Power Mad!


Some days when I go to plug something in you can hear some pretty choice four letter words ring through the house!  Yet again, someone has removed the only adapter that will run my laptop/hairdryer/whatever from the chosen socket.  I keep buying more….but there’s never, ever enough!  All I want to do is dry my hair and I have to go through an IQ test of adapter puzzle pieces and there’s always one missing!

Basically here’s the problem:

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Small version of round three pin socket.

Here in Nepal we have our own, very original, socket design.  No, that’s not a British pin configuration….the holes are round.  To add to this… the Nepali sockets come in two sizes: small and large.  I guarantee that no plug adapter that you own comes with a round three-pin choice.  I know ours doesn’t.  No problem.  You can buy them on the local market.

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Large version of same. They look pretty similar, don’t they?

Of course we make the Nepalese power socket confusion a lot worse by adding our own variety of world plugs into the mix:

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That’s a Greek plug on the left, a British plug in the middle, and an American two prong plug on the right. How to get a these square plugs into round holes?!

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This is the required adapter. Don’t forget….you need them for both the large size sockets and the small size ones that are randomly dispersed around the house.  If you like puzzles you can figure out how the various different style plugs fit in. We have them all!

We won’t even get into the necessary colour-coding required not to blow up our 110v devices in 220v power sockets:

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Red is 220v. Green is 110v. All power here is 220v, but the Embassy supplies step down voltage adapters so you can run your US equipment off the local power supply. Just plug it in right!

So let’s take the example of this very laptop which is — fortunately– dual voltage so you can forget about the need for orange or green tags. Much more relevant here is that the laptop has an American three-prong grounded plug.  THE worst offender of the bunch.  Of course from a safety point of view that isn’t true….but from a “how the f**k am I going to plug this in?” perspective…its a nightmare.   Let me explain:

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This is what it takes to plug in my laptop in some locations: Converter from 3-pin round Nepali to two-pin American, plus a second converter to three pin. Oh…and make sure you have the right size Nepali converter before you run all the way upstairs again…. Oh and the housing for the Nepali to US 2-pin isn’t very tight.  One yank and it sparks or falls out.

To date, I have only managed to fry one device:  a 110v Cuisinart mini-blender with no green tag that met its demise in a 220v socket only days after Amazon delivered it.  (Gotta have the tag!) But I was recently talking about kitchen appliances with FS friends where we were agreed that buying cheap appliances is a waste of money. They don’t work well and break in five minutes.  But when you invest hundreds of dollars in a quality blender that will last forever, you need to remember that “forever” may come sooner than you think if someone (most vulnerably household help) absentmindedly plugs the darn thing in the wrong hole.  Of course, the odds go down here in Nepal because someone has already taken the friggin’ adapter anyway!

5 thoughts on “Power Mad!

  1. For starters, why not simply change out all the sockets connected to the transformed 110V current to American-type-two-slit-plus-one-round-pin safety sockets? Then put SUKO-only adapters in all the many holed 220V sockets (or change them out too to SUKO) Then cut off all the pesky, bulky English plugs from all the English appliances and replace them with SUKO plugs. A couple of APO deliveries, one Saturday’s work and a good solder iron, and no more confusion.

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    • Unfortunately we can’t go around changing landlord property or USG property adapters. And we don’t want to mess with our English plugs which fit much more universally worldwide into international sockets. Its the American ones that cause the most issues. We are slowly trying to phase out American appliances…but its a process of waiting for them to die out first!

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      • I thought Robert was IN CHARGE of all the USG property issues there. Can’t he make an executive decision? If they transformed down the current to 110v so Americans can use their appliances, surely it would only be sensible to have the right sockets. You may remember we did this in the Iulianou kitchen. But I agree that it makes sense to phase out all US appliances if you never plan to live there again. I am still carting around my heavy Cuisinart with its elaborate set of attachments but rarely use it because I then have to lug the even heavier transformer from the utility room (from where it runs the excellent irreplaceable old Hoover via a 40 meter extension cord) to the kitchen. I am still living in the era where you could only GET good appliances in the US—long gone.

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