Essential information about electric mains in London

Before travelling to a new country, you may look up what the power outlets and voltages are like or take a universal power adaptor with you to ensure you don't damage your gadgets and gizmos. Different countries have different plug shapes and voltages so it's advisable to check this or risk spoiling the device completely.

We've got a few handy electric tips to help you prepare for your next trip to the UK...

On a recent trip to Toronto, I was a little unprepared with the electrics and was in a bit of a fix just before getting ready for an event. I realised a little too late that my hair straighteners (GHDs) were not compatible with the plugs and the travel iron wouldn't work either. Also the hotel apartments we stayed in lacked a basic kettle in the kitchen, which seemed strange considering there was a hob and pots and pans. We had also forgotten to take a universal adaptor.

Had I checked this in advance I would have been more aware that in Canada (same as USA)  power is supplied at 110 Volts and 60 Hertz, whereas the United Kingdom supplies power at 220 volts (actually 220-240) at speed of 50Hz.

The difference in the voltages could damage (or explode) your electric devices if they are not compatible with  multiple voltages, even if you use an adapter.

Most devices are now dual voltage and automatically switch over to the different voltage bands. Laptops, battery chargers, cellphones chargers are almost always able to support the varied voltages with their dual voltage features. But to be sure it is important to check that the device says...

"Input: AC100-240V"

What's great about staying in a serviced apartment in London is that many useful mod-cons and devices are already provided for your stay like a hair dryer, an iron and ironing board, a kettle, a washing machine, a dishwasher and sometimes. Even handy things like a iPod docking station may be available in the apartment.

There will be enough sockets to get your devices connected and charged up depending on the type of apartment you book. But if you haven't brought a universal adaptor with you or need a stepdown/stepup voltage converter adaptor, you can always head to local high street shops like Argos, Maplin or Ryness.

Electricity standards are higher in the UK than most other countries.

More information on mains electricity by country can be found here on Wikipedia


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