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Traveling to Germany or elsewhere in Europe soon? If you’re taking any tech with you like a phone, camera battery charger or an iPad, you’ll likely need a voltage converter or at least an adapter in order to charge and use your devices.
The good news is that both are very easy to obtain before your trip. You just have to know what you need for each device.
This article explains the difference between converters and adaptors and shows you exactly what you need in order to use your electrical devices in Germany and the rest of Europe.
Start by watching the video below, where we show you the adapters we use, love, and recommend!
- 1 Mentioned In Our Video Above:
- 2 Is Voltage in Germany Different Than In The US?
- 3 Are German Electrical Outlets Different From Those In The US?
- 4 How Can I Safely Use My US Electronics In Germany?
- 5 What About In Other European Countries?
- 6 What Happens If I Don’t Use A Converter or Adapter?
- 7 Should I Buy A Converter Or Adapter BEFORE My Trip?
- 8 Where To Buy Travel Adaptors
- 9 What Else Do I Need For My Tech?
- 10 Travel Converter or Adaptor?
- 11 Where To Buy A Travel Voltage Converter
Mentioned In Our Video Above:
- Ceptics outlet adapter
- Single European Plug Adapter
- Anker portable battery charger
- European plug for MacBook
Is Voltage in Germany Different Than In The US?
Yes. The operating standard voltage in Germany is 230V supply voltage and 50Hz. On the other hand, the voltage in the United States (and in North America) is lower. The standard is 120V supply voltage and 60Hz.
Many American-made appliances or electronic devices are designed to run off of 110-120V, which means you cannot automatically use them in Germany (or elsewhere in Europe).
If your device is a single voltage appliance you’ll need a converter in order to have the correct voltage go to your device when in Germany. If it’s a dual voltage appliance, you just need an adapter so you can use a German outlet.
Are German Electrical Outlets Different From Those In The US?
Yes, in addition to a voltage difference, German power outlets are shaped differently from those in the United States (see photo above). There are two main plug types in Germany: plug type F and plug type C.
Plug type F has two round pins with two ground clips on the side. Plug type C also has two round pins but without clips.
Most German power sockets are set inside a circular indentation in the wall so the shape of the plug is important. The power plug must have a head that is either round or small enough to fit into the circle.
The United States has different types of power outlets: plug type A and plug type B. Plug type A has two flat parallel pins while plug type B also has two flat parallel pins with a grounding pin at the bottom.
How Can I Safely Use My US Electronics In Germany?
The first thing you should figure out is if your device needs a converter or just an adaptor in order to get the correct power supply.
People usually confuse the two but they’re not the same!
Different countries have different voltages. This is where voltage converters come in. Converters basically change the outlet’s voltage to match your device’s electrical voltage.
If your device is single voltage, you’ll need a voltage converter (see photo above left) to safely use them in Germany, since US electronics use 110V and not 240V.
Things like personal electrical appliances that use more power like hair tools and portable kitchen appliances typically need a separate converter in order to use them in Germany because they’re often single voltage devices (but not always so check each piece of tech to see if it’s single or double).
These days, however, most electronics powered by rechargeable batteries (cell phones, laptops, tablets, etc.) are dual voltage and can run on a wide range of voltages. If it says “100-240V, 50/60Hz” it will work with electrical power input from 100V to 240V.
If your device is dual voltage, you just need a travel adaptor (see photo above right). You won’t need a converter. Adaptors simply help your plugs fit into the outlets used in different countries.
For Germany, you need to buy adapters for plug type C – the kind with 2 pins. You can get the skinny kind like in the photo above right or the round kind that fit perfectly in round German outlets (see photo below right). But you can also buy an international travel adapter that’ll work for different countries.
What About In Other European Countries?
Other European countries have the same voltage (220V) and two-pronged outlets (type C) as Germany (see photo above right). Except for the United Kingdom and Ireland, which use plug type G with a 3-pronged outlet (see photo above left).
What Happens If I Don’t Use A Converter or Adapter?
It’s super important to check each device you’re bringing to Germany so you’re sure to bring the correct converter or adapter!
If you don’t, at best you won’t be able to charge your devices. At worst you could blow out the electricity or even create fire hazards!
Should I Buy A Converter Or Adapter BEFORE My Trip?
