South Africa power adapters - what plugs are used in South Africa?

South African power outlet

What adapter do I need for South Africa?

You will need to bring a Type M plug adapter [3] to South Africa if your plug won't fit in a South African power outlet.

The type of power adapter, converter or charger that you'll need when visiting South Africa will all depend on the voltage and type of device that you're trying to use with a South African power outlet. If you're not sure what voltage your device uses then please read the section about how to tell the voltage of your device first.

  • Certain parts of South Africa do not have access to electricity and suffer from frequent power blackouts, we suggest packing a portable charger [4] if you wish to keep your mobile phone battery charged whilst staying in an area without access to electricity or during a power cut.
  • If you are planning on travelling to South Africa from the US you will need to use a suitable power adapter for South Africa to fit a US plug into a South African power outlet. As the voltage is different in South Africa bring a power converter if your device isn't dual voltage and check that it will work with a 50hz power outlet.
  • If your device can run on 230 volts or is dual voltage and the plug fits in a South African power outlet then you can use it in South Africa.
  • If your device is 230 volts or is dual voltage but your plug won't fit in a South African power outlet you will need a suitable plug adapter for South Africa such a Type M plug adapter [3]. A plug adapter for South Africa (or power adapter) changes the shape of the plug on your device to fit into a plug outlet found in South Africa, but won't change the voltage from 230 volts to use with another voltage.
  • If your device is unable to run on 230 volts and isn't dual voltage you'll also need a power converter for South Africa to convert the voltage from 230 volts to the correct voltage for your device. You will still need to pack a suitable plug adapter for South Africa if the power converter doesn't include the correct Type M plug adapter.
  • If you simply need to power USB devices such as tablets or mobile phones then a USB travel power adapter is suitable and it will work with any voltage, but ensure that you choose a USB travel adapter which includes a Type M plug adapter otherwise you'll also need to bring a suitable plug adapter for South Africa.

Warning: If your device won't handle 230 volts used in South Africa you run a risk of damage to your device, an electrical fire hazard or a blown fuse. Prior to using your device in South Africa please read the instruction manual first to ensure safe operation.

South Africa power adapters

Power adapters for South Africa

If planning a vacation it's useful to know if you can power your indispensable gadgets like cell phones or tablets that you'll be bringing along with you. By not knowing which power supply is being used you are more likely to bring the wrong adaptor, therefore leaving you needing to buy a potentially overpriced adaptor when you need it which might not be compatible and cause problems with your device. Varying different voltages and standards can often be daunting when planning to stay in a foreign country, especially if you've never been there before. With only a handful of different types of plug sockets used throughout the world this guide tells you exactly what you'll need in advance to charge your electronics in South Africa. This page has links to step-by-step instructions showing exactly which power adapters you'll need to power your devices when you're travelling to South Africa by using their standard M, C, F or N type South African 230 volt 50Hz plug outlets, most South Africans typically use Type M plugs in their wall outlets. Power adapters will change depending on which area you're in so we suggest reading our Wiki Connections travel power adapters page for a complete list showing destinations.

What is the best power adapter for South Africa?

The best power adapter for South Africa will be a Type M power adapter [3] which allows you to use any 230 volt appliance or device.

What is the best power adapter for South Africa?

What is a power adapter?

A power adapter for South Africa is a compact and lightweight plastic adapter which allows a South African power outlet to accept a power plug from an appliance from a foreign country.

Do I need a power adapter for South Africa?

If the type of South African power outlet is different to the power plug you want to use then you will need a power adapter.

Will I need a power adapter if I'm visiting South Africa from the US?

American plugs won't physically fit into a South African power outlet therefore you will need to use a plug adapter for South Africa, and as the voltage is much higher you will also need to use a power converter for South Africa to prevent damage or overheating to your appliance or device if it isn't dual voltage.

Can a power adapter convert the voltage from a South African power outlet?

No, a power adapter only adapts the shape of a plug to fit into a 230 volt South African power outlet and is unable to convert the power to a different voltage. Should you wish to safely use any 100, 110 or 120 volt appliance then you also need a more expensive step down power converter for South Africa.

What does a power adapter for a South African power outlet do?

A power adapter for a South African power outlet allows a visitor from another location to use their own electrical devices in South Africa simply by altering the shape of the power plug from one type to another.

Where can I buy a power adapter for South Africa?

Power adapters for sale in an airport

Where can I buy a power adapter for South Africa?

