If you travel abroad, you not only have to find out about the applicable law and the culture there, but also about the types of sockets used there. Great Britain or other non-European countries use different plug shapes than we do in Germany and the EU. Domestic devices cannot be used here without further ado.
To counteract this, there are so-called travel adapters. With these, you can easily use devices with an EU Schuko plug abroad. We provide an overview of existing connector types. To do this, we looked at different products and approaches and show what works best and when.
If you go to the socket at home, you will usually find the plug type F in this country. It has two openings for the round contact pins and a protective contact. From the latter it also has the name Schuko plug. It is partially compatible with the French Type E system. Type F plugs can also be plugged into type K sockets, but they are only mechanically compatible. This is because the protective conductor is not electrically connected in this way, which can be life-threatening.
If you travel to many other countries, you will find completely different plug types. Because many countries around the world have their own standard that defines how their household sockets are designed and how they work.
The most common plug types are A, B, F, G and I. A and B are used in the USA, Type G in Great Britain and Ireland and Type I comes from Australia and New Zealand. There are also plug types D (Asia, Africa, Middle East), E (France, Belgium, North Africa), K (Denmark, Maldives, Greenland and Madagascar), J (Switzerland and Liechtenstein) and L (Italy). Japan, like the US, uses Type A.
In Europe, however, E, K, J and L are increasingly being exchanged and converted to the multi-compatible standard CEE-7/7. This combines the plugs mentioned and thus makes adapters superfluous, even in the existing system. It also contains the type F used in this country, which it also replaces. Until this process is complete, however, one may still encounter old, incompatible connector types.
In addition, only a few countries are converting the plug, so that there is further incompatibility internationally.
Also to note
It is important to pay attention to suitable safety markings, such as the official CE mark or seals such as GS (tested safety). The use of electronic devices without adequate, confirmed safe adapter solutions is life-threatening.
Furthermore, the mains voltage used in the respective country must be observed. In this country, devices rely on a voltage of 230 volts at 16 amps. In the USA, on the other hand, it is 110 volts. Some appliances, such as some hair dryers, can handle both 110 volts and 230 volts but need to be set accordingly.
To counter compatibility problems, there are travel adapters that ensure that existing power supplies or devices can also be used with other plugs. To do this, plug it in between the device and the socket. There are models with a removable plug attachment, as well as with various integrated plugs. You can also use plug adapters with a fixed plug that fit the travel destination.
In order to buy the right adapter, you should find out about the plug used locally before you travel. It may also help to ask the hotel in advance. Suitable adapters can be found by searching for “country” in connection with “travel adapter” or you can search for adapters for the plug type used there.
We have looked at the three possible adapter solutions below and will help you with the specific selection.
A practical solution to be prepared for as many cases and countries as possible are universal or multiple plugs. They offer several plug types combined and can thus be used in different countries. This includes the Uppel Universal Travel Adapter. It offers US (Type A) and UK (Type G) plugs.
Depending on the place of use, you can fold out the corresponding connection with a button and use your devices as usual. There is also a type F connector, which means that you can use the travel adapter at home as a normal USB power supply. A total of three USB ports are available. In addition to two USB-A ports, there is also a USB-C slot. For the small and versatile plug cube you pay around 22 euros at Amazon. That’s not too much for what’s on offer, but not too little either.
The travel adapter from Tessan has a similar structure. It also has three available power plug types and even four USB-A ports to charge devices. However, it is currently cheaper on Amazon than the power supply unit from Uppel and costs 18 euros thanks to a 3-euro coupon that you have to activate before you buy it. Even cheaper is the Leelbox travel adapter, whose equipment is also comparable to the Uppel power supply. The price is currently 11 euros, but there is an additional 15 percent coupon that can be activated before purchase.
In addition to the universal adapters, there are also universal connections, such as those found in the Powerstation Warmounts CN1000W (test report). It’s the opposite principle – foreign plug types can also be used in Germany. This can be useful for guests, but also when you import products that have a different type of plug. The universal sockets in particular, which combine several plug types in one connection, can therefore be used in many ways – but they look a bit peculiar and Schuko plugs are not as secure and tight as usual. The power supply connection on the Uppel travel adapter is also universal, i.e. it combines Type A, Type G and Type F, among others.
Another variety are power supplies with several permanently installed plug types. They are arranged all around so that you simply plug the appropriate side into the socket – as with the cube, all plug types are always integrated in the power supply. An example of this is the Kopp Travelstar, which offers a total of five plugs. However, at 25 euros, it costs more than the multiplugs from Uppel, Tessan and Leelbox.
Power packs with interchangeable plugs
Power supplies with interchangeable plugs are somewhat cheaper. These are classic smartphone USB chargers (top 10 USB-C chargers under 65 watts) with a replaceable mains plug. This works with a practical trick: the power supply itself is one with the American Type A plug. However, this can be removed. You can now put one of the attachments included, for example for Type F (Schuko) or Type G (Great Britain).
Occasionally manufacturers, such as JBL, include power supplies with interchangeable plugs with their devices. However, you can easily buy them yourself. An example is the Anker 312 Charger 25W – A good charger to properly charge your cell phone or other devices. It currently costs around 10 euros after activation of the 15 percent voucher. However, the performance and the single USB-C port are not enough for more than charging a smartphone, and of course you can’t get a hair dryer to work with such a connection.
The same applies to competitor Ugreen, which also offers power adapters with interchangeable plugs, including the Nexode 65W travel charger with two USB-C and one USB-A port. It is priced at 42 euros and is currently around 7 euros more expensive than the normal Nexode 65W.
Another disadvantage of the large universal cube is that you have to take several individual parts with you that you could theoretically forget. That’s annoying, because without the attachment that goes with the charger, it’s initially useless – because then all you have to do is reach for the plug adapter.
Power supplies with a fixed foreign plug
In addition to the universal plugs, multiplugs and power packs with interchangeable plugs, there are also adapters where the foreign plug cannot be interchanged. They can then only be used in the country in which the plug is used, but score points with their affordable price. Simple models, such as the Brennenstuhl travel plug for the USA, can be found for just a few euros.
They also come with extra USB ports, like our Vintar US travel adapter on Amazon for $13 (if you activate the coupon before you buy). Similar to the multi-plugs, you no longer need a separate power pack for the smartphone, but can charge devices directly via the USB port and charging cable (guide). Such versions are therefore higher in price than the simple plug attachments. Ugreen charges just under 14 euros for its travel adapter with Schuko socket and USB connections and plugs for Great Britain and also around 14 euros for the USA.
Finally, our price comparison shows a list of different travel adapters, sorted by popularity or price. However, they are not sorted by plug type or country of destination, which is why you have to pay attention to this in each case.
With travel adapters and multiplugs for foreign plug types, you are well prepared for your next vacation. There are models, such as the Uppel travel adapter, which even combine 2 or more plug types and USB ports in one power supply. This kills a lot of birds with one stone and means you don’t have to buy new plugs for every travel destination.
Models with detachable or exchangeable plugs follow the same line. They are slightly cheaper than many multiplugs. Without an attachment, a type A plug is usually available here. However, such power packs harbor the risk of losing the individual parts.
Another cheaper variant are power supplies with permanently installed foreign plugs. You can equip yourself for your vacation for just a few euros, but you may have to buy a new, then suitable adapter for each travel destination with a different plug.
All in all, we advise you to find out about the type of plug used on site before you arrive. After some countries switch to new, multi-compatible plugs, it should be easier there in the future. Until this process is completed, however, you may still come across hotels with the old plug types.