South Africa power adapters - what plugs are used in South Africa?

South African power outlet

Summary

The type of power adapter, converter or charger that's needed when visiting South Africa will all depend on the voltage and type of device that you're trying to use with a South African power outlet. If you're not sure what voltage your device uses then please read the section about how can you tell if you have a single voltage or dual voltage device before going any further.

  • If your device can run on 230 volts or is dual voltage and the plug can fit in a South African power outlet then you can use it in South Africa.
  • If your device is 230 volts or is dual voltage but your plug won't fit in a South African power outlet you will need a suitable plug adapter for South Africa such a Type M plug adapter [2]. A plug adapter for South Africa (or power adapter) changes the shape of the plug on your device to fit into a plug outlet found in South Africa, but won't change the voltage from 230 volts to use with another voltage.
  • If your device is unable to run on 230 volts and isn't dual voltage you'll also need a power converter for South Africa to convert the voltage from 230 volts to the correct voltage for your device. You will still need to pack a suitable plug adapter for South Africa if the power converter doesn't include the correct Type M plug adapter.
  • If you simply need to power USB devices such as tablets or mobile phones then a USB travel power adapter is suitable and it will work with any voltage, but ensure that you choose a USB travel adapter which includes a Type M plug adapter otherwise you'll also need to bring a suitable plug adapter for South Africa.

Warning: If your device won't handle 230 volts used in South Africa you run a risk of blowing a fuse, damage to your device or even an electrical fire hazard. Before using your device in South Africa check the instruction manual to ensure safe operation.

Background

If planning a vacation it's useful to know if you can power your indispensable gadgets like cell phones or tablets that you'll be bringing along with you. By not knowing which power supply is being used you are more likely to bring the wrong adaptor, therefore leaving you needing to buy a potentially overpriced adaptor when you need it which might not be compatible and cause problems with your device. Varying different voltages and standards can often be daunting when planning to stay in a foreign country, especially if you've never been there before. With only a handful of different types of plug sockets used throughout the world this guide tells you exactly what you'll need in advance to charge your electronics in South Africa. This page has links to step-by-step instructions showing exactly which power adapters you'll need to power your devices when you're travelling to South Africa by using their standard M, C, F or N type South African 230 volt 50Hz plug outlets, most South Africans typically use Type M plugs in their wall outlets. Power adapters will change depending on which area you're in so we suggest reading our Wiki Connections travel power adapters page for a complete list showing destinations. We recommend referring to the South Africa Wikipedia page [1] for more details.

South Africa power adapters

Do I need a power adapter for South Africa?

If the power plug you want to use isn't the same as the shape of the power outlet in South Africa then you will need a power adapter. An American plug won't fit in a South African power outlet so you will need to bring a power adapter for South Africa, and because the voltage is different you will also need to bring a power converter for South Africa if your charger or appliance isn't dual voltage to prevent damage or overheating.

What is the best power adapter for South Africa?

The best power adapter for South Africa will be a Type M power adapter [2] which allows you to use any 230 volt appliance or device.

What is the best power adapter for South Africa?

South Africa power outlets

What kind of outlets are in South Africa?

There are four types of power supply used in South Africa, types M, C, F and N with the primary power supply being type M:

  • Plug Type C - You can recognise this plug supply by the two round adjacent holes for live and neutral pins.
  • Plug Type F - You can recognise this plug supply by the two large adjacent holes next to each other where the twin plug socket pins slide into, plus two metal grounding clips above and below.
  • Plug Type M - This plug supply (also called a type M power outlet) can be recognised by 3 large holes forming a triangle shape for live, neutral and ground.
  • Plug Type N - This flattened hexagon shaped plug supply, technically called a type N power outlet, looks like 3 large holes forming a triangular configuration for live, neutral and earth.
What kind of outlets are in South Africa?

What voltage is used in South Africa?

The normal voltage used in South Africa is 230 volts.

Are plug sockets in South Africa the same as US?

American plugs won't fit in a South African power outlet therefore bring a power adapter for South Africa. Both the voltage and frequency are different so if your appliance or charger isn't dual voltage use a power converter for South Africa and check that it works with 50hz.

Is the voltage in South Africa the same as in the US?

The voltage in South Africa is 230 volts, whereas Americans use 120 volts. If your American appliance or charger can't handle dual voltage then you need a power converter for South Africa which can change the voltage from a 220-240 volt power outlet to 120 volts.

What is the electrical frequency used in South Africa?

The frequency in a South African power outlet is 50Hz.

South Africa USB chargers

What is a USB travel power charger?

A USB travel charger is a dual voltage charger with interchangeable plugs and multiple USB ports, suitable for travelling abroad.

What USB charger do I need for South Africa?

