So you have just bought that new electric toothbrush, but wait, how do you charge it? It has a 2 pin plug on it, rather than 3 pin plug you are used to here in the UK.
This 2 pin plug, is a shaver plug. It is designed to fit into the shaver socket found in many bathrooms within the UK.
Safety is the reason it comes with a 2 pin shaver plug, rather than a 3 pin, which I will explain in a bit more detail below.
However, for those of you who don’t have a shaver socket in your home/bathroom and want the solution, you will be pleased to know that there is one. They are 2 pin plug adapters.
2 pin to 3 pin plug adapter is the most common name for this important tool, but other names given to these items include:
- 2 pin adapter
- 2 pin plug adapter
- Toothbrush adapter
- Electric toothbrush adapter
- Shaver plug converter
- Electric toothbrush plug adapter
Available from many large retailers these allow you to charge your toothbrush from a standard 3 pin socket.
Why do electric toothbrushes comes with 2 pin chargers? 2 pin shaver sockets and chargers explained.
There is good reason behind the 2 pin adapter, I will now explain this and I promise I won’t get too technical.
The reason is all to do with SAFETY.
Please note: This information relates to the UK and Europe primarily, America and many other countries differ.
In the UK the mains electricity that you connect your appliances and gadgets into works on 240 volts. This is a high voltage and can cause serious injury and death if you were to touch a live electrical line.
Under most circumstances if you include water and electricity the effects of injury are much greater as water reduces the resistance the human body has to the electrical current.
Therefore to protect people, a ‘safer’ less powerful form of electrical socket was introduced into bathrooms, where water is generally present more frequently.
This safer solution was and is the 2 pin socket, similar to the 2 pin SCHUKO connector found in many European countries.
This meant that more traditional power hungry products could now not easily be used within these rooms, only lower power items, therefore reducing the chances of injury.
An extreme example, but imagine if you had a toaster in your bathroom. Whilst this was switched on, it fell into the bath, which was full of water and you were in it too. The resulting consequence is not one I like to think about it. You will be ‘toasted’ yourself.
Toasters don’t come with a 2 pin connector, so you can’t use it in your bathroom and as a result you are now a bit safer from electrocution and possible death!
Nobody wants to be toasted whilst in the bath, so to avoid people doing silly things like this, the ‘safer’ less powerful sockets were introduced.
With it came a new connector. Hence the 2 pin plug you find on the charging stands for electric toothbrushes and to power other things like electric shavers, which are most commonly used in the bathroom.
These sockets are often known as ‘shaver sockets’ because this is what is commonly connected into them. Many faceplates for sockets in bathrooms will say ‘shavers only’.
UK building regulations mean you cannot fit a regular 3 pin mains power socket in a bathroom, even the ‘shaver socket’ has to be a safe distance away from the bath or shower. This is often why many sockets are part of a light fitting above a mirror and hidden behind a little door, making it harder to access. All to protect you and I from injuring ourselves.
Other countries around the world may have normal sockets in their bathrooms. Why? For some it is because of the lower voltage used, so the effects of electric shock and serious injury are reduced. In other cases it is less established safety measures and in others there is a trust that you as an individual won’t do anything silly enough to put your life at risk.
You could today still if you wanted put a toaster in your bathroom but you would have to plug that toaster into a 3 pin socket in another room, probably via an extension cord. There is only so far legislation can go at this time to stop you from doing things like this, but going to such efforts puts you off doing it at all.
For those who want a little more technical reasoning, inside the socket is what is known as an isolation transformer. This works by using the mains supply to power a small transformer that is electrically isolated from the rest of the supply and any earth in the bathroom. Theoretically you can touch the live output and the earthed metal work in the bathroom and be OK.
Want to know a little more? The following short video from Skross I believe gives a little more detail and further explains earthed and unearthed sockets and connectors.
Does that now make sense? I hope so.
However, I understand there are probably still a few questions you want answered so here are a few common questions and answers.
I don’t have a 2 pin shaver socket in my bathroom, what do I do?
You need to purchase an 2 pin adapter, that will allow you to connect a 2 pin shaver plug such as that on your electric toothbrush to a 3 pin socket.
They generally look like:
They are often really inexpensive at just a few £.
A great example is the 2 to 3 pin adapter plug complete with fuse — View on Amazon.
Once you have this, you can then charge your toothbrush from a socket anywhere else in your home.
|UK 2 to 3 Pin Fuse Adaptor Plug 1 Amp For Shavers And Toothbrushes Only||1,605 Reviews||£4.49||View on Amazon|
Can I connect a 2 pin connector to my 3 pin mains socket?
Yes you can. You require a good quality, fuse adapter such as that from TC Travel (view on Amazon) and you are then set to power your 2 pin powered appliance from a 3 pin mains adapter.
What’s the best 2 to 3 pin mains adapter?
There isn’t one ‘best’ 2 pin to 3 pin mains adapter. There are many options but you generally get what you pay for.
It is worth paying a bit more to ensure you get a good quality adapter as you don’t want to risk any electrical shocks or damaging your electronic items.
A very cheap option is the Gadget Hut shaver adapter (view on Amazon).
|Gadgets Hut UK - 2 Pin To 3 Pin 1A Fuse Adaptor Plug For Shaver/Toothbrush||439 Reviews||£4.49 £3.99||View on Amazon|
A slightly more expensive option, but possibly better quality option is the previously mentioned TEC Travel option.
Extension cords for shaver socket/electric toothbrush?
If you do have a 2 pin shaver socket in your bathroom, then you should be able to begin charging your electric brush from the moment you get it. You won’t need any plug adapters.
