What plug sockets and mobile phone networks are used in The United Kingdom? - do I need a power adapter in The United Kingdom?

UK power outletThis page contains a list of UK mobile phone providers offering free SIM cards along with a list of suitable UK power adapters for most USB compatible devices, ensuring when you are in the UK you can stay online without running out of power.

What adapter do I need for The United Kingdom?

You'll need to pack a Type G plug adapter [9] for The United Kingdom if the plug you intend on using won't fit in a UK power outlet.

The type of plug adapter, power converter or charger that you'll need when visiting The United Kingdom all depends on the voltage and type of device that you're trying to use in a UK power outlet. If you're not sure which voltage your device can use then please read the section below on how to find out the voltage of your device before going any further.

  • If you intend on visiting The United Kingdom from the US then you will need to bring a power adapter for The United Kingdom to fit a US plug in a UK power outlet. Because the voltage is different in The United Kingdom bring a power converter for The United Kingdom if your appliance or charger isn't dual voltage and check that it can work with a 50hz power outlet.
  • If your device is 230 volts or is dual voltage and the plug can fit in a UK power outlet then you can use it in The United Kingdom without needing anything else.
  • If your device can run on 230 volts or is dual voltage but your plug won't fit in a UK power outlet then you will need a suitable plug adapter for The United Kingdom such a Type G plug adapter [9]. Note that a plug adapter for The United Kingdom (or power adapter) changes the actual shape of the plug on your device to fit into a plug outlet found in The United Kingdom, but can't change the voltage from 230 volts to a different voltage.
  • If your device doesn't run on 230 volts and isn't dual voltage then you'll also need a power converter for The United Kingdom to convert the voltage from 230 volts to the correct voltage on your device. You'll still need to bring a suitable plug adapter for The United Kingdom if your power converter doesn't use the correct Type G plug adapter.
  • If you want to recharge your USB devices such as cellphones or tablets then a USB travel power adapter is recommended and it will work with any voltage, however make sure that you bring one which includes a Type G plug adapter otherwise you'll still need to bring along a suitable plug adapter for The United Kingdom.
  • An increase in use of a mobile phone during a vacation to The United Kingdom could leave you with a flat battery quickly, we recommend packing a power bank [10] if you want to recharge your cellphone or other devices whilst travelling to an unknown country.

Warning: If your device won't handle 230 volts you run the risk of a blown fuse, damage to your device or even an electrical fire hazard. Before attempting to use your device in The United Kingdom read the instruction manual first to ensure safe operation.

The United Kingdom power adapters

Power adapters for The United Kingdom

When planning a vacation to The United Kingdom it can be useful to know if you'll be able to charge any essential devices when you arrive. But, without knowing which power supply to expect you are more likely to bring the wrong power charger, therefore having to purchase a suitable charger on arrival which might not be compatible. Different combinations of standards and plug types can often be daunting when planning on staying in a foreign country especially if you've never been there before. With only a handful of different types of common standards used throughout the world this article shows exactly what you'll need in advance to power your device in The United Kingdom. This page has links to instructions which shows exactly how to supply power to your devices when you're visiting The United Kingdom by using the 230 volt 50Hz G Type wall outlet, with the British using BS 1363 13 amp plugs for wall outlets. When travelling anywhere you'll discover power adapters will change from country to country so we recommend that you read the Wiki Connections travel power adapters list where you'll find a complete list of destinations.

What is the best power adapter for The United Kingdom?

The best power adapter for The United Kingdom is a Type G plug adapter [9] which allows you to use any 230 volt appliance or device.

What is the best power adapter for The United Kingdom?

What is a power adapter?

Power adapters are small and cheap plastic adapters which permit a different shaped power plug from another country to correctly slot into a UK power outlet.

Do I need a plug adapter in The United Kingdom?

This depends on the country you are travelling from and the type of plug you are attempting to use in The United Kingdom.

What does a power adapter do?

A power adapter allows a visitor travelling from another country to use electronic appliances and devices in The United Kingdom by altering the shape of the power plug.

Will I need a plug adapter if I'm visiting The United Kingdom from the US?

If you are visiting from America bring a plug adapter for The United Kingdom as American plugs won't physically fit in a UK power outlet, and as the voltage is different you will also need to bring a power converter for The United Kingdom to prevent overheating or damage to your appliance or device if it isn't dual voltage.

Can I use a European power adapter in The United Kingdom?

As there are so many different power outlet types used throughout Europe there is a possibility that a plug adapter that works in another territory in Europe won't work in The United Kingdom.

Can a power adapter change the voltage in The United Kingdom?

A power adapter only adapts the shape of a plug to fit into a 230 volt UK power outlet and can't convert to a different voltage. Should you need to safely use any 100, 110 or 120 volt appliance then you will also need to bring a step down power converter for The United Kingdom along with the right adapter.

Where to buy a power adapter for The United Kingdom in the US

Power adapters for sale in an airport

Where to buy a power adapter for The United Kingdom in the US

The United Kingdom to US power adapters will most likely be available in most major US International 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 such as Hudson News or Brookstone, but expect to pay 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.

It will be more convenient and cheaper to buy the correct power adapter in advance of your trip. High street electrical stores such as Best Buy, Walmart, Target, Home Depot or Fry's normally sell a limited range of travel adapters to popular locations but for widest choice it is recommended to buy a power adapter online.

