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Topic: Technical Issues for Expats: Understanding Electrics, Phones, TVs and more ...  (Read 55332 times)

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I'm extremely unhappy that the lamp thing is apparently a myth. I have two floor lamps and a table lamp that I'm VERY attached to (I looked FOREVER to find ones that I liked - I'm quite picky about things like that) and have been plotting to bring them over.  :\\\'(


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Anne,

It's true that if you just change the plug and screw in a 240V bulb the lamp will work, and of course people have done this.

The problem is that some types of U.S. lampholder/switch assemblies really aren't designed for the higher voltage, hence my words of caution, as obviously I would not want to suggest that anybody should do something which is potentially risky (and you do not want to be bitten by 240 volts!).  

If you are especially attached to your lamps though, there are a couple of options:

#1.  Have somebody see if the fittings are suitable for the higher voltage.  You might be in luck!   There are so many designs and types that it's impossible to say for sure without actually seeing them.

#2.  Change the lampholders/switches for suitable types.  You could either have this done before you leave (America has 240V too, just not normally for bedside lamps!) or bring the lamps with you and change them here.

You can buy complete holder/cord assemblies in stores for a couple of pounds or so.  So long as you can figure a way to physically thread the cord and attach the new lampholder in place of the old one, it's not that difficult.     People often do this sort of replacement here for a vintage lamp where the cord and holder are getting beyond safe use.  It's more fiddly than technical.

This all applies to regular filament lamps with just a bulb and a simple switch.  If you have any fancy modern types with touch dimmers and such like, or fluorescent lamps then all bets are off, as the situation is a lot more complex.



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You can buy complete holder/cord assemblies in stores for a couple of pounds or so.  So long as you can figure a way to physically thread the cord and attach the new lampholder in place of the old one, it's not that difficult.     People often do this sort of replacement here for a vintage lamp where the cord and holder are getting beyond safe use.  It's more fiddly than technical.

This is what I was hoping to do and am so glad to hear it's as easy as rewiring an American lamp which I've done before.  Of all my lamps, only about three are new, all are vintage 50's or older, so I really want to bring them and at least try to make them workable.  I think of all the "stuff" I will be dragging over with me, for some reason my lamps I think will give me the most comfort from home.  I have no way of knowing this, I just think it will be the case.

~Liza
"Be not the slave of your own past - plunge into the sublime seas, dive deep, and swim far, so you shall come back with self-respect, with a new power, with an advanced experience, that shall explain and overlook the old."  ~Ralph Waldo Emerson


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The GSM-World website keeps information on networks, roaming agreements, and so forth.    The situation is changing all the time, of course, so allow for the fact that it can take a while for the site to be updated.


http://www.gsmworld.com/roaming/gsminfo/cou_gb.shtml

http://www.gsmworld.com/roaming/gsminfo/cou_us.shtml
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Nice one Paul....very informative.


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Yeah thanks so much. We're leaving for London in 13 days and this has been invaluable information!
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ADSL CONNECTIONS

ADSL stands for Assymetric Digital Subscriber Line, and is the system employed to provide broadband internet connections over e regular telephone line.   The assymetric designation refers to the fact that data from the server to your home is transferred at a faster rate than that in the opposite direction.

Filters are used to allow simultaneous use of the line without the broadband data causing interference to a normal phone call.   In simple terms, this means that any digital connection must be direct to the line, while all telephones (and answering/fax machines etc.) must be connected via a filter in some way.   

Many of the basic broadband packages will include a couple of plug-in microfilters with the broadband modem.    Once ADSL service is turned on, you will need to connect your phones via these filters.   

While this method works, it can be a little annoying having to hang filters at every place a phone is in use, and if you have many extensions the cost of individual microfilters can soon add up.

A better approach is to have the house wiring fitted with a master filter.    If you look at the master telephone jack in a modern British installation you'll see that the lower section which holds the actual jack is a removable panel.   Filters are available which are designed to simply be connected and fitted in place of this panel.  Here's a typical example from ADSL-Nation:




If you require a broadband connection only at your master-jack location, then installing one of these units is all you need.  All your other telephone extensions can  be wired through this master filter, obviating the need to provide separate filters for every phone around the house.

If you want broadband available at other points, then the existing single-jack phone outlets can be changed for sockets which include an ADSL jack.  This might or might not entail running new cable to the location(s), depending upon the type which was installed originally.

The basic principles involved here are exactly the same as ADSL service in America.  The differences are just in the physical arrangements, connections, and socket types.     Note that the jacks used for ADSL connections here are similar to American types, even though the basic telephone plugs are different.

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Another site you may find useful for cellphone coverage back home in the States:

www.wirelessadvisor.com

You can enter any ZIP code, or select by major city for a list of systems operating in the area.

Note that the 800MHz GSM services listed by this website are not yet another band; they're just the 850MHz band by a different name.
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Re: Technical Issues for Expats: Understanding Electrics, Phones, TVs and more .
« Reply #23 on: September 06, 2005, 11:19:36 AM »
Paul, perhaps it might be worth mentioning the concept of "Freeview". I just discovered this yesterday. For those of us who are only interested in receiving about 30 basic channels, this is a much better deal than cable or satellite.  There is no monthly fee or contract required. You simply buy the digital set-top box, which runs about 50 quid, and then plug in your rooftop or indoor antenna into the box. That's all you ever pay.  (You can get a cheap one at Argos for 29.99 but it lacks several major features, mainly multiple inputs so you can use Freeview and DVD connected to the TV at the same time).  Some of the set-top boxes include slots where you can add top-up cards to receive even more stations, but most of the extra stations aren't worth the extra cost. For details, go to www.freeview.co.uk
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Yep, that's the Digital Terrestrial TV that I mentioned very briefly in the TV section.    I probably should have gone into more detail.

