5 October, 2015
Allies of Gastronomy: Electricity
Electricity is one of the principal forms of energy used in the world and is naturally a great ally to gastronomy. Without electricity certain forms of communication would not exist…, transport would not be what it is today…, and of course we would not be able to use some of the industrial kitchen equipment so enjoyed by chefs (ovens, refrigeration cabinets, blast chillers, fryers…).
A short history to help you understand electricity
The distribution and generation system for three-phase alternating current electricity was invented by Nikola Tesla. After many calculations and careful measurements, Nikola discovered that 60 Hz (Hertz, cycles per second) were the best frequency for the generation of alternating current energy (CA). He preferred 240 volts, disagreeing with Thomas Edison, whose direct current systems (DC) were 110 volts.
After many calculations, over the years voltage frequencies have been modified and established, with the objective of generating fewer losses and adapting the capacity of the electricity to the needs of consumers. Today, most of the world used 220-240 V (50 or 60 Hz). Only in a few countries does the electricity system operate at 100-127 volts (Canada, Cuba, the United States, Korea…).
Power sockets and plugs
Although electricity was originally introduced to the domestic environment to provide lighting, over the years it led to a veritable social change with extraordinary implications for society, starting with lighting and moving on to all types of industrial processes (electric motor, metallurgy, refrigeration…) and the communications system (telephony). Even so it should be noted that there is no standard voltage or frequency for the whole world.
At present, the design of the plug, the shape of the power socket holes, the size of the pins and of the wall socket are different in many cases. With respect to plugs for example, there are 14 different types, as most countries have chosen to design their own plug without first agreeing on the design with other countries. To solve this problem, we have two options: change the plug to the standard plug in the country in question or buy an adapter (the latter option solves half the problem, as it does not help with the possible difference in voltage). We should also mention that the lack of standards with respect to voltage, frequency and plugs results in unnecessary costs.
A diagram is given below showing the different power sockets and pins used around the world:
As you can see, there are several varieties, although with respect to plugs, types A, C & G are the most common.
Type A: This plug has two flat parallel pins. These are the standard plugs used in the majority of North America and Central America.
Type C: Used in all of Europe except in the United Kingdom, Ireland, Cyprus and Malta. They are known as the “Europlug”.
Type G: Type G plugs are large and have three rectangular pins laid out in the form of a triangle. These are mainly used in the United Kingdom, Ireland, Cyprus, Malta, Malaysia, Singapore and Hong Kong.
During our business travel, we have often encountered many different types of electric voltage and plug, an aspect that we have had to remember to avoid upsetting situations. We hope this information is of use to you.