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Which adapter should I bring?

I asked a similar question earlier but deleted it because I didn't word it very well. My question is 2-part. I am wondering what to do about charging my laptop because my charging cord has 3 prongs (typical US laptop charger cord, 2 prongs on top, circular prong below) and I notice that most European adapters such as the one in the Rick Steves' store does not have a spot to insert that 3rd/bottom prong. What's the best way to go about charging my laptop while in Europe? (I'll be visiting Amsterdam, Munich, and parts of Italy)

Secondly, while shopping for adapters, I've noticed there is one that looks to be specifically for Italy, having 3 prongs as opposed to the two prong that the standard European adapters have. Will I need this one as well since I'll spend a good amount of time in Italy? Would it be wise to bring both?

Thanks for the help!

Posted by
1223 posts
  1. I just plugged my 3 prong computer plug into a two prong euro adapter (left the ground prong exposed) and i did not have any problems using my laptop in Europe and no damage to my laptop. YMMV.

  2. I was worried about the same 3 prong Italy plugs/outlets which i saw on the internet last year. Also, i saw some two prongs which appeared to be just thicker than the regular two prong. All i could find was a regular two prong plug adapter and it worked in Rome, Florence and Venice for us in May. I did not see any of the 3 prong outlets.

Posted by
7 posts

Here is a set of plugs with the extra ground plug ( Italy hotels that I've been to definitely use the three prongs in a row plug type so you need a special 3-pin plug for them. In case you are wondering, the third prong in the Euro plug (type FR in the linked set) is the metal strip on the side of the plug.

You can buy adapters that have a slot for the ground plug (round pin on US plug) but only have two pins on the other side but that does remove some safety from your device.

Here are the technical details (
For 2 prong it is easy, "type C" works almost everywhere in Europe (type C plugs fit into type E, F, G, J, K, and L sockets).
For 3 prong, Italy is mostly "type L" and some "type F"; most of the rest of Europe (with some major exceptions) is either "type F" or "type E"

The FR plug from the amazon link works on both "type E" and "type F" and the IT plug is "type L". Other ones you might need for Europe are "type G" (UK, Ireland), "type J" (Switzerland), or "type K" (Denmark)

Posted by
23343 posts

And I give you the same answer I gave before. This is not rocket science. Buy an adapter, anywhere, that accepts the Am plug. They are very common. All of my adapters accepts the three prong Am plug. The round plug on an Am plug is a secondary ground this not needed and will not effect you performance. It is wise to bring a couple of adapters since it is easy to leave one behind.

Posted by
420 posts

My husband uses an USB hub. But I also purchased 8 Rick Steves plugs (4 UK & 4 Europe). They were on sale for only $1 each when I got them. We are a family of 4 plus I thought we might loose a couple. They worked great. I also ended up giving one to my sister who was traveling with us.

I did see plugs for sale everywhere we went.

Posted by
19118 posts

I once did the same thing that Funpig reports doing, letting the grounding pin on my US 3-pin grounding plug stick out alongside the non-grounding, 2-pin (Europlug) adapter, but that really is "not kosher" and defeats any protection provided by the third pin grounding. I have since purchased grounding Schuko adaptesr. They works well in countries with Schuko type receptacles, which are most countries in Europe, except Switzerland and parts of Italy. I understand that a lot of new construction in Italy has receptacles with both the recessed Schuko type and the standard, three co-linear pin Italian sockets.

Some receptacles in Italy, I have read, are flush, so funpig's fix would work, but later ones are recessed and don't have clearance for the grounding pin.

Swiss sockets are supposed to be recessed and wouldn't have clearance for the grounding pin.

Most power supplies today, and particularly those for phones and pads, which are USB chargers, are non-grounded and non-polarized (ie, both blades are the same width). They are "double insulated" and do not need a grounding plug.

"i saw some two prongs which appeared to be just thicker than the regular two prong."

Funpig, you really need to differentiate between pins and prongs. In fact, leave out "prongs" completely. The European plugs have pins; ours have (flat) blades. If you saw "pins" that were thicker then the regular ... pins, that's because the pins on Schuko type plugs are Ø4,8mm (~3/16") vs those on southern Europe plugs, which are Ø4.0mm (~5/32") (good eyes). The universal Europlug has Ø4.0mm pins so it will fit in receptacles everywhere.

