UK power adapters - what plugs are used in UK?

UK power outlet

Summary

The type of plug adapter, converter or charger that you'll need to bring when visiting UK all depends on the voltage and type of device that you're trying to charge in a UK power outlet. If you don't know which voltage your device uses then please 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 230 volts or is dual voltage and the plug will fit in a UK power outlet then you can use it in UK without needing a plug adapter.
  • If your device is 230 volts or is dual voltage but your plug doesn't fit in a UK power outlet then you will need to bring a suitable plug adapter for UK such a Type G plug adapter [2]. A plug adapter for UK (or power adapter) is designed to change the actual shape of the plug on your device to fit into a plug outlet found in UK, but doesn't convert the voltage from 230 volts to another voltage.
  • If your device doesn't run on 230 volts and isn't dual voltage you'll also need a power converter for UK to convert the voltage from 230 volts to the correct voltage on your device. You will still need to pack a suitable plug adapter for UK if your power converter doesn't have the correct Type G plug adapter.
  • If you need to power one or more USB devices such as tablets or cellphones then a USB travel power adapter will be more suited and it should be dual voltage, however ensure that you bring a USB travel adapter which includes a Type G plug adapter otherwise you will still need to pack a suitable plug adapter for UK.

Warning: If your device won't handle 230 volts you run a risk of damage to your device, an electrical fire hazard or a blown fuse. Before using your device in UK please read the instruction manual to ensure safe operation.

Background

This page contains a list of UK mobile phone providers offering free SIM cards along with a list of suitable UK power adapters for most USB compatible devices, ensuring when you are in the UK you can stay online without running out of power.

If you are packing for a trip it is helpful to know if you can power all your common electronics like mobile phones and cameras when you're there. By not knowing which wall socket is used in The United Kingdom you could end up either having to bring unnecessary adaptors or pack the wrong adaptor, thereby leaving you needing to borrow a suitable power adaptor when you're there. Varying complicated standards and voltages can often cause confusion when planning to visit another country, especially if you've never visited before. With only a handful of different types of sockets being used in the world this guide shows exactly what you'll need in advance to charge your device in The United Kingdom. This page has links to step-by-step instructions telling you which power adapters you'll need to charge your devices when travelling to The United Kingdom by using their 230 volt 50Hz Type G UK plug outlet, the British will use BS 1363 13 amp plugs for charging. Most power sockets change depending on which country you are travelling to therefore we suggest reading the travel power adapters page for a full list of countries. We recommend reading the The United Kingdom Wikipedia page [1] for more indepth details.

UK power adapters

What is the best power adapter for The United Kingdom?

The best power adapter for UK is a Type G plug adapter [2] which will allow you to use any 230 volt appliance or device.

What is the best power adapter for The United Kingdom?

UK power outlets

What is the voltage in UK?

The typical voltage used in UK is 230 volts.

What type of outlets are in The United Kingdom?

Type G plug outlets are used in The United Kingdom. You can identify this power socket by the 3 vertical rectangular slots with shutters forming a triangle shape.

What type of outlets are in The United Kingdom?

UK 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 The United Kingdom?

When you are travelling to more than one country and bringing more than just one device the best international travel charger for The United Kingdom is a multiple USB adapter which includes compatible plugs like a 4 port USB travel charger [3]. As these types of chargers are supplied with interchangeable pins and handle from 100 volts - 240 volts will mean you can travel to over 100 countries around the world simply by changing the supplied plugs. If your model of device supports Fast Charge then you will benefit from faster recharging times with one of these travel adapters plus additional compatibility with certain power demanding devices.

Unlike other travel chargers this means you can power more than one device at the same time without needing to buy seperate power adapters on your UK trip. By only bringing a single international USB travel charger will keep the size down, making it ideal to store in hand baggage whilst travelling as well as being on hand for charging your devices at the airport or on a flight. Because of their flexibility these types of travel chargers can be used back at home so when you're not travelling they can be used overnight charging multiple phones and tablets without needing an additional plug socket.

We suggest buying an adaptable travel adapter like this online. The travel adapter illustrated here is the iKits 4 Port USB Wall Charger [3] which has been successfully tested for recharging multiple USB devices in numerous countries on a daily basis.

What USB charger do I need for The United Kingdom?

Why use a travel USB charger for UK?

