Using an outlet adapter and converter abroad: A Complete Guide
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Outlet adapters, converters, and voltage: a complete guide for traveling internationally

Most laptop cords are Dual Voltage

On my first trip to Kenya I brought a portable fan to plug in while I was sleeping. I sleep with a fan on at home, and during my first trip abroad I thought it would help me sleep better. It did help me sleep better, until about 1am. Around 1am I woke up to smoke blowing into my face. My fan was on fire. Oh, joy.

I quickly unplugged the fan, and after praying that the fire wouldn't burn down the entire hostel, the motor that was on fire in the fan eventually went out. So, why'd it catch on fire?

I had made a rookie mistake. I had plugged my portable fan into the Kenyan outlet using an outlet adapter. I hadn't yet figured out that I needed to take outlet voltage into consideration.

Prong styles around the world

If you're new to all of this, let me explain.

An outlet adapter (what I was using) is used to adapt your US-style prongs to fit the prong style of the country you're visiting (there are several different prong styles around the world). This is pretty easy: the adapter goes on top of US-style prongs so that you can plug your electronics into the wall. Without an adapter, you physically won't be able to plug in your electronics abroad. However, an adapter does not modify voltage level.

Voltage? What's that about? Voltage is basically the amount of electricity that an outlet is putting out. Voltage (V), just like outlet prongs, vary from country to country. There are two main voltage levels around the world: 110V and 220V. In the United States we use 110V outlets. Kenya uses 220V outlets. So, when I plugged my 110V fan into the 220V outlet, this is why it eventually caught on fire. My fan couldn't handle the extra electricity.

I could have avoided this if I had used a voltage converter. A converter modifies the voltage of the outlet it's plugged into so that you don't fry your electronics. If you're traveling to another country and plug your 110V cord from America into a 220V outlet, you'll fry your electronic.

The one exception to needing a voltage converter is if your electronic is dual voltage. Dual voltage means that your electronic can run off 110 or 220 volt electricity. Most inexpensive electronics do not have this, but more expensive electronics (like your laptop) usually do. You know that big square block in the middle of your laptop cord? That's a voltage converter built into your cord. You see, companies like Apple don't want you to travel abroad, fry your expensive laptop, and then come crying back to them. So, they've taken care of this situation from the get-go by manufacturing a converter into their products. The picture to at the top shows you what I'm talking about.

Ok, now that you know the difference between an adapter and a converter, what countries use which? Most outlets in North America and South America use 110V, and for the most part, the rest of the world use 220V outlets.

Now what about the country you're traveling to? Find out:

AFGHANISTAN 220 (UG-A) (UG-D)
AlBANIA 220 (UG-A)
ALGERIA 110/220 (UG-A) (UG-E)

AMERICAN SAMOA 120/240 (UG-A) (UG-C) (UG-E)
ANDORRA 110/120 (UG-A)

ANGOLA 220 (UG-A)
ANGUILLA 110 (UG-B)

ANTIGUA 110/220 (UG-B) (UG-D)
ARGENTINA 220 (UG-A) (UG-C)

ARMENIA 220 (UG-A)
ARUBA 110 (UG-A) (UG-B) (UG-E)

AUSTRALIA 220 (UG-C)
AUSTRIA 220 (UG-A) (UG-E)

AZERBAIJAN 220 (UG-A)
AZORES 220 (UG-A)

BAHAMAS 110 (UG-B)
BAHRAIN 110/220 (UG-D)

BALEARIC IS 220 (UG-A) (UG-E)
BANGLADESH 220 (UG-A) (UG-B) (UG-D)

BARBADOS 110 (UG-B)
BELARUS 220 (UG-A)

BELGIUM 220 (UG-A) (UG-E)
BELIZE 110/220 (UG-B) (UG-D)

BENIN 220 (UG-A)
BERMUDA 110 (UG-B)

BHUTAN 220 (UG-A) (UG-D)
BOLIVIA 110/220 (UG-A) (UG-B)

BONAIRE 110 (UG-A) (UG-B)
BOSNIA HERZEGOVENIA 220 (UG-A) (UG-E)

BOTSWANA 220 (UG-D)
BRAZIL 110 (UG-A) (UG-B)

BR. VIRGIN IS 110/220 (UG-D)
BRUNEI 220 (UG-D)

BULGARIA 220 (UG-A) (UG-E)
BURKINA FASSO 220 (UG-A) (UG-E)

BURMA (SEE MYANMAR)
BURUNDI 220 (UG-A) (UG-E)

CAMBODIA 110 (UG-A) (UG-D)
CAMEROON 110/220 (UG-A) (UG-E)

CANADA 110 (UG-B)
CANARY IS 110/220 (UG-A) (UG-E)

CAPE VERDE IS 220 (UG-A) (UG-E)
CAYMAN IS 110 (UG-B)

CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC 220 (UG-A) (UG-E)
CHAD 220 (UG-A) (UG-D) (UG-E)

CHANNEL IS 220 (UG-A) (UG-D)
CHILE 220 (UG-A)

CHINA 220 (UG-B) (UG-C) (UG-D)
COLOMBIA 110 (UG-B)

COMORO IS 220 (UG-A) (UG-E)
CONGO 220 (UG-A) (UG-E)

COOK IS 220 (UG-C)
CORSICA 220 (UG-A)

COSTA RICA 110 (UG-B)
CROATIA 220 (UG-A)

CUBA 110/220 (UG-A) (UG-B)
CURACAO 110 (UG-B)

CYPRUS 220 (UG-D)
CZECH REPUBLIC 220 (UG-A) (UG-E)

DAHOMEY (SEE BENIN)
DENMARK 220 (UG-A)

DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF THE CONGO 220 (UG-A)
DJIBOUTI 220 (UG-A)

DOMINICA 110/220 (UG-A) (UG-D)
DOMINICAN REPUBLIC 110 (UG-B)

ECUADOR 110 (UG-B)
EGYPT 220 (UG-A)

EL SALVADOR 110/220 (UG-A) (UG-B) (UG-C) (UG-D) (UG-E)
ENGLAND 220 (UG-D)

EQUATORIAL GUINEA 110 (UG-A) (UG-E)
ERITREA 220 (UG-A)

ESTONIA 220 (UG-A)
ETHIOPIA 220 (UG-A) (UG-D)

FALKLAND ISLANDS 220 (UG-D)
FAROE ISLANDS 220 (UG-A)

FIJI 220 (UG-C)
FINLAND 220 (UG-A) (UG-E)

FRANCE 220 (UG-A) (UG-E)
FRENCH GUIANA 220 (UG-A) (UG-D) (UG-E)

FRENCH POLYNESIA 220 (UG-A) (UG-C)
GABON 220 (UG-A)

GAMBIA 220 (UG-D)
GEORGIA 220 (UG-A)

GERMANY 220 (UG-A) (UG-E)
GHANA 220 (UG-D)

GIBRALTAR 220 (UG-A) (UG-D)
GILBERT IS 220 (UG-C)

GREECE 220 (UG-A) (UG-E)
GREENLAND 220 (UG-A)

GRENADA 220 (UG-D)
GRENADINES 220 (UG-A) (UG-D)

GUADELOUPE 220 (UG-A)
GUAM 110 (UG-B)

GUATEMALA 110/220 (UG-B) (UG-C) (UG-D)
GUINEA 220 (UG-A) (UG-E)

GUINEA-BISSAU 220 (UG-A)
GUYANA 110/220 (UG-B) (UG-D)

HAITI 110 (UG-B)
HONDURAS 110 (UG-B)

HONG KONG 220/220 (UG-D)
HUNGARY 220 (UG-A) (UG-E)

ICELAND 220 (UG-A) (UG-E)
INDIA 220 (UG-D)

INDONESIA 110/220 (UG-A) (UG-D) (UG-E)
IRAN 220 (UG-A)

IRAQ 220 (UG-A) (UG-D)
IRELAND 220 (UG-D)

ISLE OF MAN 220 (UG-A) (UG-D)
ISRAEL 220 (UG-A)

ITALY 220 (UG-A) (UG-E)
IVORY COAST 220 (UG-A) (UG-E)

JAMAICA 110/220 (UG-B)
JAPAN 100/110 (UG-B)

JORDAN 220 (UG-A) (UG-E)
KAZAKHSTAN 220 (UG-A)

KENYA 220 (UG-D)
KUWAIT 220 (UG-A) (UG-D)

KYRGYSTAN 220 (UG-A)
LAOS 220 (UG-A) (UG-E)

LATVIA 220 (UG-A) (UG-E)
LEBANON 110/220 (UG-A) (UG-D)

LIBERIA 110 (UG-B)
LIBYA 110/220 (UG-A)

LIECHTENSTEIN 220 (UG-A)
LITHUANIA 220 (UG-A) (UG-E)

LUXEMBOURG 220 (UG-A)
MACAO 220 (UG-A)

MACEDONIA 220 (UG-A)
MADAGASCAR 110/220 (UG-A) (UG-E)

MADEIRA IS 220 (UG-A) (UG-E)
MAJORCA 110/220 (UG-A)

MALAGASY 110 (UG-A)
MALAWI 220 (UG-D)

MALAYSIA 220 (UG-D)
MALDIVES 220 (UG-A) (UG-D)

MALI 220 (UG-A) (UG-E)
MALTA 220 (UG-D)

MARTINIQUE 220 (UG-A) (UG-E)
MAURITANIA 220 (UG-A)

MAURITIUS 220 (UG-A) (UG-D)
MEXICO 110 (UG-B)

MICRONESIA 110 (UG-B)
MOLDAVIA 220 (UG-A)

