One of the questions visitors always have about traveling in Ireland is, will their electronic gadgets work? Well, it depends on the device.
Do you have the right plug?
First of all, there’s the question of the plug. Ireland uses a plug with three rectangular prongs. Make sure you bring an adapter kit with you to make your plug’s configuration fit into Irish sockets. If you can’t plug it in, your gadget is just excess baggage. Plug adapters are easy to find in travel stores and online.
The second issue is the power required by the device itself. Irish electric current runs at 230V, twice as powerful as US current (120V), Canadian current (120V), Japanese current (100V), and a few others. If you simply use an plug adapter, your small electronic device will burn out. My first experience of this was after bringing a tiny portable hair dryer from the US to Ireland one year. When switched on, it ran like a jet engine trying to push a fully laden plane down the runway for takeoff, then it died, parts of the cheap plastic casing having actually melted. In essence, US electronic gadgets can work too well under the influence of that potent Irish juice, and like a college student on spring break, they will crash just as hard. After that, we left the cheap electrical gadgets at home. (Most Irish hotels will have hairdryers in the room as standard.)
Recharging laptops, tablets and phones
What you need is a transformer/convertor which steps the current down to the level your devices were built to work with. The good news is, most phones, digital cameras, and computers have this transformer built into their charging cord. As long as the transformer you’re using is rated for input in the 100V-240V range, your device should work just fine with Irish electricity — provided you have the physical plug adapter to enable you to plug it in — it just might run a little hot to the touch. Check your device before you travel to make sure it’s suitable.
One exception is electric shavers. Most Irish bathrooms have special 2-prong plug sockets for these, which operate on 120V (i.e. the transformer is built-in). Look for the message “Shavers Only” or 120V printed by the socket (some may have a switch built-in to manually switch between voltages).
In terms of compatibility, your computers and phones should work just fine. Wi-fi is wi-fi, and if you have the correct passwords or buy a service plan from a local provider, you should be able to connect just fine.
So, for electronic gadgets like hairdryers, use a plug adapter and a transformer. For things like tablets and laptops, you should just need the plug adapter, as the transformer is built in.
Make sure you talk with your phone provider before you arrive to understand what charges you may incur if you enable the phone for use in Ireland. You may need a special SIM card to connect. For smart phones, data roaming rates can be very expensive, so it might be more cost-effective to purchase a temporary phone from a provider upon arrival. In the past we’ve signed one of our iPhones up for a basic plan in Ireland just so people could reach us, but use a local cell phone or payphone (yes, they still exist) for calls within Ireland.
So, for phones the golden rule is if in doubt, talk to your cell provider before you go.