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The primary purpose of a European power adapter is to allow your U.S. appliances to fit into the differently shaped sockets used across Europe. Most will not convert the 220V power supplied in Europe to the 110V power used by U.S. appliances. To prevent damage, pack devices with dual voltage capacity or invest in a voltage converter. Additionally, be aware that standard European adapters will not work in countries like Italy, Switzerland or the United Kingdom. In this article, we look at the best options for every kind of European travel.
Our Top Picks
Best Overall: Foval Power Step Down 220V to 110V Voltage Converter
While many modern devices are capable of transitioning automatically between different voltages, some aren’t. This is where the Foval Power Step Down Converter comes in. It converts 220/ 240V to 110/ 120V, allowing you to use your single voltage American appliances safely in Europe. Appliances that require over 200 watts are the exception to this rule. The converter comes with a European power cable in addition to three removable adapters for the U.S., the U.K. and Australia, so that you can use it for other trips as well.
With two standard U.S. plugs and four 5V/ 2.4A USB ports, you can charge an array of devices at the same time – just make sure that the total wattage doesn’t exceed 200. The converter automatically shuts down to prevent overloading, over-heating or short-circuiting – keeping you and your appliances safe. Its compact size (4.8” x 3.1” x 1.5”) and detachable five-foot cord are designed for easy packing.
Best Lightweight: High Quality AC Power Travel Adapter
Designed to be compatible with Type E/F or Schuko plugs, the High-Quality AC Power Travel Adapter is suitable for use in most European countries (notably excluding Italy, Switzerland and the United Kingdom). Other key features include its solid construction and its bright purple color, which makes it easy to spot – and therefore less likely to leave plugged into the hotel room socket when you check out. With a total weight of .08 pounds, the adapter is incredibly lightweight, yet still large enough to make removing it from the plug socket a breeze.
It’s also durable, thanks to a lack of moving parts. Use its dual ports to charge two electrical devices at the same time. The input on the front of the plug is universal, accepting two-prong polarised U.S. plugs and three-prong grounded U.S. plugs, as well as standard plugs for Europe, the U.K., Australia and India. This comes in handy if you own foreign appliances that you want to use on your European travels. A built-in surge protector defends your devices against unexpected voltage spikes.
Best Universal: Iron-M All-in-One Universal Travel Adapter
If you travel frequently, consider investing in the Iron-M All-in-One Universal Travel Adapter rather than limiting yourself to one exclusively for Europe. This is also a great purchase for those planning a trip across Europe with stops in countries that don’t accept the standard Type E/F plug. Interchangeable input and outlet sockets allow you to use the adapter in over 150 countries.
In addition to a single AC power socket, it features two USB ports – all of which can be used simultaneously. It’s FCC, CE and RoHS safety-certified, while a lifetime guarantee gives you confidence in your purchase. The downsides? It’s not suitable for use with high-powered appliances, including hair-dryers, and at 2.2” x 3.2” x 2.6”, it’s slightly bulkier than your standard single adapter.
Best for Multiple Devices: PowerBear Charging Station with USB Ports
The PowerBear Charging Station with USB Ports is the ideal purchase for gadget geeks that require plenty of plug sockets. The station accommodates up to two AC devices and four USB charging cables at the same time – allowing you to connect your laptop, cell phone, camera and Kindle simultaneously. The cable features a grounded U.S. plug but can be easily converted to fit European sockets using the included European adapter. Two additional adapters are suited to use in Australia and the United Kingdom.
The charging station accepts voltages between 100V and 250V (but can’t convert between the two). Its casing is made from fire-resistant plastic, while the AC outlets defend against voltage surges and fluctuations. Similarly, the device is designed to prevent overloading, overheating and short-circuiting. If you’re unsatisfied with your purchase, make use of the two-year warranty.
Best for Travel to Italy: US to Italy Travel Adapter Plug
If you’re headed to Italy on your European adventure, the U.S. to Italy Travel Adapter Plug is your best choice. The two-pack includes one Type L plug for use in Italy and the microstate of San Marino; and one Type E/F plug for across-the-border jaunts into France, Germany, Austria or Slovenia. Both adapters feature dual inputs, allowing them to accommodate two U.S. plugs at the same time. One of the inputs is universal and can accept plugs from any country except those that use Type M plugs (e.g. South Africa, Swaziland and Lesotho). The adapters are CE-certified and RoHS compliant, giving you added peace of mind.
