European plug adapter for the United Kingdom

Posted by Martin Parker on

European plug adapter for the United Kingdom

Adapter for United Kingdom

Despite being part of Europe, the United Kingdom (UK) has not adopted the Europlug standard which is common in most of mainland Europe.

The Europlug is round with 2 round prongs, type C and type F, while the UK adopted a 3 rectangular prong design, type G. The two designs are incompatible without an adapter.

United Kingdom plug, type G

Adapters to convert between the two connectors have been available for many years. But nowadays, with people traveling more often and to more countries, a multi-country adapter makes sense.

So let's look at the specification of the UK plugs, sockets and power supply, and compare it to the European standard.

Voltage in the UK

The United Kingdom electrical system operates at 240V although there is some debate that it is actually 240V! It depends on whom you ask and in reality, makes no difference. Countries in mainland Europe operate predominantly at 230V, which means there is no need to use a power adapter. If you are traveling from outside the European region, then your items may require a power adapter.

Frequency in the UK

The frequency in the UK is 50 Hz, identical to the all other European countries. If you are traveling from an EU country to the UK, your devices will operate normally. In countries outside Europe, the electrical system frequency may operate at 50Hz. Although your device will work, if it contains any kind of timer, it will probably affect this. 

Socket design in the UK

Sockets in the United Kingdom are always of a 3 rectangular pin design, with 2 horizontal pins supplying the power and a single vertical pin providing the earth connection. There is also only one type of plug in the UK. 

They adopted this type of plug and socket for a particular reason. Safety. The earth connector on UK plugs is longer and wider than the other 2 pins. This serves two purposes. 

United Kingdom type G socket

First, the longer earth pin enters the socket first and operates a safety device to allow the 2 power pins into the socket. If it does not operate the safety device, the live and neutral openings in the socket are covered to prevent anything being inserted into them. 

Second, the earth pin is wider to prevent it being inserted into the live pins by mistake, and ensure correct orientation of the plug. 

If you are traveling from most European countries, then your appliances will most likely have a type C or type F plug. 

Is a power converter required

As discussed earlier, the UK operates at a voltage of 240V. If your equipment is designed to operate only on voltages of between 100V and 130V, then a power converter will be required. 

The easiest way to find out is by looking on the side of the item or in the manual. Companies design many modern devices to operate on multiple voltages. If this applies to your device, it will have a statement such as “Input: 100—240V”. 

In summary

Worldwide travel adapter

The United Kingdom uses one specific plug and socket combination, called type G. Only 3 other countries in Europe use this type of plug, Malta, Cyprus and Ireland. For all other European countries, you require an adapter. 

The Sublime Ware Multi-Country adapter is perfect for the job, combining an adapter with 4 USB connectors to enable you to charge all your devices, while also charging your laptop.


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