Home FAQ Do I Need a Power Converter in Europe?

Do I Need a Power Converter in Europe?

by Micaela Zaslabsky

Are you planning on visiting Europe? Are you worried about not being able to charge your phone or plug your laptop? If you are travelling from any other continent to Europe, there are high chances that you will need a power converter to do so. Power outlets come in different shapes, and you will need an adapter to be able to plug your gadgets. Sometimes you will need a power converter to adapt the voltage capacity.

All European countries work with up to 230V. Coming from another continent you will probably need a power converter unless your device is dual-voltage. You will also need an adapter to be able to plug your gadgets on the Europlug (type C) or the type G (for the UK and Ireland).

Most European countries share the same plug type. Therefore, you need to get your hands on a C type of adapter and you will be able to plug your gadgets in most European countries. If you need more information and want to know what countries are the exception to this rule and why you need an adapter, keep reading!

Do I Need a Power Converter?

Let’s make things clear, on the one hand, a power adapter is only a plug that adapts the shape of your outlet to that of the country you are travelling to.  On the other hand, a power converter is a plug that has the capacity of converting the voltage (V) from one country to another.

All European countries have an average of 230 V, which means that if you are travelling from one European country to another, you may need a power adapter but not a converter. However, if you are coming from abroad, for instance, the United States, Colombia or Japan, you will need both, a power adapter and also a converter. This is not always the case and you have to check your devices to know for sure if you need a converter or not. If you happen to need them, you can buy a power adapter here on Amazon and if you need a power converter I recommend this one. When it comes to converter better pay a little bit more but get a good one. You don’t want a converter to die together with your laptop. I link adapter for people from the UK below. If you want to know more about the Netherlands, you can find it here.

Companies in North-America and Europe tend to create their products with “dual-voltage” (110-230V). However, it is very important to check that the item itself says so and that we don’t damage it.

Why so? well, for instance, if your hairdryer or your camera charger needs a higher voltage, but you are in the US or Japan, it will take longer for them to start working like normal. In the opposite case, if your devices are made for lower power, there is the possibility of them getting damaged by the high V. This is why it is very important to be ready when travelling abroad.

UK and Ireland

Even though the UK and Ireland have the same voltage as the rest of Europe (230 V) and the same frequency (50 Hz) you will need an adapter if you are travelling there from anywhere else in the world, or from there to another country: therefore, you won’t need a converter. You can buy an adapter here on Amazon.

In these countries, they use the power plugs and sockets type G, which means you will need a special adapter, different from the European one. Back in the day, this type was invented by the British Empire to save copper, making it be inside the connector of every gadget instead of installing it in all the sockets. That is why you will find them to be bulkier than the Europlug.

Voltage Capacity

As I was saying before, a power adapter and a power converter are not the same things. When we talk about voltage capacity we are talking about converters. The type of power adapter is important because otherwise, you won’t be able to connect your device to the electrical system, yet a power convertor is a plug that you need because it has the capacity of converting the voltage from one country to another. 

European countries, as well as most countries in the world, use a very high voltage capacity: 220-240 volts. This is twice as high as the one in the United States and some countries like Japan.

Nowadays, electrical devices are made to be able to handle a range of different volts, and you can easily know so. Most of them have this information included on their manual or printed on them: laptop chargers will say so, as well as some other small adapters for USB chargers. The range you are looking for is between 100 and 240V, which implies that you can use it everywhere in the world without needing a converter. Anything inside this range is valid.

It is unlikely that you will need a converter to charge your phone, but you may need it to use some other electronic devices.

Where to Buy Plug Adapters and Converters

The internet is your place. Nowadays you can find everything you need online, delivered to your door and with a lot of offers. If you already know you will need a plug, and reading through the list of countries and the types they use, you can easily figure out and do a search of the exact one you will need. I linked adapters I recommend above.

If you don’t have time to do so, airports and train stations always offer a lot of multi-plugs for a compatible outlet worldwide. These tend to be expensive, but if you travel a lot it is definitely worth it. In most cases, hotels have adapters so you can borrow one from them. Here you have an article about where to buy adapters in Amsterdam if you are visiting, and here more information about power converters in the Netherlands.

Mainland Europe

Why does mainland Europe share the same type of plug? Well, the dimensions of these were created to make the production of devices and connections compatible with the whole continent and also taking into consideration safety measures. Therefore these power plugs:

  • only work when they are fully inserted
  • no conductive parts are visible while it is plugged
Italian Type L Socket || Photo courtesy of Wikicommons

If you see that some countries in continental Europe have a different outlet shape, don’t worry, if you keep reading this article you will find out that plug types in Europe vary. This doesn’t mean that it is different, it only means that it looks different. Most European countries share the Europlug shape, but that is only the disposition of the two metallic connectors, not the actual shape of the outlet. Check out the list of countries down below, and you will see that a lot of countries have their old version of a plug beside the Europlug. This is not a problem, you can always use the Europlug, it just means there are more options!

Plug Type by European Country

Most European countries have plug Type C, also called Europlug. The Type C plug (or Europlug) is a two-wire plug that has two round pins (around 4.00 – 5.00 mm each). These are the countries that accept Types C and F in Europe: 

Type C/F

Andorra, Austria, Croatia, Finland, Germany, Greece, Netherlands, Iceland, Italy, Kosovo, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Macedonia, Madeira (like Portugal), Moldova, Monaco, Montenegro, Norway, Portugal, Romania, Serbia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Turkey and Ukraine.

Type G

This is the other main one you will have to consider when travelling to Europe, since it is used in countries such as England, Ireland, Malta and also Gibraltar, Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland.

Type E/F/K/J/L

If you are in a country that has any of these types, don’t worry, because they all have adapted to also have the European plug (C). But out of curiosity and just in case you are told or read about this, these are the countries that count with other types besides the C: France, Monaco, Belgium, Poland, Slovakia, Liechtenstein, Switzerland, Denmark and its territories, Italy, the Vatican City and San Marino.

To sum up, the type C plug fits perfectly into a type E, F, J, K or L, so just one adapter will work for all these countries. If you are coming to mainland Europe from the United Kingdom and Ireland, or vice-versa, you may want to get an adapter.

Extra Tips

Here you have some extra tips that I have learnt through my own experience and all the trips I have done. Keep reading because you may find them helpful:

  • Most hotels have adapters and converters. If you are staying at a hotel, don’t hesitate to ask at the reception if they have them. Most of them provide them free of charge and you can use them for as long as you want during your stay.
  • If you only have one plug, charge everything else on your laptop. I have been observing people and not many come up with this brilliant solution! If I only have one plug or one adapter and I need more, I always charge all my USB gadgets with my laptop. It may take longer but it is a great solution.
  • Apple has a lot of smart solutions for your laptop. Instead of using a converter or an adapter, Apple offers a lot of cool solutions for your MacBook. These accessories are a little bit of investment too, but if you are looking for a smart solution, Apple has amazing ways of changing the plug outlet and all the versions you will need to travel to any continent, including Europe. Besides that, you will always find an Apple Store in Europe, wherever you go, there is always one in big cities.
  • Always get a power bank. I know we are preventing this to happen if you are reading this article, but just in case you arrive at your destination and you find out you cannot plug your phone charger anywhere, a power bank will save your life. At least, you will be able to look for the answer to what plug you actually need, or where is the closest shop where you can but it.

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