China power adapters - what plugs are used in China?

Chinese power outlet

Summary

The type of power adapter, power converter or charger that's needed when visiting China will all depend on the voltage and type of device that you're attempting to power with a Chinese power outlet. If you don't know what voltage your device uses then read the section below about how can you tell if you have a dual voltage device before going any further.

  • If your device can run on 220 volts or is dual voltage and the plug can fit in a Chinese power outlet then you can use it in China without needing anything else.
  • If your device can run on 220 volts or is dual voltage but your plug won't fit in a Chinese power outlet then you'll need a suitable plug adapter for China such a Type I plug adapter [2]. A plug adapter for China (or power adapter) only changes the shape of the plug on your device to fit into a plug outlet found in China, but can't convert the voltage from 220 volts to another voltage.
  • If your device doesn't run on 220 volts and isn't dual voltage you'll also need a power converter for China to convert the voltage from 220 volts to the correct voltage on your device. You'll still need to bring a suitable plug adapter for China if your power converter doesn't use the correct Type I plug adapter.
  • If you want to power your USB devices such as a tablet or cell phone then a USB travel power adapter will be ideal and it should be dual voltage, but ensure that you bring a USB travel adapter which includes a Type I plug adapter otherwise you will still need to bring along a suitable plug adapter for China.

Warning: If your device won't handle 220 volts you run the risk of blowing a fuse, damage to your device or even an electrical fire hazard. Prior to using your device in China check the instruction manual first to ensure safe operation.

Background

If you are planning a holiday to China it can be helpful to know if you can charge your common electrical devices like mobile phones and laptops when you arrive at your hotel. However, by not knowing which power socket is used you are more likely to bring the wrong charger, therefore leaving you needing to borrow a suitable power adaptor when you need it. Various combinations of standards and sockets can often be daunting when planning on staying in a foreign country especially if you've never visited before. With only a handful of different types of plug sockets being used in the world this guide tells you exactly what you'll need in advance to charge your electronics in China. This page contains links to step-by-step instructions showing how to charge your devices when you're visiting China using the standard I, A or C type 220 volt 50Hz wall outlets, Type I power outlets will be typically used by most Chinese. You'll discover that power sockets will vary depending on which area you are in therefore we suggest reading the power adapters list for a full list of regions and countries. We also recommend referring to the China Wikipedia page [1] for more indepth information on travelling to the location.

China power adapters

Do I need a power adapter in China?

If the shape of the Chinese power outlet is different to the power plug that you are using then you will need a power adapter. American Type A or Type B power outlets might not readily be available in China so it is advisable to use a suitable power adapter for China, however as the voltage is much higher you will definitely need to bring a power converter for China to prevent overheating or damage to your appliance or charger if it isn't dual voltage.

What is the best power adapter for China?

The best power adapter for China is a Type I plug adapter [2] which allows you to use any 220 volt appliance or device.

What is the best power adapter for China?

China power outlets

What type of power outlets are in China?

There are three types of power supply used in China, types I, A and C with the primary power outlets being type I:

  • Plug Type A - The power supply, technically known as a type A power outlet, is identified by 2 adjacent slots where the live and neutral blades go.
  • Plug Type C - The power supply (known as the type C socket or Europlug) is identified by 2 holes adjacent to each other for live and neutral pins.
  • Plug Type I - The wall supply, technically known as a type I power outlet, can be recognised by 3 slots for the live, neutral and ground blades.
What type of power outlets are in China?

What voltage is used in China?

The residential voltage used in China is 220 volts.

Is an outlet in China the same as the US?

Even though a US Type A or Type B outlet could possibly be available in China it is advisable to use a suitable power adapter for China. Both the voltage and frequency are different so if your charger or appliance isn't dual voltage please use a power converter for China and check that it works with a 50hz supply.

What is the frequency used with a Chinese power outlet?

The frequency from a Chinese power outlet is 50Hz.

Is the voltage in China the same as the US?

The voltage which comes from a Chinese power outlet is 220 volts, whereas 120 volts is used in America. If your US appliance or charger can't handle dual voltage then you will need to use a suitable power converter for China which allows a 120 volt American appliance to work with a 220-240 volt outlet.

China 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 China?

When travelling with more than one device then the best travel adapter for China to buy is a multiple USB charger which includes compatible plugs such as a 4 port USB travel charger [5]. There are three types of power outlets in China (types I, A and C) and bringing this will ensure that you are covered for both types A and C. As these types of chargers are supplied with interchangeable pins and can handle from 100 - 240 volts will mean that you can travel to multiple countries in Asia, North America, Europe and Africa just by switching the heads over. If your device can support Fast Charge (not all USB devices do) then you will benefit from quicker recharging times by using one of these travel adapters and additional compatibility with certain power demanding devices like tablets.

This will also allow you to charge multiple devices simultaneously without needing to bring individual power adapters on your Chinese trip or occupying additional wall sockets. By only needing a single international travel charger will help keep the overall size and weight down, making it perfect to fold up and store in hand luggage. Because of their space saving flexibility these types of travel chargers can be used back at home so when you're not travelling they can be used under your bedside table charging multiple tablets, smartphones and speakers without using up an additional power outlet.

For those travelling on a regular basis we suggest buying an adaptable travel adapter similar to this online. The multipurpose travel charger illustrated here is the iKits 4 Port USB Wall Charger [5] which has been tested successfully with multiple USB devices in numerous foreign countries around the world with perfect reliably.

