Monday, August 6, 2012

Mix-Up Monday: Power Plugs and Sockets

American wall socket (

Power plugs and sockets sounds like a silly thing to write a Mix-Up Monday on, but they are another big difference that you must adjust to when moving abroad.

Germany and the USA do not only use different shapes of wall sockets but also different voltage ratings.

Germany uses 250 volts just like most of the rest of the world. The USA uses only 110 volts and this means if you are bringing things over from the USA you need to buy an adapter or risk ruining your device. Most electronic devices (i.e., computers, cell phone chargers) convert the voltage on their own and do not need a separate converter. We learned that some devices you just cannot get to work on the German system. For example, we brought a PlayStation 2 from the USA to Germany and with or without a converter it does not even turn on when plugged into a German socket.

American to German adapter (
The other difference between the USA and Germany is the shapes of the plugs. In the USA, the end of a cord has two long thin plugs. Sometimes there is a third round plug under these two thin ones. In Germany, cords end with two thin circle plugs. Obviously, if you want to plug something from Germany into the USA or something from the USA into Germany you have to use an adapter.

The interesting part about these two different styles of plugs is that in Germany the outlet is almost always recessed, meaning it goes into the wall. She has never seen this in the USA and thinks that it is a trend that the USA needs to start right away. Having the outlet recessed means that you can plug something in and then move a bed or dresser in front of it and not need to leave a gap for the plug like you do in the USA. Those Germans know what they are doing!
German wall socket (

The other interesting difference between US and German wall sockets is that in Germany sometimes the two holes are horizontal while at other times they are vertical. There seems to be no reason for why they are one way and not the other. This means that you can design your house to have them the way that makes the most sense for where you are putting them. Another smart idea that we think the US needs to borrow.

Not the most exciting cultural difference out there but she was charging a lot of stuff today and really took notice of the awesome recessed German outlets.

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