Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Not plugged in

Italy is a developed country, right? So you'd think that something as simple as plugging something into an electrical outlet would be straightforward. Well, you'd have thought wrong. That’s because in addition to the power in most apartments being limited to 3 kW (which is apparently low enough that you can’t iron when you’re running the washing machine, though you can choose to pay for more power), there are three different systems of electrical plugs and outlets, each one incompatible with the others. I ran into this problem yesterday, when I bought a microwave and wanted to plug it in. It turned out that the microwave had a Schuko plug (bottom left), which doesn’t fit into the socket in the kitchen (top left). Also, I bought a power strip at Ikea so that I could plug in both my laptop and external hard drive at the same time (that’s another thing – there are never enough sockets in Italian apartments), but it had a 16 A three-prong plug (bottom center), which has a different prong spacing and thickness than the 10 A outlet (top right) that is in place where I have my computer stuff.

So today, I went to a hardware store to stock up on adapters. In addition to several Schuko to 16 A adapters, I also got a 3-to-1 10 A adapter, so that I can plug in my computer stuff. The result, including the plug adapters that convert from US plugs to European standard plugs, is pictured bottom right. Somehow I get the feeling that even though all these systems were designed to be incompatible for safety reasons, all of these adapters and multisockets end up making it all the more dangerous.

1 comment:

Working Title said...

And I thought I was screwed when I forgot my adapter in the office last Wednesday, and could only use my computer for 3 hours battery time.
But this plug mess is absolutely hilarious!