechanical fuse in a fuse panel. Also one aspect that makes the US system better is GFCI sockets allowing us to have plugs in our bathrooms 😉

  3. "You'd need a really inventive baby" CHALLENGE ACCEPTED
    I could use a screwdriver at age 2 or so and decided to be helpful when we were moving and removed some outlet covers; I didn't shock myself so I guess by the transitive property if I'm able to not shock myself I'm able to shock myself.

  4. I remember in a Slow-Mo Guys video Dan and Gav complain that American plugs always want to zap you. Now I know what they’re used to!

  5. Brits are SO STUPID ! Do you actually believe this? If you are so smart (if?) then reduce the voltage to 120vac or less. Shezze.

  6. Seriously tho… the plug is great, if still huge. Brits should pump up the voltage to 1,000 volts. To many survivors to shocks. And wire the ground/earth to the fused prong. Yup, that should reduce poverty and unemployment! Ok, use 2,000 volts. Better yet.

  7. Non-Brit here, wondering why you guys have all these plugs laying about on the floor everywhere, that you're stepping on them at night in the dark.

  8. I'm not British but I've grown up in England and tbh I agree the British plug design is so much better where even is the earth cable on the European plug

  9. Of course the huge British plugs are safe because the outlets are unusually dangerous, they can supply 40amps @240 volts, that's why you can't use them in bathrooms.

  10. Soo European plugs sucks? I thought European plugs are the best but it looks i was wrong. And i think the worst plugs are the American and Canadian plugs, because when i try to plug in my charger it leaves an a electric thing and it scares me a bit that. Soo never put your fingers around the lower base oh your charger when you plug it because you can get electroshocked.

  11. Last time I will ever watch one of your videos,
    British Standards, at the time that plug was designed served only one purpose: to make it as difficult as possible for foreign companies to sell in the UK. They had almost nothing to do with good practice or safety.
    The claim was they they were the 'best'. In fact they were generally way over complicated.

  12. This is also used in the Republic of Ireland, for ages I thought this was the plug used everywhere only then did i realize the clever design

  13. 1:10 that would have been true if we were living about 10 years ago, with old european plugs you might be able to put your fingers between the plug and outlet, but the new modern ones have deep outlets, requiring the whole plug to be covered before it touches the contacts in the outlet

  14. Very True! Some mains plugs (USA) are totally crap! Although the older British round pin 15A design was better in contact integrity and therefore lack of overheating, it's a pity Crabtree didn't develop that design further.

  15. Isn't the rectangular profile of the pins part of the design too? To make them easier to pull out than cylindrical ones?

  16. Proud as a British crown colony we have all of these around and when Eu plugs or American plugs gets imported it's basically stupidly useless we just cut the cord

  17. The plugs might be a bit better in design but your service panels are a joke, plastic cases for electrical mains is a horrid idea.

  18. You also forgot that the cable is perpendicular to the pins which means you can't remove the plug by pulling on the cable, unlike with US/EU plugs where the cable is inline to the pins

  19. great except you guys are running 220v! I’ve been hit with 110v several times, not fun, hurts like hell but not life threatening……. at least for a full grown adult.

  20. British plugs suck. They don't fit in UK mailslots, meaning anything you ship with a plug is more expensive and annoying to deliver.

  21. Brazilian plugs are designed for a fork to perfectly fit there if you're a stupid child, 3 circular holes with the middle sligthly abbove so that you don't have any trouble with it

  22. The insulated bits are on most eu plugs now too. And Because of how the socket isnt flat but recessed you cannot reach the live prongs. Also all eu plugs have a ground too. The only thing thats actually better is that safety on the socket.

  23. I am from Lithuania and living in UK and I will agree with you this plugs are safest, and more stable is hard to pule them out from socket, so no accidental pule uot

  24. 1:11 That's not true. European "mainland" C/E/F plugs do not have live electricity when it is possible to touch the prongs. C (euro) plugs' prongs are insulated like the UK ones. E/F plugs completely cover the socket before making contact to electricity.

    Sockets are child-proofed by requiring you to insert the live and neutral prongs simultaneously, only trying to open one hole doesn't work (although this is a fairly new feature, not installed in every household).

    American A/B plugs on the other hand enable you to even put your thumb in there while they already have contact :/

  25. Ahem. It’s all about hertz. US and a few last hold outs after the war did not change due to appliances already in households. 220/60Hz is very dangerous for the heart on single pole service but more efficient than 120/50Hz. The 120/50Hz the US currently uses is not exactly safe but the difference in my opinion is defibrillation of the heart at higher hertz is easier to obtain.

    On the down fall side the 120/ 50Hz service the US uses is grossly inefficient.

    I do see a terrible danger by the circuitry you describe as open and constantly flowing with no breaker is scary. I am certain there is a breaker for that service it is just interrupted at the appliance not to inconvenience others on same circuit line. Simply genius!!!

  26. I feel like the us should redesign plugs so they are safer to use because so many kids put forks and things in outlets the idea of a slot the covers it and only if the plug you place in goes in

  27. Insulation around live & neutral was mostly carried out to prevent idiots wrapping wires around them to power extra externals (bypassing a need for an extension socket)

    Many a Christmas tree lights were once 'connected' to the mains in this fashion.

  28. They're just annoying, though kind of brilliant. The U.S. has half the voltage , and few fatalities. They discourage the use of electricity, cutting the national income. And that's unpatriotic.

  29. The best in the world are in Denmark and Greenland. Why? Because a Type-K outlet looks like it's smiling!
    That's the only way outlets should be judged, who cares about safety when you can be happy committing suicide!
    US outlets (type B) look like a drunk guy.
    Australian/China outlets (type I) look like the "Scream" movie guy, no way should anyone have those in their house, it's a horror movie waiting to attack you in your sleep!

    Sorry but UK plugs are massive!

  30. Another defense mechanism against dumb kids is that the screws keeping the wires in place is a flathead and the one to open the plug casing is a Phillips head. So the kid would need two screwdrivers to pull the wires out.

  31. Things everyone dose went opening a plug that's not needed, unscrew all 3 screws when taking a plug apart . Only the middle screw is needed to open it , the other 2 screw are just for a clamp to stop the wire being pulled out

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