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Using American Appliances in Germany

Using American Appliances in Germany

If you plan to visit Germany and you take your American appliances, there are a few things you must look into. First, you must know that most American appliances are designed to run off 110-120 volts at 60 Hz, and most German appliances are designed to run off 220 to 230 volts.

If you plug an American stereo, razor, computer, etc., into a German outlet, it will destroy it!! The prongs are different, so it is hard to make this mistake, but outlet adapters are sold, and this does happen often.

Young adult woman hand holding and plugging white electrical plug
otoduets / Adobe Stock

The adapters are sold because some American appliances are Dual-Voltage and can run off 110 or 230. To determine if your appliance is Dual-Voltage, you must look at the power information on the appliance, either on the appliance itself or the cord’s power box.

If you still haven’t found the information, refer to your user manual. If your appliance is not dual voltage, the only option you have to use in Germany is to purchase a power converter.

Female hand is pulling an electrical cord plugged into a socket
ihor_b / Adobe Stock

Power converters can be purchased on the worldwide web (of course) or in select appliance and hardware stores. If you are somehow allowed access to a U.S. Army base in Germany, you can purchase one at the Post Exchange.

When selecting your power converter, be sure it converts 220 volts to 110 volts and not vice versa. Next, you need to select the power converter size you will need for your device(s); this should be self-explanatory.

Check the device’s power output and be sure it is equal to or below the converter’s recommended voltage.

Using particular clocks/alarm clocks can run slower or faster than usual, even if the clock is dual-voltage. The only way to avoid this is to ensure the clock is of good quality and relatively new. It should not be an issue if the clock is plugged into a power converter.

What are voltage converters?

Voltage Converters

A voltage converter or power transformer changes the voltage from 230 volts to 110 volts (or vice versa) Be sure you understand what kind of outlet adapter you need before leaving for Germany. Household appliances or electrical devices that are dual-voltage need only an outlet adapter.

What is a plug adapter?

An outlet adapter is a tiny, inexpensive device that changes the shape of the prongs on your appliance so that it can fit into a German power outlet. Outlet adapters range from 2€ to 20€ depending on their quality and length.

Plug adapters are used only when you need to plug in more than one appliance/electrical device with one outlet or when your appliances do not have a plug that will fit into the German outlet.

What to remember:

Person using an adapter and phone charger
Goffkein / Adobe Stock
  • In Germany, outlets are different from America- most American appliances are designed to run off 110 volts, while German appliances are designed to run off 220 volts.
  • You can purchase a power converter or an outlet adapter using single-voltage devices. Be sure to take a multimeter when traveling to test the outlets’ voltage. If an appliance is not dual-voltage and you do not have a power converter, it will not work in Germany, no matter what adapter you have.
  • Some clocks run slower or faster than usual when plugged into a power converter.
  • You need to change the wattage on your appliance if a voltage converter is attached.
  • You need an outlet adapter if only one appliance is plugged into an outlet.
  • You need a plug adapter if more than one appliance needs to be plugged in using the same outlet. Choose the appropriate plug adapter so you don’t overload or blow a fuse.
  • There are adapters for sale everywhere; however, some are low quality and may not do what they’re supposed to. If you are unsure, buying a universal plug adapter is best.
  • The ideal plug to use in Germany is type C, often dubbed the “Euro-plug.” It is the most commonly used in countries like Spain and most European countries.
  • In Germany, the shape of the prongs of power plugs for electrical appliances differs from those in America, so you will need a power plug adapter to fit your appliance into the German outlet.

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Plug shapes and sizes in Europe

Hand closed to a schuko plug
tl6781 / Adobe Stock

The Schuko plug is utilized in numerous nations, and its recessed plug outlet slots are designed for dual-prong applications. The Continental European outlet has two axes different from the United States.

When traveling to these countries, ensure your voltage converter is as small as possible to fit the recesses where the wall sockets are found.

The US-style plugs have two flat prongs, whereas British and Irish plugs feature three big rectangular prongs. The shape of the prongs varies from nation to country, as do the plug sizes and forms.

Look for Dual Voltage Appliances

Woman with a hair dryer to heat the hair.
torwaiphoto / Adobe Stock

If you have an older appliance that works at two or more voltages, it can be switched between voltages if connected to the main supply. Some can also be labeled 230 V and 220 V, making them ideal for European use but requiring manual adjustment to function.

The dryer needs a converter to convert the electrical output from American 110V to European 220V, so it isn’t necessary for phone or computer use. It only takes a quick flip of the device switches.

You will need two main items: a voltage converter and an outlet adapter. Because in Germany, power sockets are for 230-volt appliances, and the shape of the prongs of power outlets in Germany is different.

Your outlet adapter will be able to fit the prongs on the electrical sockets. Using dual-voltage electronic devices would be very convenient.

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What are electricity and power supply like in Germany?

Although the German power system is one of the most efficient in the world, power outages are uncommon.

However, there is no assurance that a blackout will occur during your visit when storms or technical difficulties cause the problem. Germany is renowned for its high precision and accuracy; electricity is no exception to this rule.

Do I need a voltage converter for Germany?

Hairdryers and curling irons produced in the United States are designed to run on 120-230VAC. If you want similar items at home, you’ll need a voltage converter. Most cell phones, laptops, smartphones, tablets, and camera battery chargers are dual voltage and do not require a converter.

Do I need an adapter in Europe?

If you travel to a different continent, you must always acquire the proper plug adapter for that region because your American gadget won’t fit in a Euro-style electrical socket. You need to know whether you’ll need a power switch adaptor.

Before connecting your device to a European electrical outlet with the correct adaptor, ensure it’s compatible with an electrical range of 110 to 240 volts. You can’t use your gadget in a European nation.

Which power outlets do they use in Germany?

Most German sockets are found in a circular indentation on the wall. The electrical system in Germany is based on a 50Hz frequency. Type F shops are becoming more popular in Berlin and throughout Germany. Type E and F stores are prevalent in many European countries, and both accept two-pin plug types only.

In Germany, the typical voltage is 230 volts; therefore, appliances compatible with German outlets are fine. Electric systems in most countries have a frequency of 50 Hz and a voltage of 220 or 240 volts. In Germany, the plug must have a head that is either round or tiny to fit into one circle.

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