Items for sale with "imperial" dimensions

I have noticed a frightening trend with items for for sale with sizes given in “imperial” dimensions and not metric. The most obvious of these include televisions, ceiling fans and a particular line of bread roll! Each of these, and many others, are always advertised in “inches”. Now I grew up with the imperial system and for a number of years struggled in a drawing office dimensioning in yards, feet and inches. When Australia went metric in the 1970’s I was ecstatic, no more dividing by ‘3’, ‘12’ or ‘36’ just need to move the decimal point and put in the necessary prefix. Hooray! I then set out to make myself fully understand the metric measurements and ignore those archaic ‘imperial’ dimensions!
It is now getting close to 50-years later and I find I am trying to grasp how big is a 56" television, is it really big? Why is this happening? Is there not a rule that stipulates that as Australia is metric that anything dimensioned should shore it in metric first and foremost and if really necessary imperial is small print?

Does anyone else have this problem with the proliferation of ‘imperial’ dimensions?


Some things are only available in ‘imperial’ …

… but seriously you do make a good point. Televisions as a good example, are simply not impressive unless expressed in inches - on the IT side, monitors are the same. Try buying a tape measure with inches on it? I know the last few tape measures I’ve bought didn’t - and I tried to get both …

I just checked a couple of sites that sell cheap monitors and finding specs in metric varied from difficult and not obvious to impossible …

I’ve had trouble adjusting to my motorcycle telling me my tyre pressures in ‘bar’ - which being a German bike is odd - its metric but not SI, you’d think it would be in kPa which I still don’t get (but arguably easier than newtons per square metre, so I guess we should be thankful for the pascal). It also annoys me when I try to print something at work the selection of paper is up to its intended use and most printers are stocked with A3, 11x17, A4 and Letter … a few hundred million Americans can’t be wrong :wink:

I couldn’t ‘quickly’ find a reference to the use of units - I suspect the monitor and television advertising is actully contrary to the law, but what is wrong with selling a tape measure with inches on it?


I find it odd the way imperial turns up here and there. Some things like land area (acres), horses (hands, inches) horse rugs (feet, inches) never seem to have converted and nobody minds too much. But why TV screens?

It isn’t as if TV screens mainly come from non-metric countries, such as Myanmar, Liberia and USA.

The US famously keeps to its customary measures which includes: different volume measures of the same name (I kid you not) depending on whether the substance measured is wet or dry, a fluid ounce that is not an imperial fluid ounce and the quaint fifth for booze which (despite shunning all things British) is almost exactly the same as the imperial reputed quart. You would think they could at least use the standardised goat’s bladder as in Liberia.


The US is indeed a pigs breakfast about many things, including metric measure. Another bit that irritates is American origin recipes that specify a cup of a solid like cheese, whatever a cup of cheese means - fortunately there is guidance on the net.

Some may find this an interesting explanation.


Just been looking at an on-line lighting store which is advertising LED strip lights in “meters”!!!
Just one more Americanisation that annoys me.

This is an Australian store, how come they are not aware that the spelling is for the unit of measurement is “METRE”? Don’t they know that a ‘meter’ is an instrument you use to measure something like “speedometer”???


Microsoft might be the culprit, as well as the default spell checks in most browsers and word processors. Resistance is futile. You will be assimilated! Argh!

edit: I have a 1949 Omega ‘chronometer’ watch. I had the face redone a few years ago. It originally had ‘chronometre’ on the face but the shop used ‘chronometer’. A bit of research showed Omega changed from chronometre to chronometer around 1960. nb. it was such a nice job and any restored face is a restored not original face it doesn’t much matter so I left it with chronometer.


Some of us are forced to eat this breakfast, for lunch and dinner as well … daily …


I suppose Australia only went metric in July 1974 and it is hard to kill old habits…and with the US, Liberia and Myanmar resisting change, until they do we will possibly be stick with a blended metric/imperial retail system. I expect that many appliance such are TVs are in inches, due to undue US market influence. As the large screen format LED/OLED TVs are exported to both the US and remainder of the world and TV production is mainly concentrated in Asian countries (Korea, China, Taiwan, Vietnam etc), we possibly suffer the US last century imperial system.

