Which plug adapter do I need for using a curling iron in Costa Rica?

Costa Rican power outlet

Summary

First check that your curling iron can handle the voltage in Costa Rica:

If not then:

  • Use a dual voltage travel curling iron [2] - you may still need a power adapter for Costa Rica however these cheap lightweight accessories are designed specifically for travel.
  • Use a power converter [7] (or voltage transformer) - you can then use your existing curling iron and other applicances with a 120 volt Costa Rican power outlet, however this is substantially heavier, bulkier and more expensive than a dedicated travel curling iron. A voltage transformer will change the voltage but not the actual physical shape of the plug on your curling iron to fit in the types of wall outlet used in Costa Rica, so please check that your power converter [7] comes with the right power adapter for Costa Rica otherwise you will still need to bring another power adapter. Also worth noting that your personal curling iron might not be suited for travel and you risk potential damage in transit.

Warning: If your curling iron won't handle the 120 volts used in Costa Rica you run the potential risk of an electrical fire hazard, a blown fuse or damage to your curling iron. Before attempting to use your curling iron in Costa Rica read the instruction manual to ensure safe operation.

Using a curling iron in Costa Rica

Will my curling iron work in Costa Rica?

This will depend on if your curling iron can operate using the 120 volt power outlets in Costa Rica:

Will my American curling iron work in Costa Rica?

The guides on this page assume that you are a reader from America visiting Costa Rica and will provide guidance for using your US curling iron with a Costa Rican power outlet.

Costa Rica power outlets and plug sockets

What electrical frequency is used with a Costa Rican power outlet?

The frequency from a Costa Rican power outlet is 60 Hz.

What is the mains voltage in Costa Rica?

The standard residential voltage used in Costa Rica is 120 volts.

Which plug adapter do you need to use a curling iron in Costa Rica?

Type A and B power outlets

Which plug adapter do you need to use a curling 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 - You can recognise this power outlet by 2 slots next to each other where the two blades slide into.
  • Plug Type B - The power outlet (called a type B power outlet) can be identified by two thin slots with a hole below for the earthed pin.

A Type B plug adapter [4] allows you to use a 120 volt curling iron in Costa Rica, read the simple instructions below for full details of how to use a plug adapter for Costa Rica. Note that unless you that have a dual voltage curling iron you might also need to bring a voltage converter.

Dual voltage curling irons

Is my curling iron dual voltage?

The way to tell if your curling iron will handle a dual voltage outlet is to look for either a sticker or numbers printed on the plug or handle. The location might depend on the make and model of your curling iron, it should also be written on the box or in the instruction manual. Some dual voltage curling irons can change automatically but other models will have a switch which allows you to operate between different regions.

  • Single voltage could 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 curling 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 curling iron then you should be able to use it in Costa Rica.
  • Dual voltage will say a large voltage range separated with a slash - such as 100/240V. Your curling 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 curling iron

Can curling irons go in hand luggage to Costa Rica?

According to the TSA guidelines for curling irons [10] there are no restrictions when carrying a mains powered curling iron in your carry on luggage through airport security in the United States. The TSA also recommends that you should verify that the airline that is flying you to Costa Rica will allow curling irons onboard and that it will fit in the overhead bin or underneath the seat of the airplane. Packing the curling irons in a dedicated heat resistant protective hot tools travel case [11] leaves it easily accessible by airport security checks, it can be packed away quickly avoiding a tangle of cables in your carry on luggage (the TSA suggests wrapping cables tightly around curling irons). If you do intend to bring fragile or expensive curling irons in your hand held luggage then it is advisable to use hard carry on luggage [12] as this provides the greatest protection against knocks and drops during transit.

Is it safer to bring your domestic curling iron or dual voltage curling iron to Costa Rica?

Packing a dual voltage travel curling iron is preferable to packing your existing curling iron as it is safer to assume that it will work with the 120 volt power outlets used with a Costa Rican power outlet, as long as you use the correct power adapter for Costa Rica. Note that bringing expensive domestic curling iron could place it at risk because of potential damage or loss in transit by airline baggage handlers in Costa Rica. The cost and inconvenience involved in repairing an expensive quality domestic curling iron in Costa Rica could be more than purchasing a cheap dual voltage travel curling iron [2] . If you intend to pack your own personal curling iron in your luggage it is recommended to either slot it inside a sneaker or boot to protect from light damage, alternatively use a heat resistant and shockproof hot tools travel case [11] which also allows the curling iron to be packed whilst hot without risk of burning.

