After I arrived in the US some 30 years ago, I purchased a lamp. It was a simple reading lamp with a 60 W bulb, and it lasted for bit longer than a year. After that, it started to have intermittent contact problems. Being an electrical engineer, I investigated. I removed the bulb and looked into the socket.
To my surprise, the socket was constructed with a copper rivet holding and contacting the aluminum socket sleeve. Of course that could not last too long. The copper will eat the aluminum rapidly. The will happen even more quickly in a dark room that might also be damp, or in a house near the ocean. After a bit of a searching, I was able to find a replacement brass socket in an old hardware store.
Safety testing in the US focuses on the possibility of fires. Yet the cost savings of changing from brass to aluminum must outweigh the cost of damage and injuries caused by fires from faulty sockets. In Europe, the currents are half, but electrocution is much more of a concern. European light bulbs have a bayonet base which requires a stronger material than thin aluminum. To my knowledge, they still use brass sockets. In the last 30 years I've studied many such sockets. Out of 10 sockets, 9 were made with the aluminum-copper combination.
Are almost all the lamp-sockets in the US made by monkeys?
This entry was submitted by Alexander Pummer and edited by Rob Spiegel.
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