It is worth noting that when PAL cathode ray tube TVs were sold here 15+ years ago, they were measured in centimetres. I wonder if this was because the PAL TVs were not sent to the US due to the US being NTSC…resulting in different marketing/production lines?


A more appropriate measurement for them would have been the tonne ! :wink:


Why change something when it works? Tyres are a mix of metric and imperial but what difference does it make?.

TV’s being measured in inches, people are used to it so why try and force a change to metric?

There will always be a mix of measurements like the power of car engines just like there are variances between English speaking countries in the use and spelling of the same language.

Is it really appropriate to raise this in this forum? If you don’t have a basic understanding of the issues why even bother posting about them? There are many more issues in Australia and the way we are governed so maybe you should look here, people in glass houses and all that.

The problem is that it doesn’t always work. When it doesn’t the user, often the consumer, loses out in some way.

There are many people who cannot convert from one system to the other and as teaching in imperial recedes into a dim memory the number will decline. It makes sense to consistently mark consumer goods in the units the buyer understands. Or allowing for differences in individual numeracy at least the ones taught at school.

For some purposes a measurement unit is mainly a label to distinguish one model from another but even so it still has a quantitative meaning. Why keep that meaning from some people? If the customary label is in units that you do not understand you are at a disadvantage.

We could of course continue using inches for TV screens for the next hundred years, by then inches will be an archaic anomaly remembered only in saws. That should help consumers make the right choice. My grandmother said to me “you have to eat a peck of dirt before you die”. Without looking it up what is a peck?


At least for one given date and time, for the purposes of the discussion and for the avoidance of doubt, at the time the rhyme was penned, it was the quantity of pickled peppers picked by Peter Piper. One must assume either a innovative method of on-plant pickling that allowed the peppers to be picked from the bush already in this state, or that ‘picked’ in this context was ‘selected’ from some location, perhaps from a larger quantity to ensure the desired peppers were obtained.

Either way, much tastier than dirt. I’ve tried both, but in the case of dirt only in small quantities, such as a smidgen or tad, carefully measured.


From memory 521 cubic inches or as I wrote elsewhere on this site 8 quarts.


Yes I agree 100%. Australia has the metric system therefore it should be used. It just causes confusion for many people.


Totally agree. Must be just to confuse consumers! Also the screen is measured diagonally so it is not the length of the screen!
There are so many anomolies as have been mentioned above by others. I guess we have to have another App on our phones to convert between metric and imperial!!


babies are still measured in imperial


I totally agree.
At school I learned everything in imperial and when I left school we changed to metric which became a chore to re learn. The government were very strict then and would not allow the importation of measuring equipment which read imperial or both imperial and metric… Namely, vernier calipers which I used to measure dimensions of imperial sized engineering items. This rule was eventually relaxed in the name of common sense. But I see no point now of the encroachment of imperial dimensions of items such as tv’s and bread rolls. I guess it’s just a symptom of our Americanisation.


I’m a “metric native”, having grown-up in the 70’s. Generally I agree with you about metric vs. imperial. One of my hobbies is cooking and most of the recipes I find are American and thus littered with barking-mad imperial units like pints (Nearly half a litre), pounds (Nearly half a kilo) and degrees Fahrenheit (A linear polynomial transformation of Celsius).

However I have a soft-spot for the “human scale” units of feet and inches. TVs in sizes 55" and 65" are more comprehensible to me than 140cm and 165cm. Similarly I can understand someone 6’2" tall, but I can’t visualise 188cm height.

Still, the sooner the USA and North Korea get off this stupid units scheme, the happier the rest of the planet will be!


The formal conversion is 1 peck = 8.809768 litres. A very rare miss there @grahroll! :slight_smile:

edit: ← apologies tendered

My bad since @grahroll originally only wrote ‘quarts’ and I defaulted to US measures. His post below has it all.


I deliberately order a “15cm Sub” (approx.), instead of a “six inch sub” at “Subway” and invariably I have to equate that to the untranslated American size for the staff (most of the time). My own personal little protest against “imperial”!