Where to buy a power adapter in The United Kingdom

Arriving at an airport

Where to buy a power adapter in The United Kingdom

On arrival power adapters could 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.

Electrical adapters for The United Kingdom

Power Plug Adapters

An easy to use Type G plug adapter

Power Plug Adapters

Benefits of a power plug adapter

  • Bringing a Type G plug adapter [9] will work in The United Kingdom.
  • Easy to operate.
  • Affordable, prices under $10.
  • Compact and lightweight.

Disadvantages of a power plug adapter

  • If you plan to travel to more than just one country you may need to pack more than one type of plug adapter for other countries.
  • Only modifies the actual shape of the plug to fit in a Type G UK power outlet but not the actual voltage used in The United Kingdom; if your device doesn't support 230 volts and isn't dual voltage you'll also need to pack a separate voltage converter.
  • Only 1 adapter for each device - for each device you will also need to bring a separate power plug adapter.
  • Your accomodation may only have a single power outlet, so you will only be able to power a single appliance at once.
  • If you need to charge any USB device then you also still need to bring your domestic USB charger as well.
Travel Power Strips

Power strips feature multiple USB ports

Travel Power Strips

Benefits of a travel power strip

  • A travel power strip is able to charge more than one electrical appliance at the same time from just one UK power outlet, costing under $40.
  • Some models have voltage conversation for low wattage devices. Even if your device isn't dual voltage it will still work in The United Kingdom when using just a travel power strip, making them a cheap lightweight substitute for a power converter.
  • Most power strips should also include multiple USB charging ports.
  • Offers surge protection. The voltage from power grids in certain areas could fluctuate, a power surge might damage electrical items. There are some power strips that include a built in surge protector which will prevent your electronics from being overpowered by unstable power grids.
  • When you return home the power strip could still work.
  • US and Canadian power strips include Type A, B, D, E/F, G, H, I, L and N plug adapters so should work in The United Kingdom.

Disadvantages of a travel power strip

  • The conversion on travel power strips won't support high wattage appliances such as clothes irons or hair straighteners.
  • Because of the size of a power strip it might be unsuitable for carrying in hand luggage.
  • Travel power strips might be considered excessive if you only have a small number of devices and appliances to charge.
Travel USB Wall Chargers

A compact travel USB wall charger

Travel USB Wall Chargers

Benefits of a travel USB wall charger

  • Perfect when you only have to power USB devices.
  • Instead of packing multiple domestic USB power chargers travellers only need to pack one charger which costs roughly under $15.
  • Travel USB wall chargers are typically supplied with swappable heads making them versatile in a large number of locations. The interchangeable adapter heads are typically lightweight and small which makes them easy to pack.
  • Most models should include a surge protector to prevent any electronics from being overloaded by unstable power grids.
  • The charger will still be functional in your home country.
  • The swappable plugs will fit into Types A/B, E/F, G and I outlets so will work in The United Kingdom.

Disadvantages of a travel USB wall charger

  • Restricted to USB outputs so you will be unable to charge electrical appliances, just USB ones.
Universal Travel Power Adapters

Retractable pins avoid catching in luggage

Universal Travel Power Adapters

Benefits of a universal travel power adapter

  • Most universal travel adapters are designed to operate in over 150 different countries.
  • An all-in-one design which is both lightweight and small, under $20.
  • There are some universal travel power adapters which include multiple charging ports for USB electronics.
  • Easy to use.
  • Some universal travel adapters also include a surge protector to protect any electronics from being overloaded by unstable power grids.
  • The pins retract so won't get caught against other items in your baggage.
  • It could potentially still be functional domestically as a USB charger.
  • Changes shape to Types A/B, E/F, G and I plugs so should work with a UK power outlet.

Disadvantages of a universal travel power adapter

  • Must not be used with any high powered appliances; for example clothes irons, hair straighteners, kettles, hair dryers or curling irons.
  • Pins, shutters and other internal moving parts might be fragile on some models which might make them prone to failure when travelling.
  • Universal adapters only charge one appliance.
  • Not completely universal, some adapters might not work in some countries with less common power outlets.
  • They lack an in-built voltage converter meaning they aren't suitable for non-230 volt electrical appliances.
Plug Adapter Sets

A plug adapter set

Plug Adapter Sets

Benefits of a plug adapter set

  • With prices roughly between $15 to $20 a power adapter set will typically work out cheaper than buying individual plug adapters costing almost $10 each.
  • By bringing every type of plug adapter ensures that you are covered for all power outlet types and not just a UK power outlet.
  • Ideal if you are visiting different countries.
  • Each plug adapter set includes Type A, B, C, D, E/F, G, H, I, J, L, M and N adapters so will operate in The United Kingdom.

