Voltage, frequency, plugs and sockets in Spain

You’ve got the power!

Voltage, frequency, plugs and sockets in Spain… too much to worry about? Not at all! The standard voltage in all of Spain is 220 V, the frequency is 50Hz and the power plug sockets are of type F. Will your electrical appliances work in Spain? Well, that depends. Let’s see this bit by bit below.

voltage frequency plugs and sockets in Spain
Photo by Rodolfo Clix on Pexels

Voltage in Spain

As in the other European countries, the standard voltage in Spain is 220V (220V-240V). Electric appliances that are dual voltage will work well; still, check what kind of dual voltage they are – do the convert automatically or do you have to flip a switch? I forgot to flip the switch to quite a few printers in my life, so I can speak from experience to what happens if you plug 110V into 220V: it burns, and a cascade of white smoke flows from it. Kind of beautiful, actually; and it smells a little like popcorn. Nevertheless, I wouldn’t recommend it.

If you have 110V appliances that you would like to bring to Spain, you’ll need a step-up voltage converter (voltage converters are also called transformers. Adapters are a different thing, for plugs, and we’ll talk about them later). Voltage converters consume power, are heavy, noisy and can fail, burning your device and maybe a fuse in the building. Not cool, right?

It is better to sell your 110V appliances and buy again in Spain – costs of moving. On the good side, you get to tell the moving company that the fridge, microwave, cooktop and such are not coming, lowering your estimate. Laptops, phones, computers and screens are usually automatically dual voltage. Check yours, of course; ours are, and we have in Spain the very same ones we had in the USA (which uses 110V).

If you are coming just for travel, don’t bring your 110V items, because they won’t work well anyway, and you would be risking burning them.

– Plug 110V device into 220V wall: the device (and maybe more) burns.
– Plug 220V device into 110V wall: the device just doesn’t work.

voltage frequency plugs and sockets in Spain
Picture by MD Molla on Pexels

Frequency in Spain

The frequency in Spain is 50Hz and frequency is something else, besides voltage, you must check on your devices. It is less harmful to plug something into the wrong frequency than into the wrong voltage, but you still would not want to bring to Spain a device that would not work properly, right?

If you are coming from a place that uses 60 Hz frequency (such as Brazil), the electric devices you bring to Spain will work here at a slower rotation speed than they were manufactured to work with. This means anything that spins, will spin more slowly. Clocks, even digital ones, included. Fans as well. Other small appliances will probably work, but perhaps a little less than they would with the correct frequency.

I also learned this one in practice, when I moved from Brazil (220V in my city, 60Hz) to Estonia (220V, 50Hz). I had a digital alarm clock that was soooo cute. I used it in Brazil and happily put it by my bed in Estonia, when my move arrived. The next day I woke up feeling refreshed, looked at my newly received old clock and was happy that I could still sleep more before going to work. So, I slept again. Woke up later and… I still could sleep more.

I thought it was odd and checked my phone: it was more than 11:00, I was more than late and still in bed. Moral: don’t trust clocks that use the wrong frequency. But now you have a new excuse under your belt if you oversleep! 😉

– Plug 60Hz device into 50Hz wall: the device works slowly.
– Plug 50Hz device into 60Hz wall: the device works too fast and may break from that.

Plugs and sockets in Spain

Plug is the part of your device that goes into the wall; socket is the hole in the wall. These differ enormously from country to country. Spain uses type F, that I show below.

Type F socket and plug from my home in Spain. Photo by MamaMalaga

Type F sockets also work with plug types C and E, which you can check here or here. If your voltage (main thing) and frequency are right but your plug is not, that is easy to solve. You can buy an adapter, also known as a travel adapter, plug adapter or power plug adapter. These do nothing but connect your device to the wall; they are like a jigsaw piece in between your device and the socket, fitting in both. An adapter does not convert neither voltage nor frequency; it just adapts.

I tried a complex and expensive adapter that I bought in an airplane once and that was meant to work everywhere in the world, but it broke the first time I used it. Then I got smart and bought several cheap small ones fit to my need to adapt stuff from type C (Brazil) to type A (USA). They worked wonderfully and because there were many adapters, each device had their own and we had some more to spare to our Brazilian guests. Good thing.

Now you know all you need to not burn your printer, get up on time and plug stuff on different kinds of sockets. You are in a better position to decide what to bring with you to Spain and what is better to sell before moving. Way to go, you’ve got the power!

Next: What to know when moving goods and pets to Spain

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