America power adapters - what plugs are used in America?

American power outlet

What adapter do I need for America?

You'll need to bring a Type B plug adapter [3] to America if the plug you intend on using won't fit into an American power outlet.

The type of power adapter, power converter or charger that's needed when visiting America all depends on the voltage and type of device that you're trying to power with an American power outlet. If you do not know what voltage your device can use then please read the section below about how can you tell if you have a single voltage or dual voltage device first.

  • If your device is 120 volts or is dual voltage and the plug will fit in an American power outlet then it can work in America without needing anything else.
  • If your device is 120 volts or is dual voltage but the plug won't fit in an American power outlet then you will need to bring a suitable plug adapter for America such a Type B plug adapter [3]. Please be aware that a plug adapter for America (or power adapter) will only change the actual shape of the plug on your device to fit into a plug outlet found in America, but won't convert the voltage from 120 volts to a different voltage.
  • If your device is unable to use 120 volts and isn't dual voltage then you'll also need a power converter for America to convert the voltage from 120 volts to the correct voltage on your device. You will still need to pack a suitable plug adapter for America if your power converter doesn't include the correct Type B plug adapter.
  • If you simply want to recharge one or more USB devices such as tablets or mobile phones then a USB travel power adapter is suitable and it should be dual voltage, but make sure that you bring a USB travel adapter which has a Type B plug adapter otherwise you'll still need to use a suitable plug adapter for America.

Warning: If your device won't handle 120 volts you run a risk of damage to your device, an electrical fire hazard or blowing a fuse. Prior to using your device in America read the instruction manual to ensure safe operation.

America power adapters

Power adapters for America

If you are organizing to travel to America it is helpful to know if you'll be able to power your important gadgets when you reach your destination. By not knowing which wall socket to expect you are more likely to bring the wrong power adaptor, therefore having to buy or borrow a suitable charger when you arrive. Varying different combinations of standards and plugs can all cause confusion when planning on staying in another country, especially for the first time traveller. However this isn't as complicated as it first appears, with only a handful of different types of sockets being used throughout the world this article tells you exactly what you'll need in advance to charge your device in America. This page contains links to simple instructions showing you exactly how to charge your devices when you are in America using their Type B or A 120 volt 60Hz plug outlets, Type B power outlets are used by most Americans. Power is different depending on which country you are travelling to therefore we suggest reading the power adapters page for a complete list of countries.

What is the best power adapter for America?

The best power adapter for America is a Type B power adapter [3] which is suitable for powering any 120 volt appliance or device.

What is the best power adapter for America?

What is a power adapter for an American power outlet?

Power adapters are small and lightweight plastic adapters that allow a different type of power plug on an appliance from a different country to correctly fit into an American power outlet.

Do I need a plug adapter for America?

If the outlet in your home country isn't the same as the type of American power outlet then you will need a power adapter.

What does a power adapter for America do?

A power adapter for America enables a visitor travelling from another location to use their electronic appliances and devices in America simply by changing the shape of the power plug from one shape to another.

Does a power adapter change the voltage from an American power outlet?

No - a power adapter only adapts the shape of a plug to fit into a 120 volt American power outlet and doesn't convert the power to a higher voltage. Should you need to safely use any 220, 230 or 240 volt appliance you also need a step up power converter for America.

Where can I buy a power adapter for America?

Power adapters for sale in an airport

Where can I buy a power adapter for America?

Power adapters are typically available in most major airports prior to departure, however the range of adapters might be limited to popular destinations. It is recommended to research the exact type of adapter required prior to shopping at the airport. Look in the travel accessories section of airport newsagents, electronic stores and pharmacists but expect to pay 50% more than regular prices. Airports will be your last chance to buy a power adapter before departure, always check the returns policy to ensure you can easily exchange or refund a faulty or unsuitable product in an airside shop.

On arrival power adapters can be found in local electrical high street shops and drug stores, but always check the build quality first as safety standards might be different in a foreign country as this is important when dealing with electrical goods. Keep in mind that a shopping trip searching for power adapters in an unknown location might be impractical, especially as this needs to happen quickly before batteries run out.

Hotel receptions could have a power adapter for sale, hire or as a complimentary extra for guests; however, availability is normally limited and a hotel might not have the exact type required for your country. If in doubt, call ahead to the hotel first and request a reservation as it is unlikely that an adapter will be found in your room on arrival.

It will more convenient and cheaper to buy the correct power adapter in advance of your trip. High street stores normally sell popular types of travel adapters to popular locations and for widest choice it is recommended to buy a power adapter online.

America power outlets and plug sockets

What plug sockets are used in America?

Type A and B power outlets

What plug sockets are used in America?

There are two different types of power supply used in America, these are type B and A with the primary power supply being type B:

  • Plug Type A - The power socket, technically known as a type A power outlet, is recognised by the two thin slots adjacent to each other for live and neutral pins.
  • Plug Type B - The plug socket, technically known as a type B power outlet, is recognised by the two thin slots adjacent to each other for live and neutral blades with a single semicircle shaped hole below for the slightly longer earthed pin.

