Why Are There So Many Plugs and Sockets Around the World?

If you have ever traveled outside of the United States, you know just how frustrating it can be to go to plug in your phone only to realize the socket is a different shape. Why is it that you can use one type of charger in one part of the world, but need to use voltage converters in another? Why do countries within the same region have different plug and socket types, and how can you prepare if you are visiting a new country or plan to move overseas? Here is some history behind plugs around the world.

Plug types around the world

Edison, Tesla, and War

There are about 12 major plug types in use throughout the world, and all of them can trace back to the electrical arms race in the 1800s, according to Gizmodo. In the United States, Thomas Edison’s experiments with direct current introduced mainstream electricity to the country, but had trouble holding over long distances. Nikola Tesla invented alternating current power to rectify this, but the result was 240-volt power, as opposed to Edison’s 110-volt product. While the U.S. eventually adopted AC technology, it did not adjust its voltages or plugs to match what was in use in Europe. After all, who was going to lug around their appliances on a ship when they could save money and buy new items when they arrived?

The reason that regions have different plug types is that, in the early days, electrical devices had to be patched into a home’s wiring system. Inventors around the world sought to solve the issue with a single standardized plug, leading to individual countries choosing their own standard. Why do some countries in Africa, South America, and Asia share plug types, while their neighbors don’t? This is all thanks to old colonial ties around the world, as well as implementations following both World Wars.

Learn more about the history behind plug types and find out which voltage converters you need around the world by contacting 110220Volts.com today at (800) 827-9978.


  1. http://gizmodo.com/5391271/giz-explains-why-every-country-has-a-different-fing-plug

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Do I Need a Travel Voltage Converter When Studying Abroad?

Study abroad programs are a whirlwind and are a totally necessary part of a college, and life, experience. A few weeks to a year of full immersion into another culture, and potentially another language, is overwhelming and exciting, to say the very least. Many comforts from home are overlooked or underappreciated when preparing for such a long relocation. One of the top things that students traveling abroad miss the mark on (or forget completely) is a travel adapter and/or voltage converter. Before freaking out, follow these steps to determine what converter, if any, you’re going to need for your travels:

  1. Check the voltage standards of your destination.
  2. Take a look at your devices for voltage information. A device that operates safely around 110 volts may need a step-down converter if you’re taking it to a 220 volt appliance country. The same goes for a 220 volt device in a 110 volt country; you’ll need a step-up converter, though, in that case. These appliances have what’s called single voltage. If your device or devices operate safely anywhere in that 110-220 volt range, you then have dual voltage protection. Dual voltage usually means that you will NOT need to purchase a converter, but you will more than likely need to invest in a power adapter (see #4).
  3. Next, determine the wattage of your products. This can be found on most general product labels. You’ll want to buy a converter with enough power to operate two to three times higher than what your device needs. This covers any unexpected energy surge when your device is first powered up. If you are visiting an area with frequent surges and dips in power, you may want to invest in a converter with a built-in voltage stabilizer that will maintain the output levels of power to your device, even if the input levels are fluctuating. This will protect your appliance from a surge.
  4. Whether you are purchasing a converter or not, you will almost definitely need a power adapter plug. An outlet plug adapter does just that; it has different prongs that can be used in a variety of electrical outlets around the world. There are many types of prongs and plugs, but the four most common are the American plug, or Type A, with two vertical pins; the European, or Type C, with two round pins; the British, or Type G, with three rectangular pins; and the Chinese/Australian, or Type I, with two slanted pins. Many adapters come with all four options and more, for those making more than one stop on their trip.


Wherever you end up studying abroad, be prepared for these little changes while you get ready for the trip of a lifetime. It will make the transition into a temporary and thrilling situation so much easier, and so much more enjoyable, if you are well-equipped with the knowledge of where you’re headed, and the comforts of where you came from.


Photo Credit – Power Voltages Around the World

Can You Bring Your Appliances When You Move Overseas?

In our previous blog post, we discussed the differences between plug shapes and types for various countries when you are moving overseas. Moving to a new home within the United States is simple enough: just pack everything you need into a moving truck and drive to your new address, but what about when you move overseas? Can you bring all of your belongings, including your appliances, with you? Knowing which appliances will work in your new home and if you need voltage regulators will help answer these questions.

