Costa Rica power adapters - what plugs are used in Costa Rica?

Costa Rican power outlet

What adapter do I need for Costa Rica?

Use a Type B plug adapter [3] for Costa Rica if the plug you intend on using doesn't fit into a Costa Rican power outlet.

The type of power adapter, converter or charger that you'll need to bring when visiting Costa Rica all depends on the voltage and type of device that you're attempting to charge with a Costa Rican power outlet. If you don't know which voltage your device can use then please read the section on how can you tell if you have a dual voltage or single voltage device before going any further.

  • Be prepared for frequent power blackouts and limited access to power in certain areas of Costa Rica, it is advised to bring a power bank [4] if you wish to keep your mobile phone battery charged whilst in a region without electricity or during a power cut.
  • If you are planning on travelling to Costa Rica from America then you will not need a power adapter or power converter. One recommendation however is to use a USB travel power adapter as it allows you to power more than one device with only one power charger.
  • If your device can run on 120 volts or is dual voltage and the plug can fit in a Costa Rican power outlet then it will work in Costa Rica.
  • If your device is 120 volts or is dual voltage but your plug doesn't fit in a Costa Rican power outlet then you will need a suitable plug adapter for Costa Rica such a Type B plug adapter [3]. Please be aware that a plug adapter for Costa Rica (or power adapter) is designed to change the actual shape of the plug on your device to fit into a plug outlet found in Costa Rica, but won't change the voltage from 120 volts to a different voltage.
  • If your device can't use 120 volts and isn't dual voltage you will also need a power converter for Costa Rica to convert the voltage from 120 volts to the correct voltage on your device. You'll still need to bring a suitable plug adapter for Costa Rica if the power converter doesn't include the correct Type B plug adapter.
  • If you only need to power one or more USB devices such as cellphones or tablets then a USB travel power adapter is recommended and it should work with any voltage, but ensure that you bring one which includes a Type B plug adapter otherwise you'll also need to use a suitable plug adapter for Costa Rica.

Warning: If your device won't handle 120 volts you run the potential risk of an electrical fire hazard, a blown fuse or damage to your device. Before using your device in Costa Rica please read the instruction manual first to ensure safe operation.

Costa Rica power adapters

Power adapters for Costa Rica

If you are organizing a trip to Costa Rica it can be helpful to know if you can power all your gadgets such as mobiles and tablets that you are bringing with you. Without knowing which plug socket is used in Costa Rica you may end up either bringing too many adaptors or pack the wrong power adaptor, therefore leaving you having to purchase a suitable power adaptor when you get there which might be incompatible. Varying different voltages and plugs can often lead to confusion when planning to stay in another country especially to the first time traveller. With only a handful of different types of plug sockets being used in the world this article tells you exactly what you'll need in advance to power your device in Costa Rica. This page has links to simple instructions telling you which power adapters you'll need to power your devices when you're visiting Costa Rica using the Type B or A Costa Rican 120 volt 60Hz plug outlets, a majority of Costa Ricans will normally use Type B power outlets. You will find most power adapters differ from region to region so please read our WikiConnections world power adapters list for a full list of destinations.

What is the best power adapter for Costa Rica?

The best power adapter for Costa Rica is a Type B plug adapter [3] which is suitable for powering any 120 volt appliance or device.

What is the best power adapter for Costa Rica?

What is a power adapter for a Costa Rican power outlet?

A power adapter for Costa Rica is a small, cheap and lightweight plastic adapter that allows a different shaped power plug on an appliance from a foreign region to correctly slot into an electrical outlet in Costa Rica.

Also known as: an electrical adapter, plug adapter, travel adapter, electrical adaptor, mains travel adapter or power adaptor [5].

Do I need a power adapter in Costa Rica?

If the shape of the Costa Rican power outlet is different to the power outlet in your home country then you will need a power adapter.

Will I need a plug adapter for Costa Rica if I'm from the US?

An American plug does not require an adapter because it can fit into a Costa Rican power outlet.

Will a power adapter change the voltage from a Costa Rican power outlet?

Power adapters can only adapt the shape of a plug to fit into a 120 volt Costa Rican power outlet and doesn't convert the power to a different voltage. If you need to safely use a 220, 230 or 240 volt device you also need to bring a step up power converter for Costa Rica.

