A Buyers Guide to Power and Plug Adaptors

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A Buyer's Guide to Power and Plug Adaptors

People that travel a lot are well acquainted with all sorts of power and plug adaptors. These items are a necessity when it comes to maintaining equipment compatibility with power output and sockets around the world. We all carry at least one electronic device with ourselves at all times and the inability to use the power grid in our places of travel can present a great inconvenience. Without any means of recharging, any electronic device can only be used within a very short time frame or not at all.

Not being able to use an electronic device when travelling can present a great inconvenience to the user. This is why it is important to familiarise one's self with the various types of power and plug adaptors out there, and learn more about what benefits they may offer.

One way of doing this is to make sure one understands all the solutions available when it comes to power and plug adaptors. In order to make the best informed decision it is important to look through all the various features, safety concerns, and different types available.

Type of Plugs and Grids

The purpose of different types of plugs is to prevent the user from plugging in a device onto an unsuitable grid. The power grids have become more standardised and today countries are divided by their power supply in three categories. There are countries that supply voltage within the 100V-120V range, the 200V-250V range, and countries that supply power in both volt ranges.

Even though there are only two different voltage systems, the number of plugs is a bit greater than that. Many countries have different types of plugs, even though they share the type of voltage supply. Generally the plugs are divided as grounded and ungrounded. Both the grounded and the ungrounded plugs come in many different types. Some are more common, and can be found in many countries while other are tied strictly to a specific country.

Adapting to Different Plugs

A plug adaptor enables the user to connect a plug type from one country onto a wall socket of another. Wherever we take our electronic equipment, it is very important to bring the right plug adaptor with us. Otherwise, without the means to plug onto a grid, the electronic devices we carry are rendered useless.

Ungrounded Plug Adaptors

Ungrounded plug adaptors are used to fit ungrounded plugs only. This makes them less functional than the grounded plug adaptors, but they are much cheaper and serve a purpose. Type A ungrounded plug is most common in the United States, and Japan. The ungrounded plug type C is used in continental Europe, and the Middle East. The type I ungrounded plug is also quite common, as it is used in Australia, New Zealand, and China.

Grounded Plug Adaptors

Of the grounded types of plugs, it is always a good idea to have a grounded type G adaptor. This type of plug is used in the United Kingdom, Hong Kong, Singapore and other countries too. A grounded adaptor plug can fit both grounded and ungrounded plugs of many types. This is due to the universal receptacle designed to fit most plugs. Still, there are some less common plugs that can not be fitted with this design.

Universal Plug Adaptors

Those that travel the globe, might benefit from the use of a all-in-one universal plugs. They are a bit bigger, but a lot more functional. Also, considering all the plug adaptors it replaces, a single all-in-one plug adaptor surely takes less space.

Plug adaptors make the plug fit by changing its type. That does not mean that a device is compatible with the grid. Before deciding to plug in any device, check whether or not it is compatible. To achieve compatibility, plug adaptors are often combined with power adaptors to bring the voltage supply to an agreeable level.

Check Device Compatibility

It is common consumer practice to just buy a product, plug it in and use it without giving it any second thought on compatibility as long as it is working. This works quite well, mostly because vendors pay close attention to what they are selling.

However, if one wishes to migrate previously owned electronic equipment to a new location, it is best to check the voltage system at the new place. Locations that are close to one another usually have the same voltage system. If there is a difference, then the input on all electronic devices needs to be checked.

Checking the input sounds like a complicated task, but it really is quite simple. Almost all electronic devices have a small plate or sticker placed usually in the back near the power cord where the model and specifications are written. There can be either a section labelled 'input or 'power source'. Items that have separate power adaptors have the same information written on the adaptor itself. The following chart shows the most common ranges found in this section and how they affect the use of a device.



100-240V 50/60Hz 65W

The use of a device labelled this way is universal. It can be used in all corners of the world without any adjustments or worries.

115/230V 50/60Hz 200W

A device labelled this way is also usable in most parts of the world. The difference is in the ‘/’ sign that symbolises that it needs to be switched for use either in the 110V-120V or the 220V-240V range.

120V 60Hz 2.8A

This is the most restrictive description of input. It allows for the device to be used just in one specific range, or in this case the 110V-120V region characteristic for the United States.

Most of the electronic appliances are made to fit only one voltage system. This is linked to the lack of mobility of certain electronic devices. For example, all large kitchen appliances are made to fit one voltage system. Moving the kitchen appliances to a new distant location is not something that happens a lot, and it can be economically unwise as transport costs might exceed the cost of purchasing new appliances.

Adapting to Different Voltages

There are devices that are expected to migrate and come equipped to work in different voltage systems. In order to make a better informed decision about the type of power to plug adapter to purchase, it's important to understand what types of devices require different voltage.

Computer Adaptors

A common example is computer equipment. Most laptop adaptors are designed to work within the universal input range. The charging process has been simplified to a plug-and-play design where all that is needed is a plug adaptor. Desktop computers can work pretty universally too. The only difference is that the power unit has a small switch in the back that should be set before plugging the device in the respectable power system. In these cases, the plug can either be fitted by an adaptor, or the whole cable can be replaced altogether.

Adjustable Adaptors

Most power adaptors dealing with electronics convert the alternate current into direct current at a specific small voltage. There are many kind of adaptors and many universal ones too that even have adjustable voltage output. Those adjustable types even have more than one output plug used for connecting to different electronic devices. Adjustable models should be handled with care, as mistake can be made more easily. There is one combination of plug and voltage that is right for a device, and many wrong ones too so close attention should be payed before deciding to connect a device to the grid.

Dual Adaptors

The number of electronic equipment capable of working in both voltage systems grows every day. This is referred to as a dual power adapter, and happens out of many reasons. For example, some high-end brand manufacturers that produce products in very small quantities, decide to go for voltage compatibility so they do not limit their market for product placement. Also, electronics have advanced in portability and now there are new categories that can benefit out of voltage compatibility.

Safety Concerns

The whole assembly of power and plug adaptors might look a bit scary, but if all has been done according to the instructions, there is no reason any for safety concerns. Not much can go wrong even during assembly as all the plug adaptors are in different shapes and it is highly improbable to connect them in an improper way. Mistakes mostly occur when the voltage system has to be selected manually. The existence of the small switch that controls it, usually slips ones mind.

Forgetting to set the switch can be damaging to both the electronic device and the power grid of the structure where the device is plugged in. Creating a short circuit is the most likely scenario and the best outcome is a blown fuse. The more expensive electronic have fuses and advanced protection to prevent any damage from happening when a mistake like this occurs.

How to Find Power and Plug Adaptors on eBay

Power and plug adaptors can be easily located on eBay. The search bar is the fastest way to getting the results we need. Power adaptors and plug adaptors should be searched for separately. Just searching for adaptors returns an unmanageable number of items.

To locate the power adaptors just type in 'power adaptor' in the search bar. The choice is virtually limitless. All sorts of adaptors can be found, and each category has its own filters. For example, when searching for laptop power adaptors, there is an additional filter for brand compatibility. This comes in very handy and eliminates chances of any mistakes happening during selection. Among the large number of items offered, there is also a good selection of universal power adaptors.

The plug adaptors can be found using the same technique. There are even many different plug adaptors than the ones related to this article available on eBay. The selection is so vast that an adaptor can be found for every sort of plug into any other plug one can imagine. Many universal plug adaptors are also offered different combinations of plug and adaptor pin compatibility.


The number of plug combinations and power supplies is not to be underestimated. Manufacturers do their best to create products that have seamless compatibility with all power grids if possible. Still, the type of the plug is something that can present an obstacle in connectivity. There are many different plugs that connect to power grids with the same voltage supply. In these cases, where power is not an issue, all that is needed is a plug adaptor.

When travelling to other countries, it is always a good idea to know which plug types to expect. Electronics are virtually useless without their power supply so do not go anywhere unprepared. A universal plug adaptor is one of the best tools in cases when more than one type of plug adaptor is needed.

There are universal power adaptors too. They can provide different voltage ranges of direct current and enable output over different plugs. Handling these types of adaptors requires more knowledge and there is greater chance of error. Users that are less familiar with electronics find that the compatible power adaptors are safer and easier to handle.

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