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Converters and Adapters

I understand that a converter adjusts the voltage and an adapter adjusts the style depending on the outlet in that country. I will be traveling to Germany (CF), Austria (CF), Switzerland (CJ), and Italy (CFL) and based on my research I have found these countries outlet styles.

So, can I simply buy adapters with the C style, two circles, to use in ALL of these countries? Or do I need to purchase the F, J, and L adapters as well? I am staying at several air bnb and hostels so I will not be able to borrow an adapter from a hotel front desk.

Posted by
5738 posts

I have only used the two pins in all of Europe except the UK which is totally different. Buy several as I have left them in room electrical outlets from time to time.

Posted by
3322 posts

If you are using electronic devices that are relatively low power, phones, tablets, smaller laptops, and they don't have a grounding plug on their cords, and they are 110-220 volt compatible, all you need is the adapter plug that is sold right here in the RS online store for $1 each.

If you have higher power devices or they have a grounded plug, you may need one of the other styles for safety reasons. And of course if your device does not handle European voltage, then you will also need a converter for it.

And don't depend on a hotel to have what you need anyway. They might, but on my most recent trips to Europe none of the hotels I stayed at had adapters to loan.

Posted by
17659 posts

The type C "Europlug" adapter is only rated for 2½ amps or less, so it should not be used for devices like hair dryers, which draw more than 2½ amps (575W). Also, devices which have a polarized American plug (one blade wider) depend on polarized power for safety. Most European power is not polarized, so these devices are not safe on most European power. Swiss power is polarized, but only if you use it with a grounding plug. type J, in Switzerland. The general rule is, if you can turn the plug upside down and still plug it in, it is not polarized.

Newer construction in Italy might have the German Schuko, type F, receptacles in addition to the type L.

Posted by
8889 posts

Q1: Do your appliances accept European electricity (110-230V 50/60 Hz AC), or North American only (110V 60 Hz AC)?
Q2: Do your appliances have 2-pin or 3-pin plugs?

Answer 1: If they accept European electricity, no problem, if not you need a voltage converter which will be big and heavy. Leave the appliance at home or get one that accepts both systems.

Answer 2: If your appliances have 2-pin plugs, then a 2-pin C-type adapter is good for all 4 countries. If one or more has a 3-pin plug, then you need to buy 3 different adapters 3-pin adapters, F for France/Germany, J for Switzerland and L for Italy.

Posted by
30973 posts

To add to the suggestions already posted, you need to check each device you'll be travelling with to ensure it's designed for use from 100-240 VAC. What type of devices are you planning to take along?

Posted by
2 posts

I will be traveling with 3 i phones that will need to be charged, so these have 2-prongs and can handle 110-240 volts. I will also have a curling iron with dual voltage 110-240 volts with 2 prongs.

Finally I will have a rechargeable phone battery which is rated at 5 volt input and output.

Does this mean I will just need 4 "C" style adapters (3 phones and curling iron) and 1 "C" style converter (rechargeable battery). Will this "C" style work in Germany, Switzerland, Austria and Italy?

Posted by
8889 posts

Finally I will have a rechargeable phone battery which is rated at 5 volt input and output.

How do you recharge this battery? Do you put in the camera, or some sort of battery holder to charge it? There must be some sort of voltage converter you already use to convert to 5V DC. Check that converter to see what voltages it accepts.

Does this mean I will just need 4 "C" style adapters (3 phones and curling iron) . . . . Will this "C" style work in Germany, Switzerland, Austria and Italy?

You only need 4 if you need to charge all devices at the same time. You could just have 2 and charge them one after another.
Yes, "C" type plugs (2 round pins) work in Germany, Switzerland, Austria and Italy.

Posted by
1 posts

My wife and I just returned from a two-week bus trip to Italy. We bought the proper adaptor with a power strip. It worked fine in Rome. However, when we moved on to Florence, it would not work. I was not alone on this problem. Turned out that Italy uses two different adaptors. One with wider prongs and one with narrower prongs. The wider prongs also worked in Stresa. But everywhere else -- Florence, Venice, Assisi, and Sorrento -- the narrower one was required. Fortunately, the tour director loan me an extra narrower one that she had. I strongly suggest this be remembered by all who go to Italy. I do not know if the same kind of situation is present in the other European countries.

Posted by
8640 posts

I think it has more to do with the hotel. I've been all over Italy and had no problems. Some of my hotels had both flat and recessed sockets.

Posted by
1029 posts

3 IPhones? I would use a multi USB port charger. My Anker brand charger can charge up to 4 devices at once. It’s rated to charge iPads too. It might work for your power bank too.

Edit: You still need an adapter plug and all the cables.

Posted by
485 posts

Switzerland has now going with a Type J socket. The rest of the countries a Type C will work along with Type E and F which are equivalent to a grounded adapter.

Posted by
17659 posts

Turned out that Italy uses two different adaptors. One with wider prongs and one with narrower prongs

By "wider" and "narrower", I assume you are referring to the diameter of the pins (Ø4.8mm or Ø4.0mm), not the center-to-center distance, which is 19mm on all plugs.

The type E (German Schuko) and type F (French Schuko) plugs have Ø4.8mm (~Ø3/16") pins, and their receptacles will take either Ø4.8mm or Ø4.0mm pins. The type L plugs have Ø4.0mm (~Ø5/32") pins, and their receptacles only take the thinner pins.

A true Europlug, type C, adapter has 2 Ø4.0mm pins and will fit in type E, F, or L receptacles. However, there are a few 2-pin adapters with Ø4.8mm pins (such as one sold by Ace Hardware as "Northern Europe"). They will not fit in Italian type L receptacles.

Does this mean I will just need 4 "C" style adapters (3 phones and curling iron) and 1 "C" style converter

Every curling iron I have ever seen in this country has had a polarized plug (one blade wider), and, as I said above, important safety features require polarized power. Except for Switzerland, European power is not polarized, so you should not use a device with a polarized plug in those countries, nor should you use a heating device with a type C adapter anywhere. I know you won't take my advice, so at least, never leave the curling iron plugged in when not in use. An internal short could cause it to heat accidentally.

Posted by
1 posts

I just spent almost an hour searching for something like this that is compatible with both type c & j outlets (we will be in Norway, France, Switzerland and Iceland): http://a.co/e1faBrF
I want ONE adapter (not power converter) that I can use in all the above countries that will allow me to SIMULTANEOUSLY charge a couple of USB devices AND a laptop (3-prong US).
Does such a device truly not exist?! I saw that I can solve my problem by buying a ton of adapters, and then plug individual things into each one, but I want a SINGLE solution. Any help would be appreciated!

Posted by
8640 posts

Jwminer. I use an Upwade Travel Power Strip and throw on a standard European adapter. (I just use the one Rick Steves sells.) It's worked fine all over continental Europe except Switzerland.

You won't find a Swiss plug on a multi adapter so you will need to buy one separately. I used
this one.

Someone will jump on to tell you not to use a surge protector but this one is fine since it is dual voltage.

Posted by
1 posts

I’ve been traveling in different countries and I haven’t use any converters for my iPad, laptop and cameras since it’s compatible with 120 watts. Since we will be touring Spain, Portugal and Morocco I’m not sure if I need a converter. I have different types of adaptors which I can used but not sure if I need converters. I think I don’t need it in Morocco but not sure in Spain and Portugal. I need some info. Thanks