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Double Schuko socket with one plug inserted

CEE 7/7 hybrid Schuko/French plug
"Schuko" ( ) is the colloquial name for a system of AC power plugs and sockets that is defined as "CEE 7/4" or known unofficially as "Type F" . A Schuko plug features two round pins of 4.8 mm diameter (19 mm long, centers 19 mm apart) for the live and neutral contacts, plus two flat contact areas on the top and bottom side of the plug for protective earth (ground). Schuko sockets form a cavity into which the plug is inserted. Schuko plugs and sockets are symmetric AC connectors. They can be mated in two ways, therefore live and neutral can arrive on either pin at the consuming device. As with most types of European sockets, Schuko sockets can accept europlugs. Schuko plugs are considered a very safe design when used with Schuko sockets but they can also mate with other sockets to give an unsafe result.

"Schuko" is a short form of the German term Schutzkontakt (literally: protective contact), which simply indicates that plug and socket are equipped with protective-earth contacts (in the form of clips rather than pins). Schuko connectors are normally used on circuits with 230 V, 50 Hz, for currents up to 16 A.


The Schuko system originated in Germanymarker and goes back to a patent (DE 370538) granted in 1926 to Albert B├╝ttner, a Bavarianmarker manufacturer of electrical accessories. It is used today in more than 40 countries, including most of Continental Europe.

Francemarker, Belgiummarker, the Czech Republicmarker, Slovakiamarker and Polandmarker use a type of plug and socket (CEE 7/5) with the same size and spacing of the main pins but with a male protective-earth pin on the socket instead of the earth clips and without the guiding notches at the sides. Most modern moulded-on Schuko plugs, and good-quality rewirable replacements, are a hybrid version with an extra hole ("CEE 7/7") that also accommodates the earth pin of French sockets.

CEE 7/7 has now become the de facto standard across the European Union and in many other countries that follow CENELEC standards.The only countries that do not use CEE 7/7 within the EU are:

In Italymarker, (CEI 23-16/VII) is the dominant standard, though Schuko is also an approved standard and is in common use. Appliances are sold with either Italian or schuko-type plugs. A minority of sockets accept both types, the remainder accepting one or the other. Schuko sockets are most commonly used for larger-rated applicances such as washing machines, and are particularly common in South Tyrol, with its cultural, economic and tourist connections with Austria.

Although Schuko was never been a standard (or the de-facto norm) in Belgiummarker or Francemarker, it is sometimes encountered in older installations in eastern regions of