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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100 thoughts on “British Plugs Are Better Than All Other Plugs, And Here’s Why

  1. "it's cheaper to just build a fuse in every plug and build the circuit as one loop of cable going round the whole house than to have individual strands going out all over the house"

    I don't understand the British kind of logic here. Isn't it more expensive to build a fuse in every plug than to have less fuses in a central location?

  2. In Europe we have the same features
    the only thing we don’t have is a fuse but it’s inside the appliance you plug

  3. This is a good plug… until the sockets have less clutch power after some use and fall out the socket when you pull on your phone charger.

  4. As someone who has been to Malaysia, I can confirm these plugs are better than the ones we have in Australia. 🙂

  5. I had been wondering why British electrical plugs were so big and particularly when on small simple appliances. Do they also use the 120v or 240v service?

  6. Oooh, I have a plug like this and it's a nightmare it doesn't fit anywhere and it's really hard to come by adapters for it. Now I know where they are from.

  7. By comparison US plugs are really poorly designed and pose real risks. Our GFI outlets are at least a nod towards greater safety. However, your plugs are still big and clunky.

  8. Enhlish plugs are not only plugs with shutterd on them. I have plugs in philippibes, non british, with shutters on them. English plugs are ok but too large i prefer australian 3 pin plugs. All electrical should have a rcd on every switchboard or circuit board.

  9. They are so good that you cannot install socket in bathrooms so, you need to buy an extender to f.. dry your hairs properly.

  10. Also, live and neutral can be wired to opposite pins without affecting function (aside from bypassing fuse)
    BUT
    as earth wire has to go in the right pin, the wire is green and yellow so colourblind people can wire their own plugs too

  11. I've travelled in the USA and Continental Europe and have always thought that British plugs and sockets are much more robust and feel much more secure.

  12. You mean to tell me that all electronics in the UK; phone chargers, microwaves, TVs, radios, ets. have those giant plugs?

  13. Strongly disagree on this Plug design. Such a bulky plug. Have a look at the Swiss T12 Plug. Now that one is superior in every way. Small, same with wiring and insulation, you could never plug it in the wrong way, thanks to T13 Sockets. Never knew there was a copper shortage.

  14. I Stay with the trusty good Schuko system here in Germany. This is (with the french system) One of the safestest on the World.

  15. I went on a journey through space one day, and ended up on the internet. But I can't remember which youtube electrical safety video I watched, because I dropped an electric fire in the bath and got fcukin electrocuted.

  16. Completely agree. British plugs are the best (wish the rest of Europe adopted them).

    Best plug: Type G British plugs

    I've only ever seen 2 other plugs, of those the european one is superior to the american one but worse than the british one.

  17. As far as I know german Plugs are quite similar. But the ground is on top and bottom not with a pin but contacts. Some plugs reqiure you to push the ground contacts to the side so the live pins can get in.

    But there are some thin plugs without ground..

  18. Most of our plugs are 2 pronged. The neutral and ground wires are both ground. Appliances with three prongs in the plug typically have a metal case which is connected to the ground so you can touch the metal case without getting shocked should something be wrong with the wiring.

  19. Shame you never tested European sockets, they are shuttered as well. Expect the the earth is either a pin (France) or a connection in the outside (Spain, Italy…) but the shuttering works that you need equal pressure on Active and Neutral to get the shutters open. Not just earth. Safer. Ring circuits, silly idea. Someone once explained "why" ring circuits to me once, it was due to the guage of the cable, not the wiring going left and right. EU sockets are also recessed, so you can't get anything between the plug and the socket. Personally, I think the UK one is over engineered. Nothing will ever change so I'd not lose much sleep over it.

  20. British plugs are also the worst designed plugs…because if you've ever stepped on one…you know…😵😬🤬OUCH!

  21. What if as a current is coming back through the earth wire, you touch the earth pin? There's no insulation on it and you could easily touch that one and get electrocuted which makes the insulation on the other two pins a bit redundant??

  22. The newest version of the europian plugs have this shutter feature and also the metal isn't exposed when not completely plugged

  23. To be honest, I think the Type23 from switzerland is by far the best.
    A fuse is not required inside the plug anymore and everybody hooking up a cable to a plug knows anyways that the ground wire needs to be the longest.
    It is only a third as big as the one from britain or germany, is made for 16A and you also can't get electrocuted while plugging it in.
    The only downside is that the wall socket doesen't necessarily have a barrier for stupid kids. Some do have but most don't. But you can just replace the plastic plate of the wall socked for around 2 dollars if you want one. You don't need to replace the whole wall socket.

  24. Yea but how do you guys in Britain do away with bad genetics if the stupid kids can’t stick metal objects in the power outlets?

  25. Sorry Tom this is patriotic carp and I´m from the UK but have lived abroad long enough… Continental plugs have insulated legs, recessed sockets, port curtains, etc etc so are just as safe. I have no idea how you arrive at the conclusion that a ring main with an antiquated sacrificial fuse at the device is safer than spur circuits with a plethora of RCD breakers on every circuit… And top of all it´s much much nicer to stand barefoot in the dark on a continental plug than a UK plug, end of!

  26. I don't get why, when opening the plug, you also took out the screws for the cable clamp, and then didn't even mention that. The cable clamp means if someone does pull the cable you don't need to worry about the neutral and live wires getting pulled out cause the clamp is holding all of them in at the base.

  27. The thing is which those, to can go to the dollar store and get a plug in America, but have to go to a "Bestbuy" or whatever they have and spend 15$ to get a female and male plug.

  28. Stupid Brits always brag how superior they are. American plugs also have shutters and are much smaller and easier to handle. No ridiculous switches on every wall socket in the house.

  29. Jokes on you, I put my thumb directly on an exposed outlet. Idc about wire safety.
    That is an awesome plug though
    Also dang, am I the only American? We got those super safe, sometimes 3 prong plugs. The prongs are metal. Some more country Americans break off the ground prong.

  30. European is nearly same except with round connectors. They dont bend as easily. Safety plugs are now everywhere. They take lot of Pressure to insert something. Smaller kids arent really capable or pushing something in.

  31. Sounds like the only improvement that can be made is making the ground plug in a shape that only allows it to be plugged in, in the correct orientation. That would protect that last 1% of extra clever babies.

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

  33. 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 😉

  34. "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.

  35. 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!

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

  37. 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.

  38. 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.

  39. 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

  40. 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.

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