This is more a question for curiosity, as I don't have a 240 volt appliance nor do I plan on visiting Europe.
As far as I have been able to tell, much of Europe uses the CEE 7 standard for household receptacles, which (I think) consists of 1 hot leg at 230 volts and 1 neutral.
The American standard is of course two alternating hot legs, each at 120 volts, which can be used individually (with a neutral) to supply 120 volts, or together (but without a neutral) to supply 240 volts.
Other than the slight difference in voltage, and the utility frequency difference (60 Hz vs 50 Hz), does the actual equipment (say a motor) even notice a difference? Can it even tell that the current is being supplied by 2 alternating hot legs vs 1 hot leg and a neutral?
Editing the question for clarity, because I have a specific gap in my knowledge that I am trying to understand: (Ok, I have more gaps than just one, but this question is focusing on one.)
To make things more comparable, imagine a magical world where Europe uses 240 volts instead of 230 volts, and 60 Hz instead of 50 Hz. Now in this hypothetical situation, the major difference we face is:
- in America we have 2 alternating hot legs, and--
- in Europe they have 1 hot leg and a neutral.
What differences, if any, would be noticed by equipment such as a motor?