Best Budget: OREI European Schuko Type Plug Adapter
A no-frills adapter, the OREI European Schuko Type Plug Adapter is the cost-effective solution for American travelers to Europe and Russia. It is compatible with Type E/F plugs and should work in most countries except Italy, Switzerland and the United Kingdom. Plus, it fits into the recessed, circular plug sockets found in many parts of Western Europe, as well as standard square-faced sockets.
Its newly improved design features internal metal interfaces for better conductivity. The adapter has a maximum capacity of 250V/13A and can accommodate devices that require up to 3,000 watts of power (including most hairdryers). Be aware, though, that it is only suitable for dual voltage appliances. Use the double ports to charge two devices simultaneously – especially handy in hotel rooms with limited plug sockets. The universal input accepts plugs from most countries except South Africa.
Best for UK Travel: Ceptics USA to UK Travel Adapter Plug
Designed in the U.S., the Ceptics USA to UK Travel Adapter Plug keeps things simple for those planning a vacation to the United Kingdom (where standard European adapters won’t work). The Type G plug also works for British Overseas Territories and ex-colonies within Europe, including Gibraltar and Cyprus; and other destinations like Hong Kong and Dubai. Your purchase includes three separate adapters, allowing you to utilize all of the sockets in your hotel room at once.
Each adapter features two inputs, both of which accept two-prong polarized U.S. plugs or three-prong grounded U.S. plugs. They have a maximum load rating of 250V and are suitable for dual appliances only. The product’s limited lifetime warranty means that you can return faulty adapters in exchange for a free replacement.
Best for Travel to Switzerland: OREI 2-in-1 USA to Switzerland Adapter Plug
The OREI 2-in-1 USA to Switzerland Adapter Plug includes two separate adapters. Both are compatible with Type J plugs of the kind used in Switzerland and the bordering principality of Liechtenstein. They may also come in handy for future trips to Jordan, Madagascar, Rwanda and the Maldives, all of which also use Type J plugs. These adapters have two inputs each: one that accepts two-prong plugs from any country, and a universal input that accepts any kind of plug except for Type M. Make sure to use the adapters with dual voltage appliances of up to 3,000 watts only.
Products We Tested
How We Tested
Our well-traveled reviewers spent 25 hours testing one of the most popular power adapters available. They took it to three European countries to test its overall performance. We asked them to consider the power adapter’s most important features, including compatibility, price, and versatility. We’ve outlined a few of those major considerations here so that you, too, know what to look for when shopping.
What to Look for in a Power Adapter
Universal use The general rule is that the more universal the plug, the bulkier it is. If you’re taking a backpacking trip across Europe — or traveling just with a carry-on — get an adapter that’s only designed for Europe. You won’t need the weight or size of one designed for Australia, South America, and more — and why bother?
Number of devices If you’re a gadgethead bringing plenty of electronics with you, consider a charging station, which can handle multiple electronics on the same strip, with USB charging ports and regular outlets to spare. Sure, they’re a little more expensive, but it’s one (or three) fewer things to leave behind in a hotel room.
Price The simpler the adapter, the cheaper it usually is. Think about how much you want to spend, particularly if this is your first trip out of the U.S. If you have future trips in mind, spend a bit more on an adapter that can, well, do more. If not? Hey, those $6 ones are surprisingly good.
Test Results: Foval Power Step Down 220V to 110V Voltage Converter (Best Overall)
What We Like
Plenty of outlets
Comes with three international converters
Includes bag to keep everything together
What We Don't Like
Too large for purses
Emits slight buzzing noise
Our testers loved this voltage converter, using it in England, France, and the Netherlands to power up phones and laptops quickly. The adapters fit into their respective outlets easily and snugly, and there’s also a U.S. power adapter included — which could come in handy when international friends pop over for a visit.
One downside is the adapter’s size: Although it’s just fine for tucking into a backpack, it’s a little hard to bring in purses, so powering up on the go could present a challenge. Our testers also reported that the gadget makes a slight whirring sound when they plugged it in, which was fine during the day but a bit annoying at night when they were trying to sleep.