Why did North America not use 220v

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5,532
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Canada
It seems most of the world (other than some 3rd world countries) use 220v-230v which I imagine is more efficient. How come we got stuck with 110V?
 
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25,814
Location
Upstate NY
Many countries have a transformer and run it a long ways down the road before the next. Using 220V allows thinner gauge wire to be used before the voltage drop is excessive. The US has a better setup with transformers more often. I am sure overseas if you are near the transformer its 240V and at the end its 220V.
 
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418
Location
Va
We were just discussing this very topic at work two days ago. We couldn't come up with a valid answer for why we use 110 here.
 
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531
Location
ca.
Originally Posted By: 901Memphis
We use 120v in the US, its not been 110v for decades.
Yes this is true Im a lineman and I work for so cal edison. We provide 116 to 122 to the customers panel.
 
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36,461
Location
ME
I had heard it was because it was less lethal, but that source is as informed as you guys. LOL As a kid I watched an electrician change an outlet while working "hot", touching it for good measure/ show. "Yup, it's on..."
 
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Location
S California
When I lived in Greece the outlets for the bathroom were outside the bathroom, not inside like I expected. Also the Greeks has less use for electricity in the bathroom than here in America.
 
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Southeastern, PA
Originally Posted By: eljefino
I had heard it was because it was less lethal, but that source is as informed as you guys. LOL As a kid I watched an electrician change an outlet while working "hot", touching it for good measure/ show. "Yup, it's on..."
I'd agree with the "less lethal" (but, yes, 120 can kill you too). Look at all the 230V plugs in the world, they all take extra measures to make sure no fingers can contact the prongs when they're hot. Most plugs have partially insulated prongs, European sockets are recessed, British sockets have shutters covering the holes, etc. Another thing is that 230v packs a real wallop. One time we plugged a piece of open equipment into 230 and something let go. FLASH, BANG, SMOKE, much more exciting than 120.
 
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4,998
Location
Milwaukee, WI
The above article is better than any comment here. To put it short in the US 220/240volts nominal IS supplied to your panel the same way as the rest of the world (frequency varies all around the world) it's just we have the ability to cut that in half with a center tap neutral. The benefit being backwards compatibility and it doesn't require twice the wire to carry the load. The disadvantage being an additional wire from transformer to building. Getting shocked by 110 isn't as bad as your mom told you. Thankfully I've never experienced 220, and given the choice I'd rather not experience either again. What's more dangerous about getting shocked is either falling off a ladder or another secondary/complication injury, or not being able to remove yourself from the situation before you are burnt.
 
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1,697
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Auburn, GA
Basically, because Edison was a hard-core egomaniac, and a complete douchenugget. And tried to 1-up Tesla (and was usually wrong in the end, nearly every single time) at every chance he could.
 
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12,925
Location
Northern Kentucky
We have 480v at work, i have seen the big pop, boom, spark at least a few times when a forklift took the end of the line with the lift by mistake. The things drop down everywhere. It happens loud and fast though, and trips the breaker faster. The forklift will pull the end of the socket off and the bare wires touch the metal of the lift and it trips. Pretty startling to most.
 
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17,238
Location
Upper Midwest
That's gotta be one of the dumbest posts I've ever seen. You pay for watt-hours, not amps. It's the same regardless of the voltage. You pay for power, plain and simple.
Originally Posted By: Chris142
we dont pay for electricity. we pay for amps used.110v -120v uses nearly 2x the amps that 220-240 uses.they can charge us more and make more profit.
 
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47,786
Location
Everson WA - Pacific NW USA
Not sure where you guys live, but my house has 240V and 120V. Most everything by count is now very efficient on 120V and where not, then I use 240V. 240V doesn't make all that much sense to step down to power by cell phone charger, for example. Anyway I defer to Shannow on this subject.
 
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10,713
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MA
Originally Posted By: kschachn
That's gotta be one of the dumbest posts I've ever seen. You pay for watt-hours, not amps. It's the same regardless of the voltage. You pay for power, plain and simple.
Originally Posted By: Chris142
we dont pay for electricity. we pay for amps used.110v -120v uses nearly 2x the amps that 220-240 uses.they can charge us more and make more profit.
You beat me to it. Up there with the dumbest thing ever said, but I'm sure someone else will beat it one day, but probably not for a while. Volts X Amps = Watts. You pay by the watt or kilowatt. Usually if you look at a motor that can run at either 120 or 240, at 240 it uses half the amps so it's the same amount of watts.
 
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11,844
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PA
Originally Posted By: kschachn
That's gotta be one of the dumbest posts I've ever seen. You pay for watt-hours, not amps. It's the same regardless of the voltage. You pay for power, plain and simple.
Watts = volts * amps. More volts means fewer amps needed to get the same wattage.
 
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17,238
Location
Upper Midwest
Please show me the amp meter attached to your house and explain how you are paying for amperes. I will concede that my degree is a BSME, not BSEE. But I did work for several years in the electrical power generating industry.
Originally Posted By: d00df00d
Originally Posted By: kschachn
That's gotta be one of the dumbest posts I've ever seen. You pay for watt-hours, not amps. It's the same regardless of the voltage. You pay for power, plain and simple.
Watts = volts * amps. More volts means fewer amps needed to get the same wattage.
 
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1,502
Location
Ohio
In the context of the original thread title, I thought it was because Edison's original 110 volt DC system still had tons of electric lights that would work fine at 110 AC, so it didn't make sense to convert to 220 and have to replace them. I believe 110 was also thought to be a little safer than 220.
 
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