Choosing the Right Travel Adapter
Going away on business trips or on holidays can be exciting, but packing appropriately is always essential. Everybody has at least one personal electronic device with a battery which requires charging. Whether it’s a mobile phone, tablet, laptop, smartwatch, or anything else, you must be able to connect it to the power supply in your destination location safely. Many people manage to forget that they are likely to need a travel adapter plug when they visit other countries.
What is a travel adapter and why do you need it?
There is currently no universal power outlet adopted by every country in the world. This means that other countries may have different power sockets which require different plugs. The way to get around this problem is to acquire a power adapter. There are different power adapters for various types of plugs. This is why it is important to identify which plugs your devices have, and which socket type they will need to plug into. Some of them have extra features, even allowing you to use the adapter for multiple plug and socket types. You will be able to connect to the power supply to charge devices if you plug them into the adapter then plug the adapter into the outlet. However, travel adapters do not convert voltage. There are also varying voltage levels around the world, which means you could damage electronics and cause shortages or fires if you use the wrong equipment. Read more about this further down.
How many different types of plugs are there?
There are 14 different plug socket standards around the globe, which could make using electronics costly for frequent travellers. They range from Type A plugs to Type N plugs. Luckily, there are around 6 plug types which are commonly used. You should consult the IEC World list of plugs to check which plug and socket types are used in the country you will be travelling to. In the UK we use Type G plugs, while Europeans use Type F or Type C and Americans use Type A and Type B. If there are multiple types of plug used in your destination country, you need to contact the owner of the residence you will be occupying. Whether it is a hotel or a friend’s house, they should be able to specify which plugs and sockets their building uses. Below you can view a quick visual guide to plug socket types and where to use them.
You also need to be aware of the differences in voltage in different countries. This is not necessarily the same as your usual country of residence, and even if you have a travel adapter you may also need to purchase a voltage converter.
What is the difference between a travel adapter and a voltage converter?
The function of a travel adapter is merely to adapt your existing plug to a different outlet. Therefore it only matches the shape, it does not convert the voltage travelling through the wires as well. You can damage electronics or even cause an electrical fire if your devices require a different voltage. You need to check the voltage on the power supply label on each device. Dual voltage devices can run on either of the voltages shown, while single voltage devices will normally require a converter. In order to find a suitable voltage converter, you need to check the wattage of each device. The voltage or alternating current will be shown as V or AC, while wattage will be shown as W. If it says A for amps instead, multiply the A by the V/AC to get the W. You will need a converter that can allow up to 3 times more wattage than your device actually needs. In the UK, we use 220-240V, while Americans use 120V. In Japan, they only use 110V. This often makes things difficult for plugging in larger devices like hairdryers and hair stylers, so avoid bringing these if possible.
How do you choose the right travel adapter?
All of the information about plug types and voltage risks is a bit overwhelming, as is the range of adapters available. However, as long as you are aware of the basic facts and check requirements carefully, finding the right travel adapter within your budget shouldn’t actually be too difficult. Start out by doing your research on the plug types used in the countries you will be travelling to. Then check the voltages in those countries and compare them to the voltages of the devices that you will be bringing along. Now you should know whether you need to buy just a travel adapter or a voltage converter as well. Then you can start shopping for adapters. Think about how many devices you will need to plug in. If you have USB-charging devices, then look for a travel adapter with multiple USB ports. This is a good way to avoid wasting money and luggage space on multiple travel adapters. You should also be able to find universal travel adapters if you will be travelling to multiple countries. These include the most popular plug and socket types in one.
Tips for Choosing the Right Travel Adapter
Consider the following things when you are shopping for your travel adapter and it should help to find the right one.
- Worldwide Universal Use – is it a global travel adapter suitable for use in most countries?
- Maximum Power Output – can the individual sockets and the whole adapter support high-powered gadgets?
- Small Compact Size – is it too bulky and heavy to pack or to plug it in properly?
- Quality and Safety – is the manufacturer reputable? do they offer a warranty?
- Surge Protection – will it protect your devices against power surges? does it have a ground plug?
- Number of Pins – do you need a three-pin adapter or a two-pin adapter?
- Number of Outlets – does one adapter have enough outlets for multiple devices?
- USB Ports – does it have USB slots for devices which use lightning cables?