Yes! While you can probably find something that will work in Germany, it’s much easier to buy what you need before you leave.
That way you’re not only assured you have what will work, you’ll be able to use your devices the minute you arrive. And you won’t have to spend precious hours of your vacation tracking down something you can easily bring with you or risk not finding what you need.
Where To Buy Travel Adaptors
We buy all of ours online from Amazon. We have a variety of single plug adapters for charging 1 device, and multi-plug adapters for charging multiple devices at the same time using only 1 outlet. I also have a special adapter that fits my Apple laptop charger.
Here’s what we recommend:
Ceptics European Plug Adapter Set – After doing a lot of research and deciding how we’d charge each piece of tech we want to bring (e.g., using a USB C, USB A or a corded plug), we decided on this Ceptics European Plug Adapter Set.
We’ve been using it for months now in Germany (and beyond) and still love it. Having the option to charge devices via a plug, USB C or USB A has come in super handy because sometimes you only have 1 outlet in a hotel room or Airbnb to charge all of your devices. With this adapter, we can easily charge multiple items at once. It’s also compact and lightweight, which makes traveling with it a breeze.
Unidapt European Plug Adapter (4 Piece) – If you just need a plug so that your cord will fit a German power outlet, take a look at this is a 4-piece set of European type C plug adaptors. With this set you can charge 4 different devices in 4 different outlets. If you only need to charge 1 or 2 devices, this is a great option because you only need to bring the exact amount you need. We have a bunch of these and bring a few on every trip. You can’t go wrong with this option since it’s fully certified and has thousands of reviews!
What Else Do I Need For My Tech?
We bring the following items with us whenever we travel. We highly recommend them!
Portable phone charger – The last thing you want is for your phone to die in the middle of sightseeing. With this high speed portable charger, you can charge your phone on the go! We’ve been using this exact charger for months and it’s been a huge lifesaver.
We both use our phones to take photos and videos, navigate using Google maps, open transit apps, listen to podcasts, text, and scroll social media and news apps while we’re out and about — all of which drains our battery well before the end of the day.
So we always have a portable charger in one of our day bags, and we each use it to top up our phones nearly ever day while traveling. We get 2-3 full phone charges from this portable charger.
I also often use it to charge my phone overnight when there isn’t a convenient outlet near my side of the bed – which there often isn’t!
European plug for MacBook – If you have a MacBook laptop, you can easily switch out the plug in your charger with this type C plug instead of plugging it into a separate adaptor. I bought a set from the Apple store several years ago and love it. It’s super convenient to use a plug that’s so well integrated into the power cord!
Power strip – Power strips are great for when you’re traveling in a group and there are limited outlets in your hotel or AirBnB. With this one, you can charge 7 devices simultaneously. The nice thing about this one is that it won’t fall out of the wall when you have several devices charging at the same time! We didn’t bring one on our current trip, because we decided we didn’t need it, but if you have a lot of tech a power strip can come in very handy.
Travel Converter or Adaptor?
You might be wondering which of your tech needs a converter and which just need an adaptor? Here’s a reference list for both. Be sure to check each piece of tech you plan to bring so you’re 100% sure you’ve got the appropriate converter or adapter.
Most of the following have dual voltage built in so you only need an adaptor. Be sure to check each item before you leave for Germany, though, just to be sure:
- Laptop computers
- Cell phone
- Apple watch
- Travel alarm clock
- Regular alarm clocks
- Camera batteries (rechargeable)
- Apple air pods
- Gimbal for camera or phone
- Go Pro
Most of the following are single voltage. So unless yours is dual voltage, you’ll need a converter. Be sure to check each item before you leave for Germany, though, just to be sure:
- Hair dryer
- Curling iron
- Electric shaver
- Electric toothbrush
- Travel tea kettle
- Coffee maker
- Power strip
- Portable phone charger
Where To Buy A Travel Voltage Converter
If you find you do need a voltage converter, you can easily get one on Amazon:
- Perfect for hair dryers, curling irons, etc.
- Use multiple devices at once
- USB ports
- Includes plug adaptors for multiple countries
- Comes in black or white
Upgraded DoAce Travel Voltage Converter – This is a multi-functional converter that works great with hair tools. It also has a 3-prong adapter socket for your dual voltage devices, 2 USB ports, safety features like auto shut-off protection.