Power adapters are typically available in most major airports prior to departure, however the range of adapters might be limited to popular destinations. It is recommended to research the exact type of adapter required prior to shopping at the airport. Look in the travel accessories section of airport newsagents, electronic stores and pharmacists but expect to pay 50% more than regular prices. Airports will be your last chance to buy a power adapter before departure, always check the returns policy to ensure you can easily exchange or refund a faulty or unsuitable product in an airside shop.

On arrival power adapters can be found in local electrical high street shops and drug stores, but always check the build quality first as safety standards might be different in a foreign country as this is important when dealing with electrical goods. Keep in mind that a shopping trip searching for power adapters in an unknown location might be impractical, especially as this needs to happen quickly before batteries run out.

Hotel receptions could have a power adapter for sale, hire or as a complimentary extra for guests; however, availability is normally limited and a hotel might not have the exact type required for your country. If in doubt, call ahead to the hotel first and request a reservation as it is unlikely that an adapter will be found in your room on arrival.

It will more convenient and cheaper to buy the correct power adapter in advance of your trip. High street stores normally sell popular types of travel adapters to popular locations and for widest choice it is recommended to buy a power adapter online.

South Africa power outlets and plug sockets

What plug sockets are used in South Africa?

There are four types of power supply used in South Africa, types M, C, F and N with the primary power supply being type M:

  • Plug Type C - You can recognise this plug outlet by the two round adjacent holes for live and neutral pins.
  • Plug Type F - You can identify this power outlet by the two large adjacent holes next to each other where the twin pins slide into along with two metal grounding clips above and below.
  • Plug Type M - This plug outlet, technically called a type M power outlet, can be identified by 3 large holes forming a triangle pattern.
  • Plug Type N - This squashed hexagon shaped plug outlet, technically called a type N power outlet, looks like 3 large holes forming a triangular configuration for live, neutral and earth.
What plug sockets are used in South Africa?

Do US plugs work in South Africa?

No - a US plug won't work in South Africa because it won't fit in a South African power outlet without using a plug adapter. The voltage is different so please use a power converter if your device or appliance isn't dual voltage and check that your appliance can work with a 50hz power outlet.

Are plug sockets in South Africa the same as US?

American plugs won't fit in a South African power outlet therefore bring a power adapter for South Africa. Both the voltage and frequency are different so if your appliance or charger isn't dual voltage use a power converter for South Africa and check that it works with 50hz.

Is the voltage in South Africa the same as in the US?

The voltage in South Africa is 230 volts, whereas Americans use 120 volts. If your American appliance or charger can't handle dual voltage then you need a power converter for South Africa which can change the voltage from a 220-240 volt power outlet to 120 volts.

What is the electrical frequency used in South Africa?

The frequency in a South African power outlet is 50Hz.

How do I use a 110 volt appliance in South Africa?

Use a step down power converter should you need to use a 110V appliance in South Africa.

Are there many power outages in South Africa?

There are potentially monthly power outages in South Africa.

What is access to electricity in South Africa like?

Almost a quarter of the population has access to electricity in South Africa.

Do I need a portable charger for South Africa?

Power bank

Do I need a portable charger for South Africa?

Because the power grid isn't available to 100% of the population of South Africa combined with potential power cuts, visitors are advised to bring alternative charging options if they wish to continue using devices such as phones or tablets.

  • During a trip increased reliance on mobile phones for taking pictures, storing itineraries, sat nav, social network sharing and streaming videos can syphon off power before the end of the day. As well as the inconvenience of missed photograph opportunities a flat smart phone battery could possibly leave you without sufficient power to make emergency calls or being able to use a GPS app to get directions to your hotel or accommodation. Using a power bank [4] in South Africa eases those concerns as it allows you to power up your mobile phone without using a phone charger, especially when travelling to a country with a lack of access to power and power cuts in some areas.
  • A 10,000mAh portable charger [4] will store enough power to cover over 3 full charges while a 20,000mAh portable charger [9] should keep a typical smart phone powered for roughly 7 days. The mAh rating (milli ampere-hours) describes the capacity of a battery giving an indication of the number of recharges the portable charger can achieve.
  • Providing that your laptop has a USB-C charging port then a portable charger for a laptop [10] marked with PD (power delivery) which supplies at least 20Wh can be used to recharge the laptop in South Africa.
  • Be aware that some airlines prohibit power banks on an aircraft with more than 100Wh of power and must not be left in checked-in luggage.
  • Consumer power banks aren't powerful enough for use with high wattage items that generate heat, although a rechargeable hair dryer [7] or gas hair straighteners [8] can be used for travelling to areas with both power cuts and limited access to electricity like South Africa.
How well do solar chargers work in South Africa?

