A Guide to Picking the Right Plug Adapter for Use

Like most seasoned travelers, you are probably well aware that many different sockets and plugs are used in different parts of the world. But which plug adapter should you use where? Bringing the right plug adapter can mean the difference between being able to plug your hair dryer or razor into the hotel’s socket, and sitting there frustrated.

Don’t worry – the International Electro technical Commission or IEC has standardized the list of plug and socket zones to make it easier to figure out what plug adapter you need to use in different countries. You can go to their website to see illustrations of various sockets and plugs available. In general, the following outlet types are used by the following countries:

•    A and B – Japan, Central America, Caribbean, South America, Taiwan
•    C, E and F – Europe, the Middle East, Israel, some African countries, some Asian countries
•    G – United Kingdom, Ireland, some African countries, Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia
•    I – Australia, New Zealand, Fiji, China

Buying the right plug adapter is essential if you want to travel internationally and take personal items that run on electricity. You will only need to an adapter plug in most cases, but depending on where you are going, you might also need to bring a voltage converter or transformer.

The world runs on either 110/125V or 220/240V. If your device or appliance is meant for the North American market, then it probably runs on 110/125V electricity. Sadly, the majority of the world uses 220/240V. You, therefore, need transformers and converters (aside from plug adapters) to convert the electricity voltage to match your device’s voltage.

Read the label on your appliance or device to determine if a transformer or voltage converter is necessary. The ‘input’ line contains is where you should be looking at. It contains key information indicating if the voltage is single, dual or multi. Single-voltage devices have small voltage ranges (100–120V) and won’t accommodate a 220V power supply. Dual-voltage devices (120V/240V) do not require a transformer or converter because they can run on both voltages. Multi-voltage devices (most commonly laptops, smartphones, cameras, and the like) do not require a converter or transformer, either.

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