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Different Plug Sockets and Their Uses

There are various types of plugs and sockets used worldwide. Electrical sockets differ from one another in terms of their connector type, shape, size, voltage and current rating.

Because safety has been the prime priority when it comes to electrical systems, some plug and socket systems are becoming more obsolete. Familiarizing yourself with each kind of electrical sockets and their uses is critical to ensure that they still work and that you are safe. Moreover, since each country has its own standard system of plug and socket, knowing these socket types can be a useful guide when travelling.

The IEC has designated letters for plug and socket systems but these assignments are arbitrary and don’t guarantee the matching of voltage, frequency and current rating.

Type A socket

  • ungrounded; with two parallel slots
  • compatible with plug type A
  • 15 amps
  • 100-175 V
  • widely used in North and Central America, Canada, Mexico and Japan. In the USA, the neutral pin is slightly wider than the live pin.

Type B socket

  • grounded; has 2 parallel slots on top and a round or inverted u-shaped slot in the bottom middle portion for the earthing pin which prevents electric shock
  • compatible with plug types A and B
  • 15 amps
  • 100-127 V. 
  • Common in the USA, Canada, Mexico, and Japan

Type C socket

  • Ungrounded; with two rounded slots 
  • Compatible with Type C plugs or Europlugs
  • 2.5 amps or less, also rated at 10 amps and 16 amps
  • 220-240 V
  • widely used in Asia, South America, and Europe except the United Kingdom, Cyprus, Ireland, and Malta

Type D socket

  • Grounded; with 3 large round slots arranged in a triangular pattern
  • compatible with type D and M plugs; also partially and unsafely compatible with types C, E, and F plugs 
  • 5 amps
  • 220-240 V 
  • commonly used in India, Sri Lanka, and Nepal

Type E socket

  • Grounded, 2 round recesses and a male earthing pin 
  • Compatible with plug types C, E, and F
  • 16 amps
  • 220 – 240 V
  • Mainly used in France, Belgium, Slovakia, Poland and Tunisia

Type F socket

  • Grounded, 2 round slots with two grounding clips
  • compatible with plug types C, E and F
  • 16 amps
  • 220 – 240 V
  • Common in Spain, Germany, Austria, and the Netherlands

Type G socket

  • Grounded, with three rectangular slots in a triangular pattern
  • Compatible with plug type G
  • 3 amps for smaller devices and 16 amps for heavier ones
  • 220 – 240 V
  • mainly used in the UK, Ireland, Hong Kong, Singapore and Malaysia

Type H socket

  • Grounded, with the two round or rectangular bottom slots arranged in a V shape and a grounding round or rectangular slot on top. Each slot is wide in the middle to be compatible with the round version of type H socket
  • Compatible with plug types C and H, and partially and unsafely match with E and F.
  • 16 amps
  • 220-240 V
  • Employed exclusively in Israel

Type I socket

  • Can be grounded (3 flat slots) or not grounded (2 flat slots)
  • compatible with plug type I
  • 10 amps and 15 amps
  • 220 – 240 V
  • widely used in Australia, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Argentina, and China

Type J socket

  • Grounded, 3 round slots
  • Compatible with plug types C and J
  • 10 amps
  • 220 – 240 V
  • Widely used in Switzerland & Liechtenstein 

Type K socket

  • Grounded, 3 round slots
  • compatible with plug types C and K with partial and unsafe compatibility with types E and F
  • 16 amps
  • 220 – 240 V
  • used in Denmark and Greenland

Type L socket

  • Grounded, with three round slots
  • 10 amps compatible with plug types C and L
  • 16 amps compatible with plug type L
  • 220 – 240 V
  • used in Italy

Type M socket

  • Grounded, 3 round slots in a triangular pattern; looks like type D but has bigger slots
  • compatible with plug type M
  • 15 amps
  • 220 – 240 V
  • mainly used in South Africa and Lesotho

Type N socket

  • Grounded, 3 round slots
  • compatible with plug types C and N
  • 10 A, 16 A and 20 A
  • 100 – 240 V
  • Commonly used in Brazil

Type O socket

  • Grounded, 3-pronged
  • compatible with plug types C and O; partially and unsafely compatible with plug types E and F
  • 16 A
  • 220 – 240 V
  • used exclusively in Thailand

Other types of special sockets also exist such as:

GFCI socket

GFCI stands for ground fault circuit interrupter which is an extremely safe type of socket. It can be utilized especially in areas where water can make accidental contact with power outlets such as outdoors, in the bathroom, and laundry area. 

This type of electrical socket prevents current from leaking and monitors current flow such that when electricity leaks or spikes dangerously, GFCI sockets automatically shuts off power going to the equipment. 

Universal socket

Universal sockets are also called multi-standard outlets because it is not specialized and can fit multiple types of plugs. While it can accommodate any kind of plug, universal sockets are considered to be unsafe because this kind of outlet has exposed live pins and it may not match the required voltage for electrical equipment. Moreover, universal sockets lack proper grounding connection and aren’t protected from short circuit.

Conclusion

Various plug and socket systems are utilized across countries and each country has its own standard system. This means that you have to familiarize yourself with these types of sockets because it is a useful travel guide. You might need to bring with you a socket adaptor for your device to work. 

Sydney Eastern Suburbs Electrician is tried and tested when it comes to electrical work. Our team is composed of dedicated and licensed electrical professionals who can work on your electrical needs from the most basic ones to the complex tasks. Check out our list of services here: https://sydneyeasternsuburbselectrician.com.au/electrical/ 

Got any questions regarding plug sockets? Contact us anytime at (02) 8378-2827.

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