How do I use my clothes iron in South Africa?

South African power outlet

Summary

First check your clothes iron can handle the voltage in South Africa:

If not then:

  • Use a dual voltage travel iron [2] - you might still need a suitable power adapter for South Africa however these cheap lightweight accessories are designed specifically for the rigors of travel.
  • Use a power converter [11] (or voltage transformer) - you can then use your existing clothes iron and other applicances with a 230 volt South African power outlet, however this is significantly heavier, bulkier and more expensive than a dedicated travel clothes iron. A power converter will change the voltage but won't change the actual shape of the plug on your clothes iron to fit in the types of power outlet used in South Africa, so check that your voltage transformer has the correct power adapter for South Africa otherwise you will still need to bring a seperate power adapter. Note that your own personal clothes iron might not be suitable for travel and you could risk damage in your luggage.

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

Using a clothes iron in South Africa

How can I use my US clothes iron in South Africa?

The guides on this page assume that you're an America reader visiting South Africa and provide advice on using your US clothes iron with a South African power outlet.

Will my clothes iron work in South Africa?

That will depend on if your clothes iron is designed to operate using the 230 volts as used in South Africa. If you're using either a dual voltage clothes iron or your clothes iron can handle 230 volts and you have the correct power adapter then you should be able to use the clothes iron in South Africa. If not then then you will need to consider using either a power converter [11] or a dual voltage travel iron [2]. Read the section on do you need a voltage converter to use your clothes iron for help deciding which solution is more suitable.

South Africa power outlets and plug sockets

What is the mains voltage in South Africa?

The residential voltage in South Africa is 230 volts.

What is the electrical frequency used in South Africa?

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

Which power adapter will you need when using a clothes iron in South Africa?

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

  • Plug Type C - You can identify the wall socket by two round adjacent holes next to each other where the live and neutral pins slide into.
  • Plug Type F - The circular wall socket, also known as a Schuko socket or type F power outlet, can be identified by the two 4.8mm round holes 19 mm next to each other along with two metal grounding clips above and below.
  • Plug Type M - This plug outlet, technically called a type M power outlet, can be recognised by 3 large holes forming a triangle shape for live, neutral and earth.
  • Plug Type N - This flattened hexagon shaped plug outlet, technically called a type N power outlet, can be identified by the 3 large holes forming a triangular shape.

A Type M plug adapter [8] is suitable for powering a 230 volt clothes iron in South Africa - read the simple guide below for full details of how to use a travel adapter for South Africa. Be aware that unless you that have a dual voltage clothes iron you might also need to use a voltage converter.

Which power adapter will you need when using a clothes iron in South Africa?

Dual voltage travel irons

Is my clothes iron dual voltage?

An easy way how to tell if your clothes iron supports dual voltage is to look for either a sticker or numbers printed on the plug, base or the handle of your clothes iron. The location might vary depending on the make and model of your clothes iron and should also state in the instruction manual or on the box. Some dual voltage clothes irons might change automatically but other models will feature a button which allows you to operate between different regions depending on which country you are visiting.

  • Single voltage could say a specific number - such as 110V. If this number matches the 230 volts used in South Africa then you should be able to use your clothes iron with a South African power outlet.
  • Single voltage might also have a small voltage range with a dash to accomodate small voltage fluctuations - such as 100-120V. If the 230 volts used in a South African power outlet falls within the range shown on your clothes iron then you should be able to use it in South Africa.
  • Dual voltage will say a larger voltage range separated with a slash - such as 100/240V. Your clothes iron will be capable of being used in South Africa or any other country if these numbers are shown.

Travelling to South Africa with a clothes iron

Can you carry on a clothes iron to South Africa in your luggage?

According to the TSA guidelines for clothes irons [14] there are no restrictions when bringing a mains powered clothes iron in your carry on luggage through airport security in the US. The TSA also suggests that you should check that the airline which is flying you to South Africa will allow clothes irons onboard and that it will fit in the overhead bin or underneath the seat of the aircraft. The TSA also advices wrapping wires tightly around electric items such as clothes irons.

If you intend to bring a fragile or expensive clothes iron in your hand held luggage then it is recommended to use hard carry on luggage [15] as this provides the most protection against knocks and drops during your journey.

Power converters for South Africa

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

Voltage converter

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

A heavy and expensive power converter [11] will transform a 230 volt South African power outlet to work with a non-230 volt clothes iron, but a more lightweight and cheaper power adapter (or plug adapter) will change the shape of the plug on your clothes iron to slot into a power outlet found in South Africa.

Can I use a voltage converter to use a normal clothes iron in South Africa?

A voltage transformer [11] (or power converter) allows a clothes iron using a different voltage to operate using a 230 volt power outlet used in South Africa. A power converter is more suited for travellers who wish to use their existing domestic clothes iron, however it can be more expensive to buy a power converter than it is to purchase a dedicated dual voltage travel iron [2]. A power converter is also considerably bulkier than a travel clothes iron making a power converter less suitable for packing in luggage.

How to use a clothes iron in South Africa using a type C power adapter

How to power your clothes iron in South Africa with a 2 pronged Type C power adapter.