When travelling with more than just one device the best international travel adapter for South Africa is a multiple USB port charger which includes compatible plugs like a 4 port USB travel charger [5]. South Africans use four different standards of wall outlets (types M, C, F and N) and using a travel adapter like this will ensure that you are covered for type C. As these chargers come with interchangeable pins and can handle 100 volts - 240 volts it makes them ideal for over 100 countries around the world just by switching the supplied plugs over. If your type of device is compatible with Fast Charge (please note not all USB devices can) then you will benefit from faster recharging times with one of these types of travel chargers, plus additional support for more power demanding devices like tablets. This means you can recharge multiple devices at the same time without needing to pack multiple power adapters for your South African trip. By only bringing a single international travel charger will also keep the size and weight down, making it perfect to store in hand luggage. Because of their versatility these types of chargers can be used when back at home so when you're not on holiday they can be used under your bedside table charging multiple tablets, phones and e-readers without using up an additional wall outlet.

If you travel often we suggest searching for this type of flexible travel charger online - the power adapter illustrated here is the iKits 4 Port USB Wall Charger [5] which has been tested successfully with multiple USB devices in numerous foreign countries.

What USB charger do I need for South Africa?

Why use a travel USB charger for South Africa?

  • Typically travel USB chargers include multiple USB charger ports, this means that you only need to bring a single charger to charge multiple devices. It helps cut down on the weight of your baggage by only packing one USB wall charger rather than bringing multiple USB chargers along.
  • Travel USB chargers should include swappable plug heads for different power outlets thereby making them ideal when visiting multiple countries which are likely to use a different standard to South Africa.
  • Good USB power chargers are rugged, lightweight and compact - perfect for rigors of travel instead of than risking packing a domestic charger which might be impossible to repair in South Africa.
  • USB travel chargers will accept both the 230 volts used in South Africa power outlets and other voltage standards across the world.
  • It is possible that hotels in South Africa might only have one wall outlet, by bringing a travel charger with multiple USB ports means you can share the single wall outlet with family or other traveler instead of having to wait to recharge one device at a time.
  • Because of their versatile nature they take the uncertainty out of travelling to any unknown destination as they are guaranteed to work almost anywhere on the planet.
  • Power outlets found in airport departure gates can be scarce and the demand for charging multiple devices from other passengers before a flight can be high, therefore a USB charger with multiple ports and the capability to charge quickly is perect.
  • Some countries power grids are unstable, a good travel USB charger allows for unexpected spikes to prevent damage to any devices connected to it. Attempting to repair an overloaded smartphone or tablet in South Africa might prove to be problematic and costly.
  • Higher priced USB travel chargers also include power outlet strips to allow you to use multiple low powered devices such as laptops, howeverthese are unsuitable for high powered appliances such as hair dryers or clothes irons. Please read the section on using travel appliances with a South African power outlet for advice on the best power adapter for a South African power outlet for high powered appliances.
  • Certain mobile phones and tablets could pull more than the normal 500 mA (milliamps) supplied by a standard 5 volt USB adapter to charge or provide fast charge. Ensure that the USB power adapter can support fast charging incase any of your devices require extra power.
  • When back at home travel USB power chargers can also be used by recharging multiple cellphones every day using only one power outlet.

What is the best USB charger for South Africa?

The is the most compact option for travellers from any country wanting to charge devices using USB, however for visitors also wishing to use their domestic plugs these power adapters provide larger but more versatile solutions. All three power adapters offer surge protection which is necessary for travellers to counties with unreliable power supplies to prevent damage to any connected devices. These travel adapters are supplied with interchangeable type C, I and G plugs covering Continental Europe, America, Australia, United Kingdom, Japan, China and over 150 countries around the world:

  • BESTEK Portable International Travel Voltage Converter - The BESTEK international travel adaptor has 4 USB charging ports with 3 AC power outlets and is the most popular portable power adapter for travellers originating from North America going to South Africa using 3 pin type B plug sockets.
  • ORICO Traveling Outlet Surge Protector Power Strip - Also having 4 USB ports but only 2 AC power outlets the travel adapter from Orico is also aimed at travellers originating from America using type B plugs and is a cheaper alternative to the BESTEK with only 1 less AC outlet for almost half the price.
  • BESTEK International USB Travel Power Strip - This power strip has just 2 AC outlets but offers a more flexible 5 USB charging ports. This versatile power strip is compatible with both American plugs and popular plug types A, D,E/F, G, H, I, L and N making it perfect for most travellers from around the world visiting South Africa.

Power converters for South Africa

What is the difference between a power converter and a power adapter?

Voltage converter

What is the difference between a power converter and a power adapter?

An expensive and heavy power converter [7] converts the voltage of 230 volts from a South African power outlet to work with a non-230 volt appliance, however a more lightweight and smaller power adapter [6] (or plug adapter) changes the shape of the plug on your device to slot into a power outlet found in South Africa.

Do I need a voltage converter for South Africa?

When visiting South Africa from another region make sure your device can be charged using a 230v supply.

  • If charging a USB device which originated in a country which uses a lower voltage (for example 110v) ensure that your device is dual-voltage (marked with a 100-240 volt notation) else you may need to use an additional International travel voltage converter [9] to prevent the device from overloading whilst powering it up.
  • When supplying power to larger appliances if you are visiting South Africa from a lower 110 volt location you will need to use a much bulkier Step Down Voltage Converter [8] to convert the voltage from 110 volts to 230 volts.

