How do I use my clothes iron in Costa Rica?

Costa Rican power outlet

Summary

Check that your clothes iron can handle the voltage in Costa Rica:

  • If your clothes iron can run using 120 volts or can support dual voltage (how to tell) then you'll only need to bring an appropriate power adapter listed below if the plug on your clothes iron will not fit in the outlet.

If not then:

  • Use a dual voltage travel iron [2] - you may still need to use a suitable power adapter for Costa Rica but these cheap lightweight accessories are designed specifically for travel.
  • Use a power converter [7] (or voltage transformer) - you can then use your existing clothes iron and other applicances with a 120 volt Costa Rican power outlet, however this is considerably heavier and more expensive than a dedicated travel clothes iron. A power converter changes the voltage but won't change the physical shape of the plug on your clothes iron to fit in the types of power outlet used in Costa Rica, therefore check that your power converter [7] comes with a power adapter for Costa Rica otherwise you will still need to purchase a seperate power adapter. Be aware that your own existing clothes iron might not be suited for travel and you could risk potential damage in your luggage.

Warning: If your clothes iron won't handle 120 volts used in Costa Rica you run the potential risk of an electrical fire hazard, blowing a fuse or damage to your clothes iron. Prior to using your clothes iron in Costa Rica read the instruction manual first to ensure safe operation.

Using a clothes iron in Costa Rica

Will my US clothes iron work in Costa Rica?

The instructions on this page assume that you're a reader from America visiting Costa Rica and provide advice on using your US clothes iron with a Costa Rican power outlet.

Will my clothes iron work in Costa Rica?

That will depend on if your clothes iron can handle the 120 volt power outlets used in Costa Rica:

Costa Rica power outlets and plug sockets

What is the voltage in Costa Rica?

Power outlets in Costa Rica are 120 volts.

What frequency is used with a Costa Rican power outlet?

The frequency found in a Costa Rican power outlet is 60 Hz.

Which travel adapter will you need to use a clothes iron in Costa Rica?

Type A and B power outlets

Which travel adapter will you need to use a clothes iron in Costa Rica?

There are two types of power outlets used in Costa Rica, types B and A with the primary power outlets being type B:

  • Plug Type A - The plug outlet, also called a type A power outlet, can be identified by the two adjacent slots next to each other where the pins go.
  • Plug Type B - You can identify the plug outlet by two thin slots with a single hole below for the longer ground pin.

A Type B power adapter [4] allows you to use a 120 volt clothes iron in Costa Rica, read the simple guide below for full details of using a clothes iron in Costa Rica. Be aware that unless you that have a dual voltage clothes iron you might also have to bring a voltage converter.

Dual voltage travel irons

How can I tell if my clothes iron is dual voltage?

A simple method to tell if your clothes iron will handle dual voltage is to check for either a sticker or numbers printed on the handle, base or the plug. This location might depend on the make or model of your clothes iron and should also be written in the instruction manual. Some dual voltage clothes irons will change automatically but other models will have a button which allows you to change between different regions depending on which country you are visiting.

  • Single voltage might say a specific number - such as 110V. If this number matches the 120 volts used in Costa Rica then you should be able to use your clothes iron with a Costa Rican power outlet.
  • Single voltage could also have a small voltage range with a dash to accomodate small voltage fluctuations - such as 100-120V. If the 120 volts used in a Costa Rican power outlet falls within the range shown on your clothes iron then you should be able to use it in Costa Rica.
  • Dual voltage will typically say a large voltage range separated with a slash - such as 100/240V. Your clothes iron will be capable of being used in Costa Rica or any other country if these numbers are shown.

Travelling to Costa Rica with a clothes iron

Can I carry on a clothes iron?

According to the TSA guidelines for clothes irons [10] there are no restrictions when carrying a mains powered clothes iron in your hand luggage through airport security in the US. The TSA also recommends that you should verify that your airline which is flying you to Costa Rica will allow a clothes iron onboard and that it will fit in the overhead bin or underneath the seat of the aircraft. The TSA also advices wrapping cords tightly around clothes irons.

If you do intend to pack a fragile or expensive clothes iron in your hand held luggage then it is recommended to use hard carry on luggage [11] as this provides the greatest protection against bumps and knocks during transit.

Power converters for Costa Rica

Will a voltage converter work with a normal clothes iron in Costa Rica?

A power converter [7] (or voltage transformer) will allow a clothes iron using a different voltage to operate with the 120 volt power outlet used in Costa Rica. A power converter is more suited for travellers who want to bring along their existing domestic clothes iron, but it can be more costly to buy a power converter than it is to purchase a dedicated dual voltage travel iron [2]. Also worth noting, a travel clothes iron can be noticeably smaller and lighter than a power converter making a travel clothes iron more suitable for travelling.

