The Difference Between Adapter and Converter

“What’s the difference between adapter and converter?”

“Should I buy a converter or an adapter? Or both?”

These are the questions travelers frequently ask before they plan a trip to a foreign country. And they are by no means the questions to ignore since it’s very much possible that you’ll be unable to use your favorite gadgets abroad if you remain undecided between these two bridging solutions.

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So, let us help us out with our concise breakdown of adapters and converters. Hopefully, by the end, you’ll know which of the two you’re going to need.



Your travel converter is likely to have multiple plug inlets or just a single one. It’ll depend on the model, which mainly varies upon the travel destinations it’s meant for. However, converters with multiple sockets are more popular these days since no one wants to buy a new model for each country they visit. Converters are also a bit bulkier in size and shape since they carry a circuitboard within them for switching or curtailing the voltage.

Travel adapters, on the other hand, are small and lightweight, usually having a socket only. They mostly intend to support a single type of plug shape as per the user’s need. Hence, different plug adapters with different designs have distinctive shapes of plug inlets. However, several modern-day adapters may yet come with multiple inlets, including USB support as well.

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Voltage Conversion Capability

Voltage Conversion Capability

Among the two types of plugging essentials, conversion capability belongs only to a converter. Voltage converters can change any DC voltage to AC, or the other way around by rectifying the electric signal. That’s why they’re also broadly known as rectifiers. And they can make the voltage output to step-up or step-down too.

In contrast, travel adapters haven’t the ability to make alternation between AC and DC or high and low voltage outputs. They’re only simple connectors changing only the plug shapes, so it matches the outlet you’re trying to plug it in.

Intended Use

Since converters can alter the voltage current and step it up or down whenever necessary, they are ideal to carry when traveling to a foreign country where the voltage outputs are different.

For instance, when traveling Europe or Asia, you’re likely to find power outlets employing 220-240 volts, whereas, in the USA and Canada, they work between 110-120 volts. Therefore, along with your gadgets, you’ll need to carry a converter that’ll step down the voltage output to enable your device to run in a foreign outfit.

As for travel adapters, they’re necessary when your gadget’s plug doesn’t match the target socket, yet with a matching working voltage. Meaning, both the voltage of your gadget and the power inlet should be the same before you can use an adapter; otherwise, you’ll need a converter.

Compatibility with Dual-Voltage Devices

Dual Voltage

Since most of modern-day gadgets come with the dual-voltage feature, it’s essential to know how adapters and converters behave with them.

A gadget having the dual-voltage feature means it can self-convert the voltage necessary for running properly. Most of the smartphones, laptops, tabs, and several travel-purpose devices like hair dryers, flat irons, oven, coffeemaker, etc. come with this feature. If that’s the case, you can’t use a converter for running them since any further abnormality in the voltage can entirely damage the device.

However, dual-voltage devices may still need an adapter to run if its plug design mismatches the power outlet.

Bottom Line

So, there you have it. You now know the difference between adapters and converters and why you’ll need them during your travels.

Since you’ll only need a converter while carrying single-voltage appliances, you’ll want to cut that necessity by always bringing dual-voltage devices. Whereas, you must now understand that an adapter is your all-time go-to product for your trips.

And lastly, with the universal travel converter-adapter combos being available out there too, the decision is yours to make on what you’ll trot the globe with.