December 2, 2002

Silly Switches

Category: Design

London: Why do electrical outlets have on/off switches on them in the UK? As a fairly clueless foreigner it only occurs to me to switch them on after several minutes of wondering why the appliance I just plugged in isn't working. Obviously, I will have to adjust, but why is the switch there in the first place? Is the electricity going to leak out if they're left on? ;-)

Posted by Nick at December 2, 2002 12:48 PM



In Denmark the outlet swithc is seen as the standard solution. The switch actually can carry some advantages such as:
Easy access - maybe the switch/outlet is easyer to reach than the button on the appliance.
Energy saving - most modern appliances are left in stand by mode. This uses power and adds up quite a bit on your electricity bill. By using the outlet switch all power can be cut off, thus saving electricity. Don't do this on your clock radio or vcr though ;-)

Auggie "switches are nice" Balls

Posted by: Auggie at December 4, 2002 3:16 PM

As a person who grew up in continental Europe but has lived in London for the last 15 years, I can see both sides of that argument. The switch on UK power sockets can be seen to have some (minor) advantages, if only the ability to isolate power locally.
I can only guess that they originate from a general UK obsession with safety, presumably to offset otherwise complacent and shoddy building practices.
Amazingly, you'd be surprised how many people born and bred in the UK actually do believe that somehow power will leak into the air if a socket is unplugged and not switched off. Even more infuriating is how some of these people actually seem quite pleased with the crass stupidity of this druid-like belief when informed that this simply CANNOT be the case, and continue to hold on to their belief that the tide of rogue electrons must be kept inside the socket by keepping it switched OFF.

Posted by: Chris at July 22, 2003 6:39 PM

FYI Switches are usually only on dual sockets.

Anyway they are useful, I leave my 6 way computer power adapter plugged into the socket, and turn off the switch every night. The socket is wedged behind a desk so the switch is invaluable.

Posted by: Anonymous at February 15, 2004 4:16 PM