Electrical Outlet and Voltage Information for Colombia
People who are visiting Colombia must know the kind of electrical outlet and plug used in this country to maximize the usage of their appliances and electronic gadgets like laptop computers, mobile phones, mp3 players, cameras and battery chargers. The types of primary electrical outlet in Colombia are Type A JIS C 8303 or NEMA 1-15 for the North American non-grounded and Type B NEMA 5-15 for the North American grounded. Also in Colombia, the voltage used by appliances and electronic gadgets is 110-120 volts, similar to the the United States of America and Canada.
In addition, travelers who want to use their electronic gadgets or appliances that run in 220-240 volts in Colombia could use a plug adapter and a step-up transformer. There are also voltage converters in Colombia like the transformer, the network-resistor converter, and a combination of these two in order to make the voltage compatible.
Type A JIS C 8303 or NEMA 1-15 (North American Non-Grounded)
The NEMA 1-15 is mostly found in North America and in the east coast of South America, as well as in parts of the South American region like Colombia, and is used for smaller devices that do not really need a ground connection. The NEMA 1-15 is also known as the Type A North American/Japanese 2-blade Eletrical adapter plug and electrical outlet. It also has the technical name North American 15 A/125 V ungrounded.The NEMA 1-15 is a flat blade attachment plug that uses two flat parallel pins or blades. Older designs allow the blades to be inserted in either way to the electrical outlet; however, contemporary NEMA 1-15 plugs are designed with the neutral blade wider than the live blade allowing just one way of plugging and ensuring that the polarized plug is inserted appropriately into the electrical outlet. The new design of the NEMA 1-15 changed so much that it will not fit in the old type of NEMA 1-15 electrical outlet in Colombia. There is also another electrical outlet that is commonly used in Colombia that was from Japan, the JIS X 8303 Class II (Japanese 15 A/100 V ungrounded) which is similar to the NEMA 1-15, the only difference being the stricter dimensional requirements for the plug housing, marking, and mandatory testing and approval.
With the NEMA 1-15 adapter, the receptacle end will accept any standard household plug in Colombia, aside from the Type M South African SABS1661 plug, which is also known as the Old British BS-546 Large plug. The blades of this adapter that is usually needed by tourists when they are spending some time in Colombia are 6.4mm long, 1.5mm thick, and are spaced 12.7mm apart. The NEMA 1-15 plug is also non-polarized and non-grounded which is very important. Although the NEMA 1-15 of Colombia looks similar to the plugs of the U.S. and Canada and the appliance and electronic gadgets might be manufactured in the said countries, an adapter might still be needed because of the grounding and polarization requirements in Colombia. In the NEMA 1-15, grounding is done by the third, round pin located beneath the two vertical blades on the plug. On the other hand, polarization is done by the left vertical blade being taller than the right one. If the plug does have grounding or polarization and the electrical outlet does not have one, it would be physically impossible to insert the plug into the electrical outlet. If this happens to a tourist in Colombia and there is also no adapter present, that person might not be able to use his or her electronic gadgets and appliances.
Type B NEMA 5-15 (North American Grounded)
The Type B NEMA 5-15 is often used in North and Central America as well as Japan, and it is also what is used in Colombia. It is a class I plug that has two flat parallel prongs and a grounding pin, rated at 15 amps. In Japan, this kind of plug and electrical outlet is the standard. Similar to Type A NEMA 1-15 plugs, the NEMA 5-15 in Colombia is also one of the most dangerous plugs in the world because the prongs are not insulated. The black covering that is supposed to cover the plug body is lacking hence if the plug is pulled halfway and the prongs are still inserted in the electrical outlet, there might be some accidents like electrocution.
The Type B NEMA 5-15 is also compatible with any standard household plug in Colombia, except the Type M South African SABS1661 (Old British BS-546 Large) plug. For the specifications, the Type B NEMA 5-15 has blade contacts 6.4mm tall, 15mm thick, and are spaced 12.7mm apart. The grounding pin, on the other hand, is 4.8mm in diameter. Although the Type B NEMA 5-15 is grounded, it is not polarized and must be used with care in Colombia.
Furthermore, when it is the voltage that is not compatible as Colombia uses 220-240 volts and most American products are 110-120 volts, a voltage converter will be needed. An example of these are the network-resistor converter, the transformer, and a combination of the two. The last one might be the most handy in a tourist’s trip to Colombia. Just a quick stop at a hardware or electronic store in Colombia and one could already have an adapter or voltage converter that he or she needs.
The resistor-network converters to be used in Colombia are usually advertised to support as much as 50-1600 Watts and are just ideal to use for short periods of time. The resistor-network converter is also not recommended for digital devices like laptop computers however it is great for lightweight electronics like hair dryers and irons. If a tourist would want to use a laptop computer or charge batteries for camera, mp3 players, camcorders, and radios in Colombia, the ideal voltage converter is a transformer which lowers maximum watt rating. The last kind of voltage converter in order to use electronics in Colombia is the combination of resistor-network converters and transformer. Most of the time, there is a switch that enables the changing of modes from resistor-network converter to transformer.