DTT (Freeview) has gradually been rolling out over the last few years.    It works by combining several TV stations in digital form into the space of one conventional TV channel (each group being known technically as a multiplex). 

The network is still being developed, so not all stations are available everywhere yet.  In many places some of the multiplexes are running on lower power than others, so you may be able to receive some of the Freeview channels but not all.  In fact in many areas all multiplexes will not be broadcast on full power until existing analog services are closed down (the date for which is still undecided).

By the way, the "postcode checker" on the Freeview website isn't too accurate, and often shows no coverage when in fact DTT signals can be received just fine (my location is one such example).

There's a more reliable checker on the DTT Group website here:

http://www.dtg.org.uk/retailer/coverage.html

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Re Television Licensing

It always used to be the case that a license was needed only to install and use equipment capable of receiving broadcasts originating or controlled from within the United Kingdom.   That meant that it was quite legal to install a satellite dish pointed at a satellite which carried no U.K. broadcasts without a license.

It seems that with no fanfare, the Communication Act 2003 made an amendment to this rule to close what the government regarded as a loophole.     A license is now required to receive ANY broadcast material, whether U.K. sourced or otherwise.

Let me emphasize that there is still no requirement to buy a license just to use a TV to watch prerecorded tapes or DVDs, so long as the set is not installed in such a way as to make it capable of receiving broadcasts.

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Not sure if this will help, but it saved us a fortune.

Before we moved to the UK, we bought new computers from Sony including a printer and a projector as the TV. What we spent in dollars would have cost a fortune in pounds and all that was needed upon arrival was a simple visit to PC World for power cables. (Don't forget to change the voltage on the Desktop PC!)
Everything is working great! We have the projector connected to Sky and the sound comes off the set of cheap speakers we bought at PC World.

We did bring other electronics like a wireless router, and small items.
At Comet, we found power adaptors that can connect to just about anything with multiple adaptors for different configurations. Again, saved us a fortune vs. pounds.

Hope this helps - Best of Luck!


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ANALOG TV SHUTDOWN

The proposed schedule for the shutdown of analog transmissions is now known.  You may want to bear this in mind when buying new equipment.  After these dates, you will need to switch to digital terrestrial reception, unless you already have cable or satellite service.

2008, 2nd half- Border (English/Scottish border region)
2009, 1st half - West Country (W. England)
2009, 2nd half- HTV Wales,  Granada  (Wales,  NW England)
2010, 1st half - HTV West, Grampian (W. England, Scottish Highlands)
2010, 2nd half- Scottish TV (Central Scotland)
2011, 1st half-Yorkshire,Anglia,Central (N England,East Anglia,Midlands)
2012, 1st half - Meridian,  Carlton/LWT  (Southern England, London)
2012, 2nd half- Tyne Tees,  Ulster  (NE England, Northern Ireland)

« Last Edit: December 07, 2005, 05:36:56 PM by Paul_1966 »
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Don't know if anyone is still reading this, but Paul seems so knowledgeable that I thought I'd ask...

We are planning to move in August and are trying to figure something out.  We will, of course, get rid of our TV.  We were thinking of trying to go without TV altogether, and just buying a nice flat-panel monitor for the computer so that we can watch DVDs on it.  We were hemming and hawing about how to ship something fragile like that, and we decided to see what was available in the UK.  PC World UK (or whatever it's called) has a large flat-panel monitor that will, apparently, receive a TV signal as well.  We thought this would be a great option because it would allow us to use it as both a monitor and as a TV, should we decide that we can't live without TV.

My question is, will there be any problem using this screen with a computer CPU that we bring over from the US?  Will the DVD player on our computer be able to play European DVDs?  If not, can we just buy an external DVD drive?  We'd buy the whole computer in the UK except that they seem MUCH more expensive than they are in the US (also we will be sending home-video DVDs back to the US--new baby, grandparents, etc.--and we want them to play in US DVD players). 

And this may be the dumbest question of all, but do we have to pay the TV tax even if we don't use our TV to watch television (i.e., if we only use it for movies)?

Thanks for any advice anyone can give!

Jade


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Hi Jade,

Quote
My question is, will there be any problem using this screen with a computer CPU that we bring over from the US?

There is no difference between the U.S. and U.K. PC video standards, so it will work fine.

Quote
Will the DVD player on our computer be able to play European DVDs?

Quite probably, but that's a function of the software.    At worst you may have to install some different DVD-playback software, or you could always just buy a separate DVD player and couple it up directly to the TV/monitor (multi-region NTSC/PAL players can be bought here so that you could play U.S. DVDs directly as well).

Quote
And this may be the dumbest question of all, but do we have to pay the TV tax even if we don't use our TV to watch television (i.e., if we only use it for movies)?

No.  The TV tax (a.k.a. "television licence fee") is payable only if you "install or use" equipment for receiving TV broadcasts (whether off-air, via satellite, or on cable).    So long as you do not connect the set to any such source of broadcast signal, you do not need a license just to watch pre-recorded tapes and DVDs. 

You will, however, be subject to an endless stream of intimidating letters from the TV Licensing Dept., but these can be ignored quite safely! 
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