  • Normal travel USB chargers include 4 or more USB charger ports, meaning you only need to bring a single charger to charge all your devices. This reduces the size and weight of your baggage by only packing a single USB wall charger instead of bringing numerous individual USB power chargers.
  • All travel USB power chargers should include interchangeable plug heads for different countries making them ideal if visiting different countries across Europe which are likely to use a different standard to UK.
  • Good travel power chargers are compact, rugged and lightweight; perfect for rigors of travel rather than risking packing a domestic charger which could be hard to repair in UK.
  • USB travel chargers can accept the 230 volt power outlets in UK and other voltage standards in other countries.
  • It's possible that some hotel rooms or accommodation in UK might only have one power outlet, by using a travel charger with multiple USB ports means you can share the single wall outlet with family or other traveler rather than having to wait to recharge one device at a time.
  • Due to their flexible nature they take the uncertainty out of visiting an 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 before a flight can be high, therefore a USB travel charger with multiple ports and the ability to charge quickly is perect.
  • Sometimes the power grid in a country can be unstable, a good travel charger allows for unexpected surges to prevent damage to any devices connected to it. Attempting to repair an overloaded cell phone or tablet in UK might prove difficult and costly.
  • More expensive USB chargers should also include a power outlet strip to power multiple low wattage devices such as laptops, howeverthese will be unsuitable for high wattage appliances such as hair dryers or clothes irons. For further information please see the guide on using travel appliances with a UK power outlet for guidelines on the most suitable power adapter for using a high powered devices in a UK power outlet.
  • Some cell phones could pull more than the standard 500 milliamps produced from a standard 5 volt USB power adapter to charge or provide fast charge. Premium USB travel chargers will support fast charging incase any of your devices need extra power.
  • On back at home travel USB power chargers can still be used by charging multiple cell phones every night using only a single power outlet.

What is the best USB charger for UK?

The is the most compact option for travellers from any country wanting to recharge devices via USB, however for those also wanting to use their domestic plugs these power converters provide larger but more versatile solutions. All 3 power converters offer surge protection which is useful when visiting counties with unstable power grids to prevent damage to any connected appliances from voltage spikes. These travel converters come supplied with interchangeable type C, I and G plugs covering Europe, North America, Australia, United Kingdom, Japan, China and over 150 destinations:

  • BESTEK Portable International Travel Voltage Converter - The BESTEK travel adaptor has 4 USB charging ports with 3 AC power outlets and is the most popular compact power converter for travellers originating from North America going to UK using type B American plug sockets.
  • 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 originating from North America using type B plugs and gives almost the same set of features as the BESTEK with just 1 less AC outlet for almost half price.
  • Yubi Universal Power Strip Kit - The Yobi only has 2 USB charging ports but offers 6 AC outlets. This versatile power strip is compatible with both American plugs and popular plug types A, B, E, F, G and I making it ideal for a wide range of travellers from around the world visiting UK.

Power converters for UK

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

An expensive and bulky power converter [8] converts a 230 volt UK power outlet to work with a non-230 volt device, but a more lightweight and smaller power adapter [7] (or plug adapter) changes the shape of the plug on your appliance to fit into a power outlet found in UK.

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

Do I need a power converter for The United Kingdom?

When travelling to The United Kingdom from another country check the device can be charged using a 230 volt supply.

  • If charging a USB device which was purchased in a country which uses a lower voltage (for example 110v) ensure the device is dual-voltage (marked with 100-240 volts) otherwise you may need to use an additional International travel voltage converter [10] to avoid the device from overheating when powering up.
  • When powering larger appliances if you are traveling to The United Kingdom from a lower 110 volt location you will need to use a much larger Step Down Voltage Converter [9] to convert the voltage from 110 volts to 230 volts.

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

What voltage is my appliance?

One way to tell if a appliance is single or dual voltage is to check for a sticker on the charger, or on the unit itself, typically on the rear of the appliance or near to where the power cord plugs into. The location might depend on the make or model of your unit and should also be written on the box.

  • Single voltage devices might have a specific number - such as 240V.
  • Single voltage devices might also say a small voltage range (20 volts diffence) with a dash to accomodate small voltage fluctuations - such as 220-240V.
  • Dual voltage devices will typically say a large voltage range seperated with a slash - such as 100/240V.

UK airport power outlets

What power outlets are available in London Heathrow Airport?

London Heathrow Airport (LHR) in the UK currently has over 3000 power sockets in its international departure lounges available for free to travellers. Power outlets and USB sockets are available on the Power Pole stations and found outside airport security, near check-in desks, departure lounges and at terminal gates. The Heathrow Power Poles can be recognised by the purple signs stating "Power for your electronic devices" on tall brushed metal poles with four shelves to lay laptops, mobile phones and tablets during charging (see photo below taken November 2015). The following power outlets are available per Power Pole:

  • 4 x 230 volt Type G power outlets
  • 2 x 230 volt Type F European power outlets
  • 4 x USB charging ports

Note that a number of restaurants, bars and other public parts of the airport also have the UK standard 230 volt Type G power outlets available to travellers, with some restaurants now also offering USB outlets at the table. With a greater number of travellers recharging their devices prior to a flight be aware that some gates are limited to a single Power Pole, therefore it is recommended to arrive early to guarantee a place. For the latest information please read the London Heathrow Airport phone and laptop charging guide [11].

What power outlets are available in London Heathrow Airport?

SIM cards in the UK

What is the best SIM pay as you go card in Britain?

If you are travelling and need to use your cell phone abroad then you should consider using a free local SIM in the UK to avoid paying high roaming costs from your own country.

Data charges incurred with uncapped international roaming can inadvertently add hundreds to a cell phone bill unless data roaming is switched off, Wi-Fi is used or data is capped. Wi-Fi hotspots in the UK cost an average of £5 per session, therefore ordering a SIM card pre-loaded with £5 credit provides better value which can last for the duration of trip to the UK providing that data use is light.

