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Tuxgraphics travel: power sockets around the world

It's vacation time. Digital camera and laptop are just the basic electronic devices you want to take with you.

All these electronic things need power.... Which one is the right plug adapter??

German socket (a.k.a Schuko socket)


In Germany the earth pins are the clips on both sides.
Voltage: 230V AC

The Soviet Republics use a standard plug Contacts are also on 19 mm apart but the diameter of this contact is 4.0 mm compared to 4.8 mm which is standard in Continental Europe.

French socket


In France the power socket is similar to the German type except that the earth pin is coming out of the socket.
Voltage: 230V AC

You can get plugs which will fit in Germany and France and still have a proper earth connection. They have contacts on the sides for the clamps and also take the French earth pin:

Denmark, Greenland


Similar to the French connector but the earth pin goes in.
Voltage: 230V AC
This socket is also used in Greenland.

Switzerland


Earth is the pin in the middle, slightly off center.
Voltage: 230V AC
This socket is also used in Liechtenstein.

Italy


Earth is the pin in the middle.
Voltage: 230V AC

Most of Europe

The main difference between all the European plugs is the earth pin. The voltage is everywhere 230V AC. It is therefore possible to build a travel adapter which will fit in all those counties in mainland Europe as long as no earth connection is needed.

There is even a plug called "Euro Plug" which will fit in all the European wall outlets except UK/Ireland/Cyprus/Malta:


Laptops can usually work without earth connected. Most laptop power supply blocks do however use the earth pin for ESD protection. The will have a capacitor (about 1uF) connected between the minus DC output pin and the Earth pin.

Counties where such a generic European adapter without earth pin will fit are:
Algiers, Angola, Aruba, Austria, Bangladesh, Belgium, Bolivian, Bosnian, Brazil, Bulgaria, Cameroon, Chile, Colombia, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Ecuador, Egypt, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Gibraltar, Greece, Greenland, Hungary, Iceland, India, Indonesia, Iraq, Iran, Italy, Jordan, Kongo, Latvia, Lichtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Madagascar, Mallorca, Marocco, Martinique, Mauritius, Namibia, Nepal, Netherlands, Norway, Pakistan, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Rumania, Russia, Serbia, Slowakia, Slowenia, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Sweden, Switzerland, Syria, Tahiti, Thailand, Togo, Tschad, Tschechenia, Tunisia, Turkey, Urugay, Vietnam, Zaire

High power connections in Europe

Most houses in Europe connect high power devices such as sauna, oven, etc... to "high power outlets". Those have 380V/400V @ 50Hz with 3 phases. The voltage between phase and neutral is 220/230V. Domestic appliances have usually no connector for this. Cables are screwed directly to the wall outlet.

United Kingdom, British 3-pin (Commonwealth)


In the UK the pins are square and there might be a locking mechanism which locks the power pins unless something is inserted into the earth connector. You can usually switch on and off the socket with the little switch next to the socket.
Voltage: 240V AC

Counties which have this type of power socket are:
Bermuda, England, Ghana, Great Britain, Honkong, Ireland, Isle of Man, Katar, Kenia, Kuwait, Malta, Malaysia, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Scotland, Seychellen, Singapore, Uganda, Wales, Cyprus

Australia and New Zealand


This is a power socket with flat pins and they have an angle.
Voltage: 240V AC Counties which have this type of power socket are:
Argentina, Australia, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea,

Mainland China

The connector is almost idential to the Australian connector. The pins are just slightly longer (about 1mm) and there is normally no switch.
Voltage: 230V AC @ 50Hz

There is a quite common multiplug socket which will take the mainland china plug (at the bottom) and US/European two pin connectors (at the top). People from Japan or North America should be aware that the voltage is 230V even if their connector fits into such a multiplug socket.

USA/Canada


The pins of the US power socket are flat and parallel. Earth is half round.
Voltage: 120V AC

Counties which have this type of power socket are:
Dubai, Hawaii, Japan, USA, Mexico, Philippines

The Japanese plug has two identical flat prongs, whereas the US plug has one prong which is slightly larger. US plugs will normally not fit into Japanese sockets.

High power connections in North America

High power connections are used with ovens in the kitchen and dryers for clothes. They have 2 phases and 240V/250V @ 60Hz between the phases (120V/125V phase to neutral). Most European washing machines are able to connect there with no problem (no need for a transformer). A small number of European washing machines might have problems with the 60Hz if they have an asynchronous motor, e.g for the pump, built to work only at 50Hz. Note that there are no ready made adapters available for this. Most Americans or Canadians will not even know that they have voltages suitable for European appliances in their houses. You can get the plug (dryer replacement cords) in many shops. Those are heavy cables with copper wires of about 2mm diameter. To build an adapter you would need to bring a socket from your home country that is capable of taking such heavy wires. For the connection use pins marked P1 and P2 in the below picture. The earth pin connects to the earth pin of your socket. Neutral is not connected. Be careful! Playing with high power connections can fatal if you don't know what you are doing.


High power wall socket USA/Canada

The corresponding high power plug (it's large and heavy).

Light fixtures

The E27 and A19 light bulbs do not have exactly the same thread but most sockets are not so exact in the first place and have quite some tolerances. You can therefore normally use light bulbs for E27 sockets on A19 sockets and vice-versa.

E14 and B10 are very different they have completely different diameters.

Disclaimer

There is no guarantee that the information on this page is correct. Some countries might also have two types of wall sockets for historic reasons.
You can send suggestions for improvements or corrections via email to "guido at tuxgraphics dot org".




Copyright © 2004-2014 Guido Socher