Fast Facts: Electricity Around the World

Converters and Adapters

If you are planning on taking a hair dryer, electric shaver, curling iron, laptop computer or other electrical devices on your travels, there are a few things you should know about electricity in other countries.

Residential electrical outlets in the United States use 110-120 volts of electricity, and accept very specific shaped plugs. Many other countries commonly use other voltages, usually 220-240 volts to power their appliances, as well different plugs. If you try to plug an American appliance such as a shaver or hairdryer into an outlet of a different voltage, you may destroy the appliance and cause yourself injury.

In these cases, you will need to obtain either a voltage adapter (electrical converter) or a plug adapter for your travels, most often both. Most voltage adapters for travel convert 220-240 to 110-120, useable by your American appliance. A plug adapter, on the other hand, allows you to plug into a foreign outlet.

In some countries you may only need one or the other, and many countries may require both. Note: you may need many different plug adapters if your travels extend to more than one country, but you should only need one voltage adapter.

We recommend getting a universal adapter and converter kit if you plan to take many electronics. They cost between $12 and $30 dollars and can be found in many hardware stores, travel shops and online retailers. Virtually all laptop computers and some electric razors take universal voltages. Check your equipment to be sure. If the only electric device that you plan to take with you is an electric shaver, you may consider buying a different model which accepts universal voltages, to avoid carrying around a heavy and bulky voltage adapter. Always be sure to check with the manufacturer of the appliance for proper use and conversion.

See voltage & outlet requirements by country.

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