Electrical (un)safety in Taiwan


“Anyone who’s lived in the busier areas of Taiwan longer than five minutes will already know to trust the electric and fire safety about as far as they could throw a hippo. What surprised me is when I moved into a newly built, modern house in the mountains that I thought had been built to high standards.” (llary)
I just had to share this photo of the electrical switch box that controls the power to the 2nd and 3rd floor. It’s like something out of an old horror movie.
I have made a point to not labour on much about certain things that drive me crazy about living here in Taiwan. I think it’s more constructive to happiness and a sane mind to move beyond the frustrations. This is especially true since I have been treated with such kindness by those I have had the fortune of being friends with. But its hard to not to make a passing comment on the unsafe electrical systems in Taiwan homes and how few seem to care.
This past week the house has been without power on the third floor due to the electrical wires melting. The electrical system in the house can’t take the loads that would be considered pretty normal elsewhere in the world. Naturally the land lord was in China and no one had the authority to call someone to come and fix the problem. So I called someone myself – he came over looked things over, went out to buy some wire (what electrician doesn’t have wire?), and patched things up with duct tape. That lasted 30 minutes.
The landlady came back from China and called her electrician/plumber. He gave me the impression that electrical in this house is mainly for the lights, a tv, and a fan or 2 only. Forget all that modern appliance stuff. When I asked this guy if he was going to replace the wiring and the switch box he simply stated he didn’t have time. Weird – why not stick around and do some good work instead bouncing around Hsinchu nickel and dimeing his time. There is power but for how long is unknown. There isn’t even a way to protect things against spikes in power as nothing is grounded. There are standards here for such things but as one follows these rules, despite the fact that they are for your own safety.
The quality of construction in so many things here is laughable. Nothing that is made and sold here works. It’s easy to say a blanket statement like that because it is almost entirely true. There is no concept of quality and “doing the job right”. My uncle who was a cabinet maker would labour over his work not to get it good enough but to make it the best he possibly could. Often his cabinets were works of beauty. You don’t see that here very often.
Thats the short form of my story. There are a few more people telling there experiences at Forumosa.