Why do countries have different electrical outputs?

Jiyeon Choi

           Due to the outbreak of Corona, traveling abroad feels like a long time ago. But whenever you traveled to a specific country, didn’t it bother you that you always needed to carry around an adaptor plug? Didn’t you ever wonder why different countries have different electrical volts or outlets?

           Since In the late 19th century, when electricity was introduced to ordinary households, home appliance manufacturers in each country developed different plugs and outlets without a unified outlet standard. Unlike now, when interchanges between countries are active due to technological advancement and globalization, they were not active at the time, so even if the sockets and plugs of each country were different, people did not suffer much inconvenience or difficulty. As time passed and exchanges between countries became more active, the need for standardization of outlets and plugs emerged as people suffered from inconveniences. To this end, the International Electrotechnical Commission was established in 1906. Unfortunately, due to the outbreak of World War I and World War II, infrastructure has already been established and the cost of replacing it for standardization has also been a big obstacle, failing to enact unified standards. For this reason, countries around the world have maintained different receptacle standards to this day.

           In case of South Korea, we used to use 110volt in the past but due to rapid economic development use of electricity usage increased so 220volt was introduced in 1973 which has a higher electricity efficiency and reduced electricity bills. However, you can still see 110volt electric outlets in old houses.

           Each country has various types of outlets type A to N, in South Korea we use type C and F. Representatively Germany and Hungary use the same type of outlet as South Korea so it wouldn’t be a big problem when you travel however, when it comes to other countries you should check the right outlet type which can be easily found on the IEC homepage.

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