# Current by Country

Why is the United States one of the very countries that uses 120VAC/60Hz, while the majority of other countries use ~220VAC/50-60Hz?
Just curious...
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Wayne in Phoenix

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Don't know why probably when electricity came out 120 or 220 was easier to send over distances then it changed
Found this site here
http://kropla.com/electric2.htm
Wayne in Denver

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Thanks, Wayne. That's a very interesting link and comprehensive list.

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Wayne in Phoenix

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My understanding is that it's due to the high cost of copper. By distributing 220, you can get by with much less copper.

120VAC/60Hz,
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Wayne wrote:

http://www.ieee.org/organizations/history_center/faqs.html
just to start.
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Grandpa Koca - SAHD for 6 - Keeper of the Perpetual Kindergarten

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Thanks, Grampa! Great site with more things to explore.
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Wayne in Phoenix

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Wayne wrote:

Same reason we use foot-pound-second instead of meter-kilogram-second. The other countries are nimwits.
Seriously, though. Have you ever tried to plug in a clock in a UK outlet? The plug is bigger than the appliance! Bunch of nimwits, you ask me. Some even eat unspeakable things.
There are those who say the metric system is simpler. Check:
"A pint's a pound the world around!"
"A kilogram is 1000 cubic centimeters (where a centimeter is 1/(big number) of the distance from the North Pole to the Equator measured along the Prime Meridian) of water at it's maximum density (3.7 degrees centigrade).
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Wrong. Hint: US and Imperial pints are different. Dry versus liquid?

How often do you actually _use_ the base definition of a unit of measurement?
If you think Kg is defined silly, try foot - is that a imperial or US survey foot?
http://www.wordiq.com/definition/Foot_ (unit_of_length)
At least with SI, you can actually _measure_ the reference standard. With non-SI, you can't. Or, do they have King whatisname's foot in formaldehyde somewhere?
My favourite sillyness is the "penny" unit of measurement for nails. Talk about useless.
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Chris Lewis, Una confibula non set est
It's not just anyone who gets a Starship Cruiser class named after them.
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It may have made sense a hundred years ago.
Nail sizes Nails are usually sold by the pound (either in bulk or in boxes). In the United States of America, the length of a nail is designated by its penny size. It is believed that the origin of the term "penny" in relation to nail size is based on the old custom in England of selling nails by the hundred. A hundred nails that sold for sixpence were "six penny" nails. The larger the nail, the more a hundred nails would cost. Thus the larger nails have a larger number for its penny size. The penny size is written with a number and the abbreviation d for penny (e.g. - 10d). D is an abbreviation for denarius, a Roman coin similar to a penny; this was the abbreviation for a penny in the UK before decimalisation. A smaller number indicates a shorter nail and a larger number indicates a longer nail. Nails under 1-1/4 in., often called brads, are sold mostly in small packages with only a length designation (e.g. 1/2", 1-1/8", etc.).
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Probably not even then. How long do you think the cost of a given quantity of the same nail stayed the same price?
The thing that matters with nails is length and type. Not weight or price (a century or more ago).
It's particularly silly these days when you realize that these days totally different nail types of the same length yet different weights have the same penny designation.
It's just a bit of jargon that "professional carpenters" can use to make their craft more opaque to DIYers.
You need a table to figure out how long they are.
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Chris Lewis, Una confibula non set est
It's not just anyone who gets a Starship Cruiser class named after them.
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Nah, no table needed. Lets say you want a 2 1/2" nail That is 8d. You subtract 1/2" from the dimension and then multiply the remaining number by 4 to get the penny size.
No, wait, you add a half inch on sizes over 3". Oh, wait. you multiply the pennies in your pocket by the last digit of your social security number.
See, it real is simple. For nails with heads, just add up the number of letters in your first name, divided by your age and then . . . . . .
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120v was arbitrarily chosen by Edison. We were lighting homes and factories and streets before Europe. But that was DC current. Westinghouse invented the poly-phase generator which not only was more efficient generating 120v a/c it also had the added bonus of providing 220v between phases and required no neutral return (actually it did, but it came later.)
Therefore, using polyphase a/c current, 3x as much power could be distributed using only 50% more copper conductor than Edison's DC system.
As research and development in electrical distribution systems ( both city-wide and within a premisis) progresses, the Europeans decided to go with the higher voltage as a standard, but used far less copper conductor.
On an American 14 awg, 15 ampere 120v circuit one could load 1800 watts. If it were a 220v circuit it could handle double that wattage - and uses no more copper.
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snipped-for-privacy@aol.com (HA HA Budys Here) wrote in

Hmmm... That's very interesting. Are there any differing safety factors between the 120 and 220 volt systems?
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Wayne in Phoenix

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