We know what it's like to get to your destination, only to find that your electrical appliances won't fit into the socket! Read our guide to find out what kind of adapter or converter you will need in Australia.

Are you bringing Electrical Devices to Australia?

If so, these are the key things you need to know:

 

You can buy Australian Power Adapters at most international airports
Look for a Type 1 Power Adapter for Australia, or a Universal Multi Adapter (can be used in multiple countries)

Australian voltage may be different to your country
Travellers from the USA, Canada and Japan (and some others) may require a voltage converter or transformer

Check airline rules before packing a rechargeable power bank
Always pack Power Banks in your carry-on luggage, never in your checked luggage

Travelling with others? Pack a multi-socket power strip or powerboard
This means you can charge multiple appliances together

 

Australian Power Plugs May Be Different To Plugs In Your Home Country...

Australia (as well as New Zealand, China, and several other countries) uses different power plugs to the rest of the world and this power plug is known as Plug Type I.  The power plugs have two flat pins in a V-shape with a grounding pin. (looks like a sad face) So thats three flat pins — one of which is an earthing pin (this is simply a safety measure). Some power plugs do not have the earthing pin but they will still fit into the power outlets. While Type I isn’t used in a large number of countries, it does come standard on universal plug adapters.

Countries that use the Plug Type I include....

American Samoa        Nauru           Timor      
Argentina New Zealand Tonga
Australia Papua New Guinea         Tuvalu
China Saint Vincent Uruguay
Cook Islands Samoa Uzbekistan
Fiji Solomon Islands Vanuatu
Kiribati Tajikistan  

 

What Do Australian Electrical Plugs Look Like?

The pins on Australian power plugs look something like this...

Australian Power Plug

Australia's Electrical Current - Volts/Hertz

Electrical current is supplied domestically throughout Australia at 230/240volts, 50 hertz. Most Australian accommodation providers provide a 110-volt ac socket (rated at 20 watts) for electric razors only.

Be warned: If you try to use 110-volt appliance like an iron, hairdryer or shaver in a 230/240volt plug the high voltage could overheat and destroy the appliance - a power converter is required to use these appliances, but such a device would be the size and weight of a brick and not practical unless.

Thankfully today most low-power devices like laptop and phone chargers power supplies will work on both 110 and 220 volts. Look for a plate or printing on the device, and it will probably say "110-220 volts" (refer to the below image) and therefore the devices need only a plug adaptor. Most motels/hotels will supply a hairdryer.

How to know whether you need a converter or transformer. Check the manufacturer's label (see image below). If the tag has a single voltage number (110 or 120 volts), you do; if you see a combined low/high number (120/240 volts or 100/240 volts) or digits of 200 or higher, you don't. But not all your appliances need converters or transformers before you can use them.

Ask yourself: is bringing a converter or transformer worth the hassle? For devices such as curling tongs or hairdryers, you could buy a cheap version when you arrive in Australia instead.

Converters are meant for electrical appliances, and should only be used for a short period (1 to 2 hours). A 50-watt converter will do for small electrical appliances, like (non rechargeable) shavers or toothbrushes, and non-heating appliances. For heating appliances (such as hair dryers, irons, coffee makers and other high-power electrical appliances) you need a 1600-watt converter. To find out which converter you need, check the label on your electrical appliance for its wattage.

Transformers are to be used with all rechargeable appliances (for instance battery rechargers, cell phones, laptops and rechargeable shavers). Again, you’ll only need a transformer if those appliances are designed for another voltage level than the one in use in Australia (230V) and are not dual-voltage.

Dual-voltage: Some appliances are dual-voltage, which means they can be used with more than just one voltage level. To check if that’s the case, look for something like this 100-240 Volt ~ 50/60 Hertz on the nameplate of your appliance. And of course don’t forget to switch the voltage level manually before you plug your device into a Australian outlet!

NOTE: Laptops and battery rechargers usually come with switch-mode adapters (which means they can switch an AC input (100-240V for example — check the label!) to a DC output (19V for example). They can be plugged right away into an Australian outlet with the right power plug.

And what about the frequency: can I use a 60 Hz appliance into a 50 Hz outlet? No, we wouldn’t recommend doing that. Even if the voltage is the same (or if you use a converter/transformer to adjust the voltage), a 60 HZ appliance may not function properly on 50 Hz current. Fortunately, some appliances can operate on either a 50 Hz or 60 Hz system. This has to be stated on the name plate, like: 110-230 Volt ~ 50/60 Hertz.

Tip: Bring a rechargeable power bank or power pack that extends a device's unplugged life (like a phone or camera) by many hours. These can usually be charged from anything that has a USB outlet.

This manufacturer's label indicates that the device can only run on 120 volts so could not be used in Australia...

 

Volt Label

Australian Power Plug Adapters: What Kind Do I Need?

If you are planning an Australian holiday, you may need a power plug adapter if you plan to bring your own electrical appliance such as a hair dryer, shaver etc.

The adapter is essential, regardless of the device. The plastic nub bridges the design divide between one plug and the foreign socket. With it, you can use your three-pronged hair straightener in a two-holed outlet. Without it, you are stuck with curly hair. 

If you are going to buy an adapter, be sure to get one with an earthing pinYou can buy adapters at most large airports - try the book shop; luggage shop or even drugstore/pharmacy. They are easily obtainable in all major Airports. Adapters are sold in many forms. You can purchase singles for a specific country or a multi-destination model.

Tip: If you have a number of devices, bring a Power Strip or Powerboard from home: then you can plug into your travel adapter so you can charge/run them all at the same time.

Using an Australian power adaptor looks something like this...

Australian Power Adapter

Ready to Travel? Remember...

  • Look for a Type 1 Power Adapter for Australia, or a Universal Multi Adapter
  • Travellers from the USA, Canada and Japan (and some others) may require a Voltage Converter or Transformer
  • Always pack Power Banks in your carry-on luggage and check airline rules
  • A multi-socket power strip or powerboard is a must if you are travelling with others

Pay attention to the above, and you'll be able to keep your devices juiced up and ready to go at all times.

More articles to help you plan your trip to Australia


Getting to Australia
What is the Best Time to Visit Australia
How Long Should I Visit Australia For
Australian Passport and Visa Requirements
Smooth as possible on arrival to Australia
Travel Insurance for Australia
Driving in Australia
Safety in Australia's Great Outdoors
What to Pack for an Australian Holiday
Australian Accommodation Guide
Australia's Need to Know Facts
What do things cost in Australia

Since 2001 we’ve been helping visitors plan their dream Australian holiday. We aim to make visiting our beautiful land effortless. Let our expert holiday planners put together an itinerary for you, no obligation FREE of charge, or get some friendly advice on what small group tour would suit - Just follow the link and answer a few brief questions