This plug adapter changes the shape of an appliance's plug so that can plug into a "Type B" North American NEMA 5-15 or Japanese JIS C 8303 Class I Grounded socket. The receptacle end of the adapter can accept any standard household plug type from any country, except the "Type M" South African SABS1661 (Old British BS-546 "Large") plug. The plug end is a "Type B" North American NEMA 5-15 plug. The adapter's blade contacts are 6.4mm tall, 1.5mm thick, and are spaced 12.7mm apart. The grounding pin is 4.8mm in diameter. The plug is grounded but not polarized, which can be very important.
This travel plug adapter is compatible with "Type B " North American NEMA 5-15 and Japanese JIS C 8303 Class I Grounded sockets. Although the two standards are technically different, they are practically interchangeable, and are grouped together under the general, unofficial "Type B" classification.
But is this all I need? Or do I need a voltage converter/transformer?
Well, that depends on what you need to plug in. Japanese/North American sockets are used in a number of different countries whose electrical infrastructure are standardized at several different voltages. The sockets ae the same shape, but they can supply 100 volts (in Japan) or 110-120 volts (in North America) or 220-240 volts in some Latin American countries which adhere to European voltage standards. If you're plugging in an appliance that was built for the voltage being supplied by the socket, or an appliance that is compatible with multiple voltages, then an adapter is all you need.
But adapters do not change the voltage, so the electricity coming through the adapter will still be the same voltage the socket is supplying. North American sockets supply electricity at between 110 and 120 volts, far lower than in most of the rest of the world, but higher than the 100 volts in Japan. Consequently, North American appliances are generally built for 110-120 volts. But that doesn't mean that your specific appliance isn't already compatible with other voltages -- it may very well be.
So how do I know whether or not my appliance is compatible with multiple voltages?
Short answer: The only way to know is to check, and there's absolutely no getting around that crucial step. Electricity is nothing to mess around with, and assuming can be bad news. If you're wrong, you could "fry" your appliance, or worse yet, start a fire.
That being said, generally speaking, most modern "digital-age" appliances (especially ones that run on batteries) are being built to be compatible with all worldwide voltages, from 100 volts in Japan to 240 volts in the United Kingdom. This usually includes things like laptops, PDAs, cell phones, digital cameras, digital camcorders, many portable video game devices, digital music players, etc. More and more personal grooming items like hair dryers curling irons, shavers (especially cordless ones) and such are being built to be compatible with multiple voltages as well, but most of them aren't.
"Conventional appliances" like kitchen items, audio/video equipment, vacuum cleaners, lamps and lights, and most bath appliances are not compatible with multiple voltages. Again, the only way to know is to check. A common misconception is that there's any such thing as a "standard" electrical input for appliances. There's not. They're all different.
Okay, so how do I find this info for my specific appliance?
The electrical input specifications will appear on a label on the appliance itself, or on its charger or AC adapter if it uses one, near where the brand name and model number appear. Look for the word "input." As a last resort, you could check the back of the manual, but 99 times out of 100, it will be on the appliance's or charger's label. The input voltage is usually abbreviated to "V" and it should look something like this:
Input: ~100-240V 50/60Hz 65W -- This means the appliance is compatible with multiple voltages. This item can be brought just about anywhere in the world, and any difference in voltage is basically irrelevant. The appliance (or charger) adjusts itself to whatever voltage it receives. The only issue is whether or not the plug can physically interface with the socket. The appropriate travel plug adapter is all that's needed.
---or--- Input: 115/230V 50/60Hz 200W -- This means that the appliance can be switched between 110-120 volts in North America, and 220-240 volts in other parts of the world. This is common of desktop computers and some hair dryers/curling irons/etc. You probably have to physically flip a switch somewhere, but as long as that switch is in the proper position and you have the appropriate plug adapter, you're fine.
---or--- Input: 120V 60Hz 2.8A -- This means that the appliance is only compatible with a single voltage, in this case, 120 volts. If the socket is 100V, or 220-240V, then an adapter by itself isn't enough, because travel plug adapters do not change the voltage supplied by the socket. Plugging it in with just an adapter can "fry" it (if you're lucky, that's all that will happen) because the voltage is too high for the appliance to handle, or it may not work properly in Japan, because 100 volts is too low. To use this appliance safely, the voltage needs to be changed from 100 or 220-240 volts to 110-120 volts by way of a voltage converter or transformer.
Firstly, it's important to understand that many countries do not adhere to a single standard for electrical plugs and sockets. This is especially true of developing countries, where they basically use whatever they can get. If a British or French or U.S. construction company comes into a developing country and constructs a new building, in many cases nobody's going to stop them from installing British or French or U.S. sockets, even if that's not "the standard." As a result, in many countries any number of different socket types might be used. They could vary from region to region, city to city, street to street or even building to building. Crazy, but true.
So with that in mind, please understand that just because a country is listed here as using the North American NEMA 5-15 or Japanese JIS C 8303 Class I Grounded socket type, that doesn't necessarily mean it's the only type used there. It's entirely possible that you might never even encounter this type of socket, even if the country is listed here. They may only use it in a different area, way over on the other side of the country. They may have very recently phased it out. They might use it right down the street, but in a building you don't plan to visit. We do the best we can, but it's an inexact science, and things are constantly changing and evolving. We do not and cannot make any claims to 100% thoroughness and accuracy.
That being said, the North American NEMA 5-15 (Japanese JIS C 8303 Class I Grounded) socket is used in the following countries:
American Samoa /
Antigua and Barbuda /
the Bahamas /
the Cayman Islands / Colombia /
Costa Rica /
El Salvador /
Mexico / Micronesia /
the Philippines /
Puerto Rico /
Saint Kitts & Nevis /
Saudi Arabia / Tahiti /
Thailand / Trinidad and Tobago /
the United States of America / Venezuela / the
Technical Line Drawing
Specifications are subject to change at any time without notice.