Plug adapters, also referred to as plug converters, are electrical devices that allow for plugs to connect to sockets that are otherwise incompatible to each other. The incompatibility lies in both the configuration, since if the electrical receptacle is not the same configuration as the plug, the plug will not fit, as well as in the voltage currents.
While plug adapters do not convert electricity, they can be paired with voltage converters that step voltage currents up or down to even out the electrical differences. Voltage converters are necessary because higher or lower voltage systems that electrical equipment are designed to function on will either overload the device or not give it enough power to function properly.
However, with a voltage converter, if an individual from the US went on vacation to Europe, they would be able to use their hairdryer without worry even though Europe runs on a much higher voltage current than the US. As a result, plug adapters can be useful for a wide range of international and domestic applications in industries such as appliances, electronics, medical, construction, commercial, home entertainment, industrial, and military.
Plug adapters can differ in terms of tensile strength, design, wire sizes, stranding, and color coding of conductors, depending on the country they are designed for. However, at their most basic design, plug adapters consist of a socket and a plug. The socket enables the device requiring electricity to connect to the adapter, while the plug is configured to match the power source, usually a wall outlet.
While some plug adapters are specifically configured to match one country to another, such as US to South Korea, universal plug adapters are available. Universal plug adapters have a socket that can accept plug configurations of almost any country in the world, although South Africa is often an exception.
Some examples of different plug configurations are Italy, which has three tubular metal prongs of equal length in a straight line across the plug, and Argentina, which has three square metal prongs that are flat, of equal length and arranged in a triangular configuration on the plug.
In addition, examples of different voltage systems would be Bulgaria, which has a standard voltage of 220, and Nicaragua, which has a standard voltage of 120. In light of the numerous different plug configurations and voltage systems, it is easy to see why plug adapters are a necessary product for an increasingly globalized world.