Travel Tip — Western European Electrical Outlet Tester

Post by blogger | March 25, 2019      

Heading for the Alps for spring ski touring? Getting your EU travel gear together makes for stress-free fun.

Euro outlet with North American adapter.

Euro “German” outlet with North American adapter. In our experience, many of these adapters are too wide. Some can be modified, but I’ve worked with a few that were so wide I couldn’t fix them. I bought the test outlet off Amazon, it is now shown to be unavailable. Oddly, in the entire billion-product ecosphere of Amazon, I can not find one other available “German” outlet we can link to. Suggestions appreciated, as frequent travelers might want a test unit of their own.

It’s been our experience that quite a few of the 110/220 plug adapters available are too wide to fit the standard Western European round outlet. When you’re stressed out and trying to make time through the old country, you don’t want this fail. The concierge in your hotel might be clean out of adapters, due to demand caused by this bad gear. Test at home! As a tester I bought a cheap outlet on Amazon, and discovered most of our adapters needed plastic filed off the sides, otherwise they had to be jammed into the outlet so aggressively I was concerned something would shatter. I had to yank them out with pliers. You don’t want to be doing that at Gate B42, Frankfurt International, as you won’t have pliers! Ye have been warned.

If your adapter measures 33 mm or a skootch more it will fit.

If your adapter measures 33 mm or slightly more it will fit.

We bought a passel of these for our next trip, none fit without modification.

We bought a passel of these for our next trip, none fit without modification. You can see the blemish caused by removing a small amount of material. These adapters held up to the grind, others I’ve worked with were too wide to modify, as doing so ate into the internals.



7 Responses to “Travel Tip — Western European Electrical Outlet Tester”

  1. slcpunk March 25th, 2019 9:46 am

    Just a thought, since this came up on my last trip to Europe. If your needs are really just to charge your USB device, you can just buy a cheap USB charger with the correct plug in whatever country you are in. Adapters are hard to find, but USB chargers/wallworts are a dime a dozen in almost any store.

    We lost our adapter on our trip and were in a panic till I realized I only needed something that we could use to charge phones/tablets with. Ie: USB.

    Of course if you dragged your laptop all the way across the pond, I can’t help you…but…thought I would mention it.

  2. TimZ March 25th, 2019 10:25 am

    I use a universal adapter(Targus World Power Travel Adapter) and it is not ideal for EU, but it did work in all plugs. In the past I have also gone to a hardware store on arrival and bought a replacement cord plug with screw terminals on it, cut the plug off a US extension cord or power strip and replaced with the local plug. That works great, but requires some tools(scissors/knife and screwdriver)

    Another thing that is nice is appliances with detachable power cords(laptop chargers, some battery chargers, etc) can just have the cords replaced with local equivalents. These can be expensive at the corner store, but the Op Shop/Thrift Store is often overflowing with all variants you may need.

  3. XXX_er March 25th, 2019 10:31 am

    people forget they used their adapter plug and just leave it in the socket when they pull the plug

    some way to remind the user or zap strap the plug to the adapter would minimize the lost adapter plugs

  4. Lou Dawson 2 March 25th, 2019 10:42 am

    Thanks for the comments-tips you guys. A lot of people have issues with this stuff, especially during their first trip, we hope all this helps! Lou

  5. JCoates March 25th, 2019 2:31 pm

    Geeking out on travel minutia here, but I wonder if you have a Swiss outlet there you are using for testing? The Swiss–always having to differentiate themselves somehow from the EU–have a slightly smaller outlet than the EU ones. The prongs will line up but the body is slightly smaller. So my Swiss Nestle espresso machine will fit in any EU outlet, but when I try to take my German Bosch drill to Zermatt, it may not work (unless I beat it in with a hammer). The Swiss hut guardians tend to discourage this. So if you are in Switzerland buy a couple of the adapters, and covet them forever, as they will fit in all of the EU country’s plugs.

    Also, since I’m gearing up for a hut trip myself and this seems like a good time to review stuff, don’t forget your American Alpine Club card (or get a DAV or SAC membership when you get there) as many huts will give you a discount and if you’re staying in huts for more than 4-5 days it usually pays for itself.

    And drink the Weissen, No one in America knows how to make a proper one.

  6. VT skier March 25th, 2019 6:27 pm

    Like slcpunk, I bought an adapter; a USB charger with the correct Swiss plug..
    Very expensive at Zurich Flughaven, but my teenage son wouldn’t head to St Anton without one.
    Instead of a laptop, I take a small $60 Amazon Fire tablet. Just enough to check e-mail, and change airline reservations/book hotels. . Most of the trains now have wifi. The Fire tablet, also has music loaded on the micro SD card. Will try to pack a small powered speaker. All charge with the same micro USB plug.

    Heading off to Geneva this Friday, then on to Val Thorens/Trois Vallees for a week. Not sure where after that. My Brit friends, I will ski with, want me to bring over gallons of Vermont Maple Syrup !

  7. Jernej March 25th, 2019 8:51 pm

    I just had the reverse problem when I was leaving for Maui two weeks ago (I know, a waste of winter season). I found one adapter at home, tried to fit an extension and it just wouldn’t go in. Fixed the adapter by cutting/filing off some plastic guides and problem solved. Always test these things…

    Also, Maui was nice but totally not worth the 19h trip. So incredibly overpriced for what you get it borders on ridiculous.

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