Electrical Outlet and Voltage Information for Cuba
Cuba is an island country located in the Caribbean. If a person would want to go to Cuba, it is important to know basic information like the primary types of electrical outlet and plug, as well as the primary voltage used by electronic gadget and appliances. In Cuba, the commonly used types of electrical outlet and plug are the Type A NEMA 1-15 / JIS C 8303 North American, Type B NEMA 5-15, Type C CEE 7/16 Europlug, Type F CEE 7/5 Schuko, and Type L CEI 23-16/VII Italian.
For the electrical outlet, there are is a design that is the combination of Type A and Type C and is compatible with both plugs. Also, the standard voltage in Cuba is both 110-120 volts and 220-240 volts. In other hotels and homes in Cuba, the common plug and electrical outlet used is 110-120 volts while modern buildings and facilities uses 220-240 volts, both with a frequency of 60Hz.
In addition to this information, a person going to Cuba must also be prepared with the necessary things that would help make his or her stay in Cuba more convenient. For travellers going to Cuba, it is common to bring electronic gadgets and appliances like laptop computers, camera, and mobile phones and in order to use these conveniently in Cuba, adapters and voltage converters will be needed.
Adapters are used to alter the shape of the plug so that it will be compatible with the shape of the electrical outlet present in Cuba while the voltage converter is used when there is a difference between the voltages used by the electronic gadget or appliance and the electrical outlet in Cuba. Examples of voltage converters are network-resistor converter, step-up and step-down transformer, and combination voltage converter. These would be very hand in one’s trip to Cuba.
Type A NEMA 1-15 / JIS C 8303 North American (Non-grounded and Non-polarized) Plug, Electrical Outlet, and Adapter
The NEMA 1-15 is mostly found in North America and in the east coast of South America as well as in other countries like Cuba. This is used for smaller devices that do not really need a ground connection. Also, 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 either way; however, contemporary NEMA 1-15 plugs in Cuba 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 NEMA 1-15 is also known as the Type A North American/Japanese 2-blade Electrical adapter plug and electrical outlet. It also has the technical name North American 15 A/125 V ungrounded. The new design of NEMA 1-15 changed so much that it will not fit in the old type of NEMA 1-15 electrical outlet in Cuba. With the NEMA 1-15 adapter, the receptacle end will accept any standard household plug in Cuba, 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 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 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 Cuba.
In the NEMA 1-15 plug and electrical outlet, 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 socket does not have one, it would be physically impossible to insert the plug into the electrical socket in Cuba. If this happens to a tourist in Cuba and there is also no adapter present, that person might not be able to use his or her electronic gadgets and appliances. There is also another electrical outlet that is commonly used in Japan, the JIS X 8303 Class II (Japanese 15 A/100 V ungrounded) which is similar to the NEMA 1-15, the only difference from Cuba is the stricter dimensional requirements for the plug housing, marking, and mandatory testing and approval.
Type B NEMA 5-15 (North American Grounded) Plug, Electrical Outlet, and Adapter
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 Cuba. Also, the Type B NEMA 5-15 is a class I plug that has two flat parallel prongs and a grounding pin, rated at 15 amps. 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. The Type B NEMA 5-15 is also compatible with any standard household plug in Cuba, except the Type M South African SABS1661 (Old British BS-546 Large) plug.
Although the Type B NEMA 5-15 is grounded, it is not polarized. In Japan, this kind of plug and electrical outlet is the standard. Similar to Type A NEMA 1-15 plugs, the NEMA 5-15 is also one of the most dangerous plugs in Cuba and even 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 in Cuba like electrocution or a minor electrical shock.
Type C CEE 7/16 Europlug Electrical Outlet and Adapter
The Type C Europlug is also known as the CEE 7/16 (Europlug 2.5 A/250 V unearthed), which is a bit similar, only slightly smaller, to the CEE 7/17 and it is one of the most commonly used electrical outlet and plug in Cuba. The Type C CEE 7/16 Europlug alters the shape of the appliance’s plug so that it could be used into a “Type C” European CEE 7/16 Class II non-grounded Europlug socket or a Soviet-era Russian GOST 7396 Class II non-grounded socket used in Cuba. Also, the receptacle end of the adapter is usually compatible with any standard electronic household plug in Cuba and from any country, aside from the “Type M” South African SABS1661 (Old British BS-546 Large) plug.
The pins of the Type C CEE 7/16 Europlug are 4.0mm in diameter, 19mm long and are spaced 19mm apart. In using appliances and gadgets in Cuba, the Type C CEE 7/16 Europlug could also be safely used with the Type C, Type E, Type F, and some Type L electrical outlets. In addition, the Type C CEE 7/16 Europlug is also the most widely used electrical outlet all over continental Europe, island nations in the Caribbean like Cuba, and in the former Soviet Republics. This plug in Cuba is also non-polarized and non-grounded. Aside from Cuba, there are also countries in the Middle East, Southeast Asia, Pacific Rim region, Central and South America, and Caribbean that use this kind of adapter.
