Meet the amazing China power outlet

By ian

Traveling abroad you’ll likely encounter many different outlets. While most of our stuff uses an adapter that will take any local power supply from 100volts to 240volts, the plug shapes are still different. Usually you buy a way over-priced adapter for a specific region before heading out.

Not in China! In Shenzhen most wall outlets and power strips use this amazing universal socket. It accepts US/Japan/China style blades, Australia’s slanty blades, European pins, UK/Hong Kong bulky crazy slugs, and probably some others. I like to think this evolved because appliances made by Chinese OEMs have whatever plug a foreign company ordered and the Chinese adopted this socket to accommodate the general randomness of the stuff available.

This particular outlet is in a “tower” power strip currently popular in Huaqiangbei. It also has 4 USB ports capable of 2.1A (so it claims…) for charging as well. A tower with 16 plugs ran me 60RMB (~$10USD).

P.S. Local voltage is 220AC/50Hz in Shenzhen, China.

Via Hacker Camp Shenzhen mini-site: Meet the amazing China power outlet

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14 Comments

    1. Such a nonsense – though luck trying this plug in any European country outside of Italy/San Marino/Vatikan city. There are some other Non-european countries though, that may still use those Type-L plugs and sockets. (For details you might check www . worldstandards . eu/electricity/plugs-and-sockets/)

  1. I’d *love* to see a tear-down video. I’m so accustomed to stories of shoddy Chinese electronics and flagrant safety issues in main-powered stuff that I’d like to see what the locals use at home.

  2. I’ve seen these on DX in a straight configuration. Certainly a lot bigger hole for kiddies to poke things into than our Aussie slanted slots. I have to wonder though, just how much contact area there is with this adaptor when used with an Aussie plug, being that it’s on an angle. The standard Power Point (GPO) in Aus is rated at 10A, 240V, so 2400W and that’s a lot to pull if the contact area on the plug is only contacting on the far points (which I suspect this would).

    1. The official China plug/socket form is actually virtually the same as AU/NZ – except rotated 180 degrees (earth pin on top, as opposed to AU/NZ which is earth on bottom as you know – but I’m not sure if the Active and Neutral are in the rotated positions or mirrored).

      Wikipedia says their pins are supposedly slightly narrower and longer, but I’d be surprised if AU/NZ plugs didn’t fit into most modern chinese sockets.

  3. I bought one of these a couple of years ago in China. The holes/connectors are not as tight as my other EU sockets. So adapters tend to fall out of them. I had to put some tape around it to make them stick.

  4. These sockets haven’t tight terminals (holes/connectors), so the adapters tend to move and make bad contacts. Furthermore, the metal they are made off are cheap alloys with low cuantity of coppor. Also many times the internal connections (when they exist) use thin cables unable o carry high currents. Not all adapters i bought there, in mainland (and in my country made in China) are so bad, but they most of them are pure crap.
    None of these adapters would pass the electric regulations here. They aren’t safe rated for more current than they really can manage, and it’s a serious risk of shortcircuit.

    Nothing to do with these adapters, i bought recently some SATA supply cables (3 of them): one of them burnt my DVD player and a new HDD, all of them were rated (and labelled) in AGW18 when they were really AWG26 after my forensic inspection.

    Resuming, take extreme caution with products coming or bought in China if they are for high current devices, even the simpliest extender can be a serious hazard.

    In general chinese quality is not good, it’s simple. If someone expects China will be like Japan in some years (they started with crap products until having excellent ones), you’re wrong, china is not japan, never will be (at least in my lifetime).

    I have a nice small japan socket adapter i bought in tokyo, 8 years ago, still working like a charm… 0.25€.

  5. I came across one of these while I was on vacation in New Zealand in some dollar shop (for I think NZ$4 or something?) Only had a few plugs, but it came in handy during my AU/NZ travels (because it had that plug on it). When I got home, I lopped that off and put an EU plug on.
    If you really like this design, but just need a couple of outlets, I’ve used what goes on eBay as “AU UK EU to US AC Power Plug Adapter” (currently selling for a whole 99 Canadian cents and free shipping from some seller in China). They work great.

  6. Do the Australian ones anoyingly fall out of the socket or require a delicate balancing act in order to make them connect (1 mm of tilt makes the difference between a connection or not), plus, do they come with an annoying “trip switch” that will definitely trip if you so much as look at the plug? Seriously, I hate Australian plugs and have no idea why the hell they chose to use this ridiculous design. Who the hell made this stupid decision?

    1. Well I’m not sure about how they would perform in this power board unit above, but generally Aus plugs seem fine to me. The only time I have a real issue is when there are huge plugpacks involved with heavy transformers, but that would be the case with any plug from any country. The are fairly chunky (though not massive like the UK plugs!) and will carry 10A quite OK, so I don’t have an issue with the Australian plug at all. What I don’t like is the new standard ones that have the added insulation area near the base of the pin. Yes it may help in situations where a little one shoves a knife down around the plug, but it means the pin has to be thinner, so they they have more of a tendency to bend, that’s about the only issue.

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