If you pay attention to your home, you will realize that there are different types of electrical outlets. Or if you’ve ever traveled abroad, you might have realized, once you had no battery on your phone, that you had to run to the drugstore to find a travel adapter. According to data from World Standards, there are currently 15 types of domestic electrical outlets in use worldwide. The US Department of Commerce International Trade Administration (ITA) established a letter name to differentiate the different types of electrical outlets.
You may face at your place that you have different types of electrical sockets for different areas of your place. Each type has its own unique features and characteristics. What works for the room might not be the best thing for your toilets, and vice versa. Choosing and installing the right power outlet for your space requirements can protect you from electric hazards and improve the efficiency of your home. In this article, we will share with you the difference between the outlets and their characteristics.
The First Types of Electrical Outlets in History
Electricity first became available for homes in the late 18th century. Its first uses were mainly to light up homes. In fact, the first appliances such as washing machines, water heaters, fridges, and sewing machines started to develop from then on. These small appliances were commonly connected to light bulb sockets using lamp holder plugs.
Harvey Hubbell & the different types of electrical sockets
Harvey Hubbell, an American inventor, and businessman was born on December 20, 1857. The American electrical plug and the pull chain light plug are two of his most well-known inventions. Hubbell resigned from his job as manager of a manufacturing company in Bridgeport, Connecticut, in 1888, at the age of thirty-one, and founded Hubbell Incorporated.
He created equipment such as automatic threading machines, the yarn rolling machine, among others. Harvey was also granted at least 45 patents most of them on electrical devices. He patented the pull chain electric light socket, and in 1904, he patented his most famous invention, the US electric power plug, and the three-pin plug. In fact, this was one of the types of electrical outlets that was adopted as a national standard in the 1930s in Australia, New Zealand, and other countries.
The Most Used Types of Electrical Outlets Right Now
As we mentioned previously, according to the International Electrotechnical Commission, there are currently 15 different types of plugs on the planet. If you happen to travel from one place to another, you will need an adapter to plug in your devices. On this interactive map from the EIC, you can review the most frequent types of electrical outlets per country. On this map from Statista, you can see the information per country, so it’s easier to understand.
Type A-B Outlets
Used in the States, Canada, México, most countries of Central America, and the northern countries of South America. Type A and B are quite similar, they have both a couple of parallel prongs on both sides that often have small holes on the tip. Type A was invented in the early 20th century by Hubbell. Type A is mostly 100 to 127V and 15A.
Type B outlets are very similar to type A, they differ because they have a third hole that is grounded. It has the same V as type A. Type A plugs can be plugged into type B outlets, but not the other way around.
Type C Outlets
This is one of the types of electrical outlets more used worldwide. It is commonly used in Europe, South America & Asia and it is not grounded, not polarized, and has 2 rounded ends. In general, it has 2 pins that support mostly 2.5A and is almost always 22V to 240V.
These types of electrical outlets are often known as euro plugs, and they’re generally compatible with the plugs type E, F, H, K, J, or N. Type C plugs are usually found in low-consumption appliances. Most countries now require grounded sockets to be installed in new buildings. And, since they are not grounded, they have become illegal almost everywhere, and they are being replaced by type E, F, H, J, K, L, N, or O types of electrical outlets (depending on the country). Plugs are still in use.
Type D Outlets
Type D It is the one with three large round pegs in the shape of a triangle. The grounding leg is somewhat longer and thicker. It is used in India, Sri Lanka, Nepal, and Namibia. Although it is similar to the type M plug, it is not compatible, since the dimensions are different. It was standardized in India after it was Great Britain’s standard one before 1947.
Despite the fact that the centers of the prongs of a Europlug (type C) are closer together than those of a type D plug, a Europlug often fits into a type D outlet without much effort, owing to the elasticity of its pins.
As a safety measure, we strongly recommend not to use them that way. It is extremely dangerous and can cause some short-circuit. Take a look at our most recommended electrical safety measures to avoid any kind of electric mishap at home.
Type E-F Outlets
Type E is made up of two parallel round pins plus a hole on them (for grounding). You find it in countries like France, Belgium, Slovakia, Poland, Tunisia, Morocco, and Senegal.
Type F is also known as “Schuko plug,” which is an acronym for “Schutzkontakt,” a German word that means “protection contact” or “safety contact.” The plug was created in Germany shortly after World War I. It all started with a patent (DE 370538) granted to Albert Büttner, a Bavarian manufacturer of electrical accessories, in 1926.
These two types of electrical outlets are fully interchangeable. To bridge the gap between E and F sockets, a hybrid E/F plug (officially known as CEE 7/7) was developed. This plug, which is essentially an earthed universal Continental European standard, has earthing clips on both sides to mate with the type F socket and a female contact to accept the type E socket’s earth pin. A type C plug will also fit into a type F socket. Both of these types of electrical outlets are grounded and support 16 A and from 220 to 240 A.
Type G Outlets
It consists of three rectangular legs arranged in a T-shape. In addition, the plug has a built-in fuse. It is mainly used in the United Kingdom and Ireland but can be also found in Cyprus, Malta, Singapore, The Maldives, Nigeria, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates.
It is only compatible with type G plugs and supports 13A and from 220 to 240 V. These types of electrical outlets are without a doubt among the safest in the world, but they are also among the largest and most bulk ones. As a result, people frequently make fun of them, claiming that a British plug is usually larger than the appliance to which it is connected.
Type H Outlets
These types of electrical outlets are found exclusively in Israel and Palestine. It has round prongs forming a triangle. They were before rectangles hence the shape. Type H outlets accept type C plugs as well. Before 1989, when the Israeli plug still had flat prongs, this was not the case. Since 1989, these types of electrical outlets have accepted both flat and round pin plugs. This plug is also used throughout the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. It supports 16A and from 220 to 240 V.
Type I Outlets
Type I is mainly used in Australia, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, China, and Argentina. The Australian type I plug is very similar to the type A plug because the Australasian standard is actually an obsolete type of American plug. Harvey Hubbell II, the same electrical engineer who invented the type A plug, patented it in 1916.
Hubbell’s three-blade design was never popular in the United States due to incompatibility with the existing type A plug, but it was preferred in Australia over the British type D system because these types of electrical outlets were easier for local manufacturers to produce. These types of electrical outlet have regularly 2 or 3 pins, in case it has a 3rd it is grounded. It supports 10A and 220-240V.
Keep posted about the other 6 types of electrical outlets by following us on our social media accounts. At Click2Power, we want to show you that electricity is an incredibly powerful source that deserves our attention and respect—it goes from powering your gadgets to lighting your home. And now you can make the choice! If you have any doubts, you can contact us. We will be delighted to answer all your questions.
Thanks for helping me understand hat type A and B are the most used in America which is quite similar as well due to the parallel prongs and a small hole on the tip. I guess I need to keep that in mind when I have my home constructed in the future and have outlets installed. Also, I would need a residential EIC report done before we move in for our peace of mind and our safety.