Museum of Plugs and Sockets logo, small Adapter plugs
for travellers
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Travelers who are visiting many countries worldwide can be confronted with at least 12 different types of sockets. You will find six of them in Europe (click map at right for details). Eleven adapter plugs are needed if an earthed connection is desirable. There are adapters that fit is several socket types, but their utility is reduced by their large size.
The Adapter gallery of the museum shows a small selection of simple, more versatile and universal adapters.
  
The following abbreviation are used in the images below in grey (plugs) and red (outlets):
AU: Australasian 10A-250V; BS ...: British Standard; Euro: Europlug and similar plugs with two 4.0 mm pins;
Schuko: CEE 7/3, 7/4; US: NEMA 1-15 (not earthed) or NEMA 5-15 (earthed) parallel flat blade plugs and similar types as used in Japan, China and elsewhere. Be aware that almost none of the adapters with US outlets have a transformer to reduce 220-240 Volt to 100-125 Volt and 60 Hz to 50 Hz !
Map of Europe
Map showing plug standards in Europe
and compatibility
table.

 

Simple adapters.
Adapters that have a single plug and an outlet for either one or a few types of plugs. These adapters are usually the most reliable and safe devices.

Adapter plugs, simple: Australasian, Europlug and US type
Adapter plugs: Australasian, Europlug and US type Set of fournot earthed adapter plugs

Adapter plug: British to Schuko type
Adapter plug: Swiss to Schuko type
 

1 Examples of not earthed adapters that can be plugged into one type of socket. Outlets are compatible with 4.0 mm round pin plugs and parallel flat blade plugs. Note that US plugs with a wider neutral blade do not fit in the outlets.
2 More modern adapters that also accept Australasian plugs and US plugs with a wider neutral blade. Outlets have safety shutters that are opened by insertion of both pins only.
Adapters have been made for Spezialelectric in Ludwigsburg, Germany.   {FSE}
3 Pack of four, not earthed adapters that can be plugged into four different socket types. Each adapter is accessible for Europlugs and US type flat blade plugs that have blades of have identical widths. The fused BS 1363 plug has an Insulated Shutter Opening Device (ISOD) rather than an brass earth pin. The ISOD is necessary to plug the adapter into a BS 1363 socket.
BS 372 Part 1 is an older UK standard for 2-pin plugs that is used in British and 'international' shaver outlets.
The recessed outlet has notches to prevent attempts to insert CEE 7/2 (round base two pin plugs) and CEE 7/4 (Schuko plugs).
Manufacturer: probably made for Isotronic, Germany.
4 Fused BS 1363 adapter that complies with the BS 1363/3 standard, The outlet accepts CEE 7/4 (Schuko) and Europlugs.
5 Swiss 10A adapter for Schuko, Europlug and not earthed US plugs with blades of equal width. The adapter has a 10A fuse, an uncommon feature for a non-British plug. A fused adapter makes sense because it offers overcurrent protection if an appliance that consumes more than 2300 Watt in connected to the 16A CEE 7/4 (Schuko) plug.

 

More versatile adapters.
Adapter plugs that fit in more than one type of socket and/or accept one or two types of plugs. Bulky devices that are less stable when fitted in a wall socket, in particular if a relative heavy transformer of a phone or tablet charger is plugged in.

World travelplug: 5 plug types to Europlug
 
6



 
7

Not earthed 'world' travel plug suitable for five socket standards. The central
ring can be rotated, with 72 steps, to select one of the five types of connector plugs. The ring now points to BS 1363 pins (see green circle). The other four connectors do not make contact with the central outlet. The outlet is suitable for Europlugs, similar flat plugs with two round pins and CEE 7/17 plugs. Manufacturer: Kopp, Germany.

Not earthed adapter for four socket standards. Choice of plug connections is determined by shifting the outlet. Other pins are not under tension. Flat blades can be rotated into Australasian angled position and US parallel (15A-125V) or tandem (15A-250V) position.
Manufacturer: Isotronic Mezger KG in Horb, Germany.   {FSE}

Note that BS 1363 plugs of both adapters are not fused.

Adapter plug for 3 types of sockets

 

Multi-outlet adapters.
Adapter plugs that fit in one type of socket and have an outlet for many different plug standards. Most models shown are also available with pins for other socket standards. Some models have a reduced reliability and can be dangerous (see warning below).

Adapter outlet compatibility table
Adapter plug: Australasian to multiple outlet Multi-outlet adapter (BS 1363plug)

Adapter plug with multiple outlet and combined contacts (1)
Adapter plug with multiple outlet and combined contacts (2) Adapter plug with multiple outlet and combined contacts (3) Adapter plug with multiple outlet and combined contacts (4)

8 Table indicating which types of plug can be used with adapter nos. 9 to 14. Green: plug fits in adapter; red: plug cannot be used. Red/green: plug fits in adapter, but there is NO earth connection. : some models of plugs do not fit in the recessed outlet. | | : only plugs fit with flat blades of equal width; P: L-N polarity is reversed.
The fact that a type of plug can be inserted in an adapter does not always mean that reliable pin contact is guaranteed. See adapter nos. 12, 13 and 14 and safety warning given below.

