Which Type of Electrical Outlet is Used in Iceland?

The Difference Between Power Adapters, Converters, and Transformers

Electric outlets (German) in different sizes
••• Jorg Greuel/Photographer's Choice/Getty Images

If you are planning a visit to Iceland and you need to charge your laptop or mobile phone, then the good news is that most of these devices can accept a higher voltage. Iceland outlets output 220 volts versus in the U.S. where the output is half that. 

The plug will be different, so you will need a special electric adapter or you might need a converter, depending on the device and the electric current that your device can tolerate.

Electric devices in Iceland use the Europlug/Schuko-Plug (CEE types), which has two round prongs. 

Adapters Versus Converters

It is not too hard to find out if you need an adapter versus a converter.  To be sure, check the back of your laptop (or any device) for power input markings. If all you need is a simple adapter, then the power input marking should say, "Input: 100—240V and 50/60H," which means the device accepts variable voltage or hertz (and it can accept 220 volts). If you see that, then it means you will only need an adapter to change the shape of your power plug to fit into an outlet in Iceland. These power adapters are relatively cheap. Most laptops will accept 220 volts.

If you plan on bringing small appliances, changing the shape of your adapter may not be enough. While most all personal electronics in recent years will accept both U.S. and European voltages, some older, smaller appliances do not work with the hefty 220 volts in Europe.

Again, check the label near the appliance's power cord. If it does not say 100—240V and 50-60 Hz., then you will need a "step-down transformer," also called a converter.

More About Converters

A converter will reduce the 220 volts from the outlet to provide just 110 volts for the appliance. Due to the complexity of converters and the simplicity of adapters, expect to find a big price difference between the two.

Converters have a lot more components in them that are used to change the electricity that is going through them. Adapters do not have anything special in them, just a bunch of conductors that connect one end to the other in order to conduct electricity.

Device Meltdown

Be sure before you plug into the wall using "only an adapter" that your device can handle the voltage. If you plug in, and the electric current is too much for your device, it could fry your device's components and render it unusable. 

Where to Get Converters and Adapters

Converters and adapters are available in Iceland at the duty-free store in Keflavík Airport as well as some major hotels, electronic stores, souvenir shops, and bookstores.

Note About Hair Dryers

If you are coming from the U.S., do not bring a hair dryer to Iceland. They are hard to match up with a suitable converter due to astronomical power consumption. It might be best to check if your accommodation in Iceland has one in the room, most do. Some swimming pools usually have hair dryers for use in changing rooms. If you absolutely need a hair dryer and your hotel does not have one, your best bet is to buy a cheap one when you arrive in Iceland.