  1. Ensure that the iron is either a dual voltage travel iron [2] or works with a 230 volt power supply but if it doesn't then don't continue because you could blow a fuse, damage your iron or create an electrical fire hazard. Some travel irons will usually have a switch to toggle between voltages, before using the iron ensure you have set it to the 230 volt setting to use in South Africa, please refer to the manufacturers instructions for more information on how to do this.
  2. If the type of power outlet used in South Africa isn't the same shape as the plug on your clothes iron you'll need to bring a Type C plug adapter [4]. This Type C plug adapter helps adapt plugs from other countries for an electrical outlet used in South Africa by changing the shape of the plug, however it doesn't change the voltage of the clothes iron to work with a 230 volt supply.
  3. Start by plugging the Type C plug adapter into the power outlet. This ungrounded plug supply is identified by the two round holes adjacent to each other.
  4. Plug in the clothes iron into the Type C plug adapter.
  5. Switch on the South African power outlet.
  6. You can now turn on your iron in South Africa.
How to use a clothes iron in South Africa using a type C power adapter

How to use a clothes iron in South Africa using a type F power adapter

The WikiConnections page showing how to use a clothes iron in South Africa with a 2 pronged Type F power adapter.

  1. Please check that your iron is either a dual voltage travel iron [2] or works with a 230 volt power outlet but if it doesn't then don't continue because you could damage your iron, blow a fuse or create an electrical fire hazard. Dual voltage irons typically have a switch to toggle between voltages, before using the iron ensure you have set it to the 230 volt setting to use in South Africa - consult the user guide for more information on how to do this.
  2. If the plug on your clothes iron isn't the same type of outlet used in South Africa you'll need to bring a Type F plug adapter [6]. This plug adapter will help fit plugs from other countries for an electrical outlet used in South Africa by changing the shape of the plug, however it doesn't change the voltage of the clothes iron to work with a 230 volt outlet.
  3. Insert the Type F plug adapter into the power outlet. You can identify the power outlet by the two large adjacent holes next to each other where the twin pins slide into, plus two metal grounding clips above and below.
  4. After that plug in your clothes iron into the Type F plug adapter.
  5. Turn on the South African power outlet.
  6. The iron is now ready to be turned on.
How to use a clothes iron in South Africa using a type F power adapter

How to use a clothes iron in South Africa using a type M power adapter

How to power your clothes iron in South Africa with a Type M travel charger.

  1. Ensure that the iron is either a dual voltage travel iron [2] or can work with a 230 volt power supply but if it doesn't then don't continue because you might blow a fuse, damage your iron or create an electrical fire hazard. Some dual voltage irons will usually have a switch to toggle between voltages, before using the iron ensure you have set it to the 230 volt setting, please refer to the manufacturers instructions for more information on how to do this.
  2. You will need to buy a Type M plug adapter [8] if the type of power outlet which is used in South Africa won't accomodate the plug shape of your clothes iron. The Type M plug adapter will adapt plugs from other countries for an electrical outlet used in South Africa by changing the shape of the plug, however it doesn't change the frequency or voltage of your clothes iron to work with a 230 volt supply.
  3. Begin the process by plugging the Type M plug adapter into the power outlet. You can recognise this plug supply by the three circular holes forming a triangle pattern.
  4. Plug in the clothes iron into the Type M plug adapter.
  5. Switch on the South African power outlet. The iron is now ready to be turned on.
How to use a clothes iron in South Africa using a type M power adapter

How to use a clothes iron in South Africa using a type N power adapter

How to power your clothes iron in South Africa with a Type N travel charger.

  1. Check that the iron is either a dual voltage travel iron [2] or works with a 230 volt power supply; if not then do not proceed as you may create an electrical fire hazard, damage your iron or blow a fuse. Before using a dual voltage travel iron make sure the switch is set to accept 230 volts; please refer to the user guide to find out where this switch is.
  2. You will need to buy a Type N plug adapter [10] if the shape of plug on your clothes iron isn't the same type of plug outlet which is used in South Africa. The Type N plug adapter helps fit plugs on appliances from other countries for use in a power outlet in South Africa simply by changing the shape of the plug, but the adapter doesn't change the frequency or voltage of your clothes iron to work with a 230 volt supply.
  3. Start by plugging the Type N plug adapter into the South African power outlet. This flattened hexagon shaped plug supply, technically called the Type N power outlet [9], can be recognised by 3 large circular holes forming a flattened triangle pattern.
  4. Plug in the clothes iron into the Type N plug adapter.
  5. Switch on the South African power outlet. The iron is now ready to be turned on.
How to use a clothes iron in South Africa using a type N power adapter

See also

  1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/South_Africa - Wikipedia.org web page about South Africa
  2. https://www.amazon.com/Small-Mini-Iron-Non-Stick-Extra-Long/dp/B01AK9ZUGO/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&qid=1483620272&sr=8-4&keywords=dual+voltage+travel+iron&refinements=p_72:2661618011&linkCode=ll1&tag=wikiconnections-20&linkId=2f036aaac07e425cbd203ec0166146cb - dual voltage travel iron
  3. http://www.iec.ch/worldplugs/typeC.htm - Type C power outlet
  4. Type C plug adapter - Allows appliances to connect to Type C power outlets without converting voltage
  5. http://www.iec.ch/worldplugs/typeF.htm - Type F power outlet
  6. Type F plug adapter - Allows appliances to connect to Type F power outlets without converting voltage
  7. http://www.iec.ch/worldplugs/typeM.htm - Type M power outlet
  8. Type M plug adapter - Allows appliances to connect to Type M power outlets without converting voltage
  9. http://www.iec.ch/worldplugs/typeN.htm - Type N power outlet
  10. Type N plug adapter - Allows appliances to connect to Type N power outlets without converting voltage
  11. 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
  12. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mains_electricity_by_country - WikiPedia - Mains electricity by country
  13. http://www.iec.ch/worldplugs/list_bylocation.htm - IEC World Plugs by location
  14. https://apps.tsa.dhs.gov/mytsa/cib_results.aspx?search=clothes%20iron - TSA guidelines for clothes irons
  15. Hard carry on luggage - Example of hard cases, suitcases and luggage suitable for airline carry on.