Plugged in, Switched on

One of the biggest little differences I’ve noticed about living in the UK is the plugs and switches. Specifically the switches.

Everything that could have a switch, does.

Of course lights are obviously controlled by switches. But they’re far from the only ones. All the plugs must also be switched on before the power is activated. All the hardwired (or hidden plug) appliances, including the fridge, freezer, boiler, dishwasher, oven, stovetop, etc. have switches.

Socket
Photo by givingnot@rocketmail.com on Flickr

This in addition to the power switches on individual lamps and appliances.

I suppose it’s a safety mechanism – with the potential to send 220 volts coursing through your person, any additional failsafe is probably a good thing.

But it’s one of those things I’m starting to refer as EEDD: ExPat Extra Degrees of Difficulty (see also: TV Licenses, Sunday Trading Hours). Things that are perfectly sensible in the context of local knowledge, but a bit baffling to outsiders.

So we figured out relatively quickly that we needed to flick on (and leave on) a number of switches before anything in our house would work. But there is one switch that’s still got us baffled:

Switched on

This switch is in the middle of the first-floor hallway. It’s flanked on either side by a hallway light on the left, and one unused socket and the bathroom light on the right. Thing is, we can’t seem to figure out what, exactly, it does, aside from turning on a red LED when it’s switched on.

It does nothing to the bathroom fan. It doesn’t impact how the rest of the lights on that floor, or the second floor, work. There are no appliances on that floor, or anywhere we can find, whose switches haven’t already been identified.

So, before we email or call the property manager with what turns out to be a stupid question, do any of you have any ideas what it might be?

Other than a switch whose sole purpose is to illuminate a red LED (with the side-effect of being confusing as fuck), of course.

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5 thoughts on “Plugged in, Switched on

  1. My guess would be your electric shower pump, if you have one, however they are often a pull cord inside the bathroom, but newer homes may be different. Water immersion heater was my second guess but I love Chris’s idea of the Christmas lights. You had better check that because that would be embarrassing!
    I plugged my phone in to charge last week not using the plug I normally use. Funny how it didn’t charge because the light switch was off :-)

  2. +1 on Elaine’s guess on a shower pump or hot water heater. In one of our abodes (I can’t remember which), we had a switch like that for turning on the water heater before a shower.

    Also, EEDD is very handy phrase. I’m going to make a list of these.
    Darren´s last blog post ..Coming Home

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