Take the 2-minute tour ×
Travel Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for road warriors and seasoned travelers. It's 100% free, no registration required.

You can buy travel adapters for AC power plugs, but do powerstrips exist that accomodate different international power plugs in one unit? When travelling and collaborating in an international environment, power cords turn into a spagetti of cords.

It would be so convenient if powerstrips exist which accomodate for example an US, a British, French/German power cord on one unit, but I have not find it and I have search extensively.

Do they exist at all, or do international laws prohibit such a device?

share|improve this question
2  
Such a device would be handy even for those of us who need to charge a laptop, a camera, and a mobile phone while travelling. Especially if one or more of those was purchased (or replaced) while abroad. –  hippietrail Dec 12 '11 at 16:42
    
Hi - there already seem to be several answers on here which answer your question, but you've added a bounty, which presumably means they aren't answering your original problem. Would you mind clarifying what you're missing? –  Andrew Ferrier Sep 10 '13 at 14:23
1  
@AndrewFerrier I intend to give bounties to all those answers that proved to be practical over time. Unfortunately I have to wait 24h to give the bounty, otherwise I would have already awarded the bounty –  andra Sep 10 '13 at 14:30
    
@Andra, OK, got it. –  Andrew Ferrier Sep 10 '13 at 15:02
2  
@AndrewFerrier, but now I am in doubt, since your recent addition deserves a bounty as well. Maybe it is a good thing afterall this 24h thinking time. –  andra Sep 10 '13 at 15:06

8 Answers 8

up vote 14 down vote accepted

In India, a lot of plug sockets look like this indian plug socket they seem to accept plug types from most countries. It's a shame you can't find these everywhere.

share|improve this answer
3  
I'm not sure how widespread these are in stores around the world, but try looking online (in the US, a search for "universal power strip" did the trick). You may need an adapter for the power strip's plug, depending on where it ships from, but that shouldn't be a big deal. I know Amazon US, at least, has several varieties, including this one: amazon.com/WONPRO-UNIVERSAL-POWER-STRIP-OUTLETS/dp/B000WG069C/… –  Laura Dec 12 '11 at 16:40
    
I use adapter strips like this. They are quite common in China and almost any hotel will lend you one when asked. –  Rincewind42 Jan 8 '12 at 15:14
    
I came across one of these "in the wild" at a conference in Sydney: facebook.com/Kate.Gregory.Public#!/… –  Kate Gregory Aug 17 '12 at 1:19
    
My hostel in Bangkok had sockets like these in the walls of the common room - they are a great idea for hostels! –  hippietrail Sep 10 '13 at 13:54

It's very hard to make a universal socket that's compliant with all the safety standards that would apply. Eg in the UK BS 1363 sockets must have shutters over the L and N holes and plugs must be fused.

The simple answer, if you are travelling to many countries, is often to take your domestic power strip but change the plug on it to a IEC 60320 inlet. This will work with C-13 and C-15 plugs, and almost everywhere will have a kettle lead or a computer lead you can borrow.

If you are expecting foreign visitors, provide a IEC 60320 multi-way strip with C13-C14 leads for most appliances and C-5 plugs for laptops.

share|improve this answer
    
Using a power strip with an IEC C-14 plug is a clever idea, but I've never seen one of those for sale (although, apparently, they do exist). You could make one yourself, either with a rewirable C-14 plug or by replacing the entire cord of a normal power strip, but I wouldn't advise it unless you have at least a bit of experience working with mains wiring. (Pro tip: the yellow-green wire is the ground; always make sure it's correctly and securely wired, and has more slack than the others.) –  Ilmari Karonen Jun 30 at 19:11

I do see your point about the collaboration among people of different power types:

enter image description here

(Yes, the rightmost plug is going through three adaptors. It's from 5 years ago, but I believe that one is mine. The picture was taken in South Africa: SA to UK adapters and UK to US adapters were plentiful, other combinations not so much. After that trip I started carrying the mini power strips.)

But surely when you're in your hotel room, all the things you want to plug in are the same kind of plug? I take a small power strip (my smallest is a cube that accomodates 5 plugs; my airport friendmaker) and plug it, using the adapter, into the wall. Then I can plug everything else into the power strip.

I never bother taking a stepdown transformer with me because the only things that I charge (eg my laptop; battery recharger; phone) on the road are happy at both 220 and 110 (and certainly within 10% of each of those.) But if you did then you might want two small strips. Something like this won't take up much room at all:

enter image description here

share|improve this answer

Multi-plug sockets exist (I've sometimes seen them in hotels), but you still have to be careful what you plug into them, as there's also a difference in voltages.

