Pedal Boards and electrical supply 2


A bit of background on electricity, UK and EU ratings, What does it mean ?

This is the first in a small series of blogs on guitar pedal boards and what one should think about when buying power souces and pedals. This is more importent when you are using individual transformers for each pedal plugged into an extention lead with several plug sockets or a power source pack. Using batteries does not have this problem but it is tedious changing them, keeping a stock and battery failure.
The first thing to look at is of course electricity as this is what makes our guitars, amplifiers and any other accessories work. As we all know, the electicity rating is different for different countries.
For many years, mainland Western Europe has used a mains electricity supply rated at nominally 220VAC 50Hz. The UK used 240VAC 50Hz. The standard in the United States is 120VAC and 60Hz. Note VAC=Voltage alternating currant and Hz means Hertz the cycle. 
To compensate for UK AND EU differences  a change in the tolerances of previously existing supply standards. UK voltage  to 240VAC + 6% and – 10% and European to 220VAC +10% and -6%  (thereby creating a manageable overlap) were made and we would call these two combined 230VAC, despite the fact that nobody was intentionally generating at 230VAC! 
Depending on the voltage sensitivity of the pedal and the variance from nominal of the actual supplied voltage, it may not be advisable to use a 220VAC specific device in the UK or a 240VAC specific device in Mainland Europe etc.
For instance a 240VAC supply can rise to as high as 254.4VAC and still be within tolerance, but the maximum rated voltage for a 220VAC product is only 242VAC. A 220VAC supply can drop as low as 206.8 within tolerance but the minimum rated voltage for correct operation of a 240VAC product is 216 VAC. It may work perfectly well either way but it could be, technically, outside the specification of the equipment with obvious implications.

A 230VAC product must be compatible with all voltages across this range

If a product is to be used in the UK a 240VAC rated device is ideal but either 240VAC or 230VAC products can be used with confidence.

If a product is to be used in mainland Europe or Irish Republic a 220VAC rated device is ideal but either 220VAC or 230VAC products can be used with confidence.

The main thing to take from this is allways check that your accessories come within the tolerences of your mains supply and the transformer used. The UK and EU are generally compatable. This is not the case with the US rating !!
The next important thing to consider with an extention lead is weather using  a transformer or  a power pack:
1) Surge protection. This protects against any high voltage surge that may happen on the network
2) Individual switching for each socket and with a light indicator so you have control over how many are used.
3) Child protection. If you have children get one that is child protected, you never know what the little ones get up to ! 
4) Make sure the extention is fused.
5) Indoor or outdoor use ?
6) Minimal cable lenght
7) In some cases the MilliAmpere (mA) rating of your pedal is also important and the tranformer or power pack must be compatable. I will come back to this later.
It is important the the primary sourse of power is correct or pedla etc will either not work correctly or work but porly
In the next blog we will look at cables and why there should in general be of minimal lenght this will involve a bit of science 🙂

Published by Filip Solberg

Bespoke built custom guitars in the East Neuk of fife Scotland. We build high quality guitars to exact details of the customer. Pick ups, woods and all hardware are specifically chosen based on tone and play-ability required. We do not have any stock guitars these are built for order only.

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