Read the list of world power outlets page to find out which voltage your country uses.

How to tell the voltage of my device

Dual voltage hair dryer

How to tell the voltage of my device

A simple way to tell if a device is dual voltage is to check for numbers printed on the supplied charger or on the appliance itself, typically near to where the power cord sits. The location might vary depending on the make and model of your unit, it could also be written in the instruction manual or on the box.

  • Single voltage devices might have a specific number - such as 120V.
  • Single voltage devices could also have a small voltage range (around 20 volts) with a dash to accomodate small voltage fluctuations - such as 220-240V.
  • Dual voltage devices will say a larger voltage range separated with a slash - such as 100/240V.

Travel appliances that can connect to a South African power outlet

Clothes iron
clothes iron

Curling iron
curling iron

Hair dryer
hair dryer

Hair straighteners
hair straighteners

Beats Pill speakers which can connect to a South African power outlet

Beats Pill
Beats Pill

Beats Pill 2
Beats Pill 2

Jabra Bluetooth speakers which are compatible with a South African power outlet

Jabra Solemate
Jabra Solemate

Jabra Solemate Mini
Jabra Solemate Mini

Mobile phones that can connect to the South African power outlet

A mobile phone
mobile phone

Apple iPhones that work with a South African power outlet

iPhone
iPhone

iPhone 3G
iPhone 3G

iPhone 3GS
iPhone 3GS

iPhone 4
iPhone 4

iPhone 4S
iPhone 4S

iPhone 5
iPhone 5

iPhone 5C
iPhone 5C

iPhone 5S
iPhone 5S

iPhone 6
iPhone 6

iPhone 6 Plus
iPhone 6 Plus

Samsung Galaxy phones that work with a South African power outlet

Samsung Galaxy S4
Samsung Galaxy S4

A list of Amazon Kindle tablets which can connect to a South African power outlet

Kindle Fire 1st generation
Kindle Fire 1st generation

Kindle Fire 2nd generation
Kindle Fire 2nd generation

Kindle Fire HD 3rd generation
Kindle Fire HD 3rd generation

Kindle Fire HD 6 4th generation
Kindle Fire HD 6 4th generation

Kindle Fire HD 7 2nd generation
Kindle Fire HD 7 2nd generation

Kindle Fire HD 7 4th generation
Kindle Fire HD 7 4th generation

Kindle Fire HD 8.9 2nd generation
Kindle Fire HD 8.9 2nd generation

Kindle Fire HD Kids Edition tablet 4th generation
Kindle Fire HD Kids Edition tablet 4th generation

Kindle Fire HDX 3rd generation
Kindle Fire HDX 3rd generation

Kindle Fire HDX 8.9 3rd generation
Kindle Fire HDX 8.9 3rd generation

Kindle Fire HDX 8.9 4th generation
Kindle Fire HDX 8.9 4th generation

A list of Apple iPads which are compatible with a South African power outlet

iPad
iPad

iPad 2
iPad 2

iPad 3
iPad 3

iPad 4
iPad 4

iPad Air
iPad Air

iPad Air 2
iPad Air 2

iPad Mini
iPad Mini

iPad Mini 2
iPad Mini 2

iPad Mini 4
iPad Mini 4

  1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/South_Africa - South Africa Wikipedia page.
  2. Type M plug adapter - Allows appliances to connect to Type M power outlets without converting voltage.
  3. http://www.iec.ch/worldplugs/ - International Electrotechnical Commission World Plugs
  4. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mains_electricity_by_country - WikiPedia - Mains electricity by country
  5. IKits 4 Port USB Wall Charger - A universal USB charger capable of charging up to 4 USB devices with swappable international adapters.
  6. https://www.amazon.com/Ceptics-GP-12PK-International-Worldwide-Universal/dp/B01DJEBLQU/ref=as_li_ss_tl?_encoding=UTF8&psc=1&refRID=CFDDSXZJ59CH648AVQ0H&linkCode=ll1&tag=wikiconnections-20&linkId=b865b6ca5e535d710bf1e1b3a790f622 - power adapter
  7. Power converter - A step up step down power converter transformer converts 110-120 volts up to 220-240 volts and 220-240 volts down to 110-120 Volts.
  8. https://www.amazon.com/mn/search/ref=as_li_ss_tl?_encoding=UTF8&bbn=10967761&camp=1789&creative=390957&fst=as%3Aoff&linkCode=ur2&qid=1451321648&rh=n%3A172282%2Cn%3A!493964%2Cn%3A281407%2Cn%3A173541%2Cn%3A10967761%2Cp_n_feature_keywords_browse-bin%3A2888021011%5Cc2888054011&rnid=2887998011&tag=wikiconnections-20&linkId=A6EA2MIBWUPLQKJD - Step Down Voltage Converter
  9. International travel voltage converter - Travel voltage converters change the voltage of an electrical power supply by stepping up or stepping down the voltage and are often compact units which support both plug sockets and USB charging.