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I have an Insten Universal World Wide Travel Charger Adapter Plug that I've used in Europe a few times. I'm going to South Africa this summer (mainly staying in Johannesburg and Cape Town), and it hit me all of a sudden that they probably have a different plug type. The power adapter I linked to does not appear to have a plug for South Africa, but the description says that it supports Africa and "more than 150 countries". The questions on the product page seem to be mixed, with some saying it does not work and some saying it does. My questions are:

Has anyone used this adapter in South Africa successfully?
If not, do the major cities have outlets for other countries (US, UK, Europe)?
If not, can you recommend a good adapter (doesn't need to have USB ports or anything fancy)?

  • Where are you located? US? – user1803551 May 21 '17 at 18:12
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Your hunch is right - that adaptor will not work in South Africa (it will, however, work for South Africans travelling to other countries: it has the right round holes to take a South African plug but not the prongs to plug into a South African socket).

I have the exact same type, and some similar models, and needed to buy special South Africa adaptors. It's the first country I'd been to where they wouldn't work. You need one with a plug that looks like this - three fat circular prongs in a similar (but not compatible) arrangement to a UK plug.

enter image description here

Image source

It's bulky and I've never seen a multi-country adaptor that includes this type - they might exist, but it's probably easiest to buy a cheap South Africa adaptor then plug your USB adaptors etc into it.


If not, do the major cities have outlets for other countries (US, UK, Europe)?

When I was in South Africa, the big international-customer-oriented hotel I stayed in Johannesburg had international plug sockets, but of the other places I stayed, if I remember correctly it was only one in ten that did.

I'd recommend buying a cheap adaptor online. They're not hard to find when you're there, especially in airports, but they'll be cheaper when you're not a captive market.

They're mainly used in South Africa (plus Lesotho and Swaziland and some old electrics in formerly-British-influenced places) so just search for "South Africa adaptor" and you'll find something.

  • 2
    Just in case anybody else was wondering: From the photo it looked like a South African socket might take a Europlug (for devices that don't require earthing). But I checked and it doesn't because the socket holes are much further apart. – Emil May 21 '17 at 17:41
  • For "plug your adapter into another adapter" see this picture, taken in South Africa: travel.stackexchange.com/a/4039/46 – Kate Gregory May 21 '17 at 19:56
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    I'm not sure I'd recommend buying a "cheap" adapter, but rather buying through a recognizable merchant an inexpensive adapter from a recognizable manufacturer. Some cheap adapters have dangerous design flaws that could start a fire or electrocute someone. A recognizable manufacturer wouldn't want to get sued for producing a product with undersized wiring or other such defects, and a recognizable retailer wouldn't want to get sued for selling counterfeit products, but if a manufacturer doesn't plan to do business under the same name long enough to get sued, all bets are off. – supercat May 22 '17 at 5:27
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    As an aside, that actually looks like it is a UK plug - specifically a plug to BS-546. They are no longer common, but they are legal. The normal UK plug with square pins is BS-1363. – Martin Bonner May 22 '17 at 11:16
  • @MartinBonner you're right, it's exactly that. – Chris H May 22 '17 at 12:58
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South African citizen here, making my comment into an answer.

While the "Europe" (type c) plug is not the wall socket shape, the plug is ubiquitous on appliances in ZA so Europe to ZA adapters are ubiquitous here. I probably have 10 or so scattered around my home and you could find them at pretty much any grocery/convenience store here for < 2 USD. (pick 'n pay, shoprite, checkers, spar, etc). I personally have one of these plugs and use it stacked with another adapter for the odd international plugs I have. If you were to land in ZA with one of these, you'd do fine.

8

According to the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC), South Africa uses 4 types of plugs:

Type C

Type C

Used in Europe and around the world. The adapter you have supports Type C sockets via its type C plug.

Type D

Type D

Used mainly in Asia and Africa. The adapter you have does not support type D sockets.

Type M

Type M

Used in a few countries in Asia and fewer in Africa. The adapter you have does not support type M sockets.

Type N

Type N

Used only in Brazil and South Africa. The adapter you have support type N sockets via its type C plug.


The power adapter I linked to does not appear to have a plug for South Africa, but the description says that it supports Africa and "more than 150 countries". The questions on the product page seem to be mixed, with some saying it does not work and some saying it does.

Well, as you can see, South Africa does share common sockets with a plug that is available in your adapter - type C. This might be the reason for the mixed accounts. I don't know how widespread each of these plugs are, see the comments for more info on this.

can you recommend a good adapter (doesn't need to have USB ports or anything fancy)?

WikiConnections suggests this one: enter image description here

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    I didn't see any "type c" or "type n" plugs or sockets when I was in South Africa (though some people use European-style type c plugs with adaptors for imported goods). I can only guess they maybe exist in some areas in older houses that were built by Dutch or Portuguese settlers? – user568458 May 21 '17 at 20:53
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    While type c wall sockets are not at all common in ZA, type c appliances (and adapters) are ubiquitous. Type n is very uncommon. – user30833 May 21 '17 at 21:01
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    "Ceptics" is not a good name for a product, even if everything else except Poplers and Tastesicles has already been trademarked. – David Richerby May 22 '17 at 0:46
  • @DavidRicherby I'm just the messenger. – user1803551 May 22 '17 at 7:56
  • @user1803551 Of course. No shots fired. – David Richerby May 22 '17 at 9:33

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