What does a power adapter do?

A power adapter allows a visitor from a different location to use their own electronic and electrical appliances and devices in Costa Rica simply by altering the shape of the power plug to fit the wall outlet.

Where can I buy a power adapter for Costa Rica?

Power adapters for sale in an airport

Where can I buy a power adapter for Costa Rica?

Power adapters are typically available in most major airports prior to departure, however the range of adapters might be limited to popular destinations. It is recommended to research the exact type of adapter required prior to shopping at the airport. Look in the travel accessories section of airport newsagents, electronic stores and pharmacists but expect to pay 50% more than regular prices. Airports will be your last chance to buy a power adapter before departure, always check the returns policy to ensure you can easily exchange or refund a faulty or unsuitable product in an airside shop.

On arrival power adapters can be found in local electrical high street shops and drug stores, but always check the build quality first as safety standards might be different in a foreign country as this is important when dealing with electrical goods. Keep in mind that a shopping trip searching for power adapters in an unknown location might be impractical, especially as this needs to happen quickly before batteries run out.

Hotel receptions could have a power adapter for sale, hire or as a complimentary extra for guests; however, availability is normally limited and a hotel might not have the exact type required for your country. If in doubt, call ahead to the hotel first and request a reservation as it is unlikely that an adapter will be found in your room on arrival.

It will more convenient and cheaper to buy the correct power adapter in advance of your trip. High street stores normally sell popular types of travel adapters to popular locations and for widest choice it is recommended to buy a power adapter online.

Costa Rica power outlets and plug sockets

What plug sockets are used in Costa Rica?

Type A and B power outlets

What plug sockets are used in Costa Rica?

There are two different types of power supply used in Costa Rica, types B and A with the primary power supply being type B:

  • Plug Type A - You can recognise this power socket by two slots next to each other.
  • Plug Type B - You can recognise this power socket by two slots next to each other where the twin blades go with a single semicircle hole below for the slightly long earth pin.

Do US plugs work in Costa Rica?

Yes, a US plug will work with a Costa Rican power outlet so doesn't need a power converter or power adapter.

Is a plug socket in Costa Rica the same as the US?

A US plug will fit into outlets in Costa Rica, both the frequency and voltage range are the identical to America.

How do I use a 220 volt appliance in Costa Rica?

A step up power converter will allow you to use a 220, 230 or 240 volt appliance in Costa Rica.

Is the voltage in Costa Rica the same as the US?

The voltage in Costa Rica is exactly the same as in America.

What frequency is used in Costa Rica?

The frequency found in a Costa Rican power outlet is 60Hz.

Does Costa Rica have power outages?

Typically Costa Rica suffers power cuts around once a month.

What is access to electrical power in Costa Rica like?

Almost 5% of the population doesn't have access to electricity in Costa Rica.

Do I need a power bank for Costa Rica?

USB power bank for charging phones

Do I need a power bank for Costa Rica?

As electric isn't available to 100% of the population of Costa Rica combined with potential power outages, visitors should pack backup charging solutions if they need to continue charging devices such as mobile phones or tablets.

  • Whilst travelling to Costa Rica increased use of mobile phones for storing itineraries, taking pictures, getting directions, social networks and web browsing could syphon off power excessively. A flat mobile phone battery can potentially leave you in an unknown location without sufficient power to make emergency calls or being able to use satellite navigation to find your way back to hotel. Packing a portable charger [4] for Costa Rica lowers that risk as it means you can keep your smart phone fully powered on the move, especially when visiting a country with a lack of access to electricity and power cuts in some areas.
  • A typical 10,000mAh power bank [4] will store enough energy to power around 3 full charges and a 20,000mAh portable charger [9] should keep an average mobile phone charged for around 7 days depending on the model of phone and usage.
  • If you need to charge your laptop in Costa Rica and your laptop has a USB-C charging port then pack a portable charger for a laptop [10] marked with PD (power delivery) and a model supplying at least 20 Wh. Be aware that some airlines prohibit power banks on an aircraft with more than 100 Wh of power and must not be left in checked-in luggage.
  • Consumer portable chargers aren't designed for high powered items that generate heat, although a rechargeable hair dryer [7] or gas hair straighteners [8] can be used for travelling to locations with power cuts and a lack of access to electricity like Costa Rica.

