Your browser is no longer supported

For the best possible experience using our website we recommend you upgrade to a newer version or another browser.

Your browser appears to have cookies disabled. For the best experience of this website, please enable cookies in your browser

We'll assume we have your consent to use cookies, for example so you won't need to log in each time you visit our site.
Learn more

A lesson in voltage for the deputy prime minister

Dear Sir,

Below is a letter I have posted to Nick Clegg:

I’m sure you are aware from your science lessons at school that Ohm’s Law taught that the amount of power a circuit (or home) consumed was reliant on the square of the supply voltage.

The voltage supplied to a home in the UK is a nominal 230 V. The 230 V means nothing, it’s just a name.

Power companies are allowed by law to swing from 207 V to 253 V. So at 253 V they sell to the unsuspecting public 20 per cent more than the appliance is rated at, resulting of course in a 20 per cent higher bill.

My voltage is constantly 243-plus V, hence my bill at 243 V being about 11 per cent higher than it needs to be, i.e. (243x243)/(230x230) = 1.116 or (1.116-1) x 100 = 11.6 per cent.

This high voltage results in the early demise of electrical equipment, resulting in an even faster flow of landfill materials.

We no longer provide repair parts made in this country, Napoleon being right when he said that we are a nation of shopkeepers, selling Chinese goods and spare parts.

Parts are not available on the high street. One has to visit a website and await their import, a process of about three weeks as my failed electrical grill would tell you, using up valuable pounds on imports.

I am a conservationist and have had solar panels installed. On a sunny day, these panels have to produce a higher voltage than the power company’s and, since this panel power is fed into the grid, my neighbours on the same local cable as myself will be wondering why their equipment is failing.

Any metallurgist will tell you that any material overworked will fail earlier than the less strained substance.

So my solar panels, working at a higher voltage that has been forced on them by the power supply company, will have a shorter life.

In the days of nationalised power boards, 230 V meant 230+/- 5 per cent. On the continent, the voltage is a nominal 220 V, as it also is in America.

Manufacturers produce for these markets. Hence a higher fail rate of electrical equipment in this country.

How can we make the public aware that voltage 230 should be nearer 230, as it is now just a means of fleecing the population, who are untrained in the robbing ways of power companies?

Any MP who stands up and says we need more power stations, while allowing at the same time poor people to be ripped off, is being nothing
but hypocritical.

The law should be changed to bring voltages to the old +or- 5 per cent. We do not need more nuclear power stations; we can find 10 per cent more power by being honest with the voltage.

Ken Stagg, chartered electrical engineer


Readers' comments (1)

  • Having checked the voltages present at a couple of sites in different parts of the country it is normally within a hair of 250V. Considering the 'old' standard was 240V +/-6% (ie 225-254V) the new standard of 230 +10%/-6% (216-253V) is not a lot different and in fact was chosen to allow the UK to continue with its existing voltages while the rest of europe harmonised on 230V nominal.
    As for the supply being 20% higher than appliance ratings, I suggest a new set of batteries for your calculator as according to mine a 230V appliance subject to 250V is receiving 8% more.
    Finally, I recollect something from one of my electrical courses some years ago that motors or other inductive loads are much less efficient when run below their designed voltage, so just reducing the voltage to the stated 230V would cause more problems than it would solve (bearing in mind that the vast majority of inductive loads in this are probably designed for the original 240V).

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

Have your say

You must sign in to make a comment

Please remember that the submission of any material is governed by our Terms and Conditions and by submitting material you confirm your agreement to these Terms and Conditions. Links may be included in your comments but HTML is not permitted.