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Electricity in Ireland

It is important to note that the power supply in Ireland and the UK (which includes Northern Ireland) is quite different from that in the USA and that the plugs and sockets used are different from those in both the USA and the rest of Europe.

Electricity Supply Information

Voltage Frequency Plug/Socket
Ireland & UK 230v 50hz 3 square pins
Most of Europe 230v 50Hz 2 round pins
USA 120v 60hz 2 prongs

About Voltage & Frequency

Why does all of this matter? Well, primarily because connecting things to a socket with a different power supply can cause equipment to burn out!

Electrical equipment is designed to be used at a specific Voltage (measured in volts) and Frequency (measured in Hertz), which will be mentioned on a name plate attached to all electrical items.

What happens if……

  1. ……you connect 120 Volt equipment to a 230 Volt supply:
    The current delivered to the equipment will go up almost 100% and the result will be dangerous, hot and catastrophic for the equipment – pretty much instant burnout.
  2. ……you connect 60 Hertz equipment to a 50 Hertz supply:
    The current goes up too, because the cycle is shorter, but not so dramatically – by about 17%. Most equipment can deal with this for a short time so it may not appear to cause any immediate problems, but it will lead to a slow burnout of equipment in the long term.

Another effect of using 60hz equipment on a 50hz supply is that it will run more slowly. Anything with a timer, such as a clock radio, will lose 10 minutes an hour – not good if you are relying on it to wake you up in the morning!

Electrical Adaptors, Converters or Transformers?

If you are bringing electrical equipment from the USA to Ireland you will need one or other of these, and because figuring out which you need can be so confusing, we will look at each in turn.

Plug Adaptors

Plug adaptors do not change the electricity supplied to equipment, they simply allow it to be plugged in to a different type of wall socket or outlet.

Choose an adaptor if:

The equipment you are using supports dual voltage and dual frequency. If it does then a plate on the equipment will state something like “120/240v, 50/60Hz”.

Most laptop computer and battery chargers are dual voltage, so all you will need to use them with a different supply is a plug adaptor.

Power or Voltage Converters

Power converters step down the voltage from 240V to 120V, allowing equipment which is not dual voltage to operate at the voltage for which it was designed. Converters do not alter the frequency at which electicity is delivered and they are not designed for continuous use, 1-2 hours at a time is the maximum advisable.

Choose a converter if:

You wish to use common electrical equipment which is not dual voltage, such as hairdryers, irons, fans etc.

All hotels and most other accommodation in Ireland will have a two-pin 110V to 120V plug for shavers in the bathroom, which will accept an American style plug and allows 120v shavers to run safely, so if a shaver is all you are bringing you need no additional equipment.

Power Transformers

Sometimes also called ‘step up, step down’ converters. Power transformers will step down the voltage and they are specifically designed to be used with electronic equipment, that is equipment which is powered by a chip or a circuit rather than a mechanical motor. They alter the voltage of electricity reaching such equipment to a safe level and can be used continuously, or at least for much longer periods than a power converter.

However transformers are heavy and can be expensive and are overkill unless absolutely required. They are not suitable for use with non-electronic equipment.

Choose a transformer if:

You wish to make extensive use of electronic equipment such as a DVD player, a computer or printer or a television that does not support dual voltage.

Note that transformers and converters only change the voltage supplied to equipment, they do not alter the frequency of the electrical supply. Thus long term use of equipment with either a converter or a transformer may damage it.

Images of adapters and converters courtesy of 220converter.com – I know nothing about this company, but they appear to have an excellent and well priced range of equipment and deliver internationally.


What Others Say

  1. Megan Apr 9, 2008 at 3:24 am

    This page has been the clearest and simplest answer I have found anywhere. Thank you for the great information!

    • Paul Jan 2, 2013 at 12:15 pm

      There is an inaccuracy or at keast confusing statement in the part about frequency.

      50Hz has a longer, not shorter cycle time than 60 Hz. 50Hz = 1/50th second = 20 milliseconds, 60 Hz = 1/60th second – 16.7 mS. Because the RMS (average) voltage is the same over the cycle it would be rare for an appliance to be be damaged by using the correct voltage but wrong frequency. Some appliances use mains frequency for timing (over a long period it can be very accurate) but many will use quartz and therefore be independent of the mains frequency.

