What is the difference between a 2-pin plug and a 3-pin plug?

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What is the difference between a 2-pin plug and a 3-pin plug?

2-pin plug

A 2-pin plug means that the device is not grounded and usually has two pins to carry power.Previously, all electrical equipment was equipped with 2-pin plugs, and all power outlets used 2-pin plugs, which meant that the all equipment was not grounded. However, as the current and voltage of electrical appliances become larger, the risk of electric shock increases. In order to solve this problem, we mainly install a ground connection (mainly in the form of a third pin).

In addition, the 2-pin plug cannot continuously withstand high currents. If it exceeds 2.5 amps, in other words, exceeds 500 watts, it is transmitted through a 2-pin plug. In some cases, heat generated by higher power may burn electrical appliances and circuits.

For weaker devices, 2-pin connections are still the norm because they are less expensive to produce. In most countries of the world, 2-pin power outlets have been replaced by grounded outlets.

2-pin plug

2-pin plug

3-pin plug

The 3-pin indicates that the device is grounded and usually has three pins, two of which are used to carry current and the other to be used as a grounding protection. In any case, removing the ground wire is life-threatening because there is no longer any electric shock protection! For all standard-compliant three-pin plugs, this ground connection forms an outlet connection to avoid many electrical accidents. In most plug types, the ground connection is mounted as the third pin. However, the Schuko plug ground connection commonly used in Europe does not use the third pin, but the contact surface on the side of the plug. The UK standard plug is another exception: if the third pin is made of metal, it is a 3-pin device. In the case of a 2-pin device, the third pin is made of plastic.

Since the boundary between the 2-pin and 3-pin devices is ambiguous, it is impossible to divide 100% between devices. Some electrical appliances are listed below as a reference.

2 pins:

  • electric toothbrush
  • Shaver
  • Hair straightener
  • Charging station for USB-enabled devices such as mobile phones, iPods and iPads
  • coffee pot
  • Navigation device
  • Camera

3 pins:

  • laptop
  • computer
  • hair dryer
  • Hardcore
  • vacuum cleaner
  • TV
  • Electric drill


2-pin plug


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