Which plug adapter will I need when using a clothes iron in America?

American power outlet

Summary

First check your clothes iron can work in America:

  • If your clothes iron can run using 120 volts or can support dual voltage (how to check) then you'll only need to use a suitable power adapter listed on this page if the plug on your clothes iron will not fit.

If not then:

  • Use a dual voltage travel iron [2] - you may still need to use a power adapter for America but these cheap lightweight accessories are designed specifically for the rigors of travel.
  • Use a power converter [7] (or voltage transformer) - you can then use your existing clothes iron and other applicances with an 120 volt American power outlet, however this is significantly bulkier, heavier and more expensive than a dedicated travel clothes iron. A voltage transformer will change the voltage but won't change the actual physical shape of the plug on your clothes iron to fit in the wall outlet used in America, therefore please check that your voltage transformer has the correct power adapter for America otherwise you will still need to purchase another power adapter. Be aware that your existing clothes iron might not be suitable for travel and you could risk potential damage in transit.

Warning: If your clothes iron won't handle 120 volts used in America you run the potential risk of a blown fuse, damage to your clothes iron or even an electrical fire hazard. Prior to using your clothes iron in America please check the instruction manual to ensure safe operation.

Using a clothes iron in America

Can I use my US clothes iron in America?

The instructions on this page assume that you are an America reader visiting America and provide guidance for using your US clothes iron with an American power outlet.

Will my clothes iron work in America?

That will depend on if your clothes iron can handle the 120 volts used in America. If you're using either a dual voltage clothes iron or your clothes iron can handle 120 volts and you have the correct plug adapter then you'll be able to use your clothes iron in America. If not then then you will need to consider bringing either a power converter [7] or a dual voltage travel iron [2], read our guide on can you use a power converter with your domestic clothes iron in America for help deciding which option is more suitable.

America power outlets and plug sockets

What is the mains voltage in America?

Power outlets in America are 120 volts.

What electrical frequency is used in America?

The frequency of the alternating current from an American power outlet is 60 Hz.

Which plug adapter will you need to bring to use a clothes iron in America?

Type A and B power outlets

Which plug adapter will you need to bring to use a clothes iron in America?

There are two different types of power outlets used in America, these are type B and A with the primary power outlets being type B:

  • Plug Type A - The wall socket (technically called the type A power outlet) is identified by the 2 thin adjacent slots next to each other where the twin plug socket blades go.
  • Plug Type B - The wall socket (technically called a type B power outlet) is identified by the 2 thin slots next to each other for live and neutral blades with a single hole below for the earthed pin.

A growing number of hotels in America are upgrading their power outlets to include built in USB charging ports.

Dual voltage travel irons

Is my clothes iron dual voltage?

One method to tell if your clothes iron supports dual voltage is to look for either a sticker or numbers printed on the base, handle or the plug. This location might vary depending on the make and model of your clothes iron and could also be written on the box. Some dual voltage models will change automatically, however other models will feature a button which allows you to toggle between different voltage ranges depending on which country you are in.

  • A specific number such as 110V indicates a single voltage clothes iron. If this number matches the 120 volts used in America then you should be able to use your clothes iron with an American power outlet.
  • A small voltage range with a dash such as 100-120V also indicates a single voltage clothes iron which can accomodate small voltage fluctuations. If the 120 volts used in an American power outlet falls within the range shown on your clothes iron then you should be able to use it in America.
  • A large voltage range separated with a slash such as 100/240V indicates a dual voltage clothes iron capable of being used in America or any other country.

Travelling to America with a clothes iron

Can I carry on a clothes iron to America?

According to the TSA guidelines for clothes irons [10] there are no restrictions when bringing a mains powered clothes iron in your carry on luggage through airport security in the US. The TSA recommends that you should check that the airline that is taking you to America will allow a clothes iron onboard and that it will fit in the overhead bin or underneath the seat of the airplane. The TSA also suggests wrapping wires tightly around electric items such as clothes irons.

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

Power converters for America

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

Voltage converter

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

A lightweight, cheap and small power adapter (or plug adapter) will change the shape of the plug on your clothes iron to slot into a power outlet in America, but a heavy and bulkier power converter [7] converts the voltage of 120 volts from an American power outlet to work with a non-120 volt clothes iron.

Can I use a power converter with my normal clothes iron in America?

A voltage transformer [7] (or power converter) will allow your clothes iron using a different voltage to work with the 120 volt power outlet used in America. A power converter is more suited for travellers wishing to use their existing domestic clothes iron, however it might be cheaper to purchase a dedicated dual voltage travel iron [2] than it is to purchase a power converter. A power converter is also significantly bulkier than a travel clothes iron making a power converter less suitable for packing in luggage.

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

How to use a clothes iron in America using a three pronged Type B travel charger.

  1. Please check that your iron is either a dual voltage travel iron [2] or works with a 120 volt power supply; but if not then do not proceed because you could damage your iron, blow a fuse or create an electrical fire hazard. Some travel irons might typically have a switch to toggle between voltages, before operating the iron ensure you have set it to the 120 volt setting; please consult the owners manual to find out how to do this.
  2. If the plug on your clothes iron isn't the same shape as the outlet which is used in America you will need to buy a Type B plug adapter [4]. The Type B plug adapter will fit different plugs on appliances from other countries into an electrical outlet used in America by changing the shape of the plug, however the adapter doesn't change the frequency or voltage of your clothes iron to work with a 120 volt supply.
  3. Plug the Type B plug adapter into the power outlet. You can identify the wall outlet by the two slots for live and neutral blades with a semicircle hole below for the slightly long ground pin.
  4. Plug in the clothes iron into the Type B plug adapter.
  5. Switch on the American power outlet. You can now switch on the iron for use in America.
How to use a clothes iron in America using a type B power adapter

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

Instructions showing how to use a clothes iron in America with a Type A travel charger.

  1. Please check that the iron is either a dual voltage travel iron [2] or can work with a 120 volt power supply; but if not then do not attempt these instructions because you could damage your iron, blow a fuse or create an electrical fire hazard. Some irons might typically have a switch to toggle between voltages, before operating the iron ensure you have set it to the 120 volt setting; please consult the owners manual for more details on how to do this.
  2. These instructions assume that you are 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 can work with a 120 volt power outlet). So, if the plug on your clothes iron isn't the same type of outlet used in America you will need to use a Type A plug adapter [6]. This Type A plug adapter will adapt plugs from other countries for use in a power outlet found in America by changing the shape of the plug, however it doesn't change the voltage of your clothes iron to work with a 120 volt supply.
  3. Start by plugging the Type A plug adapter into the power outlet. The power supply (sometimes called the Type A power outlet [5]) is recognised by two slots for live and neutral blades.
  4. Plug in your clothes iron into the Type A plug adapter.
  5. Turn on the American power outlet.
  6. You can now turn on the iron to use in America.
How to use a clothes iron in America using a type A power adapter

See also

  1. https://www.visittheusa.co.uk/ - Visit The USA
  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.