9 Australasian type dapter plug with outlet for seven types of plugs. Brass contact strips make good contact with pins of each of the seven plug types. L - N polarity is correct. Manufacturer: unknown.   {FSE}
10 Reasonably reliable adapter. The shown model has BS 1363 pins, and a 13A BS 646 fuse. Manufacturer: unknown.
11 Adapter with safety shutters. Shutters can be opened individually with a single pin. Internal construction of contact strips looks good. Manufacturer / brand name: GO, made in China; "the travel products company", "Connecting the Wold".   {FSE}
12 Adapter with switch and control light. This is the only not earthed multi-outlet adapter. It had to be a CEE 7/4 or 7/7 adapter plug, rather than CEE 7/17. The large, combined slots for several types of round, flat and rectangular pins may hinder reliable plug contact. See also adapter nos. 13 and 14. Manufacturer / brand name: Ridau Travelking (details unknown).
13, 14
Adapter plugs that have serious pincontact problems. Live, neutral and earth slots are too spacious. For Europlugs you need matches to press the pin tips firmly against the brass strips. It is obvious that for safety reasons this procedure is not advisable. The earth connector for Italian plugs is missing in adapter no. 14 (indicated by red arrow).
Adapter no. 13 has been bought in Malaysia. It has no manufacturer or brand name. No. 14 carries the, unknown, name 'Raseel'.


Serious warning

Several models of multi-outlet adapters, notably nos. 12, 13 and 14 are unsafe. Important shortcomings are:
[1] there is a serious risk of touching live parts, [2] poor contacts and insufficient mechanical stability
, [3] no possibility to differentiate between voltages, [4] there might be a L-N polarity conflict, [5] not earthed adapters may accept earthed plugs.
Safety issues are explained in detail on http://www.universalsocket.org.uk  a recommended site !

 

Universal adapters.
Adapters that can be plugged into different types of sockets and accept several types of plugs. Their size may cause problems (see 'more versatile adapters).

Multi-purpose adapter plug (1)

Multi-purpose adapter plug (2)

Multi-purpose adapter plug (3)

Multi-purpose adapter plug (4)

Multi-purpose adapter plug (5)


15 Universal, not earthed adapter that fit in UK, continental European, US and Australian type sockets (see nos. 16-19).
The non-earthed outlet is accessible for most plug standards, but not for BS 546 5A or 15A plugs.
Left: top view of adapter; right: bottom part of the unit.
The adapter has a surge protector that protects devices from voltage spikes. Adapter does not have a 250 to 125 Volt converter.
Manufacturer: Franzus Compay, LLC, Beacon Falls CT, USA; in 2007 aquired by Conair, East Windsor NJ, USA.
16 Configuration for BS 1363 sockets. The plastic earth pin is necessary to open the safety shutters of British sockets. You have to push in and slide both levers on the top of the unit (green arrowheads) to bring the live and neutral pins in a workable position. The plastic earth pin (ISOD) has to be pulled upright.
17 Configuration for Europlug compatible sockets.
18 Configuration for sockets designed for parallel positioned flat blades (NEMA 1-15P). For these pins you have to push and slide the levers at the bottom side of the unit (blue arrowheads). However, the adapter is not equipped with a 110 / 230 Volt transformer.
19 For Australasian sockets the flat blades have to be rotated in an angled position.

 

Wonpro DIY adapter kit

20 - 23
Universal adapter kit (Wonpro Electrical Co., China).
It offers five pre-assembled base plates for NEMA 1-15P, CEE 7/7, CEE 7/16, BS 1363 and AS/NZS 3112 sockets (see no. 20). Image 22 shows the assembled adapter body and CEE 7/16 (Europug) base plate. If desired a Swiss or Italian earth pin can be added. With the Do It Yourself plug plate and a large collection of pins you can construct each earthed plug type (no. 23 shows the configuration that fits in a BS546 15A socket).
Because of size and shape of the DIY plug plate it is not possible to use the universal adapter with recessed sockets. Such sockets are only accessible with the pre-assembled Europlug or Schuko base plate.

The multiple outlet of the body
(see no. 21) can be used for all types of domestic plugs, except
15 Amp BS 546 and IEC 60906-1. BS 1363 ISOD key makes British sockets accessible to Europlugs.

The adapter is equipped with a transformer. Voltage is indicated
by green and orange LEDs.

Manufacturer: Wonpro & Yang Ji Co., Ltd, New Taipei City, Taiwan.

Wonpro DIY adapter kit, outlet side
Wonpro DIY adapter kit, Europlug connector
Wonpro DIY adapter kit,  BS 546 15A connector

 

Classic set of simple adapters.

Volex Electric Razor Adaptor Kit, info sheet
Volex Electric Razor Adaptor Kit, bayonet cap adapter
Volex Electric Razor Adaptor Kit, bayonet cap adatper
Volex Electric Razor Adaptor Kit, Edison srew adaper

24 Information sheet packed with the Volex Electric Razor Adaptor Kit, reference no. V/400. The kit contains adapters that can be plugged into the following sockets: (1) Continental Europlugs and similar 2 pin plugs, (2) British 2 pin BS 372 Part 1, (3) North American parallel flat blade, (4) British B22d-2 bayonet cap, and (5) Edison screw light bulb fitting. The adapters have identical outlets (see no.26) for 2 pin BS 4573 shaver plugs, 2 pin continental and parallel flat blade plugs. Adapters are rated at 3A-250V.
Volex was founded in 1892 and still exists, now being a part of the Electrium Group. It is not known when the Volex kit was produced (1950s-60s?).
25-27 Bayonet cap (nos. 25 and 26) and Edison screw (no. 27) razor adapters are relative rare. Nowadays you will find socket nearly everywhere, but half a century ago it could be wise for world travellers to have lamp fitting adapters.   {HS}

 




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