not plug and play

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I went to and found a light fixture, SUPER SET LED Deckenleuchten mit T8 LED 23W neutralweiß 4500K, that appeared to fit all of my specifications.

  • 1.5 meters long
  • provides lots of light
  • uses LED’s not fluorescent bulbs
  • could be mounted underneath the cabinets in the kitchen
  • affordable

The lamp including the led bulb was delivered and was perfectly packed.  I was not as diligent as I should have been while looking at the photos; the light fixture would be probably more suitable in an open space office or a warehouse.  The light fixture that the bulb connects to is surprisingly deep three cm considering that there is nothing inside except for two very thin wires.  The bulb does actually provide up to 2400 lumen which does light up the working area very well.

So if the item was well packed and does everything that it was advertised to do why should I be a bit grumpy.  Well, the downside of fixture is that despite being appropriate for 220V there was no power cord provided and no place in the lamp to plug any style cord into.  Inside the case are some rather cryptic symbols how to connect up fixture to the mains.

German Electricity
It is always recommended to use the proper tool for any particular task as opposed to forcing something with the wrong item.  The proper tool in this case should probably be a electrician.  Yet, I am good with my hands and the Internet does provide a steady stream of information and I also have friends who can assist.

I like fooling around with electronics but electricity is a slightly different game all together.  For most electronics use direct current not alternating and usually the wires are red or black depending on if they are positive or negative.  This is not what I was finding on my new purchase.

t8-lampSingle phase what most Americans think about as normal alternating current, that is a simple sin wave which is 110 volts at 60 herz, or 220 volts at 50 herz in Europe.


Nicolas Tesla was one, amongst many, people who independently discovered three phase power distribution.  What is three phase?  Well, it is possible to transmit more power simply by transmitting the alternating current and after 1/3 of the phase transmit a second current batch with the same characteristics and finally transmitting the final batch after another 1/3 phase.


In comparison to the average US building may have three phase power connected to the building but the actual apartments or households only have single phase power. In Germany, the building including houses or apartments are wired for three phase power.

My lamp was an alternating current device which would work with three phase power.  It is only a matter of connecting it to the wall.  The symbols inside of the lamp are N, L or plus inside of a circle and the three wires that are in our building are blue, brown or “yellow and green striped”.

phase L brown
phase return N blue
ground + yellow green

The task
All that I need to do is to get a wire that can be used to plug this lamp into the mains, connect the power cord, mount the lamp and not get electrocuted.

It really shouldn’t be too difficult as the building has three wires, and the extension cord that I cut up to feed this lamp also has three wires, and the lamp instructions for installation exists in 15 different languages including English.

  • Bulgarian
  • Czech
  • English
  • French
  • German
  • Latvian
  • Lithuanian
  • Hungarian
  • Ukrainian
  • Polish
  • Romanian
  • Serbian
  • Slovak
  • Spanish
  • Russian

Well, all of these are somehow condensed to fit onto two pieces of double sided A4 paper and cover 25 different models of lamp, and the light bulb instructions is a single side of A4 instructions in Polish.

  1. make two holes in wall or ceiling for mounting
  2. if lamp has a cover, remove it
  3. if lamp has a reflector, remove it
  4. snap the lamp fixtures into the cutouts
  5. snap the spacers into the cut outs
  6. insert the power cord into the lamp
  7. install the lamp on the wall or ceiling
  8. connect the power cord to the terminals
  9. attach the reflector or the cover
  10. install the light bulb

If you are a certified electrician then I suppose that step 8 is pretty clear, but for the rest of us that a bit brief.

My friend Mikhail was explaining to me about the phased power and essentially you could connect either phase or phase return interchangeably.  How can that really be the case, it seems pretty counter-intuitive.

Start by assuming that you connect the wires up correctly between the building to  the lamp cord and from the lamp cord to the bulb.  Everything is perfect.  The German power cord is 100% reverseable.


The two red dots are where the plug goes in and the brass on the sides is the actual earth ground (yellow green striped)

This means you can unplug the cord, rotate the plug 180 degrees and then plug it right back into the wall.  That is no different than mixing up the phase return and phase connections.  That seems pretty odd, and it does not make a difference for a lamp but it does for other devices such as an electric motor.  For an electric motor the phase connections will determine the direction it spins.

The brass connectors on the side of the plugs are for connecting to ground, which in most cases is the yellow and green wire.

I did manage to get the lamp mounted and the power cord attached and it works fine.



The lamp and bulb is quite well packed
Delivered in a timely manner
Technical specifications match what is delivered


No power cord provided
Instructions are intended only for certified electricians
Technical information on bulb only provided in Polish
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