  2. Richard Jun 3, 2008 at 3:24 am

    I agree with Megan. Clearest, most concise description of elecrticity differences related to voltage and frequency. A+

  3. Linda Jun 18, 2008 at 3:25 am

    I also agree – finally an easy-to-understand explanation of what is needed to be able to use American electrical equipment in Ireland. Thank you so much!

  4. Jim Jul 27, 2008 at 3:26 am

    Yeah. Thanks for clearing up my adaptor problem. The info was very helpful.

  5. Maggie Aug 8, 2008 at 3:27 am

    Such a clear description was greatly appreciated!

  6. damien Nov 17, 2008 at 3:26 am

    Well done. Excellent and clearly explained

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  8. Diane Jan 15, 2009 at 6:26 pm

    My only question is if someone is using a C-Pap machine in Ireland it sounds as if it may be damaged in some way no matter what they use.  It says long term.  Does that mean if they sleep 8 hours a night for 10 nights it is likely they will receive “some” damage to the machine?

    • Katherine Jan 15, 2009 at 7:09 pm

      I had to look up what a C-Pap machine was. I really think that with something as specialist and important as that you’d need to be getting individual advice from somebody qualified. I assume that the makers or suppliers of the machine would be the place to start looking for such a person.

  9. Traveler Jan 17, 2009 at 10:02 pm

    What should one use for a phone charger and camera-battery charger?

  10. keivn jenkins Feb 1, 2009 at 3:16 pm

    We are attempting to bring our radio cooking show to Ireland for St. Patrick’s Festival we have a mackie mixing board, shure wireless microphones and a speaker system all US electronics.
    What will we need to bring them over to Ireland to use?   We currently plug everyting into one power strip and then into the wall….could we do the same in Ireland?
    Thank you for any assistance.  We would be recording 4 1 hour shows.


  11. Danny Mar 3, 2009 at 3:28 pm

    RE: C-PAP machines.
    I’ve used mine with the appropriate converter in Russia, Holland, Ukraine, Italy, German……..  with NO problems.  Going to Ireland this May and would anticipate no problems there either.

    • Tom Jun 17, 2011 at 11:30 pm

      What type of plug or converter will you be using in Ireland?

  12. Michael Mar 6, 2009 at 2:44 pm

    I’ve searched tons of articles… this was exactly what I was looking for.  Perfect!

  13. Nancy Mar 10, 2009 at 4:52 am

    I think it is very clear. I wish you had pictures of each type of adapter/converter etc.
    I also wondered about using a power strip/US electronics with one of the above converters for electronics. (computer, cell phone, etc)
    What do others think?

    • Kathy May 19, 2012 at 4:33 pm

      Can I use a power strip with a transformer to be able to plug in all of our electronics? Need an answer soon as we are leaving in two days.

  14. dawn prieur Mar 15, 2009 at 6:04 pm

    do i need a converter adapter for a phone charger, mp3 charger and a camera charger?

  15. Steve H Apr 11, 2010 at 10:23 pm

    Very helpful.  Looking forward to our visit in Ireland this summer

  16. DD Jul 7, 2010 at 2:09 pm

    Excellent, clear info!  I am learning that the “plate” on the US equipment or the equipment’s user manual specifications will help you understand if you need a converter and adapter OR if you can plug directly into foreign outlet with appropiate country adapter only. As explained, some US equip is dual voltage and can be used in foreign country with only an adapter.

  17. Dan Jul 18, 2010 at 10:02 pm

    Very well explained, leaving for Dublin in less than 2 weeks, NOW I know what I need!

  18. Geo Aug 6, 2010 at 2:58 am

    Good Day,
    thanks for the wonderful info! I was wondering . . .  I bought a converter which has a usa three prong as well as usb input holes.  What is I plug a usb device into the converter/adapter and the device does not need to be converted? Will I do damage or is a good way to go if I am not sure if the device needs a converter?  The droid and the kindle are the devices I have which i am not sure about . . .