Disadvantages of a plug adapter set

  • Will involve planning - you will need to choose which power adapters to bring, if you don't know every country you'll be visiting you'll need to bring each adapter type with you.
  • Lots individual items to bring along.
  • Having only one working power adapter the remaining power adapters will be redundant using up packing space.
  • Not all plug adapter types are typically included in each set (especially rarer ones), so ensure that your plug adapter set has one that is compatible with a UK power outlet.
  • Only alters the shape of the plug but doesn't alter the voltage.
Voltage Converters

A voltage converter has surge protection

Voltage Converters

Benefits of a voltage converter

Disadvantages of a voltage converter

  • A voltage converter only changes the 230 volts from a UK power outlet and won't change the shape of the plug to fit into a UK power outlet, therefore you'll still need to bring the correct type of power adapter.
  • The normal size and weight of most models of voltage converters makes them impractical for packing in hand luggage.
  • Redundant when you return to America.
  • Often better value and more practical to buy a dual voltage travel appliance than to purchase a more expensive power converter simply to bring your existing single voltage domestic appliance in an incompatible location.
  • Costly, almost $100.
  • When you travel from the US go to The United Kingdom then you will require one as the voltage in The United Kingdom is 230 volts.

Comparison of electrical adapters for The United Kingdom

Type G Power Plug Adapter
Power Plug Adapter
Universal Travel Power Adapter
Universal Travel Power Adapter
Travel USB Wall Charger
Travel USB Wall Charger
Travel Power Strip
Travel Power Strip
Plug Adapter Set
Plug Adapter Set
Voltage Converter
Voltage Converter
Can be used in The United Kingdom Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Types of plug included G A/B, E/F, G and I A/B, E/F, G and I A, B, D, E/F, G, H, I, L and N A, B, C, D, E/F, G, H, I, J, L, M and N B
Compatible number of countries (A) 50+ 150+ 150+ 200+ 230+ 230+
Fits in a Type G UK power outlet Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Additional Type G plug adapter required to fit in a UK power outlet Yes
Useful when you return to America Yes Yes Yes
Typical combined number of USB ports and AC outlets 1 3 4 7 1 2
Powers USB devices Yes Yes Yes
Typical number of USB ports 0 2 4 4 0 0
Powers a 230 volt AC appliance in The United Kingdom Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Typical number of AC outlets 1 1 0 3 (B) 2
Converts voltage (?) Yes (C) Yes
Surge protection Yes Yes Yes Yes
Typical dimensions 2.6 x 1.9 x 1.4 inches 3 x 2.1 x 2.1 inches 4.3 x 3.4 x 1.3 inches 6.6 x 3.6 x 1.5 inches 7.1 x 3.9 x 2.8 inches 11.7 x 8.1 x 6.7 inches
Typical weight 4.5 ounces 4 ounces 4.5 ounces 1.6 pounds 13 ounces 20 pounds
Typical number of items to carry (D) 1 1 5 8 12 2
Suitable for hand luggage Yes Yes Yes • (E) • (F)
Estimated price under $10 between $15 to $20 between $10 to $15 between $35 to $40 between $15 to $20 almost $100
Buy Buy Buy Buy Buy Buy

The United Kingdom power outlets and plug sockets

What plug sockets are used in The United Kingdom?

Type G plug sockets are used in The United Kingdom. This power socket, technically called a type G power outlet, can be identified by 3 rectangular holes containing shutters forming a triangular configuration for live, neutral and ground pins.

What plug sockets are used in The United Kingdom?

Do US plugs work in The United Kingdom?

No; an American plug won't work in The United Kingdom because it won't fit in a UK power outlet without the use of a plug adapter. The voltage is 230 volts therefore please use a power converter if your charger or appliance isn't dual voltage and check that your appliance will work with a 50hz power outlet.

What frequency is used in The United Kingdom?

The frequency of the current found in a UK power outlet is 50Hz.

Is an outlet in The United Kingdom the same as the US?

An American plug won't fit in a UK power outlet therefore you will need to use a power adapter for The United Kingdom. Both the voltage and frequency are different so if your appliance or charger isn't dual voltage please use a power converter for The United Kingdom and ensure that it works with a 50hz outlet.

Are UK power outlets different in Europe?

European map

Are UK power outlets different in Europe?

Various countries throughout Europe all use different power outlet types and voltages, so a plug that could be used in The United Kingdom might not function correctly in another location. If you intend on travelling to more than one location in Europe it is advised to either use a multiple power adapter travel set [17] consisting of every type of power adapter, or a more convenient international travel plug adapter [18] as both these options make sure you're covered for all different power outlet types which you might encounter in each country. Before travelling check this list of power outlets used in Europe to find out which power adapters and converters you require during your journey.

Is the voltage in The United Kingdom the same as the US?

The voltage in The United Kingdom is 230 volts, but Americans use 120 volts. If your US power charger or appliance isn't dual voltage then you will need use a suitable power converter for a UK power outlet which allows a 120 volt American appliance to work with a 220-240 volt outlet.

How do I use a 110 volt appliance in The United Kingdom?

Use a step down power converter should you need to use a 110 volt or 120 volt appliance in a UK power outlet.

How reliable is the power grid in The United Kingdom?

Even though power blackouts are unpredictable, the power in The United Kingdom is dependable as there is no history of persistent power outages.

Are power outlets available in The United Kingdom?

Access to electrical power in The United Kingdom is excellent which spans the entire population.

Should I pack a portable charger for The United Kingdom?

A portable charger

Should I pack a portable charger for The United Kingdom?

Even though electrical failures aren't common and electricity is available to the entire population, travellers should still bring a power bank to recharge mobile phones and other USB powered devices.

