Take the 2-minute tour ×
Super User is a question and answer site for computer enthusiasts and power users. It's 100% free, no registration required.

As I am an ignoramus on electrical issues, I do need explanations I can understand. Would you be so kind as to help me over an issue I am completely confused about?

I have electronic equipment like laptop and mobile phones which I want to take with me to the Philippines from the UK (on holiday). The rectangular input/output box adaptor (which came with the laptop) and the plug (which came with the mobile phone) state "for indoor use only. Connect only to grounded outlet" I do not understand what that means.

My adaptors (which came with the laptop and mobile phones) are DC (I think) because they both have 3 pronged plugs and were bought in the UK. Are the laptop/mobile phone known as "the outlet"?

If so, how do I know if the outlet is grounded (earthed?) or unearthed? Does that mean I cannot use them en flight or within the Philippines because (I believe) they are AC (does AC mean unearthed?) ?

Also, I have bought extra adaptors (with 2 prongs - one circular prongs the other non circular prongs) to fit onto my 3 pronged plugs for use en flight and in the Philippines, but as they state they should not be used on "earthed" appliances it looks like I cannot use them on my "earthed" products. Am I right? if so, what am I to do?

This is what is written on the instructions of the circular 2 pronged adaptor:

"this adaptor does not alter voltage, use only with class 2 non-earthed appliances, for temporary infrequent use only, do not exceed the maximum load;10A, 250V a.c. 2500W"

This is what it says on the other adaptor:

"allows UK 3 pin (class II) unearthed appliances using 2 core cable to be used in the Far East, do not use earthed appliances with this adaptor. This adaptor does not convert voltages, use only with appliances operating on 110-250V 7.5A max"

I don't understand any of this terminology on either: I would be so grateful if you would be able to help me understand what I need to do. Thanks so much

share|improve this question

closed as off topic by Shinrai, Dave M, Sathya Feb 8 '12 at 17:19

Questions on Super User are expected to relate to computer software or computer hardware within the scope defined by the community. Consider editing the question or leaving comments for improvement if you believe the question can be reworded to fit within the scope. Read more about reopening questions here.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

    
This isn't really on-topic here (please read the FAQ), but I will say that you can easily find definitions for all these terms on Google. Protip: "outlet" means the wall socket, and you're going to have trouble internationally because those prongs aren't the same. Just buy a travel adapter. –  Shinrai Feb 8 '12 at 16:13
    
A visit to a good travel agent would help a great deal. They deal with this all the time and many here in North America keep a supply of needed adapters and such for sale. –  Dave M Feb 8 '12 at 17:17

1 Answer 1

"for indoor use only. Connect only to grounded outlet" I do not understand what that means.

Outlets

An outlet is a wall-socket into which you plug an electrical appliance. In the UK, most outlets are wall-sockets (also called mains sockets) with two sets of three-holes and a switch for each.

A grounded outlet is an outlet with a third hole for a ground connection. All modern UK wall-sockets are grounded (apart from the two hole "shaver socket" you find in many UK bathrooms - this is not grounded).

In the UK, the term "Earthed" is usually used instead of "Grounded". UK mains plugs have an earth pin that usually must be connected for safety reasons (there are exceptions for certain classes of double insulated appliances, these often come with a plug that has a plastic "earth pin").

Power Supplies

Your "adapters" that came with your laptop and phone (the small boxes) are often called "power supplies". These convert mains electricity which is "alternating current" (AC) to Direct Current (DC). They also convert dangerous mains voltage (230 Volts or 230 V for short) down to a lower safe voltage for the appliance - which might need 5V, 12V, 20V or some other specific voltage in that sort of range.

Sockets and Plug shape variations

In other parts of the world. They use different shapes and arrangements of pins in their plugs and sockets (outlets). That is why you bought an adapter. However you should have bought a three-pin adapter not a two-pin adapter.

Electricity supply voltage variations

UK mains voltage is nominally 230 V, however power supplies provided in the EU must work from about 220 V to 240 V without problem.

In other parts of the world some countries also use a lower voltage for their outlets (mains sockets). For example some countries use 110 Volts AC instead of the 230 Volts AC used in the UK. Your 230 V appliances will mostly not work with a 110 V outlet unless you use a special expensive adapter (called a "step-up transformer") which is designed to convert from 110 V to 230 V.

A few power supplies will work with both 110 V and 230 V - check the markings carefully!

A very few power supplies have a small switch that allows you to set what outlet voltage they should work with. These are rare but have a look at your power supplies.

The Phillipines uses 220 V for wall outlets. So you should not have to worry about voltage.

Phones

The power supplies for phones currently sold in the UK must have a 5V USB type power supply. If you are travelling to a country with 110V outlets you may be able to purchase a local 110 V charger for it. Alternatively you should be able to charge your phone from your laptop by connecting it with a suitable USB lead to a USB port on the laptop.

This should not be necessary for your visit to the Phillipines. You should be able to use a UK phone power supplies in Phillipines 220 V outlets with an appropriate three-pin plug-adapter.

Laptops

If your laptop's power supply does not support 110 V and you are travelling to a country with 110 V outlets, you can either buy a step-up transformer or (perhaps easier) buy a replacement power-supply designed for 110 V (or one that automatically switches itself to work with either 100 V or 230 V).

This should not be necessary for your visit to the Phillipines. You should be able to use a UK laptop power-supply in the Phillipines 220 V outlets with an appropriate three-pin plug-adapter.

Disclaimer

Whilst I believe the above to be true, I am not a qualified electrician (UK or Phillipines). I disclaim any responsibility for explosions, electrocutions and city-wide fires that you may cause.

share|improve this answer
    
Thanks RGB. Cleared up a few things. The adaptors I bought have 2 pins with 3 holes for my 3 pronged plugs. I am still confused over its wording "allows UK 3 pin (class II) unearthed appliances using 2 core cable to be used in the Far East, do not use earthed appliances with this adaptor. This adaptor does not convert voltages, use only with appliances operating on 110-250V 7.5A max" what does "do not use earthed appliances with this adaptor" mean? I mean if my laptop is earthed, then their phrase would mean I cannot use their adaptors? –  Keith Feb 8 '12 at 17:01
    
@Keith. Yes, if the power-supply for your laptop is earthed, it needs it's earth pin to be connected to an earth connector in the wall outlet. Your two-pin adapter won't do that. It will very likely allow your laptop to be turned on and charged but it might be unsafe. –  RedGrittyBrick Feb 8 '12 at 17:07
    
To clarify, if my laptop can only be used to earthed outlets and adaptor says do not use earthed appliances to this adaptor, then doesn't that mean that I cannot use my laptop plug (which is attached to a power supply box) to my adaptor because my laptop is earthed and the outlet is not earthed. Am I correct? –  Keith Feb 8 '12 at 17:13
    
@Keith: Correct. –  RedGrittyBrick Feb 8 '12 at 17:15
    
Thanks again RGB. If the adaptor I have is not appropriate, are there appropriate adaptors in the market place? –  Keith Feb 8 '12 at 17:16

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.