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Mains electricity by country includes a list of countries and territories, with the plugs, voltages and frequencies they use for providing electrical power to small appliances and some major appliances. Every country has differing rules regarding distribution of electricity for portable appliances and lighting. Voltage, frequency, and plug type vary widely, but large regions may use common standards. Physical compatibility of receptacles may not ensure compatibility of voltage, frequency, or connection to earth ground.
This article lists the plug type, voltage and frequency commonly expected for many territories. In some areas, older standards may still exist. Foreign enclaves or buildings frequented by tourists may support plugs not otherwise used in a country, for the convenience of travellers.
The IEC publishes a web microsite World Plugs[unreliable source?] which provides the main source for this page, except where other sources are indicated. World Plugs includes some history, a description of plug types, and a list of countries giving the type(s) used and the mains voltage and frequency. The lettering system used here is that described in World Plugs.
Although useful for quick reference, especially for travellers, IEC World Plugs may not be regarded as totally accurate as illustrated by the examples in the plugs section below, and errors such as Indonesia being listed as using both 220 V and 110 V when the Indonesian Standard SPLN 1 clearly states the voltage as 230 V.
The lettering system used here is from World Plugs which defines the letter names and gives a (not always correct) list of what plug types are used where. Type A makes specific reference to American and Japanese plugs, as does Type B which is specifically rated at 15 A. Type C is specifically identified as the Europlug (which is defined in EN 50075) and described as a plug which fits into any socket that accepts 4.0–4.8 mm round contacts on 19 mm centres. Type D is specifically rated at 5 A. Type E (grounding pin in socket) and Type F (grounding clips on both sides) are specifically rated at 16 A and defined as having 4.8 mm pins on 19 mm centres. Type G is identified as the fused British plug. The Type H plug is described as unique to Israel. Type I (Australian) is described as having both 10 A and 15 A ratings. Type J (Swiss) is rated at 10 A and is differentiated from Type N. The Type K rating is not shown. The Type L (Italian) description includes both ratings and pin sizes. Type M is described as looking similar to Type D, but with much larger pins. The Type N description is of the two variations of Brazilian plug (Brazilian national standard NBR 14136), however, the original plug and socket is defined in IEC 60906-1 and has been adopted as a South African national Standard (SANS 164-2), the Brazilian version is non-compliant with the IEC standard. Not all plugs are included in the letter system, for example there is no designation for the plug defined by the Thai National Standard TIS116-2549.
IEC World Plugs is ambiguous in some areas, it does not reference national technical standards that define the dimensions and tolerances of devices. Plugs will usually mate with sockets which are intended to accept plugs classified under the same letter type, but there is no guarantee of this. There is also an issue relating to Type C, the EN 50075 Europlug which has no dedicated socket in the standard and is designed to fit sockets accepting "4.0 – 4.8 mm round contacts on 19 mm centres", implying that there must be usage of such sockets in the territories listed as using Type C plugs. Despite this, World Plugs lists seven territories as using only Type C (i.e., no mention of specific plug types whose mating sockets also accept Type C) and twenty one territories using Type C with no compatible types.
The IEC also publishes IEC Technical Report 60083 which lists standards used by IEC member countries.
Multi-standard sockets are sometimes used in China and some other Asian countries; these are intended to accommodate plugs conforming to various different standards. They do not normally have earthing (grounding) connections for either CEE 7/4 "Schuko" or CEE 7/5 (French). In multi-standard sockets, the aperture size for NEMA plugs is often the same for both Line (Hot) and Neutral, which allows a polarized plug to be inserted in either orientation thus defeating the safety feature. Also, in a socket designed to accept both NEMA and BS 1363 plugs, the polarization can only be correct for one type of plug, so only appliances which do not require specific polarization should be connected. Multi-standard sockets are illegal in some countries such as the UK, and have been classified as a serious safety risk.
Adapters that allow insertion of otherwise mechanically incompatible plugs into sockets are useful for travellers, but, as with multi-standard sockets, may not provide the grounding and polarization intended by a compatible system of plugs and sockets.
Plugs and power cords have a rated voltage and rated current assigned to them by the manufacturer, and these values are required to be marked on the plug. For a plug, the values are normally those specified in the relevant standard sheet. The international preferred rating for household plugs and sockets is either 130 V or 250 V, these are the values for normal use, and at which they are tested. (Plugs and power cords are also required to be tested at higher voltage for a brief period of 1 minute to test their electrical strength in case of fault conditions.) The NEMA 1–15 U.S. 2 pin (Type A) and NEMA 5–15 U.S. 3 pin (Type B) plugs are rated at 125 V . Travelers from countries which use mains voltages below 130 V, such as North America and Japan etc., should note that in countries which use the higher mains voltages in the range 220 – 250 V the plugs are rated at 250 V. Travellers should ensure that they always use appliances, plugs and power cords which are appropriate for the territory they are in.
Type I plugs also have differences in characteristics such as pin length. This means that the uninsulated pins of a Chinese plug may become live while there is still a large enough gap between the faces of the plug and socket to allow a finger to touch the pin. Argentinean connectors have the opposite polarity to those of other Type I countries.
Sockets connected to mains voltages above 125 V and which accept Type A or B plugs may be suitable for plug-top chargers and power supplies with Type A pins, providing they have a suitable voltage rating.
Voltages in this article are the nominal single-phase supply voltages. Three-phase and industrial loads will have other voltages.
All voltages are root mean square voltage; the peak AC voltage is greater by a factor of √2, and the peak to peak voltage greater by a factor of 2√2.
In 1948 the US Government Printing Office published World electrical current characteristics. This contained information on voltages used in the cities of many countries, but no information on plugs. The guide was republished by the US Department of commerce in 1954 as Electric Current Abroad. This was updated from time to time and the 1967 version includes some information on plugs, however only 3 types were designated: Type A, illustrated by a US style 2 pin plug, Type B, illustrated by a sketch of a BS 546 type, and Type C, illustrated by a sketch of a BS 1363 type. The 1984 edition uses the letters A to G in the same manner as they are used today. The last printed edition (listing plugs from A to H) was that of 1998, reprinted in 2002, it includes brief textual descriptions of each type illustrated by a sketch, only Type F (described as a Schuko) is specifically linked to an a generally recognized type. The International Trade Administration of the US Department of Commerce now publishes a web version: Electric Current Worldwide which still does not include the full list of plug types, it does not describe Type M or type N. There are sketches and photographs of each type, but no textual description or references to actual standards. Examples of errors in the website include the failure to mention that Brazil uses Type N, although that has been the national standard in that country since 1998; stating that the UK uses type C, which is not permitted there; and claiming that China uses Type H (the Israeli plug) when the main Chinese plug is actually type I.
There are many web sites from unofficial sources which also purport to offer lists of voltages and plug types.
Entries in the Plug Standard column refer to the National Standards pertaining to the relevant territory, and unless otherwise stated are sourced from IEC Technical Report 60083.
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