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I'm travelling to Japan soon, so I'm looking for power adapters for my (Australian) laptop and phone chargers.

My laptop charger has an earthed plug, and as such most of the adapters that I've found won't work as they don't take earthed plugs.

As such, I'm considering getting a plug that has USA Type B plug output as some sites seem to indicate that Japan has some power points that support the third earthed pin. However, other sites say they're not supported.

Are Type B points common? Or am I better off finding an alternate way to charge my laptop (e.g. trying to obtain a North American charger that has a Type A plug).

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    Is the power cable to your charger wired in? Most laptop chargers connect the power cable using a 2 or 3 pin socket of some kind, and you can normally buy a local equivalent fairly easily. – CMaster Aug 22 '16 at 11:39
  • Spare the pain and get a universal laptop charger with a two prong cable. Unless your laptop consumes more than 90W (very rare, very heavy) this should be no problem. – chx Aug 22 '16 at 12:04
  • @CMaster it uses a 3 pin socket, but I can only find 3 pin plugs locally; e.g. jaycar.com.au/3pin-mains-plug-to-iec-c5-clover-leaf-1-8m/p/… – ivanm Aug 22 '16 at 12:08
  • @ivanm Yes, I slightly misread what you had/ were trying to do. Obviously any 3-pin connector on that end is going to need a plug with earth on the other end. CHX - I have a "compact" (and it really is) 120W power supply. It comes with a piece of paper extolling the necessity of earthing it. It has a 2-pin connector going in to it... – CMaster Aug 22 '16 at 12:10
  • @chx and then use a "standard" 2 pin AU to 2 pin Type A plug? That might work, but does require a bit more outlay than I had expected :/ – ivanm Aug 22 '16 at 12:15
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Type B plugs are not common, especially in "public" places such as hotels. (You are more likely to find them in a home or office.) Type B to A adapters can be easily obtained (but see the caveats in the comments).

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    +1, but beware that a B-to-A adapter is also known as a "cheater plug", because it's not really safe to use a grounded device in an ungrounded outlet -- unless you actually take the trouble to ground the third pin. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cheater_plug – jpatokal Aug 22 '16 at 13:35
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    Grounding the pin may be necessary to get a laptop with a touch screen to work at all. If you're stuck, try flipping the plug around, but as @jpatokal says there is some risk (don't do it in the bath without a solid ground, if at all, for example!). – Spehro Pefhany Aug 22 '16 at 16:14
  • Well, I don't have a touchscreen on my laptop, so hopefully that will be OK. Thanks! – ivanm Aug 22 '16 at 22:15
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Earthed sockets are extremely rare. I have only seen them in private homes, in locations where large appliances are expected to be plugged in. Where available, earth is a separate wire that is screwed down onto a post. For example, here is a picture of the power cable for my Apple MacBook, purchased in Japan.enter image description here

American three-pronged power plugs do NOT fit into Japanese sockets.

  • What do you consider as rare? Most of the places I have been / go to have earthed ports and US 3 prongs, certainly do fit them. They won't fit in unearthed plugs though (because they don't have the third hole) but you can get adapters that turn them into similar to your picture for about 300 yen. – The Wandering Coder Sep 12 '16 at 4:28
  • Rare as in I NEVER see this. Maybe it's something to do with the East/West split in Japan's electrical grid? I spend all my time in Kyushu. – Neil Bartlett Sep 12 '16 at 10:47
  • When I lived in Fukuoka I used to see it a lot where I was staying. However that could have just been the families I stayed with. Now that you mention it, I don't remember seeing too many of them outside the home... The 50/60 split might just have something to do with it. – The Wandering Coder Sep 13 '16 at 0:02
  • it's extremely common to have separate earthed wire like this in Japan. I've never seen 3-prong sockets in Japan – phuclv Sep 15 '16 at 4:04
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Type B plugs are very uncommon. Most Japanese appliances are built to be internally grounded ( not exactly sure how that works, but I believe they're designed so that if they short out, they don't electrocute you ).

However, have you considered looking for an unearthed AC adapter cord for your laptop? If it's anything like the ones in North America, you can simply buy a new cord.

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