coolthaihouse.com blog

some thoughts from Dozer
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Feedback and Electric Story

feedback from Jeremy B

Excellent web site, very well done. I haven’t built a house yet, I currently live in a condo, but I do anticipate doing so in the future. I enjoyed reading your experiences and I have a few questions that occurred to me while I was reading your site: - Why is the roof frame made from metal? I come from the UK and roof frames there are always wooden (all the ones I have seen, anyway, I have no specialized knowledge).

Roof frame. When the roofing material is not the heavy cement tiles (eg. synthetic roofing tiles) the roof truss is made of wood. I have never seen metal roofing trusses done overseas either, but then again – at least in the States – tile roofs are relatively rare.

2 I see that many Thai houses have security metal grilles covering all the windows, as yours does. Is this necessary because the windows are less secure than western ones? What happens in the event of fire – can you get out?

Security windows. The security grates do add a sense of security and help deter criminals. As far as being less secure than western ones – no, it would be the same. Western windows would normally be aluminum. I think percentage wise there is a lot less crime here than in other countries, but, that being said, there is a concentration of ‘opportunity’ thieves in and around Pattaya. The other day there was what I assume were teenagers who attempted entry to our neighbors house, (while they were home sleeping) at 2 AM one morning. They first entered the yard here, but went next door primarily because of the security windows. They tried to open a wood window (next door) with some kind of tool, and worked it for a while until the owner got up and scared them away. My belief is that they didn’t mess with this house here because of the security grates. Since then the owner of the house next door has installed security grates. In the event of fire you cannot get out though the window unless you kick out the grate.

3 Did you consider the option of plastic hot water piping, as I would have thought this would solve the problems of the expensive copper plumbers? Or is this not available in Thailand?

Plastic water piping. Yes, there was a lot of discussion that went on regarding hot water piping. There is apparently plastic PVC water piping which is rated for hot water, but it wasn’t highly recommended by anyone. The plumbers recommended metal – copper being the best because of its resistance to rust.

4 Everything seems to be very permanently fixed, e.g. pipes buried under concrete, the side of the bath tiled in place, the shower drain embedded in concrete. What happens if when maintenance is required? In the UK houses I have lived in, pipework is under the floorboards (obviously not an option here) or is boxed in against the wall when the floor is concrete; the side of the bath is usually a sheet of wood or plastic that can easily be removed and the base of the shower is elevated above the floor with a removable access panel. Even my limited quantity of hair eventually causes the U-bend (I think you call it a P-trap) to require clearing out so that the shower drains quickly and I would imagine that two feet long Thai hairs are much worse!

Permanently fixed plumbing. Yes, this is one very poor aspect of housing design here. All of the houses I’ve seen here do it the same way (piping encased in concrete). I was going to design some kind of outside trough system for the outside piping – so at least it would be accessible – but this was introducing other problem so I decided to go with the normal way of doing it in the end. However, that being said, normally the actual pipes under the cement don’t break or have a problem – as long as quality materials are used initially. The floor drains have a grate which can be removed to allow for cleaning and the same with the shower drain, this isn’t a problem.

5 Your picture of a two-pronged plug gave me a flashback to my own grounding saga! My condo has three pin (grounded) sockets, but every grounded appliance I have bought has a plug of the type you show. You can buy (in HomePro and probably elsewhere) the correct socket for this type of plug. When you push the plug into the socket, it actually is recessed into the socket and the ground connection is made to the sides of the plug. However, these sockets are extremely expensive, and you can only fit one of them in the standard Thai mounting box, replacing the twin sockets that were there before! I did consider your idea of shoving a round piece of metal into the hole in the plug to fit into my sockets, but was unable to find any electrical shops or electricians who could supply these. After much searching, I managed to find (in Central Chitlom) 3-pin plugs (unfused) that fit my sockets, so I chopped off all the old plugs and wired these on.

These plugs are similar in shape to a standard UK, 3-pin plug, but smaller. The next problem is that the cable exits the socket at 90 degrees to the pins. This is OK with a UK socket, because the plugs are side-by-side and vertical (earth at the top, live and neutral lower, in a triangle arrangement), with the cable coming out of the bottom. But my Thai sockets are rotated by 90 degrees, and both face the same way, so my nice new plugs overlap the adjacent socket in the pair. So then I had to buy 3-pin extension leads, which have a three pin plug with the cable emerging parallel to the pins, so they don’t overlap the adjacent socket – but there is nowhere I can find to buy this type of plug for attaching myself. Aargh.

Also, did you find that Thai electricians seem to have no real understanding of the importance of grounding, or was I just unlucky with the two I dealt with? One of them showed me that my new electric oven was grounded (I was querying his intention to install it with only live and neutral wires) by taking the back off and showing me where the earth cable inside the cooker was fixed to the chassis. I was unable to convey to him that this was not sufficient, and that the chassis itself had to then be grounded. And I don’t think it was my Thai that was the problem. Did it myself in the end, and I’m not dead yet.

Thank you for the information that red is positive and white is negative. The circuit breaker in my condo has some blue wires, some red wires and some yellow wires emerging from the positive terminals, so I’ve always wondered which was correct! The electrician who installed the breaker for the cooker used blue wire for positive, negative and earth – so much more fun than boring old England!

!@DSC06040.JPG(l120)Electrical. One thing to watch out for, as it sounds like you probably know already, is that even if the standard is that red is positive and white is negative if the electrician is out of red and white he will probably use blue or whatever other color he has handy. Since I was buying the materials on this house, I had the option to demand the electrician do standard throughout, if out of the correct wire he would wait for the replacement to be purchased. I’m attaching a photo of the modification the electrician did to the hot water heater plug by adding a ground pin. I’ve had experience with a few different electricians and I think it is hard to find a good one.

6 How did you choose your fans? I have always liked the old, colonial style ceiling fans, but I see you have the more modern style? What are the pros and cons?

Fans. I really don’t like the fancy style, but this is just taste. I’m into functional. If you are going for the type of ceiling fan I installed, you need to be sure to check that there are two adjustment switches. One controls rotation (on or off) and one controls the speed (normally three levels). Because of the sideways rotation of the fan (they sweep around in a circular motion), I think these type of fans give better air circulation. The Hatari fans which I bought for 3 of the rooms are not expensive and do a good job of having the air circulate.

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