Have you ever been trying to prepare for overseas travel and found yourself totally confused by plugs, adapters, power converters? Stick around, we’ll show you how to not blow up your gadgets.
What You Need to Know
There are two key differences between American and European electronics: Voltage of the current, and shape of the plug. In America, electric outlets carry 110 volts of electricity. In Europe, outlets carry more power at 220 volts.
Some devices are equipped to handle any current up to 240 volts. This includes power adapters for many electronic devices, such as cell phone chargers, laptop chargers, and some styling tools like flat irons or curling irons. Some devices, like hair dryers, are only designed for 110 volt current. However, there also exist dual-voltage devices. These devices have a switch that allows you to select the current of your outlet. Be sure to check that the correct voltage is selected before turning on your device, or risk burning it out.
Hot Tip: Switch each device to the desired voltage as you pack.
The Difference Between an Adapter and a Converter
Plug adapters simply change the physical shape of your device’s plug. An adapter is all you need for devices that can tolerate 220 volt currents. However, devices designed to accept only 100 volts require voltage converters before they can be used in Europe. Voltage converters will also adapt your device to the correct plug type. To determine whether you need to purchase an adapter or spring for the converter, check the info near the plug or cord on your devices.
Hot Tip: Compare prices on voltage adapters to the price of your devices. If you only have one device that requires an adapter (a hair dryer, for example), it may be cheaper to buy a dual voltage (and travel size!) hair dryer. Then a simple adapter will work with it and all your other electronics, saving you the out of pocket expense (not to mention carry weight) of a voltage converter.
Adapters & Converters
|Types||What’s the Deal||Socket Compatibility (also accepts)||Commonly Used In|
|Type A & B||B is the 3-prong, grounded version; Max 127v||B sockets accept both A and B types||United States, Canada, Mexico, Japan|
|Type C||Ungrounded, two-prong||None. This is the older and ungrounded style being replaced by E and F, but still seen in older buildings (read: some AirB&Bs) and trains.||Europe, South America, Asia|
|Type E||Grounded, two-prong||E sockets accept C and F Types||France, Belgium, Poland, Slovakia & the Czech Republic|
|Type F||Most common type in Europe||F sockets accept C and E Types||Most all of Europe & Russia, except for the UK & Ireland|
|Type G||Grounded, three-pin||None||United Kingdom, Ireland, Malta, Malaysia & Singapore|
|Type J||Grounded, three-pin||J sockets also accept C Types||used almost exclusively in Switzerland, Liechtenstein & Rwanda|
|Type L||Two types, 10 amp (three 4mm pins 19mm apart) and 16 amp (three 5mm pins 26mm apart)||Bipasso 10 amp socket accepts C, both L types; Schuko 10 amp accepts C, both L, E and F||Italy & Chile|
For a more comprehensive list of socket and plug types around the world, check out the World Standards site.
There are 15 different plug types currently in use worldwide. Universal adapters and converters include several different plug types in a single package, and will work in several different countries. If you’re traveling to multiple places that each require different adapters, you may be better off purchasing a universal-type device. However, these tend to be bulky and heavy, making them difficult to pack and a pain to carry. Check our listing of adapters by country to see if one or two single adapters, or a universal-style adapter, is best for you.
Hot tip: Some adapters have USB ports, so you can leave the charging blocks for Apple products at home.
Adapters by CountryAdapters needed for several popular European destinations
|Austria||C, F||C is the older and ungrounded style being replaced by E and F, but still seen in older buildings (read: some AirB&Bs) and trains.|
|Belgium||C, E||C is the older and ungrounded style being replaced by E and F, but still seen in older buildings (read: some AirB&Bs) and trains.|
|Czech Republic||C, E||C is the older and ungrounded style being replaced by E and F, but still seen in older buildings (read: some AirB&Bs) and trains.|
|England & Great Britain||G||Primarily only used in these countries. Since it can be bulky to carry, consider a multi-adapter option.|
|Italy||C, F, L|
|The Netherlands||C, F|
For a complete list of world countries and their adapters, see the World Standards site.
We have presented information here that compiles tidbits from several different sites and from our own experience. Our hope is that our work will save others countless hours of searching to find the answers they need. Please remember that we cannot make any guarantees or promises regarding the accuracy, reliability or completeness of the information. This website is for informational purposes only, and not a substitute for professional advice. Travel safely!
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