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Electricity in the USA / Travel adapters

Plug type USA -- Electricity / Voltage in the USA
Travel plug adapter that offers a ground contact and has a built-in fuse: Image shows plug type USA

USA: 110/120 Volt AC, 60 Hz

Line voltage in the USA is 110/120 Volt AC, 60Hz.
If you intend to bring your own devices and appliances you need two things:

1) An adapter plug
2) your device must be prepared to be switched to 110/120 V, otherwise you either can’t use it or you have to buy a (relatively heavy and expensive) voltage converter, which is not recommended. Better consider to buy devices especially designed for travel purposes – they’re mostly small, light-weighted and of course switchable between 110/120V.

Travel Adapter Plugs

These small helpers are really useful, because they just have one single purpose: to adapt your device plug to fit into American sockets. Usually you can buy them as a ‘worldwide variety pack’ in shops which sell electronic devices, luggage or you even get them in some larger supermarkets. Of course you can buy online.

It’s best to buy travel adapters before you TRAVEL.

Is your device switchable?

You can easy find out whether you can switch them when you turn the device and look at each side and the bottom. There should be this little switch labeled ‘110/120V’. If you can’t find it, your device is probably not switchable.

Many devices do not require a ground plug; however, if a device like an electric water kettle or hair blower has a ground plug then you should go with a quality adapter that comes with a metal ground plug.

Travel plug adapters should be bought in your home country before you leave. Prices vary: for low quality adapters you pay around US$ 10 and under but for better ones the price will be around 30 to 40 US Dollars / Euros. Please be aware that an adapter that makes just your plug fitting makes only sense with devices that have a switch for 110 to 220 V.

In the USA you have 110/120 Volts and you cannot use a device that is rated only for 220/230 Volts!

If there’s no manual switch (110 to 240 Volt and vice versa) on your device then it might have a built-in automatic switch like most devices that are designed for a mobile lifestyle have.

That is normal for notebooks, battery chargers for your camera, cameras, cell-phones and the like. You can find out by looking at the device’s power supply and if it says it accepts voltage between 110V to 250V it is ok to take it with you.
Devices like hair blowers might have a switch if they are prepared for travel purposes.
Show below is the power supply of a notebook in order to illustrate how they voltage rating might look like:

Some devices can automatically switch between 110-240 volt
Some devices can automatically switch between 110-240 volt

Otherwise, which means if your device has neither a manual nor an automatic voltage switch, it’s recommended to leave your device at home even if there are voltage converter on the market that perhaps could do the job. But you should verify each detail very carefully and ask a specialist to make sure your device suffers no damage.

A few hotels might provide an extra outlet with 220V for international travelers.

Take an extra Power strip

International Power Strip
International Power Strip: in this case the cable plug is the US plug, and the power strip plugs are universal

If you have multiple devices that you will need to power at the same time – like chargers, notebooks, etc – it might be advantageous to take an international power strip with you.
Our image shows one that has a US-wall plug but accepts all sorts of international plugs to plug in. So, if you have such power strip with another wall plug you would plug the wall plug into your travel adapter and then have multiple universal plugs for devices available. The one in the image also features 2 USB plugs. In the end it doesn’t matter what wall plug our power strip has (in our case it is a U.S. version) because our travel adapter takes anyway all sorts of international plugs.
The shown power strip also accepts 110-240 Volts input — that is important, because it is the feature that makes it usable for travel to countries with different voltages.

Note: a travel plug adapter is NOT a electricity transformer! It only adapts the ‘shape’ of the plug.

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