Interpower FacebookInterpower LinkedIn Interpower Twitterrss-feed
PHONE: U.S. (641) 673-5000 | Toll-Free: (800) 662-2290 | UK +44 (0)1908 295300 | Freephone: 00800 5566 5566
  1. Interpower
  2.  / 
  3. Designers
  4.  / 
  5. Webcasts
  6.  / 
  7. Commonly Asked Questions
  8.  / 
  9. Exporting Adapters

Why Adapters Are Not Allowed When Exporting

Video Transcript

Ralph Bright—
Hello, I’m Ralph Bright, Vice President of Marketing and IT at Interpower.

We have real people answering the phones each day at Interpower which means we receive a number of product design questions.

Usually if a question has been asked by one person, it means that others also have the same question. One commonly asked question is: “Why are plug adapters not allowed when exporting equipment?” To answer this question, we have Ron Barnett, Product Development Manager. Welcome, Ron.

Ron Barnett—
Thank you, Ralph.

To begin with, what is the purpose of a plug adapter?

A plug adapter essentially allows a user to use an existing cord set or power cord, with a particular country’s plug, in a completely different country. While there are plug adapters for temporary use, they should not be used for permanent or commercial use. The reason why in a nutshell is because it could cause you to lose approvals on your total piece of equipment.

We know that a cord set needs to comply with a specific country’s standards. What happens if a plug adapter is used with it?

While technically an adapter may work with your device, it would not be approved. Many individual countries around the world have their own standard and testing agencies to verify that the electronic products that are brought into their country will work safely and effectively. If the total cord is not approved for use in that specific country, it cannot be used.

Okay, can you give an example?

If a piece of equipment is shipped from the United Kingdom to the United States and the equipment comes with a U-K plug, you should not use an adapter cord to plug the U-K plug into a NEMA socket. Not only would the power cord not carry any approvals, this setup could cause you to lose the approvals on your total piece of equipment.

Why are the approvals important?

In many applications, commercial O-E-M equipment either requires safety approvals or they are requested by the customers who purchase them. These approvals demonstrate that the entire system is deemed to meet all constructional and safety requirements in regards to the end use. Many of the agencies that issue these approvals do not view the use of adapters acceptable, making obtaining the approvals difficult or impossible. There are no international standards that cover their construction or testing for safety purposes in O-E-M applications.

Why are adapters not included in the approvals?

Many safety agencies view adapters as being unsafe for many applications beyond personal use—especially for more complex devices or where numerous people could interact with the product. One of the biggest concerns with this is the lack of control over the usage when numerous people have access to the equipment. There is nothing to stop someone from taking the adapter to use elsewhere—where it might not be appropriate and could lead to an incident.

Do power levels play a factor when using an adapter?

Many users of adapters do not understand their true function and this leads to a potentially dangerous misconception that an adapter magically transforms the voltage and frequency to the right level for the equipment. This error in thinking is even common in the travel industry, where these devices originated. Adapters frequently do not contain transformers or converters that can change the voltage or frequency. For example, trying to use a North American product overseas on 230 volts at 50 Hertz power could damage the product because it’s not designed to operate at those power levels.

Thank you Ron for the information and thank you for joining us today.

If you have a question that you would like answered, please let us know by e-mailing us at or calling us at 1–800–662–2290. For more information, check our website at