  19. Toddy Aug 10, 2010 at 8:01 pm

    perfect answer to a question i had and then informed me even more nice work publisher 5*

  20. carl Nov 10, 2010 at 9:38 am

    Quick question – I am looking at bringing in lawn lights from the USA  that use 110 VAC Line Voltage. In ireland we use 230 – so what would be the best (adaptor, converters or transformer) to use to step down the power so that I can light up the house at christmas?
    Many thanks for advice. I dont want to buy and then blow them within a minute of using them.

    • Katherine Nov 11, 2010 at 9:22 pm

      You’ll need a converter. However do bear in mind that even in that case you are not altering the frequency of the supply, so it would not be a good idea to keep the lights on for too long at a time.

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  22. Ceejay Jan 6, 2011 at 4:42 pm

    I found this information most helpful. I am going to Ireland so i needed to know exactly how the electricity worked over there. Thanks for the great advice you have made my day :) .

  23. Yvonne Jan 24, 2011 at 9:45 am

    Echoing the comments above – thouroughly excellent explanation & the best I came across on the internet.
    I’ve got a US 120volt food mixer that I’d like to use here in Ireland, so from reading above I understand that it is a power transformer I would need.  Do you have any ideas where these are sold and what sort of money I would pay for them?  Also, are these transformers simply pluged in or do I need an electrician to rewire my food mixer to the transformer unit?
    Hope you can help & thanks in advance :)

  24. Mikey Mar 4, 2011 at 9:26 pm

    Thanks for the great information on power supplies on USA vs Ireland!!

  25. Danny Mar 7, 2011 at 9:15 pm

    I’m looking to run a lionel electric train set in Ireland which we bought in the USA.  Do you know if a converter would be enough or if a transformer would be better?  Is there any equipment which will change the frequency as well?  Thanks!

    • admin Mar 12, 2011 at 9:14 pm

      Check whether or not it is dual voltage and a plug adapter will suffice. I really don’t know that there is anything that will alter the frequency.

  26. Tobes Mar 21, 2011 at 4:56 am

    Don’t see an answer to the question above about cell phones. I have a Droid that plugs directly into a US outlet (no transformer). Will I need to take a transformer to keep it charged? Or could I use the U.S. shaver outlet, if available? Thanks.

    • admin Mar 29, 2011 at 9:12 pm

      Do NOT use the socket in the hotel bathroom for anything other than a shaver. It is not safe. I would imagine it’s dual voltage and an adapter is all you need.

  27. Wendy Apr 15, 2011 at 11:37 am

    Very helpful, want to take my Sony eReader with me to Ireland.  So if I understand this, I can charge my reader in the hotel bathroom if they have the 110v to 120v american style plug without worring that my reader will be fried – correct?  Otherwise, I need a converter and plug?

    • admin Apr 16, 2011 at 9:11 pm

      Do NOT use the socket in the hotel bathroom for anything other than a shaver. It is not safe. Chances are your Sony Reader is dual voltage, and all you will need is an adapter. This is electronic equipment so an ordinary converter would not be the right choice – if it isn’t dual voltage, you’d need a transformer, but I’d be very surprised if it is not.

  28. Sarah Apr 15, 2011 at 11:37 pm

    Thanks so much for this info! I have checked all my pertinent gadgets (which are plentiful!) and every plug has the 120-240V and 50-60Hz so it looks like I only need the adapter. Now I have to locate one of those. :-)

    Thanks again!!!

  29. tia Apr 17, 2011 at 11:28 pm

    Im wondering if I cut the usa plug off and re-wire the usa appllicance to an three pin plug would the applicance work in Ireland, or would it lose some of the power?

    • admin Apr 19, 2011 at 12:55 pm

      Not a good plan unless the appliance is dual voltage. It is is dual voltage, that will work. If not, it will fry.

  30. fintan brady May 1, 2011 at 11:04 am

    thanks so much for the clarity and the comprehensivness of your article on power supply….basically, if i understand you correctly, buying electrical equipment with u.s. power supply for use in ireland on a long term basis is not a good idea

    • Katherine May 2, 2011 at 6:29 pm

      That depends. If it is dual voltage, then it will be fine. If not, then better not.

  31. Emily May 2, 2011 at 10:33 pm

    I am traveling to Ireland this summer and am in charge of the hair for a bridal party. I will need to bring at least 3 different curling irons. I have been to a couple travel stores in the U.S. and none of them seem to be able to help with my questions. Do I need to buy an adapter AND a converter? I will probably have to bring a power strip or surge protector to have several things plugged in at once, so would a transformer be better? Any suggestions would help. Thanks!