While many power units, especially those found in travel-related gear such as laptop computers, accept 110V as well 230V, not all do. A 110V device plugged into a 230V socket is not going to live long.

Maybe multi-plug sockets are not common because makers (and venues that might deploy them) fear getting complaints/lawsuits when this happens.

share|improve this answer

I think they're more common in countries with poor safety regulation of electric devices.

This adaptor strip/board was at my hostel in Tbilisi, Georgia at the time the question was first asked: Georgia powerboard/adaptor combo
It seems to be made by a company called "Veto" with model number 606F, but I couldn't find anything by Googling.


And a few days ago I found a "bin" full of these in one of the very few supermarkets here in Vientiane, Laos:
Laos powerboard/adaptor combo
Chinese labelled imports.


Now that I've spent a month travelling through China I can say without doubt that it is the golden country for these devices. There are a myriad variety of them on sale everywhere. These photos are from a supermarket, not an electricial or electronics store, and it's in a city most Chinese haven't even heard of:

range of powerboards in China Typical range in a typical supermerket anywhere in mainland China.

the powerboard I purchased in China The one I chose was compact and seemed to be a decent quality. It has two sockets for two- or three-prong plugs and one for only two-prong plugs. The three-prong sockets accept Australian style plugs and Europe/India style plugs. They also accept a style with two flat prongs whose origin I'm not sure of. The plug on the other end of the adaptor is Australian-style three-prong.


Yet I don't think I've ever seen something like this in Australia. We have no shortages of supermarkets and electronics shops with tons of adaptors and powerboards but we have quite stringent safety standards on electrical products.

share|improve this answer
    
The board in the last photo looks a bit dubious... the AU grounding pin is between two hot/neutral pins, which makes me wonder if it's even connected to anything. –  Bob Jun 30 at 17:11
    
@Bob: I haven't looked inside it but I've brought that one back to Australia and have things plugged into each AU outlet right now. It seems like a quality item to me. I've only used it with computer/phone/camera/chargers though. –  hippietrail Jul 2 at 0:29

One of the most important things when buying power strips is safety! I do not see anyone mention this. There are two different safety issues here:

  1. Safety of the place, for example overloading. Last thing you want to do is burn the hotel room or so. Make sure it can provide power for more devices and in case of any abnormality it should be equipped with circuit breakers.
  2. Safety of your devices, in many countries power is not as stable as in EU or USA. A power strip with Surge Protector to protect your devices is very important.

In addition to above, it is universal and can handle UK, EU and USA and almost all Asian and African plugs. It also has two USB outlets to make it easier for you to charge.

powerstrip

From Amazon.

share|improve this answer

Wonpro makes a bunch. Here's one I have -- a 3-prong one as resold by Ceptics. (There's a really cool version with a standard C13/C14 plug in the back, but I haven't managed to find a reseller yet.)

share|improve this answer

Yes, I have one which I use at home, bought from Amazon (UK). It accommodates UK, N. American, continental European, and possibly others too. I find the sockets were a bit tight to start with for UK plugs, but now I've used it for a while, I find it invaluable.

travellers' powerstrip

share|improve this answer
    
Nice addition! So this daisy chain contains all the securities the UK requires? –  andra Sep 10 '13 at 14:32
    
@Andra, how do you mean by "securities"? The plug is fused, if that's what you mean - which I think it has to be by UK law. I assume the earth pins are also connected through - but I'm not an electricians, so expertise is limited here :) –  Andrew Ferrier Sep 10 '13 at 15:03
    
That is what I mean. The UK law is quite strict on that topic, which I think is a good thing. The solutions mentioned above might not adhere to the UK law on that matter –  andra Sep 10 '13 at 15:09
    
@Andra, yes, you're right - our plugs may be cumbersome, but historically they are also very safe. Since I bought it from Amazon UK, I assume it at least "should" comply with relevant legislation. I haven't taken it apart to check ;) –  Andrew Ferrier Sep 10 '13 at 15:32
    
Amazon UK doesn't deliver this item outside the UK :( –  andra Sep 10 '13 at 17:13

protected by mindcorrosive Sep 10 '13 at 19:10

Thank you for your interest in this question. Because it has attracted low-quality answers, posting an answer now requires 10 reputation on this site.

Would you like to answer one of these unanswered questions instead?

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.