Using/grounding a US built computer *safely* in Japan

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Old 08-13-11, 06:54 PM
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Using/grounding a US built computer *safely* in Japan

Hi there. *I hope it's ok to post this here. *I've tired asking a few other places but people are foreign workers like myself and not necessarily savvy about electricity or computers.

I just moved to Japan where 99.9% of electrical outlets are two prong non polarized sockets. *I brought my computer with me from the US because I just built it a few months ago and brining was much cheaper than buying new. *Of course, being from the US my power supply is three prong like most powerful appliances.

People here strongly advocate for the adaptors that leave the ground exposed and ungrounded. *I known these aren't the safest things and I'd rather not be electrocuted... or you know... set fire to my apartment and be deported or something haha.

So anyway, what do I do??? *I can't afford another computer right now and I refuse to get a laptop. *If I got a new power supply probably double insulated for my pc intended for Japanese sockets would I be better off? *Would it matter if I didn't replace all the rest of my components? Or would I really need to replace everything to avoid dying?

I did find one outlet that has a ground indicator (アース) but it's in the kitchen for tue fridge I think. *Computer will be in the bedroom so... really far


For reference this is the kind of adaptor here:


It's unsafe, right?
 
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Old 08-13-11, 07:18 PM
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Unsafe? Sort of. Not being 100% familiar with Japan electrical power you may have to take my comments with a grain of salt.

The only thing a ground does is carry fault current. So, if for some reason the metal case of the computer were to become energized, the fault would return to the source and trip the overcurrent device. This happening to your, or anybodies computer is highly unlikely. And if it were to become energized you would have to touch the metal case of the computer, AND some other grounded item, for you to receive a shock.

I would be more worried about the voltage in Japan only being 100 volts. This might cause issues with running your computer. Also some areas of Japan only run 50hz which also might cause problems.

A Ground Fault protection device like this: Amazon.com: TRC 90265-6-012 Shockshield Yellow Portable GFCI Plug with Surge Protection: Home Improvement might give you piece of mind. Plug in your adapter, connect the GFCI device to the adapter, then plug your computer into that. GFCI's do not require a ground to work properly.
 
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Old 08-13-11, 07:23 PM
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I am no expert but I use an adapter like that for my laptop and think it is perfectly fine. Of course mine is made a bit differently but I haven't had any issues. Of course when you can it is best to use the right plug but it should be o.k.. If you can ground the wire on a screw it will be better. If you want to be absolutely safe you might want to buy a power strip and turn it off when you are not at your place. Have a nice time in Japan!
 
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Old 08-13-11, 08:04 PM
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Originally Posted by hedgeclippers View Post
I am no expert but I use an adapter like that for my laptop and think it is perfectly fine. Of course mine is made a bit differently but I haven't had any issues. Of course when you can it is best to use the right plug but it should be o.k.. If you can ground the wire on a screw it will be better. If you want to be absolutely safe you might want to buy a power strip and turn it off when you are not at your place. Have a nice time in Japan!
Thanks . *I know plenty of people use them with out issues but I don't really like counting on "well I've never had a problem before" kind of reasoning where safety is involved. *I know technically with the adaptors you're supposed to do something with the ground wire hanging out but I'm not sure how to deal with the outlets in my apartment...
Originally Posted by Tolyn Ironhand View Post
Unsafe? Sort of. Not being 100% familiar with Japan electrical power you may have to take my comments with a grain of salt.

The only thing a ground does is carry fault current. So, if for some reason the metal case of the computer were to become energized, the fault would return to the source and trip the overcurrent device. This happening to your, or anybodies computer is highly unlikely. And if it were to become energized you would have to touch the metal case of the computer, AND some other grounded item, for you to receive a shock.*

I would be more worried about the voltage in Japan only being 100 volts. This might cause issues with running your computer. Also some areas of Japan only run 50hz which also might cause problems.

A Ground Fault protection device like this: Amazon.com: TRC 90265-6-012 Shockshield Yellow Portable GFCI Plug with Surge Protection: Home Improvement might give you piece of mind. Plug in your adapter, connect the GFCI device to the adapter, then plug your computer into that. GFCI's do not require a ground to work properly.
*

Thanks for your input! *So they are 'sort of' unsafe after all. *Hmm. *I don't think voltage will be a problem since my power supply is really new (along with all my
other components which is why I thought to bring them with me instead of buying new again after arriving... stupid stupid) and can work at Japanese levels.

Thanks for the link to the product on amazon too! *The thing about that though is it looks like it is very easy to trip and best suited for devices that won't be harmed by suddenly losing power... in other words not computers .....*
*
 
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Old 08-14-11, 06:29 AM
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Operating a computer without a safety ground eliminates one of many layers for human life protection. Is not dangerous if other safety functions do not fail.

