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This is the Adapter Plug You Want

South Africa has the oddest electrical plug system ever dreamt up. Few are the adapters that can cope.

Visitors bring what purport to be “all-purpose” international plugs to our shores by the thousand each year, only to find that the prongs don’t fit in the holes, and never will, no matter the amount of intercessionary prayer. It’s rumored that SA has the highest number of orphaned adapters in the world.

  • This leads SA Blog to caution that, unless your adapter’s package says it was made specifically for South Africa, IT ALMOST CERTAINLY WON’T WORK HERE.

There is, however, hope – in the form of the pictured gadget, from Austin House. Your Correspondent has tried many adapters over the years, and can state unequivocally that this is the best South Africa plug adapter ever invented.

  • Here, it’s important to point out that plug adapters are not electricty converters. South Africa runs on the 220 volt system. This adapter will make any plug fit into an SA outlet, but if the thing being plugged in runs on 110 volts (which is the system in use in the US), the consequences will be unpleasant. Fortunately, electricity converters are easier to find than SA plug adapters. (Try Froogle.)

The Austin House product goes by the imaginative names “1039210F South Africa” and “UPC 067012003870 South Africa”. The Austin House info page groups it with several other world adapter plugs, and notes that they “will accept plugs from any country in the world except South Africa.” Don’t be confused: this just means you can’t use them for, say, South African hair dryers in the US. But if you want to use a US, UK, European or Australian hair dryer in South Africa, this is the fail-safe option. It works with all other devices, too (including those with the tricky US 3-prong plug), and is grounded, making it extra-safe.

  • My favorite place for unusual travel accessories is Chicago’s The Savvy Traveller. It always has these SA adapters in stock, and (at the time of writing) sells them for just $7.95 each.