However, whilst most electric toothbrush chargers have a long enough cable to reach the shaver socket, the design and positioning of some sockets and bathrooms means that there is not enough cable to reach between the socket, and the place you would like to locate your electric toothbrush.
Most electric toothbrush chargers have approximately 1.2 meters (4 feet) of cable.
Sadly, in some instances another 30-60cm (1-2 feet) of cable would be preferred.
A commonly asked question is are there any extension cables or cords for shaver sockets or electric toothbrushes.
Unfortunately, to my knowledge no such product exists. I have searched many places for such.
I can see a need for it, but I do believe the reason that an extension cord for an electric toothbrush or shaver socket does not exists is related to safety and demand.
For the majority, power cables on electric toothbrush chargers are sufficient because the shaver socket is appropriately placed, therefore there is limited demand.
For those who have the need or demand the extra cable length then adds a risk that the cable is within reach or will make contact with water, thus posing a safety concern.
Is a 2 pin shaver plug the same as a 2 pin European mains adapter?
No, not quite. A 2 pin plug found on an electric toothbrush or shaver has pins that are closer together than a traditional 2 pin EU mains adapter.
This means that appliances that would normally connect to a shaver socket cannot and should not be connected to mains power in Europe.
For example, if you charge your electric toothbrush in a shaver socket at home in the UK, that same plug cannot and should not be connected to the 2 pin socket found on the wall of your hotel room in France or Spain. However, most bathrooms will have a shaver socket which you can connect to.
If they do not you will need an adapter such as this:
|Gadgets Hut UK - 2 x UK to EU Europe European Travel Adapter suitable for France, Germany, Spain,...||336 Reviews||£4.79||View on Amazon|
If travelling from France or Spain or similar countries, your appliances you would normally connect to the wall should not be connected to sockets found in bathrooms here in the UK. You need an adapter such as this:
|auna eu adapter European to UK Adapter EU to UK Plug Adaptor||682 Reviews||£2.04||View on Amazon|
Can I take my electric toothbrush travelling with me? What adapter do I need?
Yes you can take your toothbrush with you when travelling.
Much depends on where you are travelling too.
We have a full guide to using an electric toothbrush abroad which you can read, but a summary is explained below.
If you are travelling to another country that has the same electrical voltage then you simply need a plug adapter.
A great solution I believe is the Skross Pro World Travel Charger (view on Amazon). It works in over 220 countries and works with devices up to 2500w. You still need to have a 2 pin to 3 pin adapter fitted to it, but it works in so many countries.
|Skross PRO World Travel Adapter - White||6 Reviews||£27.56||View on Amazon|
Most larger hotels will have a ‘shaver socket’ in the bathroom that will be suitable for your electric toothbrush. However in some counties and regions this may not apply.
When travelling to a country that uses a different voltage to that in your home country, you need to check a few things.
For example, let’s say you live in the UK and are going to the USA and assuming you are going long enough that you need to charge your brush when there.
The UK uses 240V electrics whereas the USA uses 110V.
Most electric toothbrushes bought in the UK and Europe have charging stands that work on 220-240V. So to use them in the USA, you need a power converter to allow the the charging stand to accept the 110V.
You can buy these from various retailers online or in the high street.
Do your research on the voltage in a particular country to ensure you are getting the right converter.
In the instances where the voltage in the country you are travelling to is lower, you need a ‘step up’ converter and when the voltage is higher you need a ‘step down’ converter.
Some electric toothbrushes have charging stands that will support 110-240V meaning you will not need the voltage converter. The Philips Sonicare DiamondClean is one example.
What you may need though is a plug adapter. This is to convert the 2 pin adapter found on most charging stands in the UK and Europe to work with the power supply in the other country.
When using a voltage converter, you may need a different adapter to the one you think.
Using the travel form the UK to the USA again, the ‘Step Up’ voltage converter has the 2 pin US connector on it, but actually offers up a 3 pin UK power adapter. However your toothbrush has the 2 pin adapter, so although you are travelling to the USA, you will need the 2 pin to 3 pin adapter.
Why are 2 to 3 pin adapters not included with my electric toothbrush or shaver?
I have had many a reader ask why isn’t a electric toothbrush plug adapter or shaver plug converter included in the box. Why is it presumed that everyone has a shaver socket in their bathroom?!
This is a good question and one I have often thought about myself. Including an adapter in the box would be a nice addition.
As I see it there are 3 main reasons why they are not.
The first is the need for it. Many, (but not all bathrooms) have a 2 pin shaver socket, so the need for a shaver plug converter is surplus to requirements for many.
The second is cost. If every electric toothbrush came with a 2 pin shaver plug to 3 pin plug adapter it would put the cost up by a few £ and many companies want to keep costs down, so it is often best to exclude it.
The third reason is electric waste and the environment. Linked to my second reason, if you don’t need the adapter, it would just end up getting thrown away or left in a draw somewhere not being used, so it is a waste of resources to make it in the first place and serves no value to many people.
Can I get an adapter to charge multiple devices from a shaver socket? I want to charge a toothbrush and shaver from one socket.
Yes and no.
Generally speaking they do not exist from reputable sellers. I have seen some, but we have questions about their safety and reliability.
The sockets are not designed to take ‘extra’ strain.
You are best powering or charging each device independently as and when you need it. For example, connect and charge your toothbrush, when that is done, connect and charge your shaver or other appliance.
I really hope all of the above is helpful to you and has answered any questions you may have had about 2 pin plugs and adapters required for electric toothbrushes and similar products like shavers.
If you have any questions, or have any of your own, tips, advice and feedback that can help improve this article or indeed help others, your input is most appreciated. Please comment below.