What USB charger do I need for China?

Why use a travel USB charger for China?

  • Most travel USB chargers include 4 or more USB charger ports, this means that you now only need to bring one charger to charge all your devices. Instead of bringing 4 individual power chargers it's now only necessary to pack one 4 port USB wall charger and power up to 4 devices, thereby cutting down on the size and weight of your luggage.
  • Most travel USB chargers will include swappable plug heads for different regions thereby making them perfect if visiting different countries across Asia which will probably use different power outlets to China.
  • A good power charger is rugged, lightweight and compact - ideal for the rigors of travel instead of than risking bringing a domestic charger which could be impossible to repair in China.
  • USB chargers can accept both the 220 volt power outlets in China plus other voltage standards in other countries.
  • It's possible that some accommodation or hotel rooms in China only have one wall outlet, by using a travel charger with multiple USB ports allows you to share the single power supply with family or other traveler instead of waiting to charge each device one by one.
  • Because of their versatile nature a travel USB charger takes the worry out of visiting any unknown destination as they are guaranteed to work practically anywhere on the planet.
  • Power outlets found in airport departure lounges are often scant and the demand for charging multiple cell phones and tablets during departure can be high, therefore a USB charger with multiple ports and the ability to fast charge is perect.
  • Some countries power grids are unstable, a quality travel USB charger allows for unexpected fluctuations and will prevent damage to any devices attached to it. Trying to repair an overloaded smartphone or tablet in China could prove problematic and costly.
  • Larger USB chargers should also include a power outlet strip to use multiple low wattage devices such as laptops, howeverthese are unsuitable for high wattage domestic such as hair dryers or clothes irons. Read our section on using travel appliances with a Chinese power outlet for helpful guidelines on the best power adapter for a high powered devices in a Chinese power outlet.
  • Some mobile phones might pull more than the usual 500 mA (milliamps) produced from a normal 5 volt USB adapter to charge or provide fast charge. Ensure that the USB power adapter can support fast charging should some of your devices draw extra power.
  • When back at home travel USB chargers can still be useful by recharging multiple mobile phones on a daily basis using one power outlet.

What is the best USB charger for China?

The is the most compact option for travellers from around the world who only have USB devices, but for those also wishing to use their domestic plugs these power strips provide larger but more versatile solutions. All 3 power adapters offer surge protection which is crucial for visitors of counties with unreliable power grids. These travel adapters come with interchangeable type C, I and G plugs covering both China and over 150 countries around the world:

  • BESTEK Portable International Travel Voltage Converter - The BESTEK international travel converter has 4 USB charging ports with 3 AC power outlets and is the best selling portable option for travellers originating from America visiting China.
  • ORICO Traveling Outlet Surge Protector Power Strip - Similarly having 4 USB ports but only 2 AC power outlets the travel adapter from Orico is also aimed at travellers from North America using type B plugs and gives almost the same set of features as the BESTEK with only one less AC outlet at almost half the price.
  • BESTEK International USB Travel Power Strip - This power strip has just 2 AC outlets but offers a generous 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 ideal for a majority of travellers from around the world visiting China.

Power converters for China

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

Voltage converter

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

A heavy and bulky power converter [7] will transform a 220 volt Chinese power outlet to work with a non-220 volt appliance, but a cheaper and smaller power adapter [6] (or plug adapter) changes the shape of the plug on your appliance to fit into a power outlet found in China.

Do I need a power converter for China?

If travelling to China from a different region make sure the device can accept a 220v supply.

  • If charging a USB device which came from a country which uses a lower voltage such as 110 volts check that your device is dual voltage (indicated by 100-240 volts) else you may need to use an additional International travel voltage converter [9] to prevent the device from being damaged when powering up.
  • For powering larger appliances if you are visiting China from a lower 110 volt location you will need to use a larger Step Down Voltage Converter [8] to convert the voltage from 110 volts to 220 volts.

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

Is my device single voltage or dual voltage?

Dual voltage hair straighteners

Is my device single voltage or dual voltage?

The way to see if a device is either single voltage or dual voltage is to look for a sticker on the supplied power plug, or on the appliance itself, typically on the rear of the unit or near to where the power cord sits. The location might depend on the make or model of your unit, it should also state on the box.

  • Single voltage devices could have a specific number - such as 110V.
  • Single voltage devices might also have a small voltage range (20 volts diffence) with a dash to accomodate small voltage fluctuations - such as 100-120V.
  • Dual voltage devices will typically say a larger range separated with a slash - such as 110/240V.

Travel appliances which can connect to a Chinese 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 Chinese power outlet

Beats Pill
Beats Pill

Beats Pill 2
Beats Pill 2

Jabra Bluetooth speakers which are compatible with a Chinese power outlet

Jabra Solemate
Jabra Solemate

Jabra Solemate Mini
Jabra Solemate Mini

Mobile phones that can connect to the Chinese power outlet

A mobile phone
mobile phone

Apple iPhones which can be connected to a Chinese 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 Chinese power outlet

Samsung Galaxy S4
Samsung Galaxy S4

A list of Amazon Kindle tablets which work with a Chinese 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 Chinese 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/China - wikipedia.org entry about China.
  2. Type I plug adapter - Allows appliances to connect to Type I 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.