When planning to travel abroad, different cultures and currencies are not the only things to worry about. Electric appliances and gadgets are another cause of worry. Every country has different plug shapes and electricity voltages, and an appliance working well in one country may not withstand the varied voltage output of another.
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Is a travel adapter a necessity?
For those who are wishing to travel away from their home country or region of the world, then chances are, a travel adapter is a necessity. This is because power outlets have different shapes in different parts of the world. This means people may need an adapter to convert the shape of their home power plugs to the shape of the outlets in the region of the world they are travelling to. A universal adapter that allows people to change the pins is a great investment for an avid traveller, and with the move to more USB charging options worldwide, finding one with a USB slot these days can be a lucrative investment decision.
Here is a list of the plug types in different parts of the world:
North America: The voltage of North America is 120 volts, with most electrical goods operating at around 110 volts. The plug type is two prongs with a third optional round pin. Countries such as Brazil, Mexico, Japan, some parts of Egypt, Thailand and Peru also use this type of power adapter.
UK and Ireland: The voltage for the UK and Ireland is 230 volts with most electrical goods operating between 220-240 volts. The UK and Ireland outlets require a unique three-flat rectangular pronged plug type.
Europe: Using the same voltage as the UK and Ireland of 230 volts, most electrical goods operate between 220-240 volts. The difference is Europe operates on a two-round prog outlet. Countries such as Argentina, Morocco, Thailand, China, and Egypt also use the European two-prong power outlet.
Where to buy travel adapters?
Travel shops – including online travel shops – department stores, and even cheap knick-knack shops are great places to pick up power point converters and travel adapters. People can even buy an RS adapter plug through providers such as RS Components. Adapters are also available in shops in airport departure lounges, but they can be a little more expensive there, which is why it is best to grab one before travelling.
Do people need voltage converters for their trips? Voltage is a measure of electrical force and varies from region to region throughout the world. As such, it will depend on what region the electrical devices come from and in what region a person intends to use them.
If the voltage in a person’s home country is roughly the same as the voltage in the country they will be travelling to, then they will not necessarily need one. Many modern electrical devices are built to handle a range of different volts. That said, travellers should still check the voltage capacity printed in the manual of the item of whatever they plan to plug into the power supply.
Most electrical goods will take between 110-240 volts and may sometimes have a switch to switch between the two. For instance, if a person plugs something that requires a higher voltage to operate, they will find that it may take longer to charge. This generally should not result in any damage though.
However, for appliances from the US or Canada that are only able to take 120 volts, they may wind up being damaged if they are plugged into a European outlet.This often happens with hairdryers and straighteners. In this case, it is best to buy a voltage converter to go along with the power point adapter.
Types of travel adapters
Once a traveller knows which type of plugs are used in a particular region, they can then start to narrow down their options. Depending on their specific requirements, they can opt for a single-region travel adapter, a multi-region plug, or a universal model.
Single-region travel adapters
Single-region travel adapters are the most straightforward option. As well as particular countries, these models can also be used in countries which all use the same sockets and voltages. However, although they tend to be the cheapest option, these adapters may limit future flexibility, especially for avid travellers.
Various include multi-way models (featuring the ability to plug in multiple devices at the same time), and the option to pair a one-way single-region adapter with a multi-socket extension lead for multiple devices for increased demand.
Multi-region travel adapters
For greater versatility, buyers can opt for a multi-country or region plug adapter. These are typically slightly larger or more complex units, with different pins for different sockets. They are designed to accommodate several national standards of plug and socket arrangements at the same time.
The most common types tend to handle a combination of European, Asia, UK, and North American standards. They can be single-way or multi-way, depending on a traveller’s preference.
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Universal travel adapters
Universal travel adapters are generally the most flexible option as they are suitable for use in the majority of countries around the world. It is worth noting that this flexibility comes with increased size, especially compared to the other models.
While their functionality is a bonus, their size can make them less convenient and easy to transport. In less stable socket types, this added weight can make these adapters feel less securely attached.