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 (legacy).

type I socket  type I plug

China's New Standard:

China's new standard socket accepts 3-pin China/Australia plugs and 2-pin European plugs (4.0 or 4.8mm diameter pins) and US (non-polarized) plugs.
Some hotels (in China) include a multi-socket that also accepts type G plugs (UK and Hong Kong). They do not accept Type D (India) and Type M (South Africa) plugs.

Note that the marking "UPS" means the receptacle will be powered continuously even after you leave your room.

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).
Most mobile phone/camera chargers have non-polarized plugs. For travel use, non-polarized plug is much preferred.
Note: You cannot use a polarized US plug in Taiwan/Japan/China that use non-polarized sockets.
For travel use, non-polarized plug is much preferred. If you only have a polarized plug (such as those found on extension cords) and you must use it for world travel, grind the thicker pin to the same width as the other pin to ensure compatibility. Only do that at your own risks and perils. Disclaimer.

type A receptacle  Type A adapter

Type C (Europlug)
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 Type G (UK, Hong Kong), Type I (Australia) or Type A (USA Canada Mexico) sockets.
Note that Europlug has a current rating of 2.5 Amperes (i.e., for small appliances and devices only).

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 travel in Europe plus many other countries [except Type G (UK Hong Kong), Type I (Australia) and Type A (USA Canada Mexico)].

europlug adapter  Europlug  Europlug adapter  front no
      inslated section


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) gives a perfectly tight fit for Type E and Type F sockets. It is designed to carry higher current loads (16 Amperes).
Portability issue: Schuko plug (due to its 4.8 mm diameter pins) cannot be inserted in 4 mm diameter sockets (Italy, Switzerland, Brazil, Israel [4.4 mm], South Africa IEC60906-1 [4.5 mm]). This makes Schuko plug adapter much less versatile than Europlug adapter for tourists.

India (D) and South Africa (M)

India uses Type D sockets which is not compatible with Type G, I, A, C. There is an unintended (accidental) physical compatibility between Type D socket and Europlug. However, it is not advisable to force 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 extreme desperate situation, 4.8mm diameter Schuko plug offers an approximation to the Type D plug. Disclaimer.

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 accepts Type C Europlug.

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.


Chargers for camera and mobile phones

(US Canada Mexico) One method to handle camera charger and mobile phone chargers is to use an extension cord:

extension cord


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

Aukey


Disclaimer

Last revised 2017-03-25

© 2017 Nicholas Fong
nicholas.fong@gmail.com