Sources

  • International Electrotechnical Commission - World plugs by location (cited August 2014)
  • Wikipedia - Mains electricity by country (cited July 2014)
  • Index Mundi - Power outages in a typical month (cited May 2018, data collected between 2006 to 2017)
  • Index Mundi - Access to electricity (cited May 2018, latest data collected 2010)
  • WikiPedia - List of countries by average yearly temperature (cited May 2018, data averaged between 1961 to 1990)

Costa Rica chargers

What is a USB travel power charger?

A USB travel charger is a dual voltage charger with interchangeable plugs and multiple USB ports, suitable for charging multiple USB powered devices when travelling abroad.

What USB charger do I need for Costa Rica?

If you are travelling with more than one device the best international travel charger for Costa Rica to buy is a multiple USB port charger which includes compatible plugs such as a 4 port USB travel charger [11]. Costa Ricans use two different types of power outlets (B and A) and using a power charger like this will ensure that you are covered for type A. Because these types of chargers are supplied with interchangeable pins and can handle 100 to 240 volts it makes them ideal for over 100 countries around the world just by changing the heads over. If your type of device can support Fast Charge then you will benefit from much quicker charging times by using one of these travel chargers along with support for more power demanding devices.

Unlike other chargers having a 4 port adapter means you can charge more than one device at once without needing to buy multiple power adapters on your Costa Rican trip. Only bringing a single international travel charger will help keep the overall size down, making it perfect to fold up in hand baggage whilst travelling as well as being suitable for recharging your devices at an airport or on your flight. Because of their versatility these types of power adapters can be used when you return home so when you're not on holiday they can be used overnight charging multiple smartphones and tablets using only a single power outlet.

If you travel frequently we suggest searching for a versatile power adapter of this nature online. The multipurpose power charger illustrated below is the iKits 4 Port USB Wall Charger [11] which has been successfully tested with multiple USB devices in numerous countries around the world.

What USB charger do I need for Costa Rica?

Why use a travel USB charger for Costa Rica?

  • Normal travel USB chargers include 4 or more USB charger ports, meaning you now only need to bring a single charger to charge multiple devices. It helps reduce the weight of your baggage by only packing a single USB wall charger instead of bringing multiple individual power chargers with you.
  • All travel USB power chargers include swappable plug heads for various regions thereby making them perfect if travelling to multiple countries which are likely to use a different outlet to Costa Rica.
  • A good charger is lightweight, compact and rugged - perfect for rigors of travel rather than risking bringing along a domestic charger which might be impossible to replace or repair in Costa Rica.
  • USB chargers can accept both the 120 volt power outlets in Costa Rica along with other voltage standards across the world.
  • There is a possibility that some hotel bedrooms or accommodation in Costa Rica only have one wall outlet, by bringing a travel charger with multiple USB ports allows you to share out the single wall outlet with all your devices rather than waiting to charge one device at a time.
  • Because of their versatile nature a travel USB charger takes the worry out of visiting any unknown destination as they are guaranteed to work almost anywhere around the world.
  • Power outlets found in airports can be in short supply and the demand for charging multiple cell phones and tablets during departure can be high, therefore a USB charger with multiple ports and the capability to fast charge is ideal.
  • The power grid in some countries can be unstable, a good travel charger allows for unexpected surges to prevent damage to any devices attached to it. Trying to repair an overloaded mobile phone or tablet in Costa Rica might prove difficult and expensive.
  • Higher priced USB travel chargers should also feature a power outlet strip to allow you to power multiple low wattage devices such as laptops, but please be aware these will be unsuitable for high powered appliances such as hair dryers or clothes irons. See the section on using travel appliances in Costa Rica for helpful advice and guidelines on the best power adapter for using a high wattage appliances with a Costa Rican power outlet.
  • Certain tablets and mobile phones might require more than the standard 500 milliamps produced from a standard 5 volt USB adapter to charge or provide fast charge. Ensure that the USB power adapter can support fast charging incase any of your devices need additional power.
  • When back at home travel USB chargers can still be useful by recharging multiple mobile phones and tablets every day using only a single power outlet.

What is the best USB charger for Costa Rica?

