The lion’s share of all electrical appliances is produced by Chinese companies. Nevertheless, the Middle Kingdom is best known for its differences from Europe. These range from culture to cuisine to the power grid. When traveling, the power adapter is an integral part of your luggage, including on a trip to China.
However, in order to reliably charge your camera, smartphone and laptop, you need the right type of travel adapter. So that there is no culture shock at the socket on your next visit to the Far East, the following guide will explain to you the special features of the network and the power adapters required for China. See usprivateschoolsfinder for China market opportunities.
Do I need a power adapter for China?
China is one of the largest countries in the world, both in terms of area and population. The Middle Kingdom was also heavily influenced by colonialism. Accordingly, you will find a variety of types of sockets and plugs in China. You cannot therefore expect uniform compatibility for devices from Europe. Cables from Great Britain, Switzerland and Italy, some of which are based on a different type, also generally do not fit. You will therefore need an adapter for a trip to China.
However, a universal socket has now become established, especially in modern buildings in major Chinese cities and in hotels, which makes a travel plug obsolete. This is compatible with Type A (North America), Type C (Europe), Type G (UK) and Type I (Australia) plugs. However, you should not rely on this. Especially in older buildings and rural areas, only the travel plugs help.
Caution is also advised when traveling to the special administrative regions of Hong Kong and Macau as well as to Taiwan. There are sometimes different sockets, plugs and mains voltages that have nothing to do with the standard of mainland China. However, with a universal travel adapter you are well prepared for a stay in the Far East.
Power adapter China: Is a voltage converter needed?
It’s not just the types of plugs and sockets that differ in a global comparison. Countries around the world also have different grid voltages. There is agreement in Europe and most of Africa and Asia. Only minor differences occur when looking at the mains voltage, which is usually not a problem for electrical devices. Many devices can also be used regardless of the mains voltage. However, caution is advised – an adapter with an integrated voltage converter is a good idea when traveling.
In Europe, a mains voltage of 230 volts at a frequency of 50 Hertz is common in all countries. On the Chinese mainland the standard is 220 volts and the frequency is also 50 Hertz. While the plugs vary from region to region, there is agreement across China. This means that there are only minor differences to the European standard. Electrical devices and cables from Germany, Austria and Switzerland can therefore be used without any problems – only a mains adapter is necessary. You can leave the voltage converter that you need when traveling to the USA, for example, at home.
Trips to Hong Kong are on the agenda for many trips to China. The former Portuguese colony of Macau with its popular casinos is also interesting for many holidaymakers. Both cities are considered special administrative zones that were separated from the mainland for a long time. Nevertheless, the Chinese standard has also prevailed here, so you don’t need a voltage converter in Hong Kong and Macau either.
The island of Taiwan is an exception. Officially it is considered part of the People’s Republic, but in fact it has always been independent. Similar to the USA or Japan, Taiwan has a mains voltage of 110 volts at a frequency of 60 Hertz. When visiting the island, you should always have a travel adapter with a voltage converter in your bag. This also applies to devices purchased in mainland China.
Which sockets are common in China?
In mainland Europe – with the exception of Switzerland – plugs and sockets of types C, E and F are used. These differ slightly and, for example, also have protective contacts. However, they are unconditionally compatible with each other, so that all devices and cables from Germany can also be used in Spain, Norway or Turkey.
In China, on the other hand, socket types A, C and I are used. These are not compatible with each other, which is mainly due to the size and history of the country. British sockets of type G are also occasionally found in the Middle Kingdom. A uniform standard in the form of a universal socket is now becoming established, especially in new buildings. However, this is not a guarantee that you will be able to charge and use all your devices in China. You should always rely on a power adapter when traveling to the Far East.
The following special features apply to Chinese sockets:
- Type A socket: common in North America, not compatible with other plugs
- Type-C socket: the European standard and one of the most common plug types in the world
- Type G socket: common in Great Britain and a few former colonies, rarely found on trips to China
- Type I socket: the socket type of Australia and New Zealand, also not compatible with any other plugs
When it comes to plugs and the power grid, the People’s Republic doesn’t have much in common with its neighbors. In India, Vietnam and Co. there is also a colorful mix of sockets, cables and mains voltages. If you want to continue your journey to neighboring countries, you will therefore have to use a travel plug.
Power adapter for China: This applies to Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan
While Hong Kong was a British colony for over 150 years, Macau was administered by Portugal for over 400 years. The development of the two cities was significantly influenced by Europeans, who also brought their own power grid with them to Asia. An adapter is not only mandatory for travelers in Hong Kong and Macau – this also applies to Chinese people.
In Hong Kong, the distribution of sockets is still quite clear. The G type from Great Britain and the D type, which can be found in India and South Africa, for example, are common. Neither socket is compatible with classic European plugs – so you have to rely on a travel adapter.
Things get more complicated in Macau. Although the city is only a short drive from Hong Kong and is a manageable size with around 650,000 inhabitants, there are four different types of plugs to be found there. D and M are compatible with each other, but cannot be used with European plugs. The G sockets, on the other hand, are known from the United Kingdom and its former colonies, but do not work with European devices either. Only the F sockets indicate the administration by Portugal, which lasted until 1999. These are the same sockets that are also installed in Germany. However, you should not rely on finding the right type of socket in Macau. With a travel plug, however, you are on the safe side.
For a trip to Taiwan you not only need a voltage converter, but also an adapter. Only socket types A and B are installed there. You can also find the same sockets primarily in North America and Japan. Both types of sockets are not compatible with European devices and cables.
The variety of plug types in the world
It is a real hassle for travelers to pay attention to the compatibility of plug types on every vacation. Travel adapters are inexpensive and available everywhere – but if you carry a whole range of electrical devices with you, you will still be inflexible despite the adapters.
There are twelve different types of sockets known in the world, and they are at least sorted alphabetically from A to L. Travelers in Europe are lucky, where they were able to agree on the Euro plug, which combines types C, E and F. North America also has a uniform system. However, Asia, Africa and South America in particular resemble a patchwork quilt. If you travel there, you won’t be able to do without a travel plug. In some cases, there are even significant differences from country to country. Even countries that are significantly smaller than China often have several types of sockets that exist in parallel.
The socket was patented in 1904, long before globalization was even a thing. At that time, the world’s states mostly pursued their own interests. Colonialism and two world wars also did not contribute to the establishment of a uniform system on earth. People have become increasingly dependent on travel adapters since cell phones, cameras and laptops became part of their regular luggage.
An exception to the well-known plugs is type N. This was an attempt to establish a world plug. This is similar to the Swiss version and is therefore sometimes even compatible with European connections. So far, only Brazil has introduced the world plug – and only in some regions. The attempt to standardize the power grid worldwide resulted in even greater chaos.