Power adapters are one of travel’s greatest mysteries—about as difficult to untangle as that mass of wires collecting dust beneath your desk. And though the powers that be (i.e., the U.S. Department of Commerce’s International Trade Administration) have tried to illuminate things by introducing an alphabetical system, it’s all still a bit dim.
For example, The U.S. electrical plugs are known as Type A & B (one with and one without a third prong) and are compatible with outlets throughout North America, but also way across the Pacific Ocean in Japan. Type C adapters will work in such disparate locales as Turkey and South Korea, and are compatible with Type N adapters in Brazil—even though Type N might not be of much use anywhere else in South America.
In our attempt to find some beauty in the chaos, for issue 07 of Here Magazine, we selected six adapters and outlined them according to their corresponding regions to help keep you charged up, no matter where in the world you plug in. (Hot tip: remember that not all adapters convert voltage, so make sure the item you’re plugging has a compatible voltage with your adapter.)
Type E: Europe, Northern Africa
Type E is primarily used in France, Belgium, Poland, Slovakia, the Czech Republic, Tunisia and Morocco. The plug itself is similar to the Type C (used in continental Europe, Russia, and much of Asia) except that it is round and has the addition of a "female" contact to accept a grounding pin in the socket. Grounding pins for other adapters are usually found on the plug itself, represented by a third pin that triangulates the other two pins.
Type N: Brazil
With three, cylindrical prongs, the Type N adapter works for Brazilian outlets, but is also compatible with Type C adapters in continental Europe, Russia, and much of Asia.
Type I: Australia, China, Argentina
The Australian plug also works with sockets in New Zealand, China, and Argentina. The plug has two flat pins in a V-shape as well as a third grounding pin. A version of the plug with only the two flat pins exists as well.
Type M: South Africa
With three round prongs that form a triangle specifically for outlets in South Africa, this plug resembles the Type D plugs found in India, but its pins are significantly larger.
Type C: Europe, Russia, Asia
Compatible in most of continental Europe, Russia, and much of Asia outside China, this plug consists of just two round pins. Type C adapters are also compatible with Type N adapters in Brazil—but not anywhere else in South America.
Type G: UK, Ireland, Elsewhere
The UK/Ireland adapters consist of a three-pin rectangular blade plug that has a protective fuse inside to protect cords from high-current circuits, and generally include safety switches. Outside the British Isles, this plug adapter works in much of the Middle East and Africa, as well as Hong Kong, Singapore, and Malaysia.