Power converters for Costa Rica

What is the difference between a power adapter and a power converter?

Voltage converter

What is the difference between a power adapter and a power converter?

A cheap, small and lightweight power adapter (or plug adapter) will change the shape of the plug on your curling iron to slot into a power outlet in Costa Rica, whereas a heavy and bulkier power converter [7] transforms a 120 volt Costa Rican power outlet to work with a non-120 volt curling iron.

Will a voltage converter work with a curling iron in Costa Rica?

A suitable power converter [7] (or voltage transformer) allows your curling iron using a different voltage to operate with the 120 volt power outlet used in Costa Rica. Travellers who want to use their own domestic curling iron can use a power converter, however it can be more costly to purchase a power converter than it is to purchase a dedicated dual voltage travel curling iron [2]. Also worth noting, a power converter is considerably heavier and bulkier than a travel curling iron making a power converter less suited for packing in luggage compared to a travel curling iron.

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

Instructions showing how to power a curling iron in Costa Rica by using a 3 pinned Type B power charger.

  1. Ensure that your curling iron is either a dual voltage travel curling iron [2] or can work with a 120 volt power outlet but if not then don't attempt these instructions because you might create an electrical fire hazard, blow a fuse or damage your iron. Dual voltage curling irons usually have a switch to toggle between voltages, before operating the iron make sure you have set it to accept 120 volts - please consult the user guide for more information on where this switch is located.
  2. If the shape of the power outlet used in Costa Rica isn't the same shape as the plug shape on your curling iron you'll need to use a Type B plug adapter [4]. The Type B plug adapter is designed to adapt different plugs from other countries into a power outlet found in Costa Rica by changing the shape of the plug, but it doesn't change the frequency or voltage of the curling iron to work with a 120 volt supply.
  3. Plug in the Type B plug adapter in the wall outlet. This wall supply, sometimes called a Type B power outlet [3], is recognised by the two slots next to each other with a single semicircle shaped hole below for the slightly longer earthed pin.
  4. Plug in your curling iron into the Type B plug adapter.
  5. Switch on the Costa Rican power outlet.
  6. The curling iron can now be used in Costa Rica.
How to use a curling iron in Costa Rica using a type B power adapter

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

How to use your curling iron in Costa Rica by using a 2 bladed Type A travel adapter.

  1. Ensure that your curling iron is either a dual voltage travel curling iron [2] or can work with a 120 volt power outlet but if not then don't proceed because you might create an electrical fire hazard, blow a fuse or damage your iron. Before using a travel curling iron which can toggle between different voltages make sure you have set it to accept 120 volts - please consult the owners manual to find out where this switch is found.
  2. Please check that you don't already own a curling 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 curling iron will work with a 120 volt power supply). So, if the plug on your curling iron isn't the same shape as the outlet used in Costa Rica you'll need to buy a Type A plug adapter [6]. The Type A plug adapter will help fit plugs on appliances from other countries for use with an electrical outlet in Costa Rica by changing the shape of the plug, but it doesn't change the frequency or voltage of the curling iron to work with a 120 volt supply.
  3. Start by inserting the Type A plug adapter in the wall outlet. You can recognise the power supply by 2 slots parallel to each other where the two blades sit.
  4. Next plug in the curling iron into the Type A plug adapter.
  5. Turn on the Costa Rican power outlet.
  6. You can now switch on your curling iron to use in Costa Rica.
How to use a curling iron in Costa Rica using a type A power adapter

See also

  1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Costa_Rica - Costa Rica country page on wikipedia.org
  2. https://www.amazon.com/Travel-Smart-Conair-Ceramic-Curling/dp/B002WQ93F8/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&qid=1484157133&sr=8-3&keywords=dual+voltage+curling+iron&linkCode=ll1&tag=wikiconnections-20&linkId=9539dbabb2cd76a0541c75b1e59576ba - dual voltage travel curling 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=curling%20iron - TSA guidelines for curling irons
  11. Hard case for hot tools - Hard case designed for storing and protecting a flat irons, curling irons and hair straighteners.
  12. Hard carry on luggage - Example of hard cases, suitcases and luggage suitable for airline carry on.