How To Rewire A European Plug To US (Step-by-Step Guide)
Have you ever traveled to another country and discovered that you couldn’t charge your phone with your charger? Or maybe you purchased an appliance from another country, and had no way to plug it in?
Many people are surprised to learn that foreign countries use different kinds of plugs than we do in the US. But there is a simple way to be able to use European devices in the US, and vice versa.
To rewire a European plug to work in the US, remove the cover of the European plug. Then loosen the 3 terminal screws. Insert the ground wire into the connector hole and tighten the screw. Then take the neutral wire and put it into the neutral connector hole and tighten the screw. Finally, put the hot wire into the hot terminal, tighten the screw, and put the cover back on the plug.
What is the Difference Between a European and an American Plug?
The first thing you will notice is the difference between the shape of the 2 plugs.
The main difference in the wiring in Europe and America is the voltage. In Europe, they use 220 volts. In the US, we use between 110 and 120 volts.
Much of Europe conforms to the International Electrochemical Commission (IEC) code. This means that each country in Europe uses the same color wires in their plugs.
How Can I Use a European Device in America?
If you’ve bought a device or appliance from Europe, don’t try to use it without a voltage adapter. Since European devices use 220 volts, and US outlets run at 110, running the device on a lower voltage can damage the device.
Another solution, particularly if it is a device that you’re keeping long-term is to rewire it to be compatible with US outlets.
How to Rewire a European Plug
If the wiring in the European plug is damaged, use an adapter to be able to use it with American outlets. If the wiring seems to be intact, follow these steps:
Step 1: Remove the Screw
Use a flat-head screwdriver to remove the screw on the back of the European plug. Some plugs will also require you to loosen 2 small screws at the base of the plug. This is so that you’ll be able to insert the wire through the internal piece that holds the wire in place.
Step 2: Remove the Cover
Remove the cover of the European plug with your fingers. You should see three terminal connectors. If you’re looking directly at the inside of it, the terminal on the top is the ground terminal. The one lower down and to the left is the neutral terminal. The one on the lower right, next to the neutral terminal is the hot terminal. The hot terminal should have a fuse connected to it.
Step 3: Find the Wires
Look at the 3 colored wires – you will need to connect these to the European plug terminals. The wires should be green and yellow striped (ground), blue (neutral), and brown (hot).
Step 4: Loosen the Terminal Screws
With a flat-head screwdriver, loosen, but don’t remove the 3 terminal screws on the European plug. After unscrewing them a bit, you should see 3 holes in the connectors, which is where the wires will be inserted.
Step 5: Insert the Ground Wire
Find the connector hole on the top pin of the European plug. Insert the ground (green and yellow striped) wire into that hole. Next, slide the wire in with your fingers, and then tighten the screw with the screwdriver. The screws should hold the wire securely in place once the screws have been tightened. If you loosened the small screws under the connector in step 1, you would have to insert the 3 wires under the connector first. This is used to hold the wire.
Step 6: Insert the Neutral Wire
Take the neutral (blue) wire and put it into the neutral (lower left side) connector hole. Next, tighten the screw.
Step 7: Insert the Hot Wire
Insert the hot (brown) wire into the hot (lower right) terminal, and tighten the screw.
Step 8: Replace the Cover
Put the cover back onto the plug. Put the screw back in the screw hole and tighten it with the screwdriver. Tighten up the 2 small screws if you loosened them earlier.
Can I Use an American Plug in Europe?
Sometimes, you may be able to use American plugs in Europe. If there is a range of numbers printed onto the cord or the plug that says something like “110-220”, you’re in the clear. That means that your device is dual voltage, and will work with either voltage.
Sometimes, older appliances might have a switch to manually change the voltage from 110 to 220. You simply just flip the switch to change the voltage it will work with.
How to Use a Travel Adapter
The easiest solution when traveling to Europe is to bring along a travel adapter. Depending on which country you’re visiting, you may need a different adapter. You will need to find out what kind of plugs they use in the country you are visiting.
If you’re visiting multiple countries, it may be easier to purchase an all-in-one adapter that will work around the world. These universal adapters are a great concept, but they wear out more quickly. So whenever possible, it’s better to buy the specific type you need for a particular country.
A travel adapter is simply a small device that makes it possible for your plug to fit into sockets in another country. However, this will only work if your device or appliance is dual voltage. If not, you’ll need a power converter.
Step 1: Check the Plug Type
Check the plug type for the country you’ll be traveling to. A good resource for this is the Kropla World Electric Guide, which lists the electrical specifications for countries. Travel adapters also usually come with a table with this information.
Step 2: Purchase an Adapter
Buy the correct type of travel adapter that will fit the type of plug or socket you’re using.
Step 3: Check Power Requirements
Check the power requirements for your device, which should be located on the back of your device. This is where you will find out whether it is a dual voltage device. If the item is not dual voltage, either consider leaving it at home, or you will need a power converter.
Step 4: Attach the Power Cord
When you arrive in Europe, attach the power cord to the adapter.
Step 5: Insert the Adapter
Match up the prongs of the power plug for your device to the slots in the adapter, and then insert the plug adapter into the socket on the wall. Make sure that the cord and adapter are securely together to avoid a possible power surge or sparking.
What is a Power Converter?
A power converter converts the voltage that the device needs so that your American appliance will operate with European current. The power rating needs to exceed the rating of each appliance you plug in.
Why is voltage different in America?
The United States chooses to use a lower voltage than most countries, even though it is less efficient. This is because if someone comes into contact with an unprotected live wire, the risk of injury is lower when the voltage is lower.
How much is a travel adapter?
You can find a travel adapter on Amazon for as little as $7.
Kathryn is a craft aficionado who loves writing about DIY home improvement projects. When she's not writing, she loves reading, listening to musicals, and playing with her kids.
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