  • With many the thought of being without their phone can cause mild anxiety, especially when being used when travelling to an unknown location. During a trip increased use of smart phones for taking pictures, storing calendars, GPS, social network sharing and web browsing could drain batteries towards the end of the day. A flat cell phone battery could possibly leave you stranded without adequate power to make emergency calls or being able to use satellite navigation to find your way back to hotel or accommodation. Using a portable charger [10] alleviates those concerns as it means you can keep your cell phone fully powered without using a wall charger.
  • We recommend using at least a 10,000mAh portable charger [10] which will supply enough energy to cover over three full charging cycles while a 20,000mAh portable charger [21] should keep an average mobile phone powered for roughly seven days. The mAh value (milli ampere-hours) describes the capacity of the battery and gives an indication of the number of recharges the power bank can achieve, so a higher value will be better for travellers.
  • As long as your laptop supports USB-C charging then a portable charger for a laptop [22] marked with PD (power delivery) that supplies 20Wh or more can be used to recharge that laptop when travelling to The United Kingdom. Be aware that some airlines won't let you bring power banks on an aircraft that supply 100 Wh of power or more and must not be left in checked-in luggage so please check ahead with the airline first.
  • Consumer power banks aren't designed for high powered items that generate heat, but a rechargeable hair dryer [19] or gas hair straighteners [20] are designed for travelling.
How well do solar powered chargers work in The United Kingdom?

A solar backpack recharging in the sun

How well do solar powered chargers work in The United Kingdom?

The daylight in The United Kingdom might be suitable for a solar power bank [24], however it is likely to take time to charge. Due to the small surface area a solar power bank will need to be left in strong daylight for an extended period of time to produce enough power for a single charge, and this might prove difficult to constantly pack and unpack a solar power bank and wait for it to recharge between cloud cover.

  • Instead, the larger solar cells used on a solar backpack [23] give the bag the ability to create more electricity within a faster period of time.
  • A phone that has been directly plugged into the USB port of a backpack can trickle charge the battery during sunny spells in The United Kingdom, however might prove inconvenient to have it continuously tethered in the bag during the day if it is to be used constantly. A solar powered bag is more often exposed to light therefore could be charging a regular power bank [10] throughout the day, unlike a small solar power bank which needs unpacking and facing the sunlight.
  • A solar bag that is suitable for The United Kingdom needs to have a solar cell efficiency of 22% or more, be able to generate at least 6 watts of power and be used with a 10,000mAH power bank or stronger.
  • They are available in rucksack, backpack and messenger styles which makes them ideal for work, travel and domestic use.
  • The flexible and durable solar cells used in solar powered bags are built to endure bending and scratches, unlike normal solid solar panels.

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)

The United Kingdom 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 The United Kingdom?

When you are travelling to more than one country and bringing more than just one device the best international travel charger for The United Kingdom is a multiple USB adapter which includes compatible plugs like a 4 port USB travel charger [2]. As these types of chargers are supplied with interchangeable pins and handle from 100 volts - 240 volts will mean you can travel to over 100 countries around the world simply by changing the supplied plugs. If your model of device supports Fast Charge then you will benefit from faster recharging times with one of these travel adapters plus additional compatibility with certain power demanding devices.

Unlike other travel chargers this means you can power more than one device at the same time without needing to buy seperate power adapters on your UK trip. By only bringing a single international USB travel charger will keep the size down, making it ideal to store in hand baggage whilst travelling as well as being on hand for charging your devices at the airport or on a flight. Because of their flexibility these types of travel chargers can be used back at home so when you're not travelling they can be used overnight charging multiple phones and tablets without needing an additional plug socket.

We suggest buying an adaptable travel adapter like this online. The travel adapter illustrated here is the 4 Port USB Wall Charger [2] which has been successfully tested for recharging multiple USB devices in numerous countries on a daily basis.

What USB charger do I need for The United Kingdom?

Why use a travel USB charger for The United Kingdom?

  • Most travel USB chargers include multiple USB charger ports, this means that you now only need to bring one charger to charge multiple devices. Instead of bringing 4 separate power chargers you only need to pack a single 4 port USB wall charger to power up to 4 individual devices, thereby reducing the weight and size of your baggage.
  • Most travel USB chargers will include swappable plug heads for different countries. This is suitable when travelling across different countries which will probably use different standards to The United Kingdom.
  • A good USB power charger is lightweight, compact and rugged - ideal for the rigors of travel instead of than risking bringing a domestic charger which could be impossible to replace or repair in The United Kingdom.
  • USB chargers will accept both the 230 volts used in The United Kingdom power outlets and different voltage standards in other countries.
  • There is a possibility that hotels in The United Kingdom might only have a single wall outlet, by bringing a travel charger with multiple USB ports allows you to share out the single power supply with all your devices instead of having to wait to recharge each device one by one.
  • Because of their versatile nature a travel USB charger takes the worry out of travelling to any unknown country as they are guaranteed to work practically anywhere in the world.
  • Power outlets in airports can be scarce and demand for charging multiple cell phones and tablets from other passengers during departure can be high, so a USB charger with multiple ports and the capability to fast charge is ideal.
  • Some countries power grids are unstable, a good quality travel USB charger allows for unexpected fluctuations and will prevent damage to any devices attached to it. Trying to repair an overloaded smartphone or tablet in The United Kingdom could prove to be problematic and expensive.
  • Premium USB travel chargers should also feature a power outlet strip to allow you to use low powered domestic appliances such as laptops, but please be aware these will be unsuitable for high powered domestic such as hair dryers or clothes irons. Read our section on using travel appliances with a UK power outlet for helpful advice on the best power adapter to use with a UK power outlet for high powered devices.
  • Certain tablets and cellphones might require more than the normal 500 mA supplied by a normal 5 volt USB power adapter to charge or provide fast charge. Ensure that the USB power adapter can support fast charging should some of your devices require extra power.
  • Travel USB power chargers can still be useful back at home by recharging multiple mobile phones and tablets every day using a single power outlet.

