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Discover the types of plugs in the world before your travels

Your mobile phone, laptop and hair dryer all fit in your suitcase without any issue, but will they work when you reach your destination? Not all countries share the same type of plug. In Spain we use type C, but there are 16 different models worldwide.

Why don't all countries use the same plug?

The basic reason that not all countries use the same type of plug is due to non-globalised technological development and that no consensus has been reached to standardise them between manufacturers and countries.

Looking back, the race to popularise the use of electricity began in the late 19th/early 20th century. At the time, however, it was impossible to predict that the world would change so much and that we would travel around the world laden with electrical appliances.

Almost all electrical devices, whether lamps; radios; televisions or industrial machinery, were fixed. Therefore, it was only necessary for the plug to match the type of wall plug. No one imagined that in a few years we would travel laden with mobile phones, cameras, hair dryers, headphones and whatever is to come.

Therefore, each manufacturer initially selected a type of plug based on the most popular type of plug in the country where it was going to sell its electrical appliances.  

The result is that nowadays there are 16 different types of plugs in the world. Each of them receives a letter to name it. We can find everything from type A to type N plugs. We are going to review all plug models in the world.

 

Plug types in Spain and Europe

The type of plug you know best is the type C or sometimes called "Euro-plug". This is the one used mainly in Spain and in most countries in Europe.

Type C consists of two round parallel pins while the wall plug has two holes where it is connected. What is colloquially known as the male and female, an expression we use for most cable connections.

Graphic representation of the different types of plugs, explained in text throughout the post

One of the main advantages of plug type C is that, because of its simplicity in two pins, it is compatible with types E, F, and K with two holes and types J, K or N with three holes in the female.

 

Types of plugs in the world

Before taking a trip or if you plan to import an electrical appliance from another country, it is very important to know the types of plugs in the world. It is the best way to be prepared for when you see those weird pins or those wall plugs that often remind us of an emoji. 

If you leave Europe, the advice is to carry a universal adaptor just in case.

 

Type A/B plug, US and Japanese plugs

Both plug types A and B are characterised by their two parallel flat pins with a small hole. Usually one of the two pins in the plug is thicker than the other.

These are the plugs that you will find in the USA or Japan and you will need an adaptor to be able to transform the cable from your type C plug to this model with flat pins and wall slots.

The differences between model A and B is that the type B plug comes with a third rounded pin and is somewhat longer than the flat ones. This third pin is used to connect to the grounding once plugged in.

If you travel to Japan or the USA and come across type B wall plugs, the first few days you surely will be reminded of a scared emoji face.

 

Other countries that use it

If you travel a lot, keep in mind that this A and B plug model type is also used in countries such as: Saudi Arabia, Belize, Bolivia, Canada, Cambodia, Colombia, North Korea, South Korea, Costa Rica, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Philippines, Guatemala, Guyana, Honduras, Jamaica, Jordan, Laos, Malaysia, Maldives, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Peru, Puerto Rico, Thailand, Taiwan, Venezuela, Vietnam and Yemen.

 

Type G plug, UK plug

Although the most widespread model in Europe is type C, the type of plug from the UK and Ireland is G. 

The pin or male has three rectangular flat pins placed in a triangular or t position. The third of the pins of this type of plug serves as a grounding and the plug also has a fuse inside.

 

Other countries that use it

Despite being the plug par excellence in the UK and Ireland, other countries have also adopted this model. Almost all countries with close historical links to the British Empire, such as: Cyprus, Malta, Singapore, Gibraltar, Jordan, Malaysia, Maldives, Nigeria, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Tanzania and the United Arab Emirates.

 

Plug type D is the plug for travelling to India

Plug type D is an adaptation of the UK plug, but changes the rectangular shape of the pins to a rounded shape. It is reminiscent of the type of plug in Spain with a third pin added.

The third pin, which is higher than the other two and slightly longer and thicker, is used as a grounding.

