Main Difference – Adapter vs. Converter
Different countries around the world have different standards for the mains electricity that they distribute. These differences occur in the voltage and frequency of the alternating current distributed. In addition, different countries use different plug types for plugging in equipment. Adapters and converters are devices that allow people to connect electric equipment produced in one country to the mains electricity supplies in other countries. The main difference between adapter and converter is that adapter is a tool that allows to connect a device having one plug type to a wall socket having another plug type, whereas converter is a tool that allows for a device designed to operate at a particular voltage to be connected to a mains electricity supply having a different voltage.
What is an Adapter
Different countries around the world have different types of plugs. There is no technical reason for this. Different countries around the world started to design different types of plug types independently, and then once many wall sockets had been installed it was too late to change everything to one international standard. So now, there are 15 different plug types used around the world. You can see the different plug types here. A list indicating which type of plug is used in different countries around the world is given here.
An adapter is a device that allows for a plug to be connected to a socket of a different type. Often, tourists travelling between different countries need to purchase these adapters so that they can plug electrical devices from their home countries into sockets in other countries.
What is a Converter
Not only do different countries use different types of plugs, but the mains electricity also has different specifications. Most countries around the world use alternating currents with an RMS voltage of 230 V and a frequency of 50 Hz. Some countries also use an RMS voltage of 220 or 240 V. In the United States, the RMS voltage of the mains electricity is 120 V and the frequency of the alternating current is 60 Hz. A list of the different specifications found in different countries can be found here.
Some devices are designed to work either at about 120 V or at about 230 V. As a result, if a person wishes to plug in such a device into the mains electricity of another country, they may need to use a converter. A converter uses a transformer to step up/step own the voltage into a suitable value. However, many devices produced nowadays are able to work with both levels of voltages. Often, converters come in two different types: high-wattage converters to be used with devices that consume large amounts of power and low-wattage converters to be used with devices that consume small amounts of power.
Difference Between Adapter and Converter
An adapter allows a plug to be connected to a socket designed for a different plug type.
A converter allows a device to be connected to a mains supply carrying a different voltage than the voltage that the device was designed for.
“Travel adaptor to be used in type M (15 A version of type D) sockets” by Wiz9999 (Own work) [Public Domain], via Wikimedia Commons