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Country Snapshot: Electrical Overview

Electric Current

Electricity is supplied in India at 230 volts AC, 50 Hertz (Hz). 

Electric Plug

Electric plugs in India are of three types: “Type C” Europlug CEE 7/16, “Type D” Indian BS-546, and "Type M" South African SABS-1661.

The Type C plug is known as the Europlug and is the most universally-used plug in the world, largely because it can be used with a number of different sockets. It is used in most continental European countries, some Middle Eastern countries, and many African, South American, and Asian countries. It is a narrow-headed two-wire plug with two round pins spaced horizontally from each other, with no grounding pin. See the illustration at right. Type C plugs are generally limited to devices and appliances that require 2.5 amps or less.

The Type D plug is used primarily in India and some African, Middle Eastern, and Southeast Asian countries. It is a five-amp plug with three round prongs in the shape of a triangle, used as the British standard before 1947. Note that while a Type C Europlug may fit into some Type D wall outlets, the Europlug’s pins may not make proper contact in the outlet, causing it to spark. It is therefore best to use a plug adapter on a Type C plug even if it appears to fit in the Type D outlet.

The Type M plug is used primarily in southern African countries and a few Southeast Asian countries. It is a 15-amp grounded plug with three round prongs in the shape of a triangle. Note that while the plug design resembles a Type D plug, the prongs of a Type M plug are much larger, and therefore the plugs generally cannot be used interchangeably.

Electric Plug Adapter

If your electronic device or appliance does not use a Type C, Type D, or Type M plug, you may need an electric plug adapter. Plug adapters are available both online and in stores from travel companies, drugstores, and big-box stores. Note that an adapter allows a foreign device to plug into an Indian outlet, but it does not change the electric voltage coming out of the Indian outlet. 

Using Home-country Appliances and Devices in India

The feasibility of using home-country electrical appliances and electronic devices in India depends on a number of factors, including the type of appliance or device and the voltage on which it operates.

Electrical Appliances

Electrical appliances are high-wattage items that use a mechanical motor or heating element (e.g., hair dryers, curling irons). If the appliance operates between 220–240 volts, 50 Hz, it may still require a plug adapter, but it will work in India without a voltage converter.

If the appliance operates between 110–120 volts, 60 Hz (as with appliances from most North and South American countries), it may require both an adapter and a voltage converter/transformer. The converter/transformer adjusts the power coming from the 230V outlet down so that the 120V appliance is not overloaded. You can purchase dual-voltage hair dryers and curling irons that work with multiple electric currents. See “Dual- or Multi-Voltage Devices” below.

Electronic Devices

Electronic devices are low-wattage items that use chips, circuits, or electronic motors (e.g., computers, printers, cell phones, and cameras). As with appliances, these devices may require use of a plug adapter. However, most of these devices run on dual- or multi-voltage chargers, which means they can operate using multiple electric currents. See “Dual- or Multi-Voltage Devices” below. If an electronic device is not dual- or multi-voltage and operates between 110–120 volts, it will require a transformer to adjust the power coming from a 220–240V outlet.

Dual- or Multi-Voltage Devices

Many electronic devices like cell phones, cameras, and computers have multi- or dual-voltage chargers that can operate on 100V current, 240V current, or something in between. Whether it is or dual- or multi-voltage will be indicated on the device’s power label. Dual-voltage is symbolized by a slash between the numbers, 120V/240V, meaning it will operate on either of the two specific voltages. Multi-voltage is symbolized by a dash between the numbers, 100V–240V, meaning it will operate on any voltage between 100V and 240V.

If an electronic device is either dual- or multi-voltage, a voltage converter or transformer is not necessary (though a plug adaptor may still be).


Converters are used only for high-wattage electrical appliances with mechanical motors or heating elements (e.g., hair dryers and curling irons). Electrical appliances that require short-term or sporadic usage generally use converters.


Transformers are used for both high-wattage electrical appliances as well as low-wattage electronic devices that use electronic chips or circuits, such as computers and printers. Transformers are typically used for items requiring one or more hours of continual usage.