Italy: Power adapters, plugs and converters

TransferWise
03.27.20
5 minute read

Different countries have different standard electricity supplies, which means the voltage and frequency, and plug type used vary around the world. If you want to use your normal home appliances - a laptop, hairdryer or phone charger, for example - while you’re traveling, you may need power adapters or converters.

Don’t get stuck, watching your phone battery life slowly dwindle away, unable to recharge. And don’t leave yourself hunting for a US compatible adapter in your destination, where you’ll pay more and have fewer options to choose from.

This guide covers the basics for travel to Italy. Read on for more about the standard voltage for Italy, plug styles, and the types of US to Italy power adapters available.

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Electricity in Italy

If you’re planning a trip overseas, it helps to know a bit about the electricity supply and plug type used in your destination. Here’s what you need to know about Italy.

Voltage/Frequency in Italy

Thanks to quirks of history, there is no standard voltage for electricity around the world.¹ That means that electrical appliances may be designed differently from one market to another - and also might mean that you need to take extra steps to use your appliances when you travel.

In Italy, electricity supplies run on 220V - 230V, with 50Hz the standard frequency. This is in contrast to here in the US, where 120 V, 60Hz electricity is used. We’ll cover why this matters - and what you can do about it, in a moment.²

Plug types in Italy

Plug styles also vary globally. To help keep track, the different types are assigned letters to identify them. Italy uses plug types F and L, which both take plugs with round pins. Plug type F is round, with holes for 2 round pins, and L is rectangular with space for 3 round pins. You can also use plug types C and E in some sockets in Italy.³

For reference, US appliances use type A or B plugs, which can’t usually be used in Europe as they have flat pins instead of round.⁴

Adapters used in Italy

If you’re about to go to Italy, it may be a smart idea to buy one or two adapters for your regular appliances. You’ll be able to find universal adapters which fit most standard plug types - but are relatively expensive - or adapters which specifically fit one of Italy’s standard plug types. Buying online is the best way to get a good deal on adapters.

It’s worth knowing that the different voltage between the US and Europe can also mean that appliances made for the American market don’t function optimally in Italy. If you’re staying in a hotel while you travel, you may be better off borrowing appliances while you’re there, rather than taking your own. More on that below.

Power adapters for Italy

Let’s take a look at what matters, if you need a power adapter for Italy.

Power adapters are used to let you plug your device into a different type of plug socket. However, they won’t change the voltage and frequency of electricity which is supplied, which could still mean your appliance doesn’t work properly or is damaged.

Check the voltage of your appliance before you pack it. Many modern electrical devices have dual voltage rating, which means they can be used in different regions of the world. Look for a sticker on your device which says something like ‘INPUT 110V - 240V’. This shows that the device can cope with electricity supplied at anything between 110 and 240 volts, making it safe for use in both the US and Italy.

Appliances requiring an earth connection

It’s worth noting that some travel adapters can not be used on devices which require an earth connection. These adapters are intended only for use on appliances which are double insulated, meaning there is an extra layer of protection between the electrical wiring and any area you might touch. Double insulated equipment often includes things like blenders, blow dryers and power tools - look for the symbol on the appliance to show it has double insulation.⁵

Power converters or transformers

You may decide to buy a power converter or transformer for your trip to Italy. These are devices which switch the voltage of the electricity supply which comes from the wall, to match the requirements of your device. As we mentioned above, many modern devices are actually able to accept a range of voltages and still function perfectly well, so you may not need to worry about a converter at all.

If you do decide to get an Italy power adapter/converter, check you’re buying the right type for the device you want to use. A converter is usually used for a short while only, while a transformer can be plugged in and left to run continuously for longer.

Some of the options available are quite bulky and heavy, making them a poor choice for people who want to travel light. Shop around online to find one which fits your needs, for the best available price.

No matter where in the world you’re planning on visiting, you’ll make life easier - and save money - with some advance research. Forgetting your power adapter could mean you struggle to use essential devices or even charge your phone - and need to spend more than you need to, to buy an adapter in the airport or at your destination.

Don’t forget to also check out how you can save with a TransferWise multi-currency account. Send, receive and spend money all over the world, conveniently, and without any hidden fees.


Sources:

  1. Worldstandards - Why isn't there a standard voltage around the world?
  2. Plugs, sockets and electricity in Italy
  3. Power plugs and sockets of the world - Italy
  4. Power plugs and sockets of the world - USA
  5. Electric safety first - Travel Adaptor for Italy

All sources last checked on 18 March 2020


This publication is provided for general information purposes only and is not intended to cover every aspect of the topics with which it deals. It is not intended to amount to advice on which you should rely. You must obtain professional or specialist advice before taking, or refraining from, any action on the basis of the content in this publication. The information in this publication does not constitute legal, tax or other professional advice from TransferWise Limited or its affiliates. Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome. We make no representations, warranties or guarantees, whether express or implied, that the content in the publication is accurate, complete or up to date.

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