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Differences between the types of sockets

Differences between socket types

Nothing works without electricity – but which plug is the right one? We help you find the right plug for each of your applications

Thanks to the socket, for more than 100 years we have been able to supply electrically operated devices with electricity without any problems or concerns.
However, to this day, no uniform standards have become established as to the plug type or form.
Even in Germany there are a handful of completely different plugs – how can one keep track of things? Not to mention get to know the differences between the individual plugs.

But no need to panic – this is where we come in!
In the following article, we clear up the basic differences between the plugs that are common in Germany. Additionally, we give you recommendations as to which plug type is ideally suited for which area of use.

But now, first the basic things…after all, we do not want to rush anything!

As you probably already know, most of your electrical devices are operated with a voltage of 230V, whether you connect your coffee machine or a hairdrier. Yet right now is where the problem begins - because, in general, four different plug types are used for this voltage.
However, in the following, you will find out simply and clearly which of the four is ideal for your area of use...

Earthed plug

The word earth contact means that the plug has earth contact surfaces on the plug and refers to the fact that the plug has protective contact surfaces.

Often, the earth contact also called a earthed plug, as the sockets installed at home are generally shockproof sockets.

The plug is also known as a type F plug and is one of the most commonly used plug types in Europe. At the same time, it is used as the standard plug and socket device in Germany and Austria.

By and large, one finds such a plug on devices with protection class 1, the highest safety level.

Common appliances with said protection class include, for example, the iron and the kettle.

Technical details: Voltage of 230V / up to 16A


Euro plug

Not for no reason does the Euro plug bear this informative name!

It is due to the fact that it can be used in extensive parts of the EU.

Additionally, this plug is also known as type C and is designed for “only” 2.5A.

As can be seen in the image, it has no earthing contact and is therefore used only for devices with protection class 2. These are generally smaller electric devices, such as charging cables, which are not loaded above 2.5 A.

Technical details: Voltage of 230V / up to 2.5 A


Contour plug

The contour plug is similar to the Euro plug and is thus a variant of the type-C plug. In terms of its appearance, it looks almost identical to the Schuko plug; however, it has no earthing contact! For this reason, it is used only for devices with protection class 2. These include appliances such as vacuum cleaners and drills.

Technical details: Voltage of 230V / up to 16A


CEE plugs are not all the same!

They can be classified into three different plug types. It is also important to know that the colour of the plug plays a major role, as this reveals the nominal voltage.
So find out in the following which of them is the right one for your use.

CEE plug and socket 16A – single-phase

This blue CEE plug is also known as a caravan or camping plug, as the plug is ideal for camping, i.e. for caravans.

In terms of performance, it is no different to the Schuko plug; however, the CEE plug is designed for long durability. This can also be recognised by the three long contact pins, which also provide a secure hold for the contacts.

The lid also promises protection from foreign objects and splashing water.

Hence, those looking for continuous currents of up to 16A for their caravan should opt for this CEE plug.

Technical details: Voltage of 230V / up to 16A continuous load



CEE plug and socket 16A - three-phase

This red plug is similar to the single-phase CEE plug, about which you have just learned important things. However, the three-phase plug has 5 pins and is known as the “small industry plug”.

Technical details: Voltage of 400V / up to 16A continuous load


CEE plug and socket 32A - three-phase

Also a red tree-phase-current plug, which, like the 16A plug, provides for safe contact. It is the big brother, so to speak, and is therefore also known as the “big industry plug”.

Of course, 16A electricity can also flow via this 32A plug - but not vice versa!

Technical details: Voltage of 400V / up to 32A continuous load



CEE plug and socket 63A - three-phase

Another version of the CEE plug is the one with 63 A current rating. This is used wherever even higher currents flow.

Since the 16A, 32A and 63A plugs and couplings have exactly the same connection, the same applies here as well: 32A or 16A current can also flow via the 63A plug - but not the other way round!

Technical details: Voltage of 400V / up to 63A continuous load


So, now you hopefully know how the individual plugs differ from each other and for what application they are suitable.

Now, nothing can go wrong when you buy a plug!