Solar backpacks are ideal for hot climates

How well do solar chargers work in South Africa?

The climate in South Africa will be adequate enough to recharge solar power bank [12] reliability, however it needs to be exposed to strong daylight in order to provide adequate energy for a single charge. It might prove inconvenient to constantly unpack a solar power bank and wait whilst it recharges in sunny spells.

  • Instead, the much larger durable cells found on a solar backpack [11] will give the bag the ability to generate more electricity within a faster period of time and could generate some charge during overcast weather, meaning they should perform well in South Africa.
  • A device that is plugged directly into the USB charging port of a backpack will gradually top up the battery during sunny spells in South Africa, however could be inconvenient to have it continually connected in the bag during the day if it is to be needed frequently. So it is recommended to plug a regular power bank [4] into a solar backpack which can then be continuously recharged inside the bag during the day, afterwards the phone can be powered up from the power bank without the bag.
  • Even though the climate in South Africa is suitable for solar, a bag should ideally have a solar cell efficiency of at least 22%, can generate a minimum of 6 watts of energy and be used with a 10,000mAH power bank or stronger.
  • Unlike regular solid solar cells, the flexible and durable cells used in solar powered bags are built to survive bending and scratching. They come in backpack, rucksack and messenger styles making them perfect for travel, work and domestic use.

Sources

  • International Electrotechnical Commission - World plugs by location (cited August 2014)
  • Wikipedia - Mains electricity by country (cited July 2014)
  • Index Mundi - Power outages in a typical month (cited May 2018, data collected between 2006 to 2017)
  • Index Mundi - Access to electricity (cited May 2018, latest data collected 2010)
  • WikiPedia - List of countries by average yearly temperature (cited May 2018, data averaged between 1961 to 1990)

South Africa chargers

What is a USB travel power charger?

A USB travel charger is a dual voltage charger with interchangeable plugs and multiple USB ports, suitable for charging multiple USB powered devices when travelling abroad.

What USB charger do I need for South Africa?

When travelling with more than just one device the best international travel adapter for South Africa is a multiple USB port charger which includes compatible plugs like a 4 port USB travel charger [13]. South Africans use four different standards of wall outlets (types M, C, F and N) and using a travel adapter like this will ensure that you are covered for type C. As these chargers come with interchangeable pins and can handle 100 volts - 240 volts it makes them ideal for over 100 countries around the world just by switching the supplied plugs over. If your type of device is compatible with Fast Charge (please note not all USB devices can) then you will benefit from faster recharging times with one of these types of travel chargers, plus additional support for more power demanding devices like tablets. This means you can recharge multiple devices at the same time without needing to pack multiple power adapters for your South African trip. By only bringing a single international travel charger will also keep the size and weight down, making it perfect to store in hand luggage. Because of their versatility these types of chargers can be used when back at home so when you're not on holiday they can be used under your bedside table charging multiple tablets, phones and e-readers without using up an additional wall outlet.

If you travel often we suggest searching for this type of flexible travel charger online - the power adapter illustrated here is the 4 Port USB Wall Charger [13] which has been tested successfully with multiple USB devices in numerous foreign countries.

What USB charger do I need for South Africa?

Why use a travel USB charger for South Africa?

  • Most travel USB chargers include 4 or more USB charger ports, meaning you should only need to bring one charger to charge all your devices. It helps reduce the size and weight of your luggage by only bringing a single USB wall charger instead of needing to bring several individual USB chargers with you.
  • All travel USB chargers will include interchangeable plug heads for various regions. This is suitable if travelling to different countries which are likely to use a different standard to South Africa.
  • A good power charger is compact, rugged and lightweight; ideal for the rigors of travel rather than risking packing a domestic charger which might be impossible to repair in South Africa.
  • USB travel chargers will accept both the 230 volt power outlets in South Africa along with different voltage standards in other countries.
  • There is a possibility that some hotel rooms in South Africa might only have one wall outlet, by bringing a travel charger with multiple USB ports means you can share the single power supply with all your devices rather than waiting to charge each device one by one.
  • Due to their flexible nature a travel USB charger takes the worry out of visiting any unknown destination as they are guaranteed to work almost anywhere on the planet.
  • Power outlets found in airports are often sparse and demand for charging multiple cell phones during departure can be high, so a USB travel charger with multiple ports and the ability to fast charge is perect.
  • The power grid in some countries can be unstable, a good travel USB charger allows for unexpected fluctuations and prevents damage to any devices attached to it. Trying to repair an overloaded cell phone in South Africa could prove difficult and expensive.
  • Larger USB chargers should also incorporate power outlet strips to allow you to power multiple low powered domestic appliances such as laptops, but note these will be unsuitable for high wattage domestic such as hair dryers or clothes irons. See the section on using travel appliances with a South African power outlet for guidelines and advice on the best power adapter for a high powered appliances with a South African power outlet.
  • Some tablets and cellphones could pull more than the usual 500 milliamps produced from a normal 5 volt USB power adapter to charge or provide fast charge. Higher priced USB travel chargers will support fast charging incase any of your devices draw extra power.
  • Travel USB chargers can still be useful when returning home by charging multiple mobile phones and tablets overnight using only one power outlet.