There are 15 local mobile network providers in the UK which offer free SIM only deals online, this list of mobile providers in the UK highlights their best value deals and links directly to their SIM card ordering page:

  • FreedomPop is a UK mobile provider offering one of the best SIM only deals for mobile phone users in the UK with 4G data, text and talk time. Their basic service includes a SIM card with free 200mb of data with 200 minutes and text messages every month; users can then opt to pay for additional data or switch to a paid plan as their demands grow. FreedomPop also offers a premium free SIM only card offering a one month of free trial of 1GB of data, 1000 minutes and text messages before paying an £8.95 monthly top-up with no contract or cancellation fees.
  • O2 will send free pay and go SIM cards with prepaid £10 top ups.
  • LycaMobile can either send a free SIM without credit or the option to pay for a preloaded SIM which includes additional free credit. LycaMobile also offers £15 of free credit when transferring an existing number.
  • Vodafone offer free SIM deals with plans from only £10 per month.
  • Asda Mobile will send you a standard, micro and nano SIM card for free and offer bundles from £5 per month.
  • BT Mobile have contracts from £5 per month for their 4G data including access to their national BT WiFi, choose between a free full sized, micro or nano SIM.
  • giffgaff start with preloaded SIM cards from just £5 along with PAYG plans and also offer free calls and text between other giffgaff customers.
  • Three Mobile free SIM cards are suitable for using 4G without committing to a monthly contract.
  • Virgin Mobile Pay As You Go SIM cards offer two simple pay as you go tariffs aimed towards either heavy calls or heavy data and text usage.
  • Talkmobile offer three different sizes of free SIM cards with the option to include top up amounts as well as longer 30 day and 12 month SIM only plans.
  • Tesco Mobile send up to 4 SIM cards per UK address and offer to triple credit when ordering.
  • The Peoples Operator allow you to nominate a charity to contribute to when you purchase top up your SIM card.
  • Lebara Mobile will supply a free SIM card, order online and credit with a minimum of £5 top up.
  • Pebble Mobile free SIM cards are the only consumer network with national roaming and inclusive EU roaming plans.

Be aware that some providers may only ship free SIM cards to UK residential or business addresses, so if you are staying in a hotel in the UK we suggest that your free SIM is delivered to a work, family or friends postal address.

You can also purchase prepaid Pay As You Go SIM cards at most UK newsagents and supermarkets, however you won´t be able to take advantage of the heavily discounted online offers. Most towns and cities in the UK have high street mobile phone stores which sell SIM cards promoting their own network at a much higher cost and will also encourage shoppers to take out a long term monthly contract.

Be aware if you are flying to a UK airport some arrival halls will sell preloaded SIM cards at highly inflated prices. Instead we recommend taking advantage of any available free airport WiFi until a suitable SIM card can be obtained once outside the airport.

SIM only contracts in the UK

For longer trips to the UK there are 4 providers which won´t ship free PAYG cards but still offer monthly SIM plans online:

  • iD Mobile have capped SIM only contracts from just £4 per month and offer data rollover with all GoTo contracts.
  • TalkTalk have SIM plans starting from less than £4 per month.
  • Truphone will send prepaid SIM cards with auto top-up and the ability to add local US and Australian numbers alongside a local UK number.
  • EE are a newly formed mobile network in the UK formally comprised of T-Mobile and Orange.

Using a free SIM card with a locked phone

If you are changing network carriers you will need to ensure you´re using an unlocked phone prior to inserting a different SIM card. If it wasn´t unlocked at the time of purchase you should be able to request to your existing cell phone provider to unlock it for a small charge, use a high street mobile phone unlocking service or look for instructions online on how to unlock your specific model of phone yourself. Be aware that the cost of unlocking a phone is likely to be substantially cheaper than paying excessive roaming charges.

Travel appliances which can connect to a UK 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 UK power outlet

Beats Pill
Beats Pill

Beats Pill 2
Beats Pill 2

Jabra Bluetooth speakers which are compatible with a UK power outlet

Jabra Solemate
Jabra Solemate

Jabra Solemate Mini
Jabra Solemate Mini

Mobile phones that can connect to the UK power outlet

A mobile phone
mobile phone

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

Samsung Galaxy S4
Samsung Galaxy S4

A list of Amazon Kindle tablets which work with a UK 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 UK 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

See also

  1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_Kingdom - UK Wikipedia web page.
  2. Type G plug adapter - Allows appliances to connect to Type G power outlets without converting voltage.
  3. IKits 4 Port USB Wall Charger - A universal USB charger capable of charging up to 4 USB devices with swappable international adapters.
  4. http://www.iec.ch/worldplugs/ - International Electrotechnical Commission World Plugs
  5. Dual voltage travel hair dryer - Folding handle hair dryer with dual voltage suitable for international travel.
  6. Dual voltage travel hair straighteners - Hair straighteners with adjustable temperature and dual voltage for 110 volts and 220 volts suitable for international travel.
  7. 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
  8. 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.
  9. 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
  10. 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.
  11. http://www.heathrow.com/airport-guide/terminal-facilities-and-services/phone-and-laptop-charging - London Heathrow Airport phone and laptop charging guide