Are sockets 110 or 120 volts

Electricity in the USA - Other mains voltages require an adapter

If you travel to the USA, you will have to deal with a different power grid. We have summarized for you the differences and what you will need if you want to use your electrical appliances during your North American trip.

Table of Contents
Plug and socket shapes in the US are different | Differences between the individual NEMA plugs and sockets | These devices can be used in the USA without any problems | Find suitable voltage converters and adapters | Use devices from the USA in Germany

The power grid in the USA has a different voltage (volts) than the German power grid. Instead of 230 to 240 volts in Europe, American sockets only have 110 to 120 volts. The frequency is also different. While in Europe a frequency of 50 Hz is common, in the USA we have 60 Hz here. The 240 volts we use are only used for large devices, such as B. air conditioners or washing machines are offered. The shape of the plug or socket is also different. The online retailer Amazon offers many very good power adapters for the USA under this link.

Click here for a selection of the best power adapters for your USA trip

The shapes of plugs and sockets in the United States are different

If you have already dealt with the individual connector shapes, you may have come across the name “NEMA”. In combination with individual numbers, this abbreviation designates the various connectors.

Differences between the individual NEMA plugs and sockets

NEMA-1: also type A; Connector with two flat, live contacts that are arranged parallel to each other.

NEMA-5: also type B; Plugs that also have a round contact pin as a protective conductor.

NEMA-6: for use with large devices that operate on 240 volts.

The most common are NEMA 5 sockets. NEMA 1 plugs can also be used in NEMA 5 receptacles. The NEMA sockets are designed for the single-phase three-wire network, three-phase alternating current (three-phase current) is not common in North America for end customer connections.

These devices can be used in the United States without any problems

Today electrical devices are mostly produced together for the European and American markets and are only equipped with different plugs. Such devices have a sticker on which the operating voltage is specified (e.g. 110-240V ~ / 50-60Hz). An adapter is sufficient here to connect the device to the American sockets. In most laptops, for example, the power supply unit can easily be operated with 110/120 volts. There are no differences in the car (12 V).

Attention: With some devices the voltage has to be changed by hand!

Find suitable voltage converters and adapters

Click here for a selection of the best power adapters for your USA trip

If your device cannot be adapted to the North American conditions, you will need a suitable adapter for the socket as well as a suitable voltage converter, which is also suitable for the power consumption of the respective device (watts) and ideally also adjusts the frequency accordingly. A distinction is made here between the "converter" for electrical devices (e.g. razors) and the "transformer" for electronic devices (e.g. computers). If you don't want to purchase a single adapter for each device, you can also combine Schuko adapters with a socket strip or a multiple adapter.

DANGER! Never operate the earthing contact plug with a flat plug adapter on a US socket, otherwise there is no earthing contact!

It is advisable to purchase adapters and voltage converters before traveling. In the United States, it is often difficult to find suitable products easily. The best source is Amazon.

Use devices from the USA in Germany

If you buy an electrical appliance in the United States, make sure that it supports use at 240 volts. If not, you can only use the device at home with a voltage converter that cuts the power by half.