Metric vs. Imperial in your country?

Metric vs. Imperial in your country?

Postby Ecuadorian » Sat Mar 03, 2018 4:34 pm

I tend to think my country, Ecuador, is an odd animal.

When someone asks about our weight, we reply in pounds.
When someone asks about our height, we reply in centimeters.

Tire pressure is measured in PSI.

When we buy rice in a neighborhood store, we ask for it in pounds.
When we buy rice at the supermarket, it's packed in 1Kg, 2Kg and 5Kg bags.

When we fill our cars with gas, it's sold in gallons.
But our car odometers are in Km.
So we measure car efficiency in Km per gallon. :shock:

We measure the size of a home in square meters.
And we measure the capacity of a refrigerator in cubic feet.

We find water in 500cm3, 1L, 1 gallon (not 4L, one gallon!) and 6L bottles at the supermarket.

For linear measures, we measure almost everything in mm, cm, m and Km, but some professions also use inch fractions for tools and copper tubing. For screws and bolts, you often see a mixture of both in the same place.

Most recipes use ounces, cups and fractions of a cup instead of cm3. When they do use weight measurements, they switch freely between pounds, half-pounds, Kg, etc. Just to clarify, the pound we use is the U.S. pound.
But when you go to the supermarket to buy items for the recipe, almost everything is sold in grams and cm3.

We use degrees Celsius for everything, but occasionally a recipe might also include the equivalent in Fahrenheit.

Paper sizes all follow the ISO A series, but until recently, we also used US Letter size. It wasn't banned, it just fell into disuse. Talking to my brother in Chile, they also use Letter size.

And nobody seems to find this mixture of Imperial and Metric weird in any way. So nobody even bothers to mention anything about getting rid of non-metric measurements.


How is it in your country?
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Re: Metric vs. Imperial in your country?

Postby pbacot » Sat Mar 03, 2018 6:19 pm

No one's making the motion to change in the US. Science uses metric. I am not sure about high end civil work, but most else is imperial, and unlikely to change AFAIK. I am not sure how that Mars mission got messed up due to conflicting units.

Personally in the construction business on the design and drafting side, I start with decimal inches to measure existing structures because that is the fastest to input on the computer and crunch down to overall dimensions. I start new construction plans in an inch based grid, (but think of feet for widths of rooms etc.). Decimal feet are used in surveying and site elevations. NOT dealing in fractions and multiple units (feet, inches, yards) makes sense to me but it's too much for people to give up feet and fractional inches thinking in building construction. People need guide posts in the realm of numbers. Once you use metric you develop standards for certain elements in your work, but to the uninitiated, metric just seems a lot of numbers without form. For metric building do you often think of 10's of cm--or you just jump up to meters?
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Re: Metric vs. Imperial in your country?

Postby Ecuadorian » Sat Mar 03, 2018 8:28 pm

Thank you for your answer.

At least in my country, people think in either meters (the building and rooms) or centimeters (the details). Nobody thinks in 10's of cm, but we do try to keep all measurements rounded to the nearest tenth of a meter while designing, because walls are usually drafted as either 10cm or 20cm (even if in reality they're slightly thicker). This is only broken in stairs: Raisers are usually 18cm, but I prefer 17.5cm as it's easier to convert to Imperial.

Architectural plans are all in decimal meters (not cm), while engineering plans are in millimeters.
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Re: Metric vs. Imperial in your country?

Postby TIG » Sat Mar 03, 2018 9:57 pm

The UK is officially metric.
It changed when I left school.
Our applied maths was in imperial [BTUs, horsepower, foot-poundals etc]
Our physics was in cm/gram/sec, but that changed to SI m/kg/sec !
The year I started to train as an architect the building industry 'went metric'.
Drawing scales changed from 1/8":1' [1:96] to 1:100 etc.
All architect and engineers' drawings use mm to nearest mm and no units suffix - except where it avoids confusion.
UK land surveyors use m - just to confuse us.
They also want sq'/acres as well as the now mandatory sqm/hectares
Bills of materials are measured in nr/m/sqm/cum
Outside of construction day-to-day units are cm/m but often with dual measurements.

Over time materials like bricks were metricated - so a brick is now 215x103x65with 10mm joints, rather that 9" etc.
Older people still talk of a 9" wall when they know it'll be 215mm.
Most can think in both systems as appropriate.
Youngsters are only taught metric at school, so sometimes imperial is more of a mystery to them...
Timber also got metricated sp 4x2" sold in feet, became 100x50mm solid in 300mm length increments

At home most houses use metric doors e.g. 2'6" rather than the metric equivalent [used 'commercially'] - which need a special order - merchants stock imperial sizes but label them both ways - e.g. 762mm.

We weigh ourselves in 'stones' 14lbs=1stone, rather than kg - or the US's lbs.
We usually think of out height in '/" rather than cm.
Clothes are sized in both inches and cm - so 36"/91cm etc.

We drink pints of beer in the pub.