The is the most compact option for travellers from around the world wanting to recharge devices using USB, however for those also wanting to use their domestic plugs the following power adapters provide larger but more versatile solutions. All three power converters offer surge protection which can be crucial for visitors of counties with unstable power grids. These power converters are supplied with interchangeable type C, I and G plugs covering both Costa Rica and over 150 countries around the world:

  • BESTEK Portable International Travel Voltage Converter - The BESTEK international travel adaptor has 4 USB charging ports with 3 AC power outlets and is the best selling compact power adapter for travellers originating from North America going to Costa Rica.
  • ORICO Traveling Outlet Surge Protector Power Strip - Likewise having 4 USB ports but only 2 AC power outlets the travel adapter from Orico is also aimed at travellers originating from the US using type B plugs. This is a much more cost effective alternative to the BESTEK with just one less AC outlet for almost half the price.
  • BESTEK International USB Travel Power Strip - This power strip has just 2 AC outlets but offers 5 USB charging ports. This versatile power strip is compatible with both American plugs and popular plug types A, D,E/F, G, H, I, L and N making it perfect for most travellers from around the world visiting Costa Rica.

Power converters for Costa Rica

What is a power converter for Costa Rica?

A power converter for Costa Rica enables travellers to use a 220-240 volt electrical device with a 120 volt Costa Rican power outlet.

Also known as: electrical converter, electrical transformer, voltage converter, power transformer or voltage transformer.

What is the difference between a plug adapter and a power converter for Costa Rica?

A cheap, small and lightweight power adapter (or plug adapter) changes the shape of the plug on your appliance to fit into a power outlet in Costa Rica, but a heavier and more expensive power converter [12] will transform a 120 volt Costa Rican power outlet to work with a non-120 volt appliance.

Do I need a power converter for Costa Rica?

If travelling to Costa Rica from a different country please ensure that your device can accept a 120 volt power supply.

  • You need a step up power converter [13] if you are travelling from a country that uses 220-240 volts and your appliance isn't compatible with 120 volts. Read the list of world power outlets guide to discover the voltage your country uses.
  • You won't need a power converter if you are already using either a 120 volt single voltage device or one that is dual voltage.
  • Typically, electrical devices which originate from another country which use a higher voltage such as 220 volts and then used with 120 volts may take longer to charge or won't power up. If your device charges slowly or does not power up when you are visiting Costa Rica from a different region then check that it can be used with a 120 volt power supply or you will need a step up power converter [13].
  • You shouldn't need a converter if you need to recharge a smaller electrical device such as a tablet or cell phone as these are typically support dual voltage and designed for international use, however you should always check the device for dual voltage support first.
  • For supplying power to high wattage appliances or generate heat (such as curling irons and hair dryers) then you will need to use a bulkier higher wattage heavy duty power converter [14].
  • Investing a smaller lightweight dual voltage travel appliance might be more cost effective and practical than bringing a much heavier power converter in order to use your existing domestic appliance in Costa Rica.
  • For more information read these travel guides on how to use clothes irons, curling wands, hairdryers and hair straighteners in Costa Rica , along with guides for affordable dual voltage alternatives.

Will I need a power converter for Costa Rica if I'm from America?

You won't need to bring a power converter as the voltage from a Costa Rican power outlet is in the same 100-120 volt range as America.

What converter do I need for Costa Rica?

If you wish to use any 220-240 volt appliance with a 120 volt Costa Rican power outlet you will need to use a step up power converter [13].

What is the difference between a converter and a power transformer?

Voltage converter

What is the difference between a converter and a power transformer?

Converters and transformers are both used to change one voltage to another, but this ambiguity can cause confusion as their purposes are different:

  • Power converters are designed for simple electrical appliances which typically generate heat or use motors such as clothes irons, shavers or hair dryers. Transformers are designed for more complex electronic items such as televisions or games consoles.
  • Buying a power converter is cheaper than buying a power transformer.
  • Power transformers are larger and heavier making them more suited for permanent residential use; for example an expat wishing to use an imported television would need to use a transformer for this purpose.
  • Power converters are more suitable for travellers wishing to bring domestic appliances abroad such as hair dryers or flat irons. However, it is more practical and cost effective to purchase a dual voltage appliance designed for travel rather than a heavier power converter.
  • Power converters are suitable for 2 pin ungrounded appliances, it could be harder to find a converter if you want to use a grounded 3 pin appliance.
  • Transformers can be used constantly however it is recommended that converters are used for no longer than a couple of hours at a time.
  • Shops may sell transformers under the name of converters, for the purposes this guide we will be referring to both converters and transformers as converters.

