Electrical systems: European Vs American

Most people travelling to Europe, especially from America, often have problems with their electronics as there is a difference between the American and European power systems. Most countries globally, including Europe, utilise the 50-hertz 220-volt system. Some other countries, such as the US, utilise the 60 hertz, 110-volt system. The 60-hertz 110-volt system is believed to be safer. Appliances from each of the two systems are designed only to work when plugged into the particular system. In addition, the diverse countries utilise different plugs, and there are various plug adapter kits to interconnect between the two countries. It is, however, essential to ask for professional help when using the plug adaptors as some appliances would pose a risk when put in a different system than that it is made to operate in. for instance, in Europe, the voltage is twice that of the US, and though today many appliances are being made such that they can adapt to changes in voltage, those not possible to adapt can pose hazards. If a device doesn’t have the capability of withstanding 200 volts and the 50-hertz frequency, it will fail.  To know whether there’s a need for a voltage converter, look at an informational panel, usually at the electrical device’s backside. Most manufacturers list the ability of their equipment to handle both voltages on this panel. In addition, to ensure the safety of your devices, even the electrical supply to your home must be constant and without surges. Having a reliable energy provider will ensure the stability of your supply. To get a dependable energy supplier for your home, use review sites such as Britainreviews.co.uk to look at energy providers comparison UK online reviews. Avoid the negatively reviewed companies, and this way, you’ll get a dependable energy supplier. The main differences between the two systems are discussed below.

Major differences in the two systems

Typically, the European electrical distribution system has bigger transformers, and one transformer tends to feed more clients. In addition, a majority of transformers in Europe are three-phase, meaning they can carry large currents of about 300-1000kVA, which is greater than the 25 -50 KVA  current carried by single-phase units in the American system.


As far as flexibility is concerned, the system in North America has a primary design that’s more flexible, while in Europe, the secondary design is what that’s more flexible. In urban areas, electrical distribution systems in Europe take advantage of the secondary’s flexibility; for instance, it is possible to conveniently site transformers. However, in rural areas and other areas where there is a more spread out load, the American primary system is more suitable.


Normally, the American system has few interruptions for clients compared to the European systems studies have shown that the European system has a 35% higher rate of interruptions than the American system.


When it comes to cost, the European system is more costly. However, certain variables are hard to compare on a one-on-one basis. For the layout and types of load in Europe, the European system performs better.

The quality of power

 Of the two, the European system performs better in terms of momentary interruptions and voltage surge. The Europeans uses a three-wire system in its distribution which offers protection of sags caused by line to ground faults.


The fact that the European system has a more flexible secondary make it easier to steal power. This is a major issue in developing countries using the European system. It is common for these countries to use storied buildings to loop the secondaries of their distributions. Thus, it doesn’t need much skill to attach your conductors and steal the power with ease of access.


The North American system distribution system has a multi-ground neutral, which offer various safety benefits. The system’s protection can clear faults reliably while the neutral functions as a physical barrier and averts hazardous touch voltages that occur during faults.


The fact that the European distribution system has less primary makes it have an aesthetic advantage. It is easier to underground the secondary. When undergrounded, typically, underground systems have lesser transformer locations and a secondary reach that is also longer, making positioning easier.

How the different distribution systems came to be

The three-phase AC electrical distribution and generation system was invented by Nikola Tesla in the 19th century. After performing various measurements and calculation, he discovered that the best AC generation frequency was 60Hertz (Hz) and favoured 240 volts, putting him at odds with Thomas Edison, who had a 100-volt direct current system. The 50hz came about when Germany built its initial facilities to generate electricity as the number 60 did not fit the sequence of the standard metric unit.

In conclusion, this article compares the electrical systems in America and Europe, providing the reader with some helpful insights.