What is the best USB charger for The United Kingdom?

The is the most compact option for travellers from any country wanting to recharge devices via USB, however for those also wanting to use their domestic plugs these power converters provide larger but more versatile solutions. All 3 power converters offer surge protection which is useful when visiting counties with unstable power grids to prevent damage to any connected appliances from voltage spikes. These travel converters come supplied with interchangeable type C, I and G plugs covering Europe, North America, Australia, United Kingdom, Japan, China and over 150 destinations:

  • BESTEK Portable International Travel Voltage Converter - The BESTEK travel adaptor has 4 USB charging ports with 3 AC power outlets and is the most popular compact power converter for travellers originating from North America going to The United Kingdom using type B American plug sockets.
  • ORICO Traveling Outlet Surge Protector Power Strip - Similarly having 4 USB ports but only 2 AC power outlets the travel adapter from Orico is also aimed at travellers originating from North America using type B plugs and gives almost the same set of features as the BESTEK with just 1 less AC outlet for almost half price.
  • BESTEK International USB Travel Power Strip - This power strip has 2 AC outlets but offers 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 ideal for a wide range of travellers from around the world visiting The United Kingdom.

Power converters for The United Kingdom

What does a power converter for a UK power outlet do?

Power converters enable you to use a 100-120 volt electric appliance with a 230 volt UK 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 plug adapter?

A lightweight, cheap and small power adapter (or plug adapter) changes the shape of the plug on your appliance to fit into a power outlet in The United Kingdom, whereas a more expensive and heavier power converter [25] transforms a 230 volt UK power outlet to work with a non-230 volt appliance.

Do I need a power converter for The United Kingdom?

When visiting The United Kingdom from another country check your device can be charged using a 230 volt power supply.

  • A step down power converter [15] is needed if you are travelling from a country that uses 100-120 volts and your appliance is incompatible with 230 volts. See our WikiConnections world power outlets guide to find out the voltage your country uses.
  • You won't need a power converter if you already use either a single voltage device that works with 230 volts or one that supports dual voltage.
  • Typically, devices designed to work with a lower voltage (such as 110 volts) and used with 230 volts run the risk of blowing a fuse, damage to your device or even an electrical fire hazard.
  • You shouldn't need a power converter if you wish to power a smaller electrical device such as a tablet or cell phone as these are typically designed for international use and dual voltage, but you should always always check the device for dual voltage support first.
  • If supplying power to high wattage appliances or generate heat (such as clothes irons and hair straighteners) then you will need to use a much larger higher wattage heavy duty power converter [6].
  • Investing a smaller robust dual voltage travel appliance could be more practical and cost effective than investing in a heavier high wattage power converter in order to use your existing domestic appliance.
  • Read these comprehensive guides on travelling with curling irons, clothes irons, flat irons and hairdryers with UK power outlets , along with guides for some affordable dual voltage alternatives.

Do I need a power converter for The United Kingdom if I'm visiting from America?

The voltage from a plug outlet in The United Kingdom is different to a US supply, therefore use a step down power converter [15] if your appliance or charger isn't dual voltage.

What converter do I need for The United Kingdom?

In order to use any 100, 110 or 120 volt appliance in The United Kingdom you will need to buy a step down power converter [15].

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

Voltage converter

What is the difference between a power 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 UK 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 The United Kingdom before plugging that into a UK 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 UK power outlet.

What voltage is used in The United Kingdom?

The United Kingdom uses 230 volts in their power outlets.

What voltage is my appliance?

Single voltage hair straighteners

What voltage is my appliance?

One way to tell if a appliance is single or dual voltage is to check for a sticker on the charger, or on the unit itself, typically on the rear of the appliance or near to where the power cord plugs into. The location might depend on the make or model of your unit and should also state on the box.

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

Substantiations

How we compared products

Typical figures based on top 5 popular electrical adapters for each form-factor from different manufacturers with prices as of October 2018.

