What Are the Different Types of Socket Adapters?

Jean Marie Asta

With language barriers and navigating new cities, international travelers have their hands full already without worrying about how they are going to plug in their laptop or cell phone charger. Fortunately, different power sockets do not have to be a problem. There are over 13 different types of socket adapters available to travelers, which can be bought in travel packs that contain a number of the most popular adapters. Travelers can also buy individual adapters appropriate to the country they are visiting.

Foreign-bound travelers who are bringing laptops or other electronic devices should pack a socket adapter.
Foreign-bound travelers who are bringing laptops or other electronic devices should pack a socket adapter.

Both power sockets and the socket adapters that fit them are classified by a lettering system. Type A has two prongs that plug into the outlet, and it is necessary in countries such as the United States, Canada, Mexico, and Jamaica. The Type B adapter may be used in these countries as well. This adapter has the two prongs that Type A has, but it also has a third round prong — a grounding pin — below the other prongs. In countries that have these alternatives, of the two socket adapters, the Type A is the better choice, as some power sockets will only allow the two-pronged adapter. The advantage is that Type A socket adapters can fit into Type B sockets.

Standard U.S. power outlet.
Standard U.S. power outlet.

Type C socket adapters are needed in the majority of European countries and South Africa. They consist of two rounded prongs. Like Type C, Type D has rounded prongs, but rather than just two, there is a third grounding pin. Type D adapters will be useful for travelers in Belgium or France. Socket adapter Type E has two rounded prongs and a hole situated above them that allows for a ground pin extruding from the socket itself to be inserted into it.

Travelers in Great Britain will need the Type F adapter, which has two flat prongs and one prong that is rectangular in shape. Australia features Type G sockets and Type H sockets. The corresponding Type G adapter will have two prongs that angle inward on each other. A Type H adapter has the two inward pointing prongs as well as a third flat prong found atop the other two.

Of the five remaining types of socket adapters, Type I is necessary in Denmark and consists of two rounded prongs and one grounding pin, Type J will be needed in Israel and has three small, flat prongs, and Type K is specific to Switzerland and consists of three rounded prongs. Type L has three rounded prongs that are situated in a straight line on the socket adapter. Italy, Uruguay, and Argentina are the main countries that use this type of adapter. India and some South African areas call for the Type M adapter, which has three rounded prongs in a triangle set far apart.

These are the basic types of socket adapters and the countries they are most commonly needed in. Some may sound very similar, but the difference is often in size, shape, and prong configuration. Before buying socket adapters, travelers should research the power socket types in the country they will be visiting, as some countries have multiple types that can be distributed through areas seemingly at random. It is important for international travelers to know they have every type of adapter they could possibly need.

220 volt europlug that works in most European countries.
220 volt europlug that works in most European countries.

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