What is the best USB charger for South Africa?

The is the most compact option for travellers from any country wanting to charge devices using USB, however for visitors also wishing to use their domestic plugs these power adapters provide larger but more versatile solutions. All three power adapters offer surge protection which is necessary for travellers to counties with unreliable power supplies to prevent damage to any connected devices. These travel adapters are supplied with interchangeable type C, I and G plugs covering Continental Europe, America, Australia, United Kingdom, Japan, China and over 150 countries around the world:

  • BESTEK Portable International Travel Voltage Converter - The BESTEK international travel adaptor has 4 USB charging ports with 3 AC power outlets and is the most popular portable power adapter for travellers originating from North America going to South Africa using 3 pin type B plug sockets.
  • ORICO Traveling Outlet Surge Protector Power Strip - Also having 4 USB ports but only 2 AC power outlets the travel adapter from Orico is also aimed at travellers originating from America using type B plugs and is a cheaper alternative to the BESTEK with only 1 less AC outlet for almost half the price.
  • BESTEK International USB Travel Power Strip - This power strip has just 2 AC outlets but offers a more flexible 5 USB charging ports. This versatile power strip is compatible with both American plugs and popular plug types A, D,E/F, G, H, I, L and N making it perfect for most travellers from around the world visiting South Africa.

Power converters for South Africa

What does a power converter for South Africa do?

Power converters allow travellers to use a 100, 110 or 120 volt electrical device with a 230 volt South African power outlet.

Also known as: electrical converter, electrical transformer, voltage converter, power transformer or voltage transformer.

What is the difference between a power converter and a power adapter?

A lightweight, cheap and small power adapter (or plug adapter) will change the shape of the plug on your device to fit into a power outlet in South Africa, but an expensive and bulkier power converter [14] transforms the voltage of 230 volts from a South African power outlet to work with a non-230 volt device.

Do I need a power converter for South Africa?

If you are travelling to South Africa from another region make sure that the device can accept a 230 volt power supply.

  • You need a step down power converter [15] if you are travelling to South Africa from a country that uses 100-120 volts and your appliance doesn't support 230 volts. See our list of world power outlets guide to find out which voltage is used in your country.
  • You don't need a power converter if you already use either a single voltage appliance that works with 230 volts or one that supports dual voltage.
  • Devices which are designed to work with a lower voltage (for example 110 volts) and then used with 230 volts run the risk of an electrical fire hazard, blowing a fuse or damage to your device unless a step down power converter [15] is used.
  • You won't need a power converter if you need to recharge a smaller electrical device such as a cell phone or laptop as these are typically dual voltage and designed for international use, but you should always always check the device for dual voltage support prior to your journey.
  • When supplying power to high wattage appliances or generate heat (for example hair dryers or clothes irons) then you will need to use a bulkier higher wattage heavy duty power converter [16].
  • It should be more cost effective to use a smaller lightweight dual voltage travel appliance than paying for a much heavier power converter to South Africa simply to use your existing domestic appliance.
  • Read these travel guides on travelling with clothes irons, curling irons, hairdryers and hair straighteners in South African power outlets , along with recommendations on some affordable dual voltage alternatives.

Will I need a power converter for South Africa if I'm visiting from America?

The 230 volts used in a plug outlet in South Africa is different to an 110 volt American supply so please use a step down power converter [15] if your charger or appliance doesn't support dual voltage.

What converter do I need for South Africa?

To use any 100, 110 or 120 volt appliance in South Africa you need to buy a step down power converter [15].

What is the difference between a converter and a power transformer?

Voltage converter

What is the difference between a converter and a power transformer?