Type F CEE 7/5 Schuko Electrical Adapter Plug and Electrical Outlet
The Type F CEE 7/5 Schuko is used for the “Type F” CEE 7/4 Schuko style electrical socket of Germany or to a “Type E” CEE 7/5 socket of France. Commonly known as the Schuko plug, the Type F CEE 7/5 plug and electrical outlet was derived from the German word “Schukostecker” which means “protective contact plug.” This electrical outlet in Cuba is also similar to the Type E with the difference being its two earth clips on the side instead of the female earth contact. The receptacle end of Type F CEE 7/7 Schuko is compatible with most sockets except the “Type M” South African SABS1661 (Old British BS-546) plug and the non-grounded CEE 7/16 Europlug Socket because of its 4.0mm pin receptacles that are too small for the 4.8mm pins of the Type F CEE 7/5 Schuko. This Schuko plug and receptacle in Cuba also has side grounding contacts which allow symmetrical connection system for live and neutral to be reversed.
Most countries including Cuba use the Type F CEE 7/5 Schuko except Denmark, Italy, England, Ireland, Northern Ireland, Malta, and Cyprus that have their own standard electrical outlet. On the other hand, the plug end of Type F CEE 7/5 Schuko is compatible with the variations of the Schuko electrical outlet for France and Germany. The pins of this adapter in Cuba are 4.8mm in diameter, 19mm long, and spaced 19mm apart. They have both side-grounding clips and a receptacle for the male grounding pin which is found in French Schuko sockets. If the appliance or electronic gadget to be used in Cuba is already a Schuko, there is no need to use the Type F CEE 7/5 Schuko adapter for the electrical outlet.
Type L CEI 23-16/VII Italian Earthed Plug, Electrical Outlet, and Adapter
The Type L CEI 23-16/VII Italian Earthed has is a 3-pin plug that has two round pins and a round grounding pin in a line, it is commonly used in households and hotels in Cuba. The live and neutral contacts can be inserted in any direction and the Type L CEI 23-16/VII Italian Earthed can also accept Europlugs. The Type L CEI 23-16/VII Italian Earthed has two models rated at 10 A and 16 A, with a difference in contact diameter and spacing. Older models of electrical outlet in Cuba only allow either 10 A or 16 A so adapters were really needed to alter the shape of the plug. Although the Type L CEI 23-16/VII Italian electrical outlet could accept Europlugs, when it comes to the plug, the two are not similar.
The Type L CEI 23-16/VII Italian Earthed plug is longer compared to the Type C CEE 7/16 Europlug because of its additional central earthing pin. On the other hand, the Type L CEI 23-16/VII Italian Earthed 16 A have pins that are thicker and a little more further apart. In some cases, the Type L CEI 23-16/VII Italian Earthed 16 A is referred to as North European or Industrial Type of plug and electrical outlet. In addition, Type D Indian BS-546 and Type E European CEE 7/4 plugs are, in a way, compatible with the Type L CEI 23-16/VII Italian electrical outlet although it might cause damage to the electrical outlet and the prongs of the Type D Indian BS-546 and Type E European CEE 7/4 might get stuck inside.
In Italy where the Type L CEI 23-16/VII Italian Earthed originated, as well as countries that use the Type L CEI 23-16/VII Italian like Cuba, there are two other types of Type L CEI 23-16/VII Italian electrical outlet–the first is a smaller socket with a central round hole with two 8-shaped holes above and below. This can accept both the Type L CEI 23-16/VII Italian Earthed and the Type C CEE 7/16 Europlugs. The second type of electrical outlet seems similar to Type F CEE 7/5 Schuko but with a grounding hole in the middle and is twice the size of a regular Type L CEI 23-16/VII Italian Earthed electrical outlet. It is compatible with Type E European CEE 7/4, Type F CEE 7/5 Schuko , Type C CEE 7/16 Europlugs, and Type L CEI 23-16/VII Italian. At times, this second type of Type L CEI 23-16/VII Italian electrical outlet also have extra holes for the Type L CEI 23-16/VII Italian Earthed 16 A plugs. Alongside with Cuba, other countries that use Type L CEI 23-16/VII Italian Earthed are Italy, Chile, El Salvador, Ethiopia, Libya, Maldives, Syria, Uruguay, and Tunisia.
There are three kinds of voltage converters available: the transformer, the network-resistor converter, and the combination of these two. For laptop computers, cameras, mp3 players, and charging of batteries in Cuba, the recommended voltage converter to be used is the transformer as it has a lower maximum watt rating of 50 to 100 watts and it could be used continuously although it could be heavy because of the large iron rods and copper wires inside. The resistor-network converter could support 50-1600 watts and are often used for a short period of time and in light-weight electrical appliances like hair dryers and irons.
If the the wrong plug is inserted in the wrong electrical outlet or the voltage does not match, there could be some real damage to the appliance or electronic gadget. In worse cases, this might even cause electrocution or fire in Cuba. If the voltage of the appliance or electronic gadget to be used in Cuba does not match its 220-240 volts requirement, like most American products that only use 110-120 volts, a tourist in Cuba would need a voltage converter. It is important to know the proper voltage, electrical outlet, plugs, and adapters to use when visiting Cuba and other countries because sometimes these electric requirements vary depending on the location.