Scandinavian (and other euro) dopers, electricity question?

There is a socket in my bathroom, high up on the wall, covered by a little trapdoor. I could probably plug my hairdrier in there. Would I die?

The fear stems from seeing in many other euro/scandie bathrooms a similar little plug with the warning text “For electric razors only”. Mine has no such text, and I have always assumed the text to be more advisory than factual anyhow. However I have never pushed my luck and actually tried an appliance.

So, can I safely use my hairdryer in the socket in my bathroom?
I use it in the bathroom as it is, but I plug it in in the hall.

It doesn’t matter where it’s plugged in. If you are using an electrical appliance whicn comes in contact with water, you will get shocked/electrocuted.

In the US (don’t know about Europe) buiding codes require outlets in bathrooms to be equipped with GFCI (Ground Fault Circuit Interuptors) devices which cut off the electricity as soon as a fault is detected.

Plugging the hairdryer into the hall outlet is probably the worst thing you could do, because it is definitely not on a protected circuit.

the reason why it often says “for razors only” is because shaving equipment uses a different voltage (?) than other equipment.
110 as opposed to 220.
so no, don’t plug your hairdryer in, I don’t think anything would happen, as the voltage is lower in the socket then the appliance, but never ever try the reverse, as it would blow up the appliance!

I wouldn’t try the dryer in a low voltage socket. A few years ago we tried a UK 240v dryer in a 110v socket and it started to smoke!

I think it was because the heating element was drawing enough current to get hot, but the voltage was too low to drive the fan.

In Norway (where I live) the outlet in the bathroom is 240v.
It’s grounded so if your hair dryer is grounded you can use it, at least that’s what I do.

As I mentioned, mine does not have the “for razors only” and is not built into the mirror-unit as most such are.

If you’re not sure, buy (or borrow) a voltage meter and measure the voltage.

elfje, does the ‘For Razors Only’ socket have two vertical openings and supply electricity at only 120 volts? If so, it was put there as a courtesy for North American travelers who want to use their electric razors when they’ve forgotten their voltage converters and/or plug adapters.

Otherwise, it sounds like a specially protected outlet for use near water…

IANA Licensed Electrician, far less a Swedish one, but…

Iteki, if it’s in a private abode, plug in and enjoy. Nothing bad should happen. The voltage is 220 V, there’s nothing special about it. And I would presume that the Swedish code is like the Danish, in that the entire installation, not just individual outtakes, is GFIC protected.

The little “For electric razors only” outlets are another issue - they are generally speaking part of a lighting fixture. These are installed under less strict rules and are not designed to carry the load that you’d comfortably put on a wall outlet, hence the sticker. (Shavers use very little power compared to a powerhog like a hairdryer.) They run on the same voltage as the rest of the installation. I’ve plugged traveller TVs, laptops and phone chargers in those “Shaver only” plugs with no ill effect.

Again, I am not licensed, but I’d plug my hairdryer in without hesitation. Granted, I’d make sure I knew where the fuse box is first…

As a Swedish Engineer (albeit not currently living there), let me expound:

As has been noted earlier (by Sunspace), there are sometimes (most often in hotels) smaller sockets (with rectangular holes) designed for 110V shavers. These are however getting rather rare.

What you probably have is a 230V socket. (Yes, all of Europe (supposedly) has 230V nowadays. Even the Brits!). People still call it 220V, but technically that’s not true!

Let me also point out that using a hairdryer close to the bathtub, while not recommended, is NOT an efficient suicide method. Especially if the socket is on a GFC breaker. (There was a discussion of this stereotypical hollywod method of death some time ago, but I cannot find it. I believe that the concensus was that dropping a hairdyer in the bathtub would probably only destroy the dryer - and maybe a fuse.)

Ahh, and Spiny, I believe that it is indeed common to have a dedicated GFC breaker for the bathroom - I’m pretty sure that there is a different maximum current allowed in wet areas.

Thanks all, sounds like it is safe enough to use the socket so :slight_smile:
The questions been bugging me for 5 years, so I rekoned it was time to get the straight dope on it. Thanks again!