Knowing the voltage in Canada is important if you have small appliances such as hair dryers, electric razors, phone chargers, laptops, and more that you plan to bring with you from your home country, plug in, and use while you are in Canada.
Unless you are from North America, Central America or Japan, where the plugs are the same, you will likely need a plug adapter and maybe a power converter, although most technology gadgets these days, like phones, laptops, and cameras, correct the voltage automatically.
Knowing more about voltage, plugs, and converters will help you prepare for your trip to Canada.
Voltage & Frequency
In Canada, the voltage is 120 V with 60 Hz frequency.
All electrical devices require a certain voltage and electrical current. The voltage is the force with which electricity is pushed through the circuit. The current is the rate—how fast or how slow—the electricity is traveling.
No international standard exists for power supply (voltage and frequency, the V and Hz numbers, respectively), so voltages and currents vary from country to country, meaning your gadget may not work properly when traveling abroad.
Before you plug something into a Canadian socket you may have to adjust the voltage and current using a power converter.
You can buy power converters online at Amazon or at any appliance store, travel store, airport or department store.
In Canada, the electric wall outlets where the plugs go are for types A and B, requiring two and three prong plugs, respectively (see the photo of a three-pronged B-type plug on the left).
This type of plug differs from those used in Europe, Australia, the United Kingdom and most of South America, Africa, and Asia. People traveling from these countries to Canada will have to purchase a plug adapter in order to use their small appliances, laptops, and other gadgets.
The A and B plugs are the same as those used in the United States, Mexico, Central America, Japan, and a few other countries (see plug type by country).
Preparing for Travel to Canada
The voltage, frequency, and plug type in Canada are exactly the same as in the United States, Mexico, Central America (and a few other random countries). People arriving in Canada from those countries don't have to think about bringing plug adapters or voltage/electricity converters at all.
Japan also uses the same type of plug—type A / B—as Canada, so plugs on Japanese gadgets will plug in fine to outlets in Canada, but the voltage may be different on small appliances like hair dryers, but will work just fine with laptops, cameras, cell phone, and other techie gadgets because these all have power converters built right in (the big black box type thing that is either right at the plug or part way along the cord).
However, if you are coming from somewhere else in the world, chances are you will need a plug converter and maybe a power converter. A plug converter simply conforms your foreign plug so that it will insert properly into a type A or B outlet (see photo 1). A power converter, on the other hand, will actually convert the voltage—stepping it down or stepping it up - to conform to the 120 V Canada standard.
As mentioned, power converters are used mostly for small appliances, like hair dryers or shavers. These days, phone chargers, laptops and other similar gadgets convert the power up or down automatically.
Cell Phones, Laptops, Cameras and other Electronic Gadgets
Cell phones, laptops, and other technological gadgets that require charging have a built-in power converter, which means you don't have to worry about purchasing one for your gadgets when you travel.
What you will have to do though if your plug doesn't fit in a Canadian outlet (if it is not type A or B) is get a plug adapter.
Hair Dryers and Small Appliances
If your hairdryer, shaver, or curling iron does not have an A or B type plug, you will need to use a plug adapter and if it does not operate on 120 V, you will also need a power converter. In either case, the best and easiest thing to do would be to pick up a cheap one in Canada (can buy any of these items for about $20) from any drugstore or department store.
Most hotels have hairdryers in each guest room free for use.