Electronics in the UK

13 January 2014 See end of document for adaptors


Electric devices made for the American market can be used in the UK as well as other countries, but caution should be taken. Different counties may use a different voltage (volts) and/or frequency, known as cycles expressed in hertz. The plug you use at home may not fit the outlet in other countries. You will need to use an adaptor or specific plug for that country. To see all the plug types in the world, go to Yung Li and further illustrated in this org site. You can enjoy Europe more by reading this enjoyable site.


Although the voltage between the US and the UK are different, batteries such as AAA, AA, C & D are common.

Recharging Batteries
Some hotels have battery-charging towers in the lobby for cell phones. Cell phones are called mobiles the UK. You place your phone into a compartment with the connector that fits your phone; drop coins in a slot and lock and go. Yes, it costs and you are without a phone for a while (take a walk) but if you are without a charger it can be worth the money.

Batteries on Aircraft
As of January 1, 2008, lithium batteries are not permitted in checked luggage unless installed in a device. Spare lithium batteries can be brought thru in your carry-on bag. The concern with these in checked bags is that they could short out and cause a fire. A major US electronics retailer had old batteries in a glass container on the counter for customer drop-off. They didn’t play well together and a heated fire broke out burning down the store. See the TSA website for this and more up-dates.

Dual Voltage Devices

America uses 120 volt, AC (60 Hz) current. The UK (England, Scotland, Wales & all of Ireland) uses 230 (European Commission mandated) AC (50 Hz) current. If a device has an allowable input range between 110 and 240 volts and 50/60 Hz, it is a dual voltage device and no converter/transformer is needed. Laptop Travel has a bit more to say on this.


DVD disks have codes that only allow it to be played in a certain region, as described here. Be aware that DVD’s and Blu-ray disks may not play on your player if purchased overseas if not coded properly.

Electronic Stores in London

Apple Store on Regent Street W1 & Covent Garden WC2
Currys Digital has stores in several London locations
Maplin has stores in several London locations as well as across the UK
A variety of electronic shops can be found on Tottenham Court Road north of Oxford Street.

Hotel Electrical Outlets

Hotels may have outlets for US electric razors and hair dryers, but caution should be used. Electrical outlets in bathrooms may not be protected by a ground-fault-circuit-interrupter (GFCI). These plugs have a reset button in the middle and if you are not sure ask the hotel staff. They are made to prevent death by electrocution (the outlet that is) by disconnecting the power in milliseconds. Caution should always be observed when using power devices in a bathroom.

Electrical outlets in some if not all hotels have a switch built into them so if it does not seem to be working set it so that the red mark is visible. Also, in my hotel, the telly can be turned on/off by a bedside wall switch. Check these things before you call the porter. In addition, some plugs for things like lamps have a built-in fuse as shown in the MAC photo below. The port on the left is a DSL connection.
Smart Phone

Note: I have never used a converter with an adaptor for an electronic device. Talk to an electronic technician about this. What makes laptops different between the US and UK is the AC adapter. You may want to buy one for the UK system before you go to play it safe.

MAC/Apple Devices

The photo below shows plugs for MAC devices for use in the UK.
MAC UK Plugs

The plug on the left is a USB plug for use in the UK. It has an input range between 100 to 240 volts AC for 50 to 60 hertz. Output is 5 volts DC at 1 AMP. I bought this one at the Apple store in London for use with my iPhone. It came with a USB chord that fits the iPhone or similar devices.

In the middle is the plug for use in the UK. It is a 2.5 AMP, 250 volt AC – 50 hertz plug with a fuse (shown removed) built in. This fits on the power adaptor (right) that came with my laptop. Connecting the plug to the adaptor will allow you to use your device in the UK. Unfortunately the USB cable for the MAC laptop is different from that used by the phone.

PC Devices

PC devices can be used in the UK with proper plugs that are similar to that shown in the photo shown below. The difference is how they accept your device. The photo below shows a UK plug for use with a HP iPaq handheld. The plug doesn’t plug directly into the device but rather a fitting that came with the device.

Adaptors for Apple Products

The prong plug used in the United States is rated for 125 volts at 2.5 amps. It connects to a power adaptor, but not to a plug adaptor. The prong plug supplied in the World Travel Kit is rated for 250 volts at 2.5 amps. The duck head is the part of the power supply that has the prongs and it slides off the power adaptor.

A plug adaptor is a device that replaces both your prong duck head and power adaptor that it was attached to. Your chord fits into it to supply power to your device.

A power adaptor is a device that replaces the adaptor

Wall plug for laptops (the ice cube)
The square adaptor (model A1205) has an input of 100-240 Volts AC, 50/60 Hz, at 0.15 amps. It has an output of 5.0 volts DC at 1 amp.

10 Watt, USB Power Adaptor for iPhone and iPod
The square adaptor (model A1357) has an input of 100-240 volts AC, 50/60 Hz, at 0.15 amps. It has an output of 5.1 volts DC at 2.1 amps.

IPod USB Power Adaptor for iPad
The square adaptor (model A1205) has an input of 100-240 Volts AC, 50/60 Hz, at 0.15 amps. It has an output of 5.0 volts DC at 1 amp.

USB Power Adaptor (for US plugs to fit UK sockets)
This triangular adaptor (model A1299) has an input of 100-240 Volts AC, 50/60 Hz, at 0.15 amps. It has an output of 5 volts DC at 1 amp.

Prong Power Adaptor w/ Fuse (for US plugs to fit UK sockets)
This triangular adaptor for power chords for use with non-USB chords has a capacity of 250 volts AC, 50 Hz at 2.5 amps. This is supplied in the World Travel Adaptor Kit.