What is the difference between a plug adapter and a voltage converter for Costa Rica?

Voltage converter

What is the difference between a plug adapter and a voltage converter for Costa Rica?

A heavy and bulky power converter [7] will transform the voltage of 120 volts from a Costa Rican power outlet to work with a non-120 volt clothes iron, whereas a more lightweight and cheaper power adapter (or plug adapter) will change the shape of the plug on your clothes iron to fit into a power outlet found in Costa Rica.

How to use a clothes iron in Costa Rica using a type B power adapter

How to use a clothes iron in Costa Rica by using a three pin Type B power charger.

  1. Check that the iron is either a dual voltage travel iron [2] or is compatible with a 120 volt power supply but if it doesn't then do not proceed because you might create an electrical fire hazard, damage your iron or blow a fuse. Before using a dual voltage travel iron which can toggle between different voltages make sure you have set it to accept 120 volts for use in Costa Rica, please consult the instructions to find out where the switch is located.
  2. You will need to use a Type B plug adapter [4] if the shape of the power outlet used in Costa Rica isn't the same shape as the plug of your clothes iron. This Type B plug adapter is designed to fit plugs on appliances from other countries for a power outlet in Costa Rica by changing the shape of the plug, however the adapter doesn't change the voltage of the clothes iron to work with a 120 volt supply.
  3. Firstly you'll need to insert the Type B plug adapter into the Costa Rican power outlet. You can identify this plug outlet by 2 thin slots where the twin plug outlet blades go with a semicircle shaped hole below for the long earthed pin.
  4. Plug in the clothes iron into the Type B plug adapter.
  5. Turn on the Costa Rican power outlet. Your clothes iron can now be used in Costa Rica.
How to use a clothes iron in Costa Rica using a type B power adapter

How to use a clothes iron in Costa Rica using a type A power adapter

Learn how to power your clothes iron in Costa Rica with a Type A travel adapter.

  1. Check that the iron is either a dual voltage travel iron [2] or is compatible with a 120 volt power supply; if it doesn't then do not proceed because you might create an electrical fire hazard, damage your iron or blow a fuse. Before using a travel iron which can toggle between different voltages make sure you have set it to the 120 volt setting for use in Costa Rica - please consult the instructions to find out where the switch is located.
  2. These instructions assume that you're not already using a clothes iron with a Type A plug - if it does then you won't need a power adapter (but you will still need to check that your clothes iron will work with a 120 volt power outlet). You'll need to use a Type A plug adapter [6] if the type of plug on your clothes iron isn't the same type of power outlet used in Costa Rica. This Type A plug adapter helps convert plugs from other countries into an electrical outlet found in Costa Rica simply by changing the shape of the plug, however it doesn't change the frequency or voltage of the clothes iron to work with a 120 volt outlet.
  3. Plug in the Type A plug adapter in the Costa Rican power outlet. The wall supply, technically known as the Type A power outlet [5], is identified by two thin slots.
  4. Next plug in your clothes iron into the Type A plug adapter.
  5. Switch on the Costa Rican power outlet.
  6. You can now switch on the iron in Costa Rica.
How to use a clothes iron in Costa Rica using a type A power adapter

See also

  1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Costa_Rica - Costa Rica Wikipedia web page
  2. https://www.amazon.ca/Small-Mini-Iron-Non-Stick-Extra-Long/dp/B01AK9ZUGO/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&qid=1522355912&sr=8-2&keywords=dual+voltage+travel+iron&linkCode=ll1&tag=wikiconnectio-20&linkId=b9157d6e47f5a14e0199e66bbd8bb15e - dual voltage travel iron
  3. http://www.iec.ch/worldplugs/typeB.htm - Type B power outlet
  4. Type B plug adapter - Allows appliances to connect to Type B power outlets without converting voltage
  5. http://www.iec.ch/worldplugs/typeA.htm - Type A power outlet
  6. Type A plug adapter - Allows appliances to connect to Type A power outlets without converting voltage
  7. Power converter - A step up step down power converter converts 110-120 volts up to 220-240 volts and 220-240 volts down to 110-120 Volts
  8. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mains_electricity_by_country - WikiPedia - Mains electricity by country
  9. http://www.iec.ch/worldplugs/list_bylocation.htm - IEC World Plugs by location
  10. https://apps.tsa.dhs.gov/mytsa/cib_results.aspx?search=clothes%20iron - TSA guidelines for clothes irons
  11. Hard carry on luggage - Example of hard cases, suitcases and luggage suitable for airline carry on.