  • Power Plug Adapters - Ceptics Grounded Universal Plug Adapter, TESSAN Grounded Universal Travel Power Plug Adapter, Tmvel Universal International Power Adapter Plug, EnriQ Plug Adapter, Ckitze Travel Power Plug Adapter.
  • Universal Travel Power Adapters - BESTEK Universal Travel Adapter, NEWVANGA International Universal All in One Worldwide Travel Adapter, Bluegogo Universal All in One Worldwide Travel Adapter, HAOZI All-in-one International Power Adapter, UROPHYLLA Universal European Adapter Dual Fuses.
  • Travel USB Wall Chargers - iKits 4-Port USB Wall/International Charger, LENCENT 4 Port USB Travel Adapter, PISEN USB Wall Charger, Anker 27W 4-Port USB Wall Charger PowerPort 4 Lite, USB Plug Travel Charger Adaptor, Turata 4 Port Universal World Wall Charger.
  • Travel Power Strips - BESTEK International USB Travel Power Strip, TESSAN 3 Outlet Surge Protector travel Power Strip, Portable Travel Adapter Power Strip Charging Station, GR-8 Power Compact & Slim Travel Charging Station, NTONPOWER Portable Charging Station.
  • Plug Adapter Sets - Ceptics GP-12PK International Travel Worldwide Grounded Universal Plug Adapter Set, Ceptics World Travel Adapter Set - 11 Pack, BESTEK Grounded Universal Plug Set, OREI 7 World Travel Adapter Plug Set, Ceptics Adapter Plug Set for World Wide International Travel Use.
  • Voltage Converters - Power Bright VC2000W Voltage Transformer Step Up/Down converter, LiteFuze LT-3000 3000 Watt Voltage Converter Transformer - Step Up/Down, SEYAS 1000W Auto Step Up & Step Down Voltage Transformer Converter, Rockstone Power 5000 Watt Heavy Duty Step Up/Down Voltage Transformer Converter, KRIEGER 1700 Watt Voltage Transformer Step up/down 120V / 230V AC outlet American European Converter.

Weight, dimensions, number of AC outlets and number of USB powers were all based by calculating and rounding an average figure for each attribute where known.

Key to electrical adapter comparison

  1. Compatible number of countries based on data from the International Electrotechnical Commission World Plugs page (cited November 2018).
  2. Assuming only a single plug adapter from the plug adapter set will be used at any one time in a compatible location.
  3. Depending on if the power strip supports voltage conversion for low wattage items. All travel power strips tested do not convert voltage for high wattage appliances.
  4. Including the device itself, any supplied plug heads and power cords.
  5. Some travel power strips featuring less AC outlets may be small and lightweight enough to be suitable for hand luggage.
  6. Number of items if bringing an entire set of plug adapters for use in multiple locations to cover all eventualities (unless bringing only the necessary single plug adapter).

What type of adapter do you need for The United Kingdom?

Which type of plug adapter do I need to bring to The United Kingdom?

The type of power converter that is suitable for The United Kingdom depends on various requirements. Before choosing the right one to use we suggest reading through the following checklist:

UK airport power outlets

What power outlets are available in London Heathrow Airport?

London Heathrow Airport (LHR) in the UK currently has over 3000 power sockets in its international departure lounges available for free to travellers. Power outlets and USB sockets are available on the Power Pole stations and found outside airport security, near check-in desks, departure lounges and at terminal gates. The Heathrow Power Poles can be recognised by the purple signs stating "Power for your electronic devices" on tall brushed metal poles with four shelves to lay laptops, mobile phones and tablets during charging (see photo below taken November 2015). The following power outlets are available per Power Pole:

  • 4 x 230 volt Type G power outlets
  • 2 x 230 volt Type F European power outlets
  • 4 x USB charging ports

Note that a number of restaurants, bars and other public parts of the airport also have the UK standard 230 volt Type G power outlets available to travellers, with some restaurants now also offering USB outlets at the table. With a greater number of travellers recharging their devices prior to a flight be aware that some gates are limited to a single Power Pole, therefore it is recommended to arrive early to guarantee a place. For the latest information please read the London Heathrow Airport phone and laptop charging guide [26].

What power outlets are available in London Heathrow Airport?

What type of adapter do you need for The United Kingdom?

How many electrical items are you packing for The United Kingdom?

How many devices are you packing

How many electrical items are you packing for The United Kingdom?

  • Count how many electrical items you intended on bringing with you to The United Kingdom (for example mobile phones, tablets, laptops, eReaders, curling irons and hair dryers).
    • Remember to allow for more devices at a later date. Are you thinking about buying a new tablet computer next year for example?
    • There are an increasing amount of smaller rechargeable devices such as electric shavers that use USB charging as a power charging source. The next time you buy a new device it could use a USB adapter so please ensure your travel adapter has enough spare ports for these also.
  • Will you also be travelling with family who might need to recharge their devices?
What are the different types of devices do you want to use?

A travel shaver

What are the different types of devices do you want to use?

  • There are 3 types of electrical items:
    • Low wattage electrical devices that plug into a power outlet - for example cameras and laptops.
    • High wattage electrical appliances which can be plugged into an electrical outlet - for example hair dryers or curling irons.
    • USB powered devices that can be plugged into a USB port - for example mobile phones and Kindles.
  • Should you only have to take just USB powered devices then you'll find that a travel USB charger is perfect because you will only need to bring one lightweight charger .
  • A travel power strip is perfect for powering and converting voltage for multiple low wattage devices of any voltage, however won't work with high wattage appliances that need voltage conversion.
Will you only be planning on charging USB devices in The United Kingdom?

Are you only charging USB devices

Will you only be planning on charging USB devices in The United Kingdom?

Do your devices and appliances work with 230 volt power outlets?

How many UK power outlets will be available?

Are multiple wall outlets available

How many UK power outlets will be available?

