What do you need to plug US electronics into European outlets?

Reader H has a question about what adjustments she needs for plugging in her electronics in Europe. My business travel doesn’t take me to US to European plugsEurope, so Cindy from Lady Light Travel has graciously agreed to answer this question.

I’m going to be temporarily moving to Belgium and from my brief study abroad in High School, I remember that I need a converter/transformer instead of an adapter for my non-computer items. Can you recommend a good one? 

There are a couple of issues that need to be addressed:

  • plug adapters
  • voltage converters/transformers

The US uses Type A (ungrounded) and Type B (grounded) plugs.  The EU uses Type C (ungrounded) and Type E&F (grounded) plugs.  Neither will work in the other so you’ll need to buy plug adapters for your electronics, even if they are dual voltage items.  Plug adapters cost around $2-5 each.  I bought 2 plug adapters – one for my hair tool and one for my USB plug.

Your reader will only need a transformer for any item that isn’t dual voltage.  You can tell by looking at the back of the item. 

I usually find single voltage electronics in:

  • Some hair tools, especially flat irons.  It may be worthwhile to just buy a new flat iron in Europe.  If not, consider a converter/transformer
  • Hair dryers – these are notorious for blowing out wiring.  Buy a new hair dryer for Europe.  Don’t bother with US hair dryers.
  • TVs and stereos

It may be easiest to just buy a converter surge protector for her computer/US hair tools (except hair dryers). For iPhones/iPads and other USB devices I would buy a European USB wall plug.  That will cost at most $25 but will be really convenient especially if she needs to plug in somewhere away from “home”.

Thank you, Lady Light Travel, for the great advice!

Readers, do you travel to Europe? What do you take to make charging and using your electronics easy?

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Comments

  1. Easy for adapters for charging USB devices. Get an Amazon Kindle fast charger travel kit for about $20. it has the part with the USB slot and the prongs swap out easily. Just take the specific plugs you need and leave the rest of the kit at home.

    As for your precious hair tools, just go and buy a dual voltage one and keep it in your bag. Converters are heavy (and expensive) and to be avoided if you can. The computer one is probably the only one you’ll need.

  2. All the electronics I travel with (and I carry a lot) are dual voltage, with the exception of my Braun electric toothbrush. In Europe this usually plugs into a 110V shaver adapter in the bathroom.

    For everything else I carry one plug adapter and a short US extension cord with three outlets, and everything else plugs into that.

    I also have a 4-port USB power adapter that only uses one of these outlets. Anker is a good brand for these, available from Amazon.

  3. All the electronics I travel with (and I carry a lot) are dual voltage, with the exception of my Braun electric toothbrush. In Europe this usually plugs into a 110V shaver adapter in the bathroom.

    For everything else I carry one plug adapter and a short US extension cord with three outlets, and everything else plugs into that.

    I also have a 4-port USB power adapter that occupies one of these outlets. Anker is a good brand for these, available from Amazon.

  4. I just returned from a week in the UK, and I second the advice to buy European-voltage hair appliances. I brought my (US) flat iron, plugged it in to a voltage converter/plug adapter, and the converter began to smoke! It was a very frightening moment in the hotel room. None of my electronics needed the voltage converter, just plug adapters.

    Also note that UK (and a few other places) use a different plug from most of western Europe. Google to find out exactly which you need, especially if you plan to travel between countries – I actually brought the wrong ones to UK, but luckily the hotel had a supply.

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