The simple fact is that the appliances you use now, including small home electronics, are built to work in your current home. When you move overseas you will encounter new voltage standards that can render your devices inoperable. Here are a few reasons why:

  • In North America, outlets have a normal voltage of 110/120 V and 60 Hz. Most countries in Europe have outlets with 220 V and 50 Hz.
  • You will not be able to plug in your appliances in a foreign country without an adapter that fits the new outlet type.
  • Plugging in a device with an adapter, but without a voltage converter, can cause sparks to shoot out and lead to damages.

Taking all of this into account, it is important for you to make a list of items that you absolutely need to bring with you when you move. Invest in voltage regulators that will work in your new country so that you do not have to start from scratch and add more to your moving budget. Learn more about what you need when you move overseas by contacting a representative from Overseas Best Buy today at 800-827-9978.

Moving overseas


Get 208-240v 60hz from a standard 110-120v outlet

220 Volts

Solution you have been looking for is here.

The electricity supplied to your home or office building delivers power to your neighborhood or local area at 220 volts. Before this power goes into your home or office it is split, by a transformer, into two separate conductors that are 110v and share a common wire. In essence, the 220 volts is split in half with two hot wires, sharing one neutral. This is known as a three wire split phase system and is in almost every single house in the United States, Canada and Mexico. If you live in North Carolina you likely reside in a home and work at an office with a three wire split phase system. The system works like this:

  • two 120 volt 60 Hz live “hot legs” which run in opposing phase to one another: when one hot leg goes “+” (120 volts positive) the other leg goes “-” (120 volts negative)

When attempting to increase from 110-120 60 hz to 220-240 60 hz you could hire an electrician to install a 220-240 outlet. That said, dealing with independent contractors can be difficult and expensive. You could get a 110v to 220v voltage transformer but these items tend to be very large and heavy; not to mention extremely expensive.
Rather than having to battle with electricians or install a voltage transformer you can purchase a 110-120v to 220-240v converter. Once you have this item all you will need to do is to plug it into each of the two phases of your home or office’s electrical system.



  • Voltage: 108 to 125 Volts AC, 60 HZ, non-GFI circuits, two circuits, out of phase
  • Outlets for US 220 volt straight blade
  • Portable, easy to use
  • Silent
  • Outlets for US 220 volt plugs
  • 15 and 20 Ampere (Amp) capacities, continuous duty,


American 110 Volts Step up to American 220 Volts Power Tap for USA-CANADA Use

Will my Hair Straighteners – Hair Dryer power plug work in Spain, and other European countries?

Hair Dryer photo

Are Straighteners and Hard Dryer Cords Different in Spain?

Whether you’re visiting the lively land of Spain on vacation or you’re moving there for the foreseeable future, travel to a foreign country often brings up an abundance of questions for those taking the leap across the pond. And, because you’re traveling across the pond, you know that you won’t be plugging your trusty electronic devices into the same types of plugs that you’d find here in the U.S. Instead, you’ll find a big circular outlet with two circular holes. Doesn’t sound familiar, right? Find more at our Voltage Converter Buyers Guide.

The European plugs don’t only look different, but they also deliver more voltage than our American ones. This means that many American-made or made-for-America electronics simply won’t work with just an adapter when you plug them in in Spain and beyond. In fact, outfitting a plug with just an adapter before plugging it in can cause your electricity to burn out; it can also ruin your device. This is especially true for devices that require lots of energy to run, like your hair dryer and straightenter.

Hair dryers and straighteners require lots of wattage so that they can produce enough heat for you to style your hair. And, of course you’ll need all of your styling tools while you’re on the road — Spain will be photo-op after photo-op, after all. That’s why you’ll have to invest in at least one good convertor before you fly out. A convertor box will transform the voltage of a European outlet into something that works with your American device. It has the two circular plugs, as mentioned above, so that it’ll slip right into the Spanish outlet. Its outside will have an outlet for you that will look just like home. Plug in your hair dryer or straightener here and you won’t have any issue with a fried appliance or electrical system.

If you’re moving to Spain for the long haul, you might consider investing in a hair dryer or straightener with the proper plug already attached. As previously mentioned, this plug does look a little bit different and a few things about the device may look a little different, too, like the language and the temperature readings in Celsius. Otherwise, everything should look pretty similar, including the cords. You might even find your exact brand of hair dryer or straightener on the shelves in Spain.

Check out the local department stores or big-box stores, such as Carrefour, to find a straightener or hair dryer that’ll work for your stay. And, if you plan on bringing your trusty device, make sure that you’ve purchased a convertor that has wattage to spare in order to make your styling tools hot and ready to go so that your hair will be, too. You can find an abundance of reliable 110 to 220 voltage converters here.