MONACO 110/220 (UG-A) (UG-E)
MONGOLIA 220 (UG-A)

MONTENEGRO/SERBIA 220 (UG-A)
MONTSERRAT 220 (UG-B)

MOROCCO 110/220 (UG-A) (UG-E)
MOZAMBIQUE 220 (UG-A) (UG-E)

MYANMAR 220 (UG-A) (UG-D) (UG-E)
NAURU 220 (UG-C)

NEPAL 220 (UG-A)
NETHERLANDS 220 (UG-A) (UG-E)

NETHERLANDS ANTILLES 110/220 (UG-A) (UG-B) (UG-E)
NEVIS 220 (UG-D)

NEW CALEDONIA 220 (UG-A)
NEW HEBRIDES 220 (UG-C)

NEW ZEALAND 220 (UG-C)
NICARAGUA 110 (UG-B)

NIGER 220 (UG-A) (UG-E)
NIGERIA 220 (UG-D)

NORTH KOREA 110 (UG-A) (UG-B) (UG-C) (UG-D) (UG-E)
NORTHERN IRELAND 220 (UG-D)

NORWAY 220 (UG-A) (UG-E)
OKINAWA 220 (UG-B) (UG-C)

OMAN 220 (UG-A) (UG-D)
PAKISTAN 220 (UG-A) (UG-D)

PANAMA 110 (UG-B)
PAPUA NEW GUINEA 220 (UG-C)

PARAGUAY 220 (UG-A)
PERU 220 (UG-A) (UG-B)

PHILIPPINES 220 (UG-A) (UG-B)
POLAND 220 (UG-A) (UG-E)

PORTUGAL 220 (UG-A) (UG-E)
PUERTO RICO 110 (UG-B)

QATAR 220 (UG-D)
ROMANIA 220 (UG-A)

RUSSIA 220 (UG-A)
RWANDA 220 (UG-A) (UG-E)

SAMOA ISLANDS 220 (UG-A) (UG-B) (UG-C)
ST. KITTS 220 (UG-D)

ST. LUCIA 220 (UG-D)
ST. MAARTEN 110/220 (UG-A)

ST. VINCENT 220 (UG-A) (UG-B) (UG-E)
SARDINIA 220 (UG-A)

SAUDI ARABIA 110/220 (UG-A) (UG-B) (UG-D)
SCOTLAND 220 (UG-D)

SENEGAL 220 (UG-A) (UG-E)
SEYCHELLES 220 (UG-D)

SIERRA LEONE 220 (UG-D)
SINGAPORE 220 (UG-D)

SLOVAK REPUBLIC 220 (UG-A) (UG-E)
SLOVENIA 220 (UG-A)

SOLOMON IS 220 (UG-C)
SOMALIA 220 (UG-A)

SOUTH KOREA 220 (UG-A) (UG-E)
SPAIN 220 (UG-A)

SRI LANKA 220 (UG-D)
SUDAN 220 (UG-A) (UG-D)

SURINAM 110 (UG-A) (UG-E)
SWAZILAND 220 (UG-A)

SWEDEN 220 (UG-A) (UG-E)
SWITZERLAND 220 (UG-A)

SYRIA 220 (UG-A) (UG-E)
TAHITI 110/220 (UG-A) (UG-B) (UG-E)

TAIWAN 100 (UG-B)
TAJIKISTAN 220 (UG-A)

TANZANIA 220 (UG-D)
TASMANIA 220 (UG-C)

THAILAND 220 (UG-A) (UG-B)
TIMOR 220 (UG-A) (UG-C)

TONGA 220 (UG-C)
TOGO 110 (UG-A)

TRINIDAD & TOBAGO 110/220 (UG-B)
TUNISIA 110 (UG-A) (UG-E)

TURKEY 220 (UG-A)
TURKMENISTAN 220 (UG-A)

TURKS & CAICOS IS 110 (UG-B)
TUVALU 220 (UG-C)

UGANDA 220 (UG-D)
UKRAINE 220 (UG-A)

UNITED ARAB EMIRATES 220 (UG-A)
URUGUAY 220 (UG-A) (UG-C) (UG-E)

USA 110 (UG-B)
US VIRGIN IS 110 (UG-B)

UZBEKISTAN 220 (UG-A)
VANUATU 220 (UG-C)

VENEZUELA 110 (UG-B)
VIETNAM 110 (UG-A) (UG-B) (UG-D)

WALES 220 (UG-D)
WESTERN SAMOA 220 (UG-C)

YEMEN 220 (UG-B) (UG-D)
ZAMBIA 220 (UG-A) (UG-D)

ZIMBABWE 220 (UG-D)

NOTE: The numbers correspond with the outlet voltage found throughout the country, and the letters correspond with prong styles (pictured to the right). Countries that have multiple numbers/letters listed contain different outlets depending on where you are in the country.


Written by CJ