Electrical Outlets In The United States

Which Power Adapter To Use In The United States?

You are leaving soon visit New York or another city in the United States? There is an important element to take into account that some travelers tend to forget: electrical outlets in the United States are not the same as in France.

Indeed, there the electric current is 110 volts and 60 hertz, while in France it is 220 volts and 50 hertz. In addition, the very shape of the outlets differs: to be able to plug in your devices and charge your laptop or smartphone, for example, you will need an electrical adapter and sometimes even a transformer or an electrical converter.

The Two Types Of Electrical Outlets In The United States

US Type A plug
US Type A plug
US Type B plug
US Type B plug

In France and in most European countries, there are two types of sockets for the devices we use daily at home: sockets without earth (Type C), with simply two round plugs, and sockets with earth ( Type E), which also have a hole to accommodate the earth plug which is on the side of the wall socket or power strip.

There are two types of electrical outlets in the United States as well, one grounded and one ungrounded. We talk about Type A and Type B.

Type A sockets consist of two parallel flat plugs of different shapes. Type B sockets also have a third round plug, which enables earthing (i.e. evacuation of the leakage current in the event of an insulation fault on an electrical device to earth, to protect against a possible risk of electric shock).

Note that in Canada and Central America (Mexico, Colombia, Panama, etc.), electrical installations also operate at 110 volts and 60 hertz. The standard is therefore identical to that found in the United States, and the power outlets are the same too. A US device (or an adapter that works on US outlets) will therefore work anywhere in North and Central America.

How To Choose An Electrical Adapter For Traveling To The United States?

You will therefore need an electrical adapter to use your French devices on electrical outlets in the United States, and in some cases you will even need a transformer, which can also convert the voltage and frequency of the electrical current.

To check that an electrical device will be able to operate with a simple adapter, just look on it (on a label or directly on the socket), that it will be able to operate at 110V and 50 Hz. The operating range is always indicated, you can for example see “100V-240V” or “110V-220V”, and “50/60 Hz”, which will mean that the device will be compatible with the American standard.

Electrical Adapter For Traveling To The United States
For most commonly used devices, such as smartphones or camera battery chargers, a simple adapter will suffice.

As you will be able to see on their labels, certain appliances that consume more electricity or are simply not suitable ( electric shavers, certain electric toothbrushes – often those that are not recharged by USB – and all hair dryers, for example ), will only be compatible with 220V or 230V installations. In this case, you will need to use a transformer.

These transformers often look like power strips, take care of this voltage conversion and are most of the time delivered with several electrical adapters to operate in many countries. They are necessary only for specific needs: if you do not have such a capricious device, then most likely you will not need to carry your own transformer.

Fortunately for you, a simple adapter will suffice for most everyday devices, such as smartphones, laptops or camera battery chargers. These devices are more and more versatile nowadays, and therefore less capricious about the voltage accepted.

Where to buy a power adapter for the USA?

Some hotels have universal outlets, but not all do. Do not worry, however, since the adapters are easily found on site, at the airport or in many stores. Note that you will always find them cheaper online, so it will always be worth ordering one before you leave.

On Amazon you will find a wide selection of adapter and transformer models. To charge your devices, a very simple model like this one will do just fine.

Universal Adapters

If you are traveling around the world, the best choice will surely be to buy a universal power adapter, which will of course work in the United States, but also with plug types from other countries:

  • Type D sockets, used mainly in India and Nepal;
  • Type G sockets, used in particular in the United Kingdom, but also in Malta, Singapore, Dubai and other countries on the Arabian Peninsula in particular;
  • Type H sockets, used mainly in Israel and the West Bank;
  • Type I sockets, used in particular in Australia, New Zealand, China and Argentina;
  • Type J sockets, found in Switzerland and Liechtenstein;
  • Type K sockets, used in Greenland and Denmark;
  • Type L sockets, found in Italy, Chile and some African countries, among others;
  • Type M sockets, used mainly in South Africa, but gradually replaced by Type N;
  • Type N sockets, found in Brazil and South Africa;
  • Type O sockets, used only in Thailand. Wall sockets of this type are compatible with our French devices with Type C plugs.

Universal adapters are very numerous on the market, and offer more or less extensive compatibility depending on the model.

Brand Features Price
Welly Works in over 150 countries About 10 €
Tesan Works in over 224 countries Around 27 €

Where To Buy An Electrical Transformer For The USA?

If you need to connect compatible devices only in 220V-230V, you will therefore need a transformer. In this case, it is important to choose a product capable of supporting sufficient power. This power is also indicated on the socket or on a label directly on the device, and it is expressed in Watts.

Strong points Weak points Price
Compact and functional, can connect two low-consumption devices at the same time that do not operate at 110 V by default Will not work with more powerful appliances (e.g. hair dryer), which vary between 1000W and 2500W Around 50 €
Connects virtually any device to a US outlet, even high-drain devices Quite bulky and heavy (about 3 kilos for this model) Around 70 €

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