What Is The Difference Between 220 And 240 Volt Outlets?

By: Jan Hajek | Date Posted: March 26, 2018

When relocating your electric appliances, it’s essential to grasp ‘What Is The Difference Between 220 and 240 Volt Outlet?’ as each device requires a matching voltage outlet for optimal functioning. Without the correct outlet, appliances like washing machines, microwaves, and refrigerators may not operate properly. Ensuring the availability of proper outlets is crucial for maintaining the appliance’s integrity and preventing safety risks. Below, we delve into the specific characteristics and issues related to these outlets, providing you with a comprehensive understanding of their differences and applications.

We spoke to a representative from  2nd City Gas Plumbing and heating, who are the best plumbers in Birmingham and they said, “According to research most of the appliances in our homes are 220 volts or below meaning, they can operate on 220 or 240 volts but if you plug a 240-volt appliance into a 220 volts circuit, it operates slow and the reason behind this is that the kiln was specifically formed to operate on 240 volts and will not operate fully when put on 220 volts. However, if you’re okay with the slow firing, it’s okay too. But, it is important to know that not all electrical cables are built to handle high voltage and they may overheat which is very dangerous as it might result in fire.

The plug

There are about 15 types of plugs currently in use nowadays, and each of them comes with a letter for convenient identification. The name of the plug has no special meaning so you don’t really have to worry too much about it. Certain plugs could be compatible with both 220 and 240-volt arrangements so do remember to examine the outlet and appliance voltage beforehand. Act carelessly here and you could run into trouble: At best, the appliance would not work as designed which is ill-efficient. At worst, the conductor would overheat and that would lead to a significant fire hazard.

Important note

As mentioned above, depending on the manufacturer’s wish, one plug type could have different voltages in different appliances. Therefore, the list of 220V and 240V plugs below is compiled using both the plug capability and country voltage as references.

There are approximately 13 types of plugs that could be seen on 220V electric appliances based on the plug capability. They are C, D, E, F, G, H, I, J, K, L, M, N, and O. Some of these plugs are used across the globe but there are country-exclusive plugs as well.  Based on country voltage, there are 12 plugs: A, B, C, D, E, F, G, I, K, L, M, and N.

What does a 240​V plug look like?

There are also 13 types of plugs currently in circulation that could be seen on 240V electric appliances based on the plug capability. The 240v plug list is pretty much the same as the 220v one. Similar to their 220V counterparts, some of these plugs could only be found in remote corners of the world. However, based on country voltage, there are only 3 240v plugs which are G, I, and D.

The outlet

What does a 220​V outlet look like?

220​V outlets mostly correspond to their plugs but some outlets are able to accept more than one type of plug. The examples include:

  •  Type B is compatible with Type A and B plugs
  • Type D is partially compatible with Type C, E, and F plugs, unsafe
  • Type E is compatible with Type C, E, and F plugs
  • Type F is compatible with Type C, E, and F plugs
  • Type K is partially compatible with Type E and F plugs, unsafe
  • Type L(16A)  is compatible with the Type C plug
  • Type N is compatible with Type C plug

 What does a 240​V outlet look like?

The 240​V outlet’s compatibility with the appliances is also similar to their 220​V cousin. It’s advised that you should connect the appliance plug with an outlet that matches its type just to be on the safe side.

The design of the outlet

The average 220/ 240​V appliances utilize 3 wires​:​​​

  • A hot wire: Carries the current to the fixture
  • Another hot wire: Also carries the current to the fixture
  • A copper wire: Ensure user safety

There is no neutral wire here but when one of the hot wires is positive, the other is negative. That arrangement completes the circuit. ​However, there is another wire scheme that is employed by appliances like clothes dryers and so on. It consists of 4 wires:

  • A hot wire: Carries the current to the fixture
  • Another hot wire: Also carries the current to the fixture
  • A neutral wire: Completes the electrical circuit
  • A copper wire: Ensure user safety

As a result, certain appliances could have up to 4 prongs instead of the usual 3 in their plug.


That is most of what you should know about the differences between 220 and 240-volt outlets, not too hard to take in, right? It could be a bit confusing at first but as long as you get the hang of it then you should have no trouble identifying the outlet. This knowledge would help you a lot when it comes to remodeling the house and rearranging your electric appliances.

If you found this article useful, be sure to check these articles as well:

How Many Amps Does A Dryer Use: A Comprehensive Analysis


Can I plug 220V into 240V?

Generally, it is safe to use a 220V appliance at 240V.

What happens if I plug 120V into 240V?

If you plug a 110V appliance into a 240V outlet in the best-case scenario, some protective device will disconnect the appliance. Otherwise, your appliance will burn out quickly.

Can you convert a 120V outlet to 240V?

Yes, you can buy a 120V to 240V converter.

Thank you for reading!

Jan Hajek

I am an experienced writer. I write about home improvement topics such as construction, electrical work, plumbing, security and safety, interior design, exterior design, tools and woodworking, gardening, and garage organization. I love helping people improve their homes and make them more enjoyable places to live.

Click Here to Leave a Comment Below 0 comments