Safety ground is also part of another protection system. So that interconnected appliances do not harm each other. Better is to power all interconnected peripherals (computer, printer, modem) from a common power strip so that all share a common ground. This avoids higher voltage differences created by leakage currents.
 
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Old 08-14-11, 06:59 AM
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Originally Posted by Humming View Post
Thanks for the link to the product on amazon too! *The thing about that though is it looks like it is very easy to trip and best suited for devices that won't be harmed by suddenly losing power... in other words not computers .....*
*
A GFCI is not the same thing as an over current device (fuse/circuit breaker) but it is similar in that it will only trip if there is a problem. If there is a problem, then you WANT it to trip.

Also, computers can survive fine with suddenly losing power. Your data that you didn't save will not, but you save your data all the time right?
 
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Old 08-14-11, 08:31 AM
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The operating voltage range and frequencies will be listed on the power supply. Most digital switching supplies are capable of running on a wide range of voltages (90 to 240) and at both 50Hz and 60Hz, but if I were you I'd check all of the devices to be sure.

I agree with westom: Plug all devices that are connected to the computer into a good power strip and use the ground lift adapter on the power strip's plug. If you're concerned about an electrocution hazard, put a meter between the metal cases and any nearby metal that's part of the building. If you see voltage on the meter, you have a potential at ground.
 
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Old 08-14-11, 08:41 AM
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Wow tons of replies now must be a time zone thing. Anyway I really appreciate all the advice! I did some hunting around my apartment and found that the aircon, clothes wash, and toilet (if you've ever been to Japan you'd understand) all have sockets that let you stick in a ground wire. Toilet and washer actually *appear* to be grounded so maybe the whole building is wired like that? It gives me more hope at least. I'm going to talk to someone (who speaks more Japanese than me!) about asking the landlord if he knows if this is so.... (and maybe still test it anyway) would LOVE to get off this phone and on to a real computer! It's been weeks!

Can you clarify "potential at ground"? I have a feeling I know what you mean but I can't put it in words

Also- plugging everything into the same power strip (friend told me he's seen plenty of 3 to 2 strips here) and then grounding the strip will still work? Haha hopefully one outlet can handle all that...
 
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Old 08-14-11, 09:43 AM
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Originally Posted by Humming View Post
Can you clarify "potential at ground"? I have a feeling I know what you mean but I can't put it in words
Ground is a potential that the entire building should be at. Best measurements done between anything and the circuit breaker box. Any exposed surface with non-zero voltages relative to ground is undesirable. Voltages exceeding 60 are considered dangerous.

The power strip should be more than sufficient. However, you are expected to confirm that. Current consumed by each appliance should be printed where each power cord attaches. Sum of ampere numbers should be less than the circuit breaker or fuse that any power strip should have.
 
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Old 08-14-11, 02:13 PM
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Originally Posted by Humming View Post
Also- plugging everything into the same power strip (friend told me he's seen plenty of 3 to 2 strips here) and then grounding the strip will still work?
Define 'work'? You are demanding subjective and blanket answers that do not exist in reality.

Defined were at least two different anomalies. Which one do you want to solve? A common power strip only addresses one problem. Rick Johnston defined how to locate another. Each anomaly is different with different solutions. A solution always starts by first understanding the problem. That means grasping details.
 
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Old 08-14-11, 03:40 PM
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I aplogize for being so "demanding". While your help is much appreciated, this is the the internet and without other cues to go off of the wording can have some slightly harsher interpretations even if no negativity was intended. Again, I apologize if I'm asking stupid questions here. I've never had to worry about this stuff before :| just moved out for the first time so I don't have my dad to help anymore and my language abilities are not strong enough to ask anyone here. Google has been only been somewhat helpful.

By work I mean ground the computer and, i suppose, monitor.
 
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Old 08-14-11, 10:02 PM
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Humming I don't think you are being too demanding you are just trying to protect your stuff and that is certainly understandable. One thing I didn't think about in my earlier post was a ups device otherwise known of course as an uninteruptable power supply. Many ups devices will sound an alarm if the wiring is wrong and adds a good layer of protection over and above a power strip. At the very least a good electronic plug checker would be a good idea just to see that everything is wired right. Neither one of those will cost that much. Talking to your landlord is definitely a good idea and something I think I would do too. I hope you update us. Have a good day!
 
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Old 10-06-11, 05:22 PM
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If you know something else in the room (such as a radiator) is grounded you can still use that receptacle adapter with the green pigtail wire. Connect another length of wire to the green pigtal and the other end to the radiator etc.
 
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