# What is the Actual Household Voltage - 110, 115, 120, 220, 240?

Discussion in 'General Electronics Chat' started by Erin_2006, Sep 19, 2006.

1. ### Erin_2006 Thread Starter New Member

Sep 18, 2006
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HI,

I've been reading sooooo many different voltages for household current here in the US. What is the real number you should go by or do people put the different voltages because it varies so much? I've seen references to 110V, 115V, 120V, 220V, 240V. (same frequency though = 60Hz).

(just curious)
Thanks!

2. ### beenthere Retired Moderator

Apr 20, 2004
15,815
282
Hi,

It is a bit confusing. The voltages expressed are just approximate. The most common pairs are 110/220 and 120/240.

Due to line drops, the actual voltage into your home will vary with the distance from the transformer on the pole. It may be several volts above 120 if close, and as low as 107 if some distance away.

Just to cross your eyes further, the actual standard is supposed to be 117/234 VAC.

3. ### Erin_2006 Thread Starter New Member

Sep 18, 2006
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Yup...that definitely crossed my eyes. Million dollar question: How do you get a measurement of voltage coming out of your wall socket without feeling like your sittin on ol' sparky?

4. ### beenthere Retired Moderator

Apr 20, 2004
15,815
282
Hi,

You put your meter on the floor, set to measure AC volts. Poke the meter leads into the slots and see what it reads. Move slowly. You won't get bit.

planeguy67 likes this.
5. ### EEMajor Well-Known Member

Aug 9, 2006
67
4
+1.
Yeah, there is no one voltage that you will find everywhere. Like he said, it will vary with distance, type of wire used, temperature of the wires, corrosion on the connections between your outlet and the generator, etc...

It will even vary slightly with time of day, depending on the load that the grid has during the day. Summer and Winter voltages will vary as well.

However, it should never be off by more then 5% of the rated loads, and never off by more then 2-3% for lighting loads. If you are worried that an appliance isn't functioning correctly due to voltage issues, read the specs on the applicance, and calculate the percentage.

For example, if you have an toaster rated at 120V, multiply 120 by .05 to get 6. Now subtract 6 from 120, (120-6) = 114. This means that 114VAC is the lowest that this toaster should run on. Maybe a toaster isn't a great example, since it will run on just about anything, but you get the idea.

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6. ### CATV Member

Apr 17, 2007
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I use a status monitor system that monitors the AC mains across 800 miles of CATV plant in NE Penna. I get readings every 15 minutes from over 150 power supplies. The readings vary from about 112 to 124 volts. Each device can vary over time by about 5 volts.

7. ### Tube Tech Active Member

Jan 11, 2007
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Back in the 70s, a trade association investigated this very thing. They found that the median voltage is 117.

Here's a hint: the two major 3-phase power sources are 208 and 480. 208 is what you get from 2 120 VACs 120 degrees out of phase. 480 is a multiple of 120.

http://www.allaboutcircuits.com/vol_2/chpt_10/2.html

So, 120 VAC in theory, all over the voltmeter in real life.

8. ### dhivyaraman New Member

Jun 8, 2007
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In india the household voltage is 220V to 250V for single phase and frequency of 50Hz. But in US the supply is 110V,60Hz and some other country also. U know one thing, some products which are going to be exported to such countries, the will design for supply of both 230V,50Hz and 110V,60Hz. This is to make the product to work in both supply range.

9. ### dhivyaraman New Member

Jun 8, 2007
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In india household voltage is 220V to 250V,50Hz. But some other countries like US, supply voltage is 110V,60Hz.Some products which are going to be exported in such countries are made to work in both sypply range

10. ### subtech Senior Member

Nov 21, 2006
123
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Believe it or not, there are standards here in the US.
In the electrical power industry (read Power Company), the standard voltage for almost all single phase services is 120/240. The reason that you will most likely measure something slightly different at an outlet in your home is because of economic reasons. There must be an allowable tolerance in the voltage at which you are served. It is not impossible to keep things at 120 plus or minus 1 volt, but it would be very, very expensive to do so and of course as you know, it is not necessary either. Almost all equipment that you have in your home or business is designed to operate with a voltage that fluctuates plus or minus 5% from "center of band" or 120 Volts. That same plus or minus 5% holds true for services at other voltages as well. If you are a large industrial customer who requires 480 volt service for your large motors and equipment, that equipment is designed with that tolerance in mind. Right now in the USA, there are almost 500,000 people working hard to make sure that the voltage where your toaster is plugged in is as close to 120 as we can get it. (within those economic constraints of course)
People monitor those voltages 24/7/365 along with alot of other things.
We absolutely do NOT want you to wake up some morning and have to do without your toast, coffee, and whatever. ('Cause you're pretty grouchy without that coffee...)

11. ### JoeJester AAC Fanatic!

Apr 26, 2005
3,270
1,064
The end of line .... end of a very long line, the voltage measured 248 volts. I don't think that is within 5% of 220.

Of course that could be the "exception" to the rule.

12. ### loosewire AAC Fanatic!

Apr 25, 2008
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If you are mile's away from the ac power source use a variac.

13. ### beenthere Retired Moderator

Apr 20, 2004
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This is a very dead thread - almost a year since the last posting.

14. ### cumesoftware Senior Member

Apr 27, 2007
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Actually, I think the official fluctuation is from -10% to 6% of tolerance, at least in Europe. I use those values as guidelines when I'm designing a circuit that uses mains power. So, I consider an average voltage of 230V, but the circuit must function properly from 207V to 244V with uninterrupted use at the maximum rated power.

15. ### Ulg New Member

Jun 13, 2008
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Also do not forget on some 3 phase residential services you can get up to 277 if your power company is using older style star-delta transformers- commonly known as a red leg, by most code standards though it will be marked with orange tape

16. ### cumesoftware Senior Member

Apr 27, 2007
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It depends on your country. We never had the chance of getting 277V maximum in Portugal. We had 220V, but we now use 230V.

17. ### Fcathers72 New Member

Sep 7, 2016
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The industry is controlled by the PUC's (Public Utility Commission) as far back as the 70's. The standard is 120 volts +/- 5% or +/- 6 volts. This percentage is applied to the other voltages. I.e. 208, 240, 277, 480. 110, 220, 440 are hold overs from the 50's or back when distribution transformers were set for power taps

18. ### PatM Active Member

Dec 31, 2010
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Please note that this thread is 8 Years old !!

19. ### MaxHeadRoom Expert

Jul 18, 2013
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Not only dead, it was resurrected twice!
Max.

20. ### mcgyvr AAC Fanatic!

Oct 15, 2009
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4 times I believe actually..