International Travels - AC adapters knowledge base

Disclaimer

This document tries to illustrate the appropriate AC adapters for transient (travel) use of mobile phone chargers and camera chargers

Assumptions:
Assuming that all your mobile phone/camera chargers have 2-pins plugs.
Assuming that all your chargers are "dual-voltage", i.e., they can operate either on 110 volts or 220 volts.
Assuming that all your chargers are "low power" devices, drawing less than 2.5A on the 110 V or 220 V input side.

A complete list of AC receptacles/plugs around the world can be found at http://www.iec.ch/worldplugs/

There are four (4) major types of AC receptacles used around the world, see this diagram.

Type G (UK)

Used in UK, Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia, Saudi Arabia, Dubai, Qatar, Pakistan, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Belize, Kenya, etc.
Type G is known as British Standard 1363 [BS 1363].

type G sockettype G plug

Type I (Australia, China)

Used in Australia, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Argentina and China.

type I socket  type I plug

Note about China sockets

See the picture below, China's sockets accept 3-pin Australia plugs and 2-pin Europlug (4.0 or 4.8mm diameter pins) and US (non-polarized) plugs.

Some hotels in China include a "multi-receptacle" that accepts type G plugs (UK and Hong Kong) in addition to Europlug, US, and Australian plugs. See the picture below.

The Europlug /US receptacle may require excessive force to insert a plug into it, risking physical damage to your equipment.

The safest way is to use the Type I Australian adapter. See the picture above.

Important note: the marking "UPS" means the receptacle will be powered even after you leave your hotel room or go to sleep. It is very common for receptacles in China to be disconnected from the grid when you leave the hotel room or turn off the lights to sleep. Your mobile phone and camera batteries will not be fully charged if you are not careful about the "UPS" business.


China New Standard    china multi
 

Type A (USA, Canada, Mexico)

Type A is used in USA, Canada, Mexico, Japan, Taiwan, Thailand, Malaysia, China (China's new standard)
There are two Type A versions:
The "polarized" version has one pin wider than the other pin (e.g. USA, Canada, Mexico).
The "non-polarized" version has both pins of identical width (e.g. Taiwan, Japan, China).

For travel use, non-polarized plug is a must.
Warning: You cannot use a polarized US plug in Taiwan/Japan/China that have non-polarized sockets.

type A receptacle  Type A adapter


Type C (Europlug) and Type E, F (Schuko plug)

EU sockets and plugs
For this group of plugs and receptacles, pins are round and spaced 19 mm apart.
There are two versions (variants):
4.8 mm diameter conductor pins: Germany, Korea, Spain, Russia, Indonesia, France, Poland, Bangladesh, Denmark, Thailand, etc.
4 mm diameter conductor pins: Italy, Switzerland, Brazil, Chile, etc.

Type C plug, widely known as Europlug is designed to work with Type E, F, H, J, K, L, N, O sockets in over 135 countries.

Note that Europlug is not compatible with UK, Australia or USA sockets.

Note that Europlug has a current rating of 2.5 Amperes (i.e., for small appliances), this is adequate for charging mobile phones/cameras.

Europlug design
      details   Type C Europlug
A proper Europlug has a 10 mm insulated section and the pins are slightly bend towards each other at the free end.

Safety note:
Some manufactures skip details such as the 10 mm insulated section and the 3.8 mm Ø narrow section.
Some manufacturers make parallel, 4 mm diameter conductor pins, without insulated sections, these can be dangerous in terms of shock hazard.

Type C Europlug adapter enables you to use the receptacles in most countries in Europe.

europlug adapter  Europlug  Europlug adapter  front no
      inslated section


Note: Sockets that accept thicker 4.8 mm diameter pins are used in Germany, Austria, Netherlands, Korea, Spain, Portugal, Russia, Indonesia, France, Belgium, Poland, Bangladesh, Denmark, Greenland. Check with http://www.iec.ch/worldplugs for a complete list of countries using Type E or F or K sockets.

schoko plug adapter
A Schuko plug (CEE 7/7 standard) is a perfectly fit for Type E and Type F sockets. It is designed to carry higher current loads (16 Amperes).

Portability issue for tourists: Schuko plug (4.8 mm diameter pins) cannot be inserted in 4 mm diameter sockets in Italy, Switzerland, Brazil. Israel uses 4.4 mm pins, South Africa IEC60906-1 uses 4.5 mm pins.

This makes Schuko plug adapter not a suitable choice for traveling, except in Germany, Korea, Spain, Russia, Indonesia, France, Poland, Bangladesh, Denmark, Thailand.

South Africa (M)

South Africa uses Type M sockets which is not compatible with Type G, I, A, C.
South Africa is adapting IEC 60906-1 standard which happily accepts Type C Europlug.

India (D)

India uses Type D sockets which is not compatible with Type G, I, A, C. There is an accidental physical compatibility between Type D socket and Europlug. However, it is a bad idea to use a Europlug in Type D sockets because Type D sockets are designed to accept 5.1 mm diameter pins whereas Europlug has 4 mm diameter pins. Sparking and fire may result. In extremely desperate situation, 4.8mm diameter Schuko plug offers a better approximation to the Type D plug. Disclaimer.

"Multi-Receptacles"

multi-receptacle socket
Some airports and hotels installed "multi-receptacles" that accept plugs from Type G, I, A, B, E, F, Europlug and Schuko plug.
Multi-receptacles accept plugs around the world except Type D (India) and Type M (South Africa) plugs.


Charging system for tourists

Due to available of high quality (and fast charging capability) USB chargers from Aukey and Anker; and USB chargers for camera batteries, I found the following charging method is easy to deploy on trips.

Aukey

Disclaimer

Last revised 2019-01-09

© 2019  Nicholas Fong
nicholas.fong@gmail.com