Electrical Outlet and Voltage Information for Guatemala
For a tourist who will be spending some time in Guatemala, it is important to know some basic information about the country like standard voltage used by the electronic gadgets and appliances and the primary types of electrical outlet and plug commonly used. Guatemala, a country in Central America, uses 110-120 volts for their electronic gadgets and appliances while the primary electrical outlet and plug types are the Type A NEMA 1-15 / JIS C 8303 North American, Type B NEMA 5-15 North American, Type G British BS-1363, and Type I Australia AS-3112.
Aside from these information, other things that would be really handy in a tourist’s trip to Guatemala are adapters and voltage converters. Adapters are used when the shape of the plug is not compatible with the shape of the electrical outlet while voltage converters are for incompatible voltages between the electronic gadget or appliance and the voltage in the electrical outlet.
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 Guatemala. 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 Guatemala 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 Guatemala. With the NEMA 1-15 adapter, the receptacle end will accept any standard household plug in Guatemala, 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 Guatemala. 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 Guatemala. If this happens to a tourist in Guatemala 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 Guatemala 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 Guatemala. 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 Guatemala, 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 Guatemala 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 Guatemala like electrocution or a minor electrical shock.
Type G British BS-1363 Plug, Electrical Outlet, and Adapter
The Type G electrical outlet and plug is a Type G British BS-1363 rectangular blade used widely in Guatemala that has a protective fuse inside to protect cords from high-current circuits and, most of the time, the Type G British BS-1363 electrical outlet includes a safety switch. The Type G British BS-1363 plug also has a receptacle end that is compatible with most household plug types in Guatemala, except the Type M South African SABS1661 (Old British BS-546 Large) plug. The plug end is a British BS-1363 13-amp type. For the adapter, the live and neutral pins are 4 x 6 x 18 mm apart, with the grounding pin measuring 4 x 8 x 23mm.
Also, through the Type G British BS-1363 adapter, a tourist could use his or her appliance or electronic gadget in Guatemala. The plug of this Type G British BS-1363 is polarized and grounded but not fused. Another name for the Type G British BS-1363 plug is the 13-amp plug. For safety reasons the Guatemala requires electrical outlets in households that use the Type G British BS-1363 to have shutters over the live and neutral connections of the electrical outlet. In the insertion of the longer earth pin from the plug, the safety shutters of the Type G British BS-1363 are opened. The shutters are also present to prevent the use of incompatible plugs made to other standards in Guatemala. However, there are cases wherein the safety shutters of this electrical outlet could be opened through a screwdriver in order to insert Type C plugs. The usage of the Type G British BS-1363 outlet along with another kind of plug is not recommended because these plugs do not have a fuse. The regulation about the safety shutters and fuse is then followed in Guatemala and all the other countries that use the Type G British BS-1363 electrical outlet and plug like the United Kingdom, Seychelles, Ghana, Grenada, Macau, Malta, Malaysia, Qatar, Saint Vincent, Saudi Arabia, Scotland, Maldives and Kuwait.
In terms of compatibility, the Type G British 3-pin electrical outlet will work together with the Type G British BS-1363 plug and adapter in Guatemala. With all the safety measures and features of this plug and outlet, it is considered as one of the safest in Guatemala, even the world. However, with all its features, this type of plug is bulky and cumbersome. Some people claim that the Type G British BS-1363 plug is mostly bigger than the appliances they are connected to but if tourists would want to use their electronic gadget or appliance in Guatemala, then they must have a Type G British BS-1363 adapter. Although the adapter would not change the voltage used, it will enable the plug of the appliance or electronic gadget to be inserted to the electrical outlet used in Guatemala. For the electrical outlet, the Type G British BS-1363 sockets are not compatible with other types of electrical outlet in Guatemala.
Type I Australian AS-3112 Adapter, Plug, and Electrical Outlet
The blade contacts of the Type I Australia AS-3112 are 6.5 x 1.6mm with a phase and neutral blade angled at 30 degrees to vertical at a nominal pitch of 13.7mm. This standard plug of Guatemala is also polarized and grounded. The Type I Australian AS-3112 electrical outlet and plug is commonly used in Guatemala and other countries in the Pacific area. It is the standard in most houses in Guatemala and it is also slightly similar to the Chinese CPCS-CCC and the Argentine IRAM electrical outlet. These three sockets are interchangeable and are classified under the unofficial “Type I” category. This plug in Guatemala features a grounding pin and two flat prongs that form a V-shape. Moreover, the receptacle end of this Type I Australian AS-3112 can accept any standard household plug type in Guatemala except the Type M South African SABS1661, also known as the Old British BS-546 Large plug.
There is also an ungrounded version of the Type I plug that only has two flat V-shaped prongs, but the electrical outlet is always three-pinned. The Type I plug has other variants that include 15 A, 20 A, 25 A, and 32 A. The batteries of electronic gadgets must be charged through an electrical outlet and when the plugs do not match, an adapter that is compatible with the Type I outlet in Guatemala must be used. Aside from Guatemala, other countries that use the Type I Australian AS-3112 are Argentina, China (mainland except Taiwan), Papua New Guinea, Uruguay, Fiji, and Tokelau (the Union Islands).
Voltage Converters and Universal Adapters
In using an electronic gadget or appliance that has a different voltage requirement than the 110-120 volts used in Guatemala, the best way is by using voltage converters such as resistor-network converters, transformers, and, in some cases, the combination of both. The resistor-network converters to be used in Guatemala 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 Guatemala, the ideal voltage converter would be a transformer which lowers maximum watt rating. It could be used for long periods of time but is a little bit heavy because of the large iron rods and copper wires. The last kind of voltage converter in order to use electronics in Guatemala that are not compatible with the electrical outlet present in Guatemala is the combination of a resistor-network converter and transformer. Most of the time, there is a switch that enables the changing of modes from resistor-network converter to transformer, depending on the tourist’s needs in Guatemala.
These voltage converters and adapters will be very handy if a tourist plans a trip to Guatemala and intends to bring along some gadgets that require a particular voltage. In addition to the particular adapters designed for specific types of plug and electrical outlet, there is also the universal adapter that could be used together with any type of plug. This kind of adapter is the most recommended when travelling to different countries.