Electrical Outlet and Voltage Information for Jamaica
One of the known islands in the Carribean, Jamaica is a country that is also known as the ”Land of Wood and Water” or the “Land of Springs.” Tourists who visit Jamaica must know the standard voltage used by the appliances and electronic gadget in this country as well as the primary types of electrical outlet and plug to avoid problems and delays when using technology and electrical appliances there. Similar to the United States of America (USA), the standard voltage used in Jamaica is 110-120 volts with a frequency of 50Hz. On the other hand, the primary types of electrical outlet and plug are Type A NEMA 1-15 / JIS C 8303 and Type B NEMA 5-15.
In cases wherein the plug of the electronic gadget or appliance is not compatible with the shape of the electrical outlet, there are adapters that could be easily purchased in Jamaica. Adapters alter the shape of the plug so that it could be used together with the electrical outlet. For small electronic gadgets like hair dryers and curling irons, a plug adapter and voltage converter is required in Jamaica. For other electronic gadgets and appliances like laptop computers, battery chargers, and radios, a step-down or step-up transformer will be useful if a tourist plans to stay in Jamaica.
Type A NEMA 1-15 / JIS C 8303 (North American Non-grounded, Non-polarized)
The NEMA 1-15 is mostly found in North America and in other parts of South America like Jamaica. This 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 Electrical 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 either way; however, contemporary NEMA 1-15 plugs in Jamaica 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 Jamaica. With the NEMA 1-15 adapter, the receptacle end will accept any standard household plug in Jamaica, 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 Jamaica. 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 outlet in Jamaica. If this happens to a tourist in Jamaica 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 Jamaica. 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. Similar to Type A NEMA 1-15 plugs, the NEMA 5-15 is also one of the most dangerous plugs in Jamaica 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 like electrocution or a minor electrical shock in Jamaica. The Type B NEMA 5-15 is also compatible with any standard household plug, except the Type M South African SABS1661 (Old British BS-546 Large) plug. 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. This kind of plug and electrical outlet is common in households of Jamaica and in Japan, this kind of plug and electrical outlet is the standard.
It is important to know the proper voltage, electrical outlet, plugs, and adapters to use when visiting Jamaica and other countries because sometimes these electric requirements vary depending on the location. If the voltage of the appliance or electronic gadget to be used in Jamaica does not match its 110-120 volts requirement a tourist in Jamaica would need a voltage converter. 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 battery chargers in Jamaica, 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 in Jamaica and in light-weight electrical appliances like hair dryers and iron. One must remember that 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 in Jamaica.