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How to Tell If an Outlet Is 110v or 220v? (Explained)

The AC vs DC dispute has raged for generations. People attempting to demonstrate the worst aspects of AC have always been successful in their antics, but the whole human society is ready to take the risk due to AC’s efficiency.

However, there is some debate on which is superior between 110v and 220v outlets. Whereas the rest of the world has adopted 220v outlets as the standard, the majority of people in the United States of America still see 110v plugs as essential.

Not switching from 110v to 220v may have been a realistic option in the past, but the situation has changed.

Most households are trying to adapt to the 220v outlet and they may have both 110v and 220v outlets in the house. Let’s find out more about how to keep them apart.

How To Tell If An Outlet Is 110v Or 220v?

It would be easy to recognize if checked with a voltmeter or looked inside the outlet. The 220v outlet will always have two hot wires, ground wires, and more, however, the 110v outlet will just have one hot wire and nothing else observable. In most homes, one may find a 110v outlet.

There can be many ways to find out what volt outlet you have. Check below to know more.

Checking with the voltmeter or multimeter:

It would be simpler and faster to verify the output voltage with a voltmeter.

The potential discrepancy or voltage range may be easily spotted, and you may utilize the data for buying equipment that is well suited to the outlet voltage.

If you have a multimeter, it will give you significantly better and more accurate readings, including the frequencies, amperage, and potential difference, as well as the voltage.

Looking at the internal layout:

Examining the internal layout of the outlet will undoubtedly assist you in determining if it is 110v or 220v.

Factors such as the number of hot wires, wire gauge, and the presence or absence of ground wires are the key visible differences that assist you in recognizing the outlet.

Trial and error:

let’s assume you don’t have a voltmeter or multimeter, the outlet screws have turned rusty and worn out completely, or there is no possible way to determine what kind of outlet you are dealing with, only then you may resort to the trial and error method.

You will have to take a 220-volt capacity bulb or any 220 volt light source and plug it into the outlet; if the light is illuminating brightly then the outlet in question is a 220v.

However, after plugging in, if the light becomes dull and provides a negligible amount of light then you may have a 110v outlet.

It’s better to do this with a 220 voltage appliance, if you use a 110v light on a 220v outlet then due to overvoltage the light may get damaged, also may create an electrical short circuit or something even worse.

What does a 110 outlet look like?

A 110 outlet is mostly kept bright white and in most cases, you may find only suitable for two pins. The 110 outlets are rarely grounded so finding a 3 pin white 110 outlet is gonna be pretty tough.

However, this White color coat for a 110-volt outlet is only true for the United States of America. Throughout the world, people are so used to 220-volt outlets that they assume any red, green, black, or white outlet as a 220 outlet.

What does a 220 outlet look like?

A 220 outlet may look exactly the same as a 110 outlet, so to avoid any confusion it’s kept either black or dark brown.

As the 220 outlets are known for providing an overwhelming amount of power, the circuit is most likely grounded so you may find a handful of 3 pins 220-volt black or brown outlets.

Now that’s for the American standard, however, when you visit an Asian country it’s a must to see a handful of color-coated outlets.

No need to worry, all of them, even the bright white ones, are considered 220 outlets in Asia. The same goes for European and African countries.

What is the difference between 110-volt and 220-volt outlets?

As the two-volt system has different power flow, they are different from each other. But is there any other differences? Let’s find out.

The voltage:

it’s an obvious one that there is a huge voltage difference between these two outlets, to be more exact it’s (220-110)v=110v difference. In the number game, the 220v outlet has more advantage over 110v.

Also if you consider the output ratio, 110v won’t pack a punch like a 220v outlet.

Internal Layout:

after dissecting any outlet, the internal wire size & number along with the circuit layout make it effortless to determine its capacity and other characteristics.

For a 220v outlet, you are sure to find more than 1 hot wire, the probability of finding a red and a black wire is pretty high.

That being said, multiple hot wires mean you would need to put on some extra chores and install multiple breakers for the 220v outlet.

On the other hand, a 110v outlet may have only one black color hot wire, so a single breaker is sufficient to fulfill the requirements. 

Wire size:

there is a noticeable difference in the wire size between the 110v and a 220v outlet. A 110v outlet may perform well with a 12 gauge wire but the same can’t be said for the 220v outlet.

As a 220v outlet delivers a significantly higher amount of power, a 10 gauge or bigger wire size is a must for the circuit.

Color difference:

you may find a large number of 110v outlets mainly coated white and for most 220v outlets it’s either black or a bold shade of brown.

The color white for 110v and black for 220v outlet does make it easier for anyone to identify them.

Added safety:

In most cases, a 110 outlet lacks quite a few safety features as most people don’t consider them dangerous enough to need any.

But when it comes to a 220 outlet, people would add ground wire, cutout fuses, and a variety of other safety measures. So you can say, the difference between a 110 v and 220v outlet is fear, people fear the 220 v outlet most.

What are the advantage and disadvantages of 220v over 110v?

There are some advantages and disadvantages od using 220v over 110. Let’s get to know them.


From Europe to Asia, everybody prefers 220v or higher voltage outlets and there are a handful of advantages when compared with a 110v outlet.

As an example, a thousand Watt capacity motor on a 220-volt outlet would only drain around 4 to 5 amp but when the same motor is running on a 110 voltage circuit outlet then the draining is quite high reaching 11 to 13amp.

The overall amp consumption is less in a 220v circuit outlet which makes it economical also the efficiency is top-notch.

The equipment designed to run on a 220v outlet is quite remarkable. A 220v suitable light can illuminate more area, fan’s rpm get astonishingly higher, Air cooler, refrigerator provide outstanding results. 

As the whole world is trying to run a unitary voltage range for all the day-to-day household equipment, it’s better to go with the flow and enjoy a diverse range of equipment.

In the future, moving out of the country won’t be a headache, adapting the 220v outlet and compatible devices, you won’t have to change your phone charger along with other voltage-sensitive equipment.

Only relying on 110v compatible devices does limit your adaptability. 


The biggest advantage of a 220v is also its largest liability. Providing a good amount of power may be good for certain electrical equipment but it may be disastrous for others and the risk of electrical mishaps is always high for a 220v outlet.

Without any doubt, the AC isn’t something to joke about, a 110v circuit could be equally devastating as 220v; but in the numbers game, 220v outlet mishaps could possibly cause more damage than 110v.

Also, if a country has been running on 110v for years then suddenly forcing them to go with a 220v may cause a backlash.

The infrastructure, appliance industry, and most importantly the people may reject a new system no matter how good it is.

Suddenly using a 220v outlet means one has to throw out the old appliances or buy new ones, in both cases the chance of dissatisfaction in people’s minds could be sky-high.

Final Thoughts

Although the 110v outlet is the most popular in homes, many prefer the 220v outlet. The higher voltage outlet necessitates a different layout, increased safety, and other considerations. The multimeter can readily identify the outlet voltage and dissecting the outlet may provide some clues.