Posted by
32224 posts


As the others have said, this is not rocket science. I always prefer to use a grounding Adaptor if the product was designed for that, as I figure there's a reason the manufacturer wanted it grounded.

The grounding Plug Adaptors are more country-specific, so if you're travelling in several countries you may need several. If you're only travelling in Italy, this model is the one to use.....,3681&T1=MEA33MIG

If you're travelling in France or Germany, there's also a "universal" grounding Adaptor that accommodates outlets which have either the protruding ground pin or the grounding "ears". This is the model to use......,3681&T1=MEA33MDG

It's also a good idea to pack a couple of the two-pin "Euro style" Plug Adaptors as well.

Posted by
27236 posts

I don't pretend to know how risky it is to use a standard adapter for a grounded plug, but for those who want to be sure they have the proper type of adapter:

My local branch of The Container Store has in stock, for $8.49, a TravelSmart "grounded adapter for Europe". It's the third product in the list shown on this webpage, the one with just two pins. Although it carries a number of products useful for travelers (Nalgene bottles!), The Container Store is pretty costly. Poking around on the internet might turn up the TravelSmart adapter at a lower price.

Posted by
18167 posts

This is always a fun argument. Its amazing how hard people will work to "get by": bypassing grounding pins and trying to prop a heavy transformer in an outlet with a little square plug that doesn't completely fill the hole as the hole was intended to be filled for rigidity and safety.

This adapter is what is required to do the job perfectly and as intended by the manufacturer of your grounded adapter and as intended by the Electrical Codes in the EU. It will work properly including with grounded applications in 99% of all outlets in Western and Central Europe with the exception of the UK. I have a home in Central Europe and this is what I use.

Occasionally, although rarely you will come across an outlet with a protective shutter. If you don't have this adapter or one of similar design you aren't going to be able to plug anything in.

Posted by
32224 posts

If you're looking specifically for a grounding Plug Adaptor for Italy, the type suggested by James E. will not work. Italy uses three inline pins, with the centre pin being ground.

Posted by
703 posts

Jeremy, your questions are valid and unlike some replies that 'say its not rocket science' it is worth getting good advice because often you are dealing with buildings with old wiring , in different countries with slightly different configurations. I thought I had every things covered but in Italy I needed to buy another one, for particular installations.
but at the end of the day if you get there and have problems generally I have found adapters can be purchased at a local market or shop etc.

at the risk of telling you something you probably already know, have you checked the power adapter on your lap top to see if the acceptable voltage/frequency cover 230volt 50 hz ? ( most 'modern ' equipment usually can accept 110v to 230-240v 50 or 60hz or values similar to this.) this is as important to you as your adapters.

BTW I always carry a small 'power board' ( with a short lead) so that I can charge multiply things off the one adapter and allows for a better connection, rather than heavy chargers,adapters etc hanging off the wall. ( our equipment is 240v by default)

hope this helps.

Posted by
19118 posts

"The round plug on an Am plug is a secondary ground this not needed"

I don't think that's what UL says. I'm sure the manufacturer would not have gone to the expense of putting on a grounding plug if it wasn't needed for UL approval. But I'm sure you can use it safely MOST OF THE TIME without the ground. It's like insurance; you don't need it (unless you need it). The only electronics that don't need some type of grounding are those that are double insulated. In the US, these have two equal width blades.

"it worked in Rome, Florence and Venice for us in May. I did not see any of the 3 prong outlets."

Funpig, what do you mean, "I did not see any of the 3 prong outlets." I think all new outlets in Europe have to have a grounding means. Some plugs, on appliances that draw less than 2½ amps can have two pin plugs, but any appliance drawing more than 2½ amps has to have a ground, so a 2 pin receptacle wouldn't be very useful. Standard Italian receptacles have three holes; the middle one is for the ground. I think some construction is using German Schuko receptacles, with only two holes for pins, but grounding clips on the side.

Posted by
18167 posts

The last couple times I have been in Rome the hotel had the German Schuko plugs. Actually, outside of the UK i cant remember not having a plug that my Schuko adapter would not fit in. But you are correct in that the official standard is the three horizontal pin plug. You will also have trouble with the adapter is suggested in the UK, Switzerland and Denmark. Every place else in Europe you should be fine and you will be properly grounded. The sell an ungrounded "euro plug" that can be made to work in Schuko outlets and Italian outlets, but as it is ungrounded you are sort defeating the purpose of having a grounded appliance.