  32. Mark May 15, 2011 at 4:40 pm

    Hi. I bought tools online from the US but i have a situation. i need a transformer and have not a clue where to buy one. Im trying to improvise, so would a lead and plug from an old lap-top with a coverter built in work if i snipped it and connected it to my new makita charger? thanks 

  33. Beth Morris May 17, 2011 at 7:23 pm

    You mention the hotel outlets for shavers.  You may want to add that high-wattage items like blow dryers should not be plugged into the shaver outlet.  Sometimes it is better to be specific about what not to do.

  34. Gayle O'Brien May 18, 2011 at 1:10 pm

    I need to know what kind of adapter I need for my camera and phone.  Thanks

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  36. Alan Weinstein Jun 4, 2011 at 5:13 pm

    Congratulations on the finest, most concise discussion of power and power conversion equipment I’ve ever seen.  The article was well organized, clear, basic yet complete.

    Thanks to whoever put it together from both me and any future readers.

  37. Marton Moshe Andre Jul 14, 2011 at 5:43 am

    I was in Australia and used a “SHAD” masterplug adaptor , KM56507 , 250 a.c. BS1363/3 , with 3 rectangular prongs , one ( vertical ) prong is plastic ( I do not know what is under the permanent cover) and the other ( horizontal) 2 are copper ( or so it seems ) . Is this adaptor o.k. for Ireland ?

    • Katherine Jul 14, 2011 at 7:33 am

      Australian plugs are quite different to ours. The prongs are flatter and the two lower ones are at an oblique angle. So no good for Ireland I’m afraid.

  38. apol Jul 19, 2011 at 4:53 am

    what will happen if you plug a 50Hz lighting fixture to a 60Hz supply? considering both are 220-230V. thanks.

  39. Alanis Jul 26, 2011 at 7:29 pm

    Thanks, I now know I can take me hairdryer, straightners and laptop to Ireland and be fine :D

    • boyce barnette Apr 17, 2012 at 2:20 pm

      Will I be able to charge my digital camera in the electric shaver outlet in the hotel bathrooms?  Most of the hotels advertise outlets for electric shavers 120 V.   BAB 

  40. Andy Apr 9, 2012 at 10:30 am

    So, if i am relocating permanently, should I go ahead and get a transformer for thins like my ipad, macbook, camera charger?  Or, will the adapter work longterm as well?  Im also finding that the adapter does not allow these devices to hold a charge very long.  Is there a solution to that?

  41. myles finnegan Apr 23, 2012 at 10:33 am

    hi, i need to know, i have an alarm, clock from united states it says on back its 120v 60 herts, can anyone tell me what i need to get to work this in ireland, its a small radio flip alarm clock.

  42. Joe Gilmore Jun 26, 2012 at 12:41 am

     i am going over to Ireland, Nov 7th to nov 14th. I was told to buy electrical adapters for Ireland . I have a Nikon camera w/adapter but was told to buy a set of 4 adapters packge which i did. the following is the ratings on the adapters i bought
    adapters rating that was on the plug adapters 110-120Vac. 2.5A
    My camera come with adapter rates states 100-240V~50/60HZ

  43. neil Jul 3, 2012 at 6:32 pm

    i have just moved back Ireland from Canada for a year and brought with me a dj mixer that has 120v / 60Hz but has three prongs. I assume i would need a transformer to run this here? 
    Would i be able to use it over longer periods of time than 1- 2 hours?

    Any help on this would be much appreciated.


  44. Grant Jan 3, 2013 at 10:18 pm

    Thank you for writing “Electricity in Ireland”. I actuallymight really wind up being back
    for even more browsing and writing comments shortly.

    Thanks, Adan

  45. Karen Potter Feb 13, 2013 at 3:14 am

    I think I am more confused after reading the comments. For straighteners I need a converter, for  iPhones and cameras I need an adaptor? Correct? We will have two separate rooms for 12 lovely days, so I don’t want to purchase more than necessary due to having to duplicate everything. Any help is greatly appreciated. 

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