  • Your accommodation in The United Kingdom might only have a single power outlet, this could be an issue when recharging batteries of multiple electronic devices such as cell phones, tablet computers and laptops overnight as you will only be able to recharge one device at a time every few hours.
  • Should you want to charge more than one device at the same time then we suggest bringing a travel power strip or travel USB wall charger which are capable of powering multiple USB ports or power outlets.

Do you intend to visit anywhere abroad in the future?

Do you plan on visiting countries other than The United Kingdom?

How much can you afford to pay?

  • Cheap power adapters start at under $10 to power one device in The United Kingdom (providing that it is dual voltage or is compatible with 230 volts), but paying roughly between $15 to $20 will allow you to charge more than one device at once and you can use them in multiple different countries.

Will you always have reliable access to electricity?

  • Electricty in The United Kingdom is stable but if you need to visit other countries you might need an electrical adapter to protect your appliances. Power might occasionally fluctuate in some countries and this might cause damage to your devices, so you will need to look for an adapter which offers built in surge protection such as a travel power strip.
  • Be prepared for a power cut and countries with limited electricity by using a portable charger [10] and a solar backpack [23].

Would you like to use your charger when returning to America?

Are you only bringing hand luggage to The United Kingdom?

Are you bringing just hand baggage

Are you only bringing hand luggage to The United Kingdom?

Will it take you a long time to get to The United Kingdom?

How long will it take to travel

Will it take you a long time to get to The United Kingdom?

  • If you are embarking on an extended journey to get to The United Kingdom consider an airport-suitable power charger that can be used with multiple outlet types, one that is light enough to pack in carry-on luggage and can quickly power tablets and phones.
  • Not all airports and airlines actually have power outlets for customers therefore consider packing a battery portable charger [10] for recharging on the go. After arriving in The United Kingdom you might need to rely on a cellphone for making a call, sending texts, using mapping to find your hotel or reading an itinerary; please make sure that your phone will have enough charge stored.

SIM cards in the UK

What is the best SIM pay as you go card in Britain?

If you are travelling and need to use your cell phone abroad then you should consider using a free local SIM in the UK to avoid paying high roaming costs from your own country.

Data charges incurred with uncapped international roaming can inadvertently add hundreds to a cell phone bill unless data roaming is switched off, Wi-Fi is used or data is capped. Wi-Fi hotspots in the UK cost an average of £5 per session, therefore ordering a SIM card pre-loaded with £5 credit provides better value which can last for the duration of trip to the UK providing that data use is light.

There are 15 local mobile network providers in the UK which offer free SIM only deals online, this list of mobile providers in the UK highlights their best value deals and links directly to their SIM card ordering page:

  • O2 will send free pay and go SIM cards with prepaid £10 top ups.
  • LycaMobile can either send a free SIM without credit or the option to pay for a preloaded SIM which includes additional free credit. LycaMobile also offers £15 of free credit when transferring an existing number.
  • Vodafone offer free SIM deals with plans from only £10 per month.
  • Asda Mobile will send you a standard, micro and nano SIM card for free and offer bundles from £5 per month.
  • BT Mobile have contracts from £5 per month for their 4G data including access to their national BT WiFi, choose between a free full sized, micro or nano SIM.
  • giffgaff start with preloaded SIM cards from just £5 along with PAYG plans and also offer free calls and text between other giffgaff customers.
  • Three Mobile free SIM cards are suitable for using 4G without committing to a monthly contract.
  • Virgin Mobile Pay As You Go SIM cards offer two simple pay as you go tariffs aimed towards either heavy calls or heavy data and text usage.
  • Talkmobile offer three different sizes of free SIM cards with the option to include top up amounts as well as longer 30 day and 12 month SIM only plans.
  • Tesco Mobile send up to 4 SIM cards per UK address and offer to triple credit when ordering.
  • The Peoples Operator allow you to nominate a charity to contribute to when you purchase top up your SIM card.
  • Lebara Mobile will supply a free SIM card, order online and credit with a minimum of £5 top up.
  • Pebble Mobile free SIM cards are the only consumer network with national roaming and inclusive EU roaming plans.
  • FreedomPop is a UK mobile provider offering one of the best SIM only deals for mobile phone users in the UK with 4G data, text and talk time. Their basic service includes a SIM card with free 200mb of data with 200 minutes and text messages every month; users can then opt to pay for additional data or switch to a paid plan as their demands grow. FreedomPop also offers a premium free SIM only card offering a one month of free trial of 1GB of data, 1000 minutes and text messages before paying an £8.95 monthly top-up with no contract or cancellation fees.

Be aware that some providers may only ship free SIM cards to UK residential or business addresses, so if you are staying in a hotel in the UK we suggest that your free SIM is delivered to a work, family or friends postal address.

You can also purchase prepaid Pay As You Go SIM cards at most UK newsagents and supermarkets, however you won´t be able to take advantage of the heavily discounted online offers. Most towns and cities in the UK have high street mobile phone stores which sell SIM cards promoting their own network at a much higher cost and will also encourage shoppers to take out a long term monthly contract.

Be aware if you are flying to a UK airport some arrival halls will sell preloaded SIM cards at highly inflated prices. Instead we recommend taking advantage of any available free airport WiFi until a suitable SIM card can be obtained once outside the airport.