We buy fruit/vegetables in kg or pounds and dual scales are common - although to comply with EU rules the minimum is kg, pricing is often dual too £x/kg:£y/lb

We buy petrol in litres, but use mpg for our car's fuel efficiency - distances are sign-posted in miles and all speeds limits are in mph.

We now use Celsius for temperatures etc.

We also went decimal with our currency in 1971: so now £1 == 100pence, with notes for £ 5/10/20/50 [£5 & £10 are now plastic with £30 changing soon] and coins for £1/£2 and 50/20/10/5/2/1p
Previously £1 == 20 shillings and 1 shilling == 12 pence
With some weird things - like a crown [5s], half-crown [2/6], florin [2s labeled as 1/10 of a pound], 1s, 6p, 3p, 1p, 1/2p and a farthing [worth 1/4p], there were also 10s and £1 notes.

So all in all it was a confusing time and we are now pretty much 'bi-metrical'... :shock:
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Re: Metric vs. Imperial in your country?

Postby Rich O Brien » Sat Mar 03, 2018 10:58 pm

We are metric in Ireland but tend to be bi-metrical as TIG says.

Although still use imperial to describe distances.

Thanks the EU we have this silly mixture of imperial and metric. Oh and straight bananas.
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Re: Metric vs. Imperial in your country?

Postby TIG » Sat Mar 03, 2018 11:31 pm

And straight cucumbers !
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Re: Metric vs. Imperial in your country?

Postby pbacot » Sun Mar 04, 2018 12:50 am

So on the job site is it a little wordy when you can't say 2x4 and 4x8 any more? I suppose you can still say (in the UK) a door is 2868? There are a lot of established shorthand standards in imperial, e.g. concrete mix 5 sacks/cubic yard, 8x16 conc. blocks. 4x8 sheets of plywood, #4 rebar. And nails or screws: 10d and #8, all somehow based on imperial standards.
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Re: Metric vs. Imperial in your country?

Postby filibis » Sun Mar 04, 2018 7:47 am

A little fun fact that you might get surprised: US is officially on metric system!

Take a look at below video for an authorized person at the National Institute for Standarts and Technology (NIST) comment on this:

All the units that we commonly use like feet and gallons and so on are actually defined in terms of metric units so it's just a little translation that we do here but our country is actually on the metric system.


I suggest watching whole video but espcially for the quote watch between 0:31 - 1:25
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Re: Metric vs. Imperial in your country?

Postby pilou » Sun Mar 04, 2018 11:48 am

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mars_Climate_Orbiter :)

France was creating metric system in 1799 from a Burattini research (1675) so... only metric of course! :enlight:

Last reform was Francs / Euros for nasty money business ! (1999) :mrgreen:
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Re: Metric vs. Imperial in your country?

Postby TIG » Sun Mar 04, 2018 2:15 pm

In France you can still go to the market and ask for a 'pound of carrots' [une livre de carottes...], and expect to get about half a kilo.
Since a quantity of carrots is unlikely to weigh an exact amount being overly accurate is pointless
I expect most youngsters will think and ask in kilos/gms ?
In the UK us elders ask for a 'pound' never half a kilo !

As an aside it reminds me of a joke..
.
Wife sends husband to the market with a shopping list.
He returns with a sack of carrots.
She says, "Why did you buy so many carrots?"
He says, "Your list said you wanted 116 carrots!"
She says, "That's '1lb carrots' !! Doh !!!"
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Re: Metric vs. Imperial in your country?

Postby pilou » Sun Mar 04, 2018 5:46 pm

We prefere say "500 grammes" and if need more precise "450 grammes" ;)
"Livre" is for old generation! ;)
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Re: Metric vs. Imperial in your country?

Postby TIG » Sun Mar 04, 2018 6:00 pm

I am the 'old generation' !
;)
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Re: Metric vs. Imperial in your country?

Postby liam887 » Fri Mar 09, 2018 10:39 pm

Long live the pint!
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Re: Metric vs. Imperial in your country?

Postby Mike Amos » Mon Mar 26, 2018 9:39 am

When the UK went decimal for currency there was an immediate rise in prices that did not seem to be noticed. The price of a box of matches went from one penny to between two and three new pence. Just an example. The suggested equivalency at the time was that one new penny equaled two pennies. I know it does not make sense.
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Re: Metric vs. Imperial in your country?

Postby Daniel » Mon Mar 26, 2018 6:19 pm

I was introduced to the metric system in the late 70s, in elementary school science class - it was the billed as the wave of the future. I'm guessing that wave kinda dissipated by the time it reached U.S. shores. Some metric units have creeped in, such as 2 liter soda bottles, nutritional value units, and computer capacity measurements, I'm guessing its because either those measurements didn't exist previously or no one paid attention to them. They tried selling milk by the liter, but that never caught on. We remain very much "imperial." And, personally, I hope they don't change in my lifetime, as feet, inches, and fractions thereof are second nature to me. Architectural specifications sometimes have both units, but I stopped including metric when typing them up myself.
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