What electrical frequency is used with an American power outlet?

The frequency of the alternating current found in an American power outlet is 60Hz.

How do I use a 220 volt appliance in America?

Use a step up power converter if you need to bring a 220V appliance to America.

America 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 charging multiple USB powered devices when travelling abroad.

What USB charger do I need for America?

If travelling to more than one country the best travel charger for America is a multiple USB charger which includes swappable plugs like a 4 port USB travel charger [6]. Americans use two different types of plug sockets (B and A) and using a travel charger like this ensures that you are covered for type A. Because these chargers are supplied with interchangeable pins and handle 100 - 240 volts it makes them ideal for multiple countries around the world simply by switching the plugs. If your device is compatible with Fast Charge then you will benefit from quicker charging times with one of these power chargers plus support for certain power demanding devices. Having a four port charger will allow you to charge more than one device simultaneously without needing to buy individual travel adapters on your trip to America or occupying additional power outlets. By only needing to pack a single international USB travel charger will also keep the overall size and weight down, making it ideal to fold up in hand luggage whilst travelling and suitable for recharging your devices at the airport or on the plane. Because of their space saving versatility these types of power chargers can be used at home as well as abroad so when you're not travelling they can sit under your bedside table charging multiple smartphones and tablets without using up an additional power outlet.

If you travel frequently we recommend searching for this type of versatile travel adapter online - the multipurpose travel adapter illustrated here is the iKits 4 Port USB Wall Charger [6] which has been tested successfully with multiple USB devices in numerous different countries with perfect reliably.

What USB charger do I need for America?

Why use a travel USB charger for America?

  • Typically travel USB chargers include multiple USB charger ports, meaning you now only need to bring one charger to charge multiple devices. This helps reduce the weightand size of your luggage by only packing a single USB wall charger rather than bringing numerous chargers.
  • Most travel USB chargers include interchangeable plug heads for different power outlet types making them suitable when visiting other countries which will probably use different standards to America.
  • Good chargers are compact, rugged and lightweight - ideal for rigors of travel rather than risking bringing a domestic charger which might be hard to replace in America.
  • USB chargers will accept the 120 volt power outlets in America and different voltage standards across the world.
  • There is a chance that accommodation or hotel bedrooms in America might only have a single wall outlet, by using a travel charger with multiple USB ports means you can share out the single power supply with family or other traveler rather than having to wait to recharge each device one by one.
  • Because of their flexible nature they take the worry out of travelling to an unknown destination as they are guaranteed to work practically anywhere in the world.
  • Power outlets found in airports can be sparse and the demand for charging multiple cell phones from other passengers during departure can be high, therefore a USB travel charger with multiple ports and the capability to fast charge is perect.
  • Sometimes the power grid in a country can be unstable, a good quality travel USB charger allows for unexpected surges and will help prevent damage to any devices attached to it. Attempting to repair an overloaded cell phone or tablet in America could prove to be difficult and costly.
  • Premium USB travel chargers will also include a power outlet strip to allow you to plug in multiple low wattage domestic appliances such as laptops, however these will be unsuitable for high powered domestic such as hair dryers or clothes irons. Read the guide on using travel appliances with an American power outlet for useful advice on the most suitable power adapter for an American power outlet for high powered devices.
  • Certain mobile phones and tablets could require more than the normal 500 milliamps supplied by a normal 5 volt USB adapter to charge or provide fast charge. Higher priced USB chargers will support fast charging incase some of your devices require additional power.
  • On back at home travel USB chargers can also be useful by charging multiple mobile phones every day using one power outlet.

What is the best USB charger for America?

The is the most compact option for travellers from any country who only have USB devices, but for visitors also wanting to use their domestic plugs these power converters provide larger but more versatile solutions. All three power converters offer surge protection which is useful for visitors of regions with unreliable power grids. These travel converters come with interchangeable type C, I and G plugs covering both America and over 150 countries around the world:

  • BESTEK Portable International Travel Voltage Converter - The BESTEK travel adaptor has 4 USB charging ports with 3 AC power outlets and is the best selling portable power converter for travellers originating from America visiting America.
  • 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 from the US using type B plugs and is a more cost effective alternative to the BESTEK with one less AC outlet for almost half price.
  • BESTEK International USB Travel Power Strip - This power strip has just 2 AC outlets but offers 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 America.

Power converters for America

What does a power converter for an American power outlet do?

Power converters enable travellers to use their 220-240 volt electric device with a 120 volt American power outlet.

Also known as: electrical converter, electrical transformer, voltage converter, power transformer or voltage transformer.

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

A heavy and expensive power converter [7] will convert the voltage of 120 volts from an American power outlet to work with a non-120 volt device, however a more lightweight and smaller power adapter (or plug adapter) changes the shape of the plug on your appliance to slot into a power outlet in America.

Do I need a power converter for America?

When you are visiting America from a different country check your device will accept a 120 volt power supply.