SIM only contracts in the UK

For longer trips to the UK there are 4 providers which won´t ship free PAYG cards but still offer monthly SIM plans online:

  • iD Mobile have capped SIM only contracts from just £4 per month and offer data rollover with all GoTo contracts.
  • TalkTalk have SIM plans starting from less than £4 per month.
  • Truphone will send prepaid SIM cards with auto top-up and the ability to add local US and Australian numbers alongside a local UK number.
  • EE are a newly formed mobile network in the UK formally comprised of T-Mobile and Orange.

Using a free SIM card with a locked phone

If you are changing network carriers you will need to ensure you´re using an unlocked phone prior to inserting a different SIM card. If it wasn´t unlocked at the time of purchase you should be able to request to your existing cell phone provider to unlock it for a small charge, use a high street mobile phone unlocking service or look for instructions online on how to unlock your specific model of phone yourself. Be aware that the cost of unlocking a phone is likely to be substantially cheaper than paying excessive roaming charges.

What can I connect to a UK power outlet

Travel appliances which can connect to a UK power outlet

Beats Pill speakers which can connect to a UK power outlet

Jabra Bluetooth speakers which are compatible with a UK power outlet

Mobile phones that can connect to the UK power outlet

Apple iPhones which can be connected to a UK power outlet

Samsung Galaxy phones that work with a UK power outlet

A list of Amazon Kindle tablets which work with a UK power outlet

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

SIM cards in the UK

Corrections

We endeavor to ensure all details on this page are correct and relevant to travellers visiting The United Kingdom, 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 [27].

Disclaimer

WikiConnections is not responsible for any injury or damage caused due to using any type of suggested product with any other electrical device or appliance in any location, full details are available on the disclaimer page. All functions and capabilities should be checked prior to purchasing or using any power adapter. Assumptions on if any power adapter, charger, converter or power strip works in any location is based on data from publicly available sources and if it fits the primary power outlet used in that country. WikiConnections has not taken into consideration other less common power outlets which might be found as these might only be used in certain areas or in the process of being phased out.

Where possible, WikiConnections only recommends the type of product as being suitable along with alternatives and does not make any endorsement for any specific brand or product. Always check with the manufacturer to ensure full compatibility prior to attempting to use any device. Always check the reputation of the manufacturer and product to ensure the quality and safety of any electrical device being used.

See also

  1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_Kingdom - UK Wikipedia web page.
  2. 4 Port USB Wall Charger - A universal USB charger capable of charging up to 4 USB devices with swappable international adapters, between $10 to $15.
  3. Type C plug adapter - Allows appliances to connect to Type C power outlets without converting voltage, under $10.
  4. Type F plug adapter - Allows appliances to connect to Type F power outlets without converting voltage, estimated cost around $5.
  5. Dual voltage travel hair dryer - Folding handle hair dryer with dual voltage suitable for international travel, priced at between $70 to $80.
  6. 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, priced between $160 to $170.
  7. Dual voltage travel hair straighteners - Hair straighteners with adjustable temperature and dual voltage for 110 volts and 220 volts suitable for international travel, between $30 to $35.
  8. http://www.iec.ch/worldplugs/ - International Electrotechnical Commission World Plugs
  9. Type G plug adapter - Allows appliances to connect to Type G power outlets without converting voltage, between $5 to $10.
  10. Portable charger - A power bank is a portable charger which can recharge USB powered devices such as mobile phones and tablets on the go, between $30 to $35.
  11. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Adapter - power adaptor
  12. Travel power strip - A travel power strip includes surge protectors, AC power outlets, USB ports and swappable plug adapters for use in multiple countries, estimated cost under $40.
  13. Universal travel power adapter - A typical universal travel power adapter can be used in over 150 different countries for use with appliances and USB devices, estimated cost around $15.
  14. Plug adapter set - Plug adapter set containing a number of different power plug adapters for use in different countries, between $15 to $20.
  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, costs under $100.
  16. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mains_electricity_by_country - WikiPedia - Mains electricity by country
  17. Multiple power adapter travel set - international travel plug adapter set , between $15 to $20.
  18. Portable international travel plug adapter - AC Wall Charger with 2 USB sockets and outlets for US, UK, Australia and European power plugs which works in over 150 countries, between $5 to $10.
  19. Rechargeable hair dryer - Rechargeable battery powered blow dryer suitable for travelling, between $150 to $160.
  20. Gas hair straighteners - Cordless ceramic hair straighteners powered by gas cartridges, between $20 to $25.
  21. 20,000mAh portable charger - High capacity 20000mAh high-speed portable USB charger suitable for charging mobile phones and some tablets for several days, costing between $45 to $50.
  22. USB-C PD power bank - Power Delivery charger suitable for charging laptops with USB-C support, costs under $130.
  23. Solar backpack - A solar backpack will charge USB devices or an internal power bank when left in sunlight, under $90.
  24. Solar power bank - Portable power bank with solar cells which can recharge when placed in sunlight and power any USB powered device, estimated cost between $15 to $20.
  25. 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, between $90 to $100.
  26. http://www.heathrow.com/airport-guide/terminal-facilities-and-services/phone-and-laptop-charging - London Heathrow Airport phone and laptop charging guide
  27. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/AC_power_plugs_and_sockets - AC power plugs and sockets