Converters and transformers are both used to change one voltage to another, but this ambiguity can cause confusion as their purposes are different:

  • Power converters are designed for simple electrical appliances which typically generate heat or use motors such as clothes irons, shavers or hair dryers. Transformers are designed for more complex electronic items such as televisions or games consoles.
  • Buying a power converter is cheaper than buying a power transformer.
  • Power transformers are larger and heavier making them more suited for permanent residential use; for example an expat wishing to use an imported television would need to use a transformer for this purpose.
  • Power converters are more suitable for travellers wishing to bring domestic appliances abroad such as hair dryers or flat irons. However, it is more practical and cost effective to purchase a dual voltage appliance designed for travel rather than a heavier power converter.
  • Power converters are suitable for 2 pin ungrounded appliances, it could be harder to find a converter if you want to use a grounded 3 pin appliance.
  • Transformers can be used constantly however it is recommended that converters are used for no longer than a couple of hours at a time.
  • Shops may sell transformers under the name of converters, for the purposes this guide we will be referring to both converters and transformers as converters.

How to convert 230 volts to 110 volts

  1. Use a step down power converter [15] to allow you to use a 110 or 120 volt appliance with a 230 volt South African power outlet.
  2. If the power converter doesn't include the correct shaped plug then it will also be necessary to plug in the power cord from the power converter into a power adapter for South Africa before plugging that into a South African power outlet.
  3. Some power converters include the ability to perform both step up and step down voltage conversions, therefore it may be necessary to manually switch the converter to output the voltage to the 110-120 volt range.
  4. Plug your appliance into the converter and turn the power on, your 110-120 volt appliance can now be used with a 230 volt South African power outlet.

What voltage does South Africa use?

South Africa uses 230 volts in their standard power outlets.

How to tell the voltage of my device

Single voltage hair straighteners

How to tell the voltage of my device

A simple way to tell if a device is dual voltage is to check for numbers printed on the supplied charger or on the appliance itself, typically near to where the power cord sits. The location might vary depending on the make and model of your unit, it could also be written in the instruction manual or on the box.

  • Single voltage devices might have a specific number - such as 120V.
  • Single voltage devices could also have a small voltage range (around 20 volts) with a dash to accomodate small voltage fluctuations - such as 220-240V.
  • Dual voltage devices will say a larger voltage range separated with a slash - such as 100/240V.

What can I connect to a South African power outlet

Travel appliances that can connect to a South African power outlet

Beats Pill speakers which can connect to a South African power outlet

Jabra Bluetooth speakers which are compatible with a South African power outlet

Mobile phones that can connect to the South African power outlet

Apple iPhones that work with a South African power outlet

Samsung Galaxy phones that work with a South African power outlet

A list of Amazon Kindle tablets which can connect to a South African power outlet

A list of Apple iPads which are compatible with a South African power outlet

Corrections

We endeavor to ensure all details on this page are correct and relevant to travelers visiting South Africa, if you wish to contribute any useful information or feedback please email travel@wikiconnections.org. For more comprehensive technical details visit the Wikipedia page on AC power plugs and sockets [17].

  1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/South_Africa - South Africa Wikipedia page.
  2. http://www.iec.ch/worldplugs/ - International Electrotechnical Commission World Plugs
  3. Type M plug adapter - Allows appliances to connect to Type M power outlets without converting voltage.
  4. Portable charger - A power bank is a portable charger which can recharge USB powered devices such as mobile phones and tablets on the go.
  5. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Adapter - power adaptor
  6. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mains_electricity_by_country - WikiPedia - Mains electricity by country
  7. Rechargeable hair dryer - Rechargeable battery powered blow dryer suitable for travelling.
  8. Gas hair straighteners - Cordless ceramic hair straighteners powered by gas cartridges.
  9. 20,000mAh portable charger - High capacity 20000mAh high-speed portable USB charger suitable for charging mobile phones and some tablets for several days.
  10. USB-C PD power bank - Power Delivery charger suitable for charging laptops with USB-C support.
  11. Solar backpack - A solar backpack will charge USB devices or an internal power bank when left in sunlight.
  12. Solar power bank - Portable power bank with solar cells which can recharge when placed in sunlight and power any USB powered device.
  13. 4 Port USB Wall Charger - A universal USB charger capable of charging up to 4 USB devices with swappable international adapters.
  14. Power converter - A step up step down power converter converts 110-120 volts up to 220-240 volts and 220-240 volts down to 110-120 Volts.
  15. Step down power converter - A step down power converter allows a 100-120 volt appliance to be used in a 220-240 volt power outlet.
  16. Heavy duty power converter - A 5000 watt heavy duty step up and step down power converter used to convert voltages for domestic appliances, power tools, televisions, heating appliances and motors.
  17. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/AC_power_plugs_and_sockets - AC power plugs and sockets