 

Other countries that use it

As with UK plugs, type D plugs are also used in other countries with strong relations with India, such as Nepal and Sri Lanka. Namibia also uses this plug model, with it being the only African country to use it as its main model.

 

Type I plug, Australian and New Zealand plug

This model is characterised by three flat/rectangular pins arranged in a V-shape. The top pin, which is plugged in vertically, is intended to connect to the grounding.

This is the type of plug used in Australia, New Zealand and Papua New Guinea.

 

Other countries that use it

Model I is not the most implemented, but it does have an interesting dispersion on the map of plug types in the world. It is also used in China, Uzbekistan, Argentina and Uruguay.

 

Other plugs in the world

As you can see, the different types of plugs in the world have created a very varied map of plugs and plugs throughout the planet. However, even if you think this can't be more complicated, we still have a few models to go over.

 

Type E plugs

  • Two round pins in a parallel position and one hole above them. In this hole, a third pin will enter that is on the wall plug.
  • It is used inMorocco, Tunisia and Senegal. Also present in some places in Europe such as France, Belgium, Poland and Slovakia. This is compatible with type C plugs that if you remember, is the plug used in Spain and most of Europe.

 

Type F plugs

  • Very similar to type E but with two grounding clips = two clips that are inserted into the two pins of the wall plug.
  • This is used inthere is still a residual presence in many countries of Europe, including Spain, and in Jordan, South Korea, Indonesia, Thailand, Turkey, Uruguay and Vietnam. It is compatible with the type C that is mainly used in Spain.

 

Type H plugs

  • Three pins that form a triangle, this is very similar to plug type E.
  • This is only used in Israel. This is compatible with the type C that is mainly used in Spain.
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"In Spain type C is used almost without exception, which is the most common in Europe and compatible with type E, F, H and K."

Type J plugs

  • Like type C but adding a third rounded pin at the top. In Spain there are plug models, especially in table lamps and small appliances that look a lot like this one, but without the third pin.
  • This is used in: Switzerland, Jordan, Liechtenstein, Madagascar and Maldives.

 

Type K plugs

  • Two round pins and a third with a semi-rounded shape that is at the bottom to connect to the grounding of the wall plug.
  • This is used inDenmark, Guinea, Madagascar, Maldives and Senegal. This is also compatible with the Spanish type-C plug.

 

Type L plugs

  • This has three round pins placed in a line. The middle pin corresponds to the grounding pin.
  • This is used inparts of Italy, Chile, Maldives and Uruguay. You'll need an adaptor.

 

Type M plugs

  • Its three pins also form a triangle and are round. Two of them are parallel, while the one located at the top is thicker and longer in length (grounding).
  • This is used inSouth Africa, India, Israel, Malaysia, Mozambique, Nepal, Pakistan and Singapore. 

 

Type N plugs

This is one of the most curious plug models in the world. It was created in order to become a type of universal plug to be implemented in all countries. A kind of universal USB for electricity.

The result, so that you get an idea of the complexity of standardising the pins, is that only two countries use it.

  • Plug type N is similar to type C, but has a third pin, the grounding, located in the middle of these two and slightly higher.
  • Used in: only in South Africa and parts of Brazil. 
"If you are going outside Europe, you can have peace of mind by bringing a universal adaptor that will work in any of these plugs."

Types of plugs and voltage

Despite all the types of plugs in the world that we have just looked at, there is another factor we need to consider when travelling. 

The electrical voltage, which is measured in volts (V), is also not the same everywhere in the world. In this case, and luckily we don't have that much variety.

The vast majority of countries supply electricity at a voltage between 220 and 240 V. However, it is common for the voltage of facilities to be between 110 and 120 V in the Americas.

Most transformers and plug adaptors are now ready to withstand both voltages. However, you have to be very careful when plugging in devices designed for 110V voltages if you plug them into 220V networks and the actual device is not adapted.

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