How to convert 120 volts to 220 volts

  1. Use a step up power converter [13] to allow you to use 220, 230 and 240 volt appliances with a 120 volt Costa Rican power outlet.
  2. If the power converter doesn't include the correct shaped plug then it will also be necessary to plug in the power cord from the power converter into a power adapter for Costa Rica before plugging that into a Costa Rican power outlet.
  3. Some power converters include the ability to perform both step up and step down voltage conversions, therefore it may be necessary to manually switch the converter to output the voltage from 220-240v.
  4. Plug your appliance into the converter and turn the power on, your 220-240 volt appliance can now be used with a 120 volt Costa Rican power outlet.

What voltage does Costa Rica use?

Costa Rica uses 120 volts in their normal power outlets.

What voltage is my device?

Single voltage hair dryer

What voltage is my device?

The best way to see if a device is dual voltage is to check for a sticker on the charger or on the appliance itself, normally on the rear of the unit or near to where the power cord plugs into. This location might vary depending on the make and model of your device but could also be written on the box.

  • Single voltage devices could have a specific number - such as 110V.
  • Single voltage devices could also have a small voltage range (around 20 volts) with a dash to accomodate small voltage fluctuations - such as 220-240V.
  • Dual voltage devices will normally say a large range separated with a slash - such as 100/240V.

What can I connect to a Costa Rican power outlet?

Travel appliances that can connect to a Costa Rican power outlet

Beats Pill speakers which can connect to a Costa Rican power outlet

Jabra Bluetooth speakers which are compatible with a Costa Rican power outlet

Mobile phones which can be connected to a Costa Rican power outlet

Apple iPhones which can be connected to a Costa Rican power outlet

Samsung Galaxy phones that work with a Costa Rican power outlet

A list of Amazon Kindle tablets which can connect to a Costa Rican power outlet

A list of Apple iPads which are compatible with a Costa Rican power outlet

Corrections

We endeavor to ensure all details on this page are correct and relevant to travelers visiting Costa Rica, if you wish to contribute any useful information or feedback please email travel@wikiconnections.org. For more comprehensive technical details visit the Wikipedia page on AC power plugs and sockets [16].

  1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Costa_Rica - Costa Rican Wikipedia web page.
  2. http://www.iec.ch/worldplugs/ - International Electrotechnical Commission World Plugs
  3. Type B plug adapter - Allows appliances to connect to Type B power outlets without converting voltage.
  4. Portable charger - A power bank is a portable charger which can recharge USB powered devices such as mobile phones and tablets on the go.
  5. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Adapter - power adaptor
  6. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mains_electricity_by_country - WikiPedia - Mains electricity by country
  7. Rechargeable hair dryer - Rechargeable battery powered blow dryer suitable for travelling.
  8. Gas hair straighteners - Cordless ceramic hair straighteners powered by gas cartridges.
  9. 20,000mAh portable charger - High capacity 20000mAh high-speed portable USB charger suitable for charging mobile phones and some tablets for several days.
  10. USB-C PD power bank - Power Delivery charger suitable for charging laptops with USB-C support.
  11. IKits 4 Port USB Wall Charger - A universal USB charger capable of charging up to 4 USB devices with swappable international adapters.
  12. Power converter - A step up step down power converter converts 110-120 volts up to 220-240 volts and 220-240 volts down to 110-120 Volts.
  13. Step up power converter - A step up power converter allows a 220-240 volt appliance to be used in a 100-120 volt power outlet.
  14. Heavy duty power converter - A 5000 watt heavy duty step up and step down power converter used to convert voltages for domestic appliances, power tools, televisions, heating appliances and motors.
  15. Step down power converter - A step down power converter allows a 100-120 volt appliance to be used in a 220-240 volt power outlet.
  16. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/AC_power_plugs_and_sockets - AC power plugs and sockets