  • You need a step up power converter [8] if you are travelling to America from a country that uses 220-240 volts and your device or appliance is incompatible with 120 volts. See the world power outlets guide to discover which voltage your country uses.
  • You won't need a power converter if you already own either a single voltage device that works with 120 volts or one that is dual voltage.
  • Devices which come from another country which use a higher voltage (for example 240 volts) and used in a 120 volt outlet can take longer to charge or won't turn on. If your device doesn't power up or recharges slowly when you are travelling to America from a different region please check that it is compatible with a 120 volt American power outlet or you will need to bring a step up power converter [8].
  • You don't need a power converter if you wish to charge a smaller electrical device such as a laptop as these are typically support dual voltage and designed for international use, however you should always always check the device for dual voltage support first.
  • When powering high wattage appliances or generate heat (such as hair dryers and clothes irons) then you will need to use a much larger higher wattage heavy duty power converter [9] to allow the appliance to be used with a 120 volt American power outlet.
  • It could be more cost effective to purchase a smaller lightweight dual voltage travel appliance than bringing a much heavier high wattage power converter to America in order to use your existing domestic appliance.
  • For more information read these comprehensive travel guides on how to use clothes irons, curling irons, blow dryers and hair straighteners with American power outlets which includes recommendations for some affordable dual voltage alternatives.

What kind of converter do I need for America?

You will need to use a step up power converter [8] in order to use any 220-240 volt appliance in America.

What is the difference between a converter and a transformer?

Voltage converter

What is the difference between a converter and a transformer?

Converters and transformers are both used to change one voltage to another, but this ambiguity can cause confusion as their purposes are different:

  • Power converters are designed for simple electrical appliances which typically generate heat or use motors such as clothes irons, shavers or hair dryers. Transformers are designed for more complex electronic items such as televisions or games consoles.
  • Buying a power converter is cheaper than buying a power transformer.
  • Power transformers are larger and heavier making them more suited for permanent residential use; for example an expat wishing to use an imported television would need to use a transformer for this purpose.
  • Power converters are more suitable for travellers wishing to bring domestic appliances abroad such as hair dryers or flat irons. However, it is more practical and cost effective to purchase a dual voltage appliance designed for travel rather than a heavier power converter.
  • Power converters are suitable for 2 pin ungrounded appliances, it could be harder to find a converter if you want to use a grounded 3 pin appliance.
  • Transformers can be used constantly however it is recommended that converters are used for no longer than a couple of hours at a time.
  • Shops may sell transformers under the name of converters, for the purposes this guide we will be referring to both converters and transformers as converters.

How to convert 120 volts to 220 volts

  1. Use a step up power converter [8] to allow you to use 220, 230 and 240 volt appliances with an 120 volt American power outlet.
  2. If the power converter doesn't include the correct shaped plug then it will also be necessary to plug in the power cord from the power converter into a power adapter for America before plugging that into an American power outlet.
  3. Some power converters include the ability to perform both step up and step down voltage conversions, therefore it may be necessary to manually switch the converter to output the voltage from 220-240v.
  4. Plug your appliance into the converter and turn the power on, your 220-240 volt appliance can now be used with an 120 volt American power outlet.

What voltage is used in America?

America uses 120 volts in their standard power outlets.

What voltage is my appliance?

Single voltage hair dryer

What voltage is my appliance?

The easiest method to see if a appliance is dual voltage is to look for numbers printed on the power plug or on the unit itself, typically near to where the power cord plugs into. The location will vary depending on the make or model of your unit but could also state in the instruction manual.

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

What can I connect to an American power outlet?

Travel appliances that can connect to an American power outlet

Beats Pill speakers which can connect to an American power outlet

Jabra Bluetooth speakers which are compatible with an American power outlet

Mobile phones that can connect to an American power outlet

Apple iPhones that can connect to an American power outlet

Samsung Galaxy phones that work with an American power outlet

A list of Amazon Kindle tablets which work with an American power outlet

A list of Apple iPads which are compatible with an American power outlet

Corrections

We endeavor to ensure all details on this page are correct and relevant to travelers visiting America, if you wish to contribute any useful information or feedback please email travel@wikiconnections.org. For more comprehensive technical details visit the Wikipedia page on AC power plugs and sockets [10].

  1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States - Wikipedia entry about America.
  2. http://www.iec.ch/worldplugs/ - International Electrotechnical Commission World Plugs
  3. Type B plug adapter - Allows appliances to connect to Type B power outlets without converting voltage.
  4. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Adapter - power adaptor
  5. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mains_electricity_by_country - WikiPedia - Mains electricity by country
  6. IKits 4 Port USB Wall Charger - A universal USB charger capable of charging up to 4 USB devices with swappable international adapters.
  7. Power converter - A step up step down power converter converts 110-120 volts up to 220-240 volts and 220-240 volts down to 110-120 Volts.
  8. Step up power converter - A step up power converter allows a 220-240 volt appliance to be used in a 100-120 volt power outlet.
  9. Heavy duty power converter - A 5000 watt heavy duty step up and step down power converter used to convert voltages for domestic appliances, power tools, televisions, heating appliances and motors.
  10. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/AC_power_plugs_and_sockets - AC power plugs and sockets