I have some lights which I bought in Japan. I have been using them
over here for like 8 years now and they seem to work fine, I have
replaced the light bulbs. One issue is that the plugs are not
polarized, and I think in Japan the voltage is lower at 100v, and
where I was living (Tokyo) was at 50Hz instead of the USA 60Hz.
Are there any issues I should know about? Can I keep using these?
If the plugs are not polarized how do these lamps work safely in
In American fixtures the tongue of an Edison type socket should be connected
to the hot leg as it's the most isolated part of the socket and least likely
part to inadvertently come in contact with any other part of the fixture. If
these lamps use a different type of socket, it may not matter. You can also
replace the plugs with polarized ones
In North America up until about 20 years ago NO lamps came with polarized
plugs, both prongs were the same size. I still have a number of lamps with
non-polarized plugs on them and they still work and are still safe. They
were implemented because some people touch the threaded base on the bulb
when changing them, if the plug is in backwards it could be live and give
the person a shock. It is always a bad practice to touch the bulb base even
with polarized plugs because there is always a chance that it was wired
wrong in the plug or in the light socket.
The paper insulator in brass shell sockets, common in lamps can deteriorate
and if the lamp is wired incorrectly and not polarized, the body of the
fixture can become live. The reason they went to polarized plugs is because
they weren't safe, or at least as safe as they could be.
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