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Electric Power Standards Around the World

Plugs and Sockets Worldwide

When electricity was first introduced into the domestic environment it was primarily for lighting. However, as it became a viable alternative to other means of heating and also the development of labour saving appliances, a means of connection to the supply other than via a light socket was required. In the 1920s, the two-prong plug made its appearance.

At that time, some electricity companies operated a split tariff system where the cost of electricity for lighting was lower than that for other purposes, which led to low wattage appliances (e.g. vacuum cleaners, hair dryers, etc.) being connected to the light fitting.

As the need for safer installations grew, three-pin outlets were developed. The third pin on the outlet was an earth pin, which was effectively connected to earth, this being at the same potential as the neutral supply line. The idea behind it was that in the event of a short circuit to earth, a fuse would blow, thus disconnecting the supply.

The reason why we are now stuck with no less than 13 different styles of plugs and wall outlets, is because many countries preferred to develop a plug of their own, instead of adopting the US standard. Moreover, the plugs and sockets are only very rarely compatible, which makes it often necessary to replace the plug when you buy appliances abroad.

Below is a brief outline of the plugs and sockets used around the world in domestic environment. The outline map below visualizes the spread of the different plug types used around the world. For easy reference, compatible plug types are represented with the same colour.

Electronic / Electricity Power Standards Around the World

Look Up Table

Different Types of Plugs and Sockets Around the World
Type A Type B Type C Type D Type E Type F
Type G Type H Type I Type J Type K Type L
Type M          
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