Spain – Power plug, socket & mains voltage in Spain
Last updated: 16 March 2021
What type of plugs and sockets are used in Spain?
When you are going on a trip to Spain, be sure to pack the appropriate travel plug adapter that fits the local sockets. But what do those electrical outlets look like? In Spain, types C and F are the official standards. Like almost all Continental European countries, Spain has standardized on the German plug and socket system.
used almost everywhere in Europe & Russia, except for the UK & Ireland
Typically, type C plug sockets are not allowed to be installed in Spain: these outlets are not earthed and are therefore considered dangerous. Only type F power points are permitted because they are grounded and therefore significantly safer.
The only (and rare) exception to this rule is that an old type C outlet should be replaced by a new one. After all, if you hook up a grounded wall outlet (i.e. type F) on a two-wire circuit, the socket will not be grounded, but people will get the wrong impression that it is actually grounded. No need to say, this would be a potentially dangerous situation.
Nowadays, however, type C receptacles are not frequently installed anymore, since older properties are almost always completely rewired when they are renovated or significantly altered.
Obsolete type E plug, i.e. without top and bottom earthing clips nor plastic notches on the left and right.
Neighbouring France doesn’t have the same plug and socket standard as Spain. This used to be a problem because French type E plugs and sockets were initially incompatible with type F. The reason for the incompatibility was that grounding in the type E socket is accomplished with a round male pin, which is permanently mounted in the socket. Type F outlets, on the other hand, are earthed by means of two sprung metal strips on the inside edge of the recessed socket which make a friction connection with similar metal strips on the sides of the plug body.
Old type F plugs did not have a grounding hole to accept the earth pin of the type E socket and old type E plugs did not have top and bottom indentations with earthing clips to mate with the type F socket. Moreover, old type E plugs were perfectly round and lacked a necessary pair of plastic notches on the left and right side to fit the type F socket.
Fortunately, the now standard hybrid E/F plug (officially called CEE 7/7) was developed in order to bridge the differences between E and F sockets, so technically type E and F plugs (not the sockets) have now become 100% identical.
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