Plug adapter converter for Italy

What is the best converter to get for our travels in Italy?
I have a cell phone, flat iron, hair dryer and netbook that I will need to plug in (not necessarily all at the same time). I've seen the 'sets' but they are about $30.00 and I don't need all those other country converters.
Thanks.

Posted by Kent
Pacific Northwest
6808 posts

That question is answered in the site FAQ, click here for that, 5th item down.

Posted by Lee
Lakewood, Colorado
11260 posts

Or here.

There are two kinds of devices. There is a plug adapter, a simple, inexpensive mechanical device that fits into European wall receptacles and accepts two bladed American plugs. They do not change the voltage but many low wattage devices, like cell phones and laptop chargers, accept 100-240V AC. Look on the charger. If they do, a simple plug adapter is all you need. You can get them from a variety of places (REI, here, ACE hardware).

For heating devices, a few have a voltage switches, from 110V to 240V. If not, you will need a voltage converter. These chop off the tops of the sine waves. They produce a wave form unsuitable for low wattage electronic device, like laptop chargers, they can damage them, but they can be used for things like hair dryers.

I wouldn't carry a universal plug adapter for every country in the world. You can get a "So. Europe" one at ACE for about $5. That configuration, called a "Europlug", with 5/32" pins, works everywhere in Europe.

Posted by Ken
Vernon, Canada
17736 posts

Brigette,

To begin with it's important to clarify the terminology. A Converter (aka Voltage Converter) reduces the 220-VAC used in European electrical systems to 115-VAC. This is essential for devices that are designed only for 115-VAC.

It's VERY important to note that there are two principles of conversion used in these devices. One type uses a Transformer, and this should be used with electronic products such as Cell Phone and Camera Chargers. The other type uses solid-state conversion, and this should be used with high-wattage heating appliances such as Hair Dryers.

You will most certainly need Plug Adapters which are a simple mechanical device which "adapts" the various styles of European outlets to allow North American-style plugs to connect. Have a look at This Website for a good description and pictures of various Plug Adapters.

The first and most important thing you'll need to do is check the Input Voltage specifications on each device that you'll be travelling with. If these state "Input 100-240 VAC, 50/60 Hz" then you'll only need Plug Adapters.

It's probable that most of your electonics will be designed for "world operation", but your Hair Dryer and Flat Iron are another matter. You might also check the Magellans website for dual-voltage hair appliances.

You could also purchase an inexpensive Flat Iron when you arrive. One important point to note is that many Hotels and B&B's now provide Hair Dryers for guests. Sometimes these are kept behind the front desk and you have to ask for them.

Finally, it's also IMPORTANT to determine whether your Cell Phone will even work in Europe. Which network are you with in the U.S.?

Happy travels!

Posted by Brigette
Nice, CA, USA
69 posts

Thank you all!!!

Ken, yes my phone will work.............already went through that whole confusion!!! I just need a GSM SIM card when I get there. I am with US Cellular, that plan wont work, but my phone is a HTC touch pro 2, with a SIM, it will.

Posted by Ronald
Houten, Utrecht, Netherlands
73 posts

Please also note that plugs are not the same throughout Europe. In Italy, the pins are slightly thinner than in e.g. Germany and Netherlands. Italian plugs will fit in Germany and Netherlands, but not all German and Dutch plugs fit in Italy. For instance, I have difficulties plugging my battery charger into an Italian socket, because the pins are too thick.

Also, if you wish to plug in appliances that require ground/earth, you will need to make sure you have the right plug. In Italy, the ground connection is made through a third pin, whereas in the Netherlands, the ground is on the side of the plug.

Posted by Andrea
Sacramento, CA
4867 posts

Does the Continental adapter sold on this site fit the plugs in Italy?

Posted by Lee
Lakewood, Colorado
11260 posts

This site has a great price on plug adapters, except for shipping. One $1.00 plug will cost you $7.00 with shipping. You can probably find them locally for less. Last time I checked ACE Hardware they were about $5 each. Of course if you are already ordering other things, you might get the plug for $0 shipping.

At ACE Hardware, or anywhere else where they carry a variety of plugs, get the So. Europe one. That has 4.0mm (5/32")Ø pins that fit the Italian receptacles. The No. Europe one has 4.8mm (3/16") Ø pins.

The adapter with the 5/32" pins is called a "Europlug" because it fits receptacles all over continental Europe. BTW, that configuation, two pins without grounding, is limited to 2½ amps, less than 600W. It is not suitable for hair dryers.

Posted by Maggie
Boscombe, Dorset, UK
960 posts

After some absent-minded packing I myself in Italy recently without my collection of adapters and converters (I have a US camera, a European hairdryer and a UK phone).
I went to a store called Fnac and for 15 euros, got one small plug which is both a converter and adapter and will work anywhere in the world. It has lock-away pins for the US, UK and all parts of Europe, and is also a converter.
It's the neatest thing!