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I'm moving back to the States from Asia, and I have a lot of things I want to plug in that run on different shaped plugs. In Thailand, most new buildings are equipped with nifty outlets that can can take US, Euro, and Australian shaped devices.

I am not concerned about 110/220 conversion, as I know that anything I will be plugging can handle being plugged in anywhere worldwide. All I care about is the shape.

Could I purchase these outlets at a Thai hardware store and install them in my home in the US the same way as I might upgrade an existing outlet to one with USB (for example)?

Thanks for any input!

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  • If the outlet is listed for 120V 60hz and properly installed it should be legal. – Ed Beal Sep 22 '16 at 20:12
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    Since Thailand is 220V/50Hz, it may not be code compliant, and certainly not a good idea to install an outlet that's purposely mismatched to its expected voltage. While you may be aware of it, your houseguests may not be, and the next homeowner may not be and may ruin an expensive Thai appliance by plugging it into the outlet. Though I'm not sure the NEC covers foreign outlets. – Johnny Sep 22 '16 at 20:27
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    Note that the United States uses 60Hz current where Thailand uses 50Hz. That means that many devices with motors will run faster in the United States as well as other devices that depend on line frequency. For example, the clock on a bedside digital clock radio might run 20% faster. – Jonathan J Sep 23 '16 at 6:32
  • @JonathanJ many devices these days will operate properly at 50 or 60 Hz, and at 110/120 or 220/240 Volts because it's cheaper for the manufacturers to design them that way than to design different appliances for different markets. But it certainly isn't guaranteed and Johnny's point about somebody else plugging a Thai appliance into a 120V 60Hz outlet and destroying it is very valid. – Craig Sep 25 '16 at 5:44
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What I like to do is to buy a power-strip in the foreign country, then cut of its cord and replace it with a sturdy US-purchased plug. That way you don't have to modify your house or your appliances, but also don't have to use those cheap travel adapters.

If you do still want to modify your house it probably will not be as easy as when you upgrade an outlet to have USB ports because the junction box is not the same size and doesn't have the right screw holes (at least the ones that I saw in Thailand and Myanmar were not the same, although there seemed to be a wide variety so maybe you could find one), but there are electrical outlets designed for exactly what you are trying to do and sold in the USA! They are often installed in places like airports, and sometimes have the words "120v 60Hz" printed right on them. One example is the Leviton 5825-W, which can't accept as many varieties as you mentioned, but at airports in the US I've seen outlets that accept Australian and even UK plugs. I don't know the make or model number of those, but I guarantee the people building the US airports didn't buy them at a hardware store in Thailand :), so figuring out what brand those are would be better both because they match the junction box size and because they will comply with the US wiring codes (important both if you ever sell your house and if there is ever a fire at your house and the police or insurance company are investigating the cause).

(I realize that I'm responding to a question that is years old, but this page still comes up high on Google results, so hopefully this will be helpful to someone!)

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It probably is not legal / "up to code" to install those devices since I'm guessing they don't have the proper UL listing, but electrically it should work.

The size of the outlets may well be different though, so you may need to replace the electrical box and the outlet cover.

Also note that many devices have a replaceable power cord so it may just be easier to do that for whatever you want to bring home. Or alternately you could cut off the plug end and buy a replacement plug (relatively easy installation).

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  • I'm in favor of replacing the cord ends or using plug adapters. The principle of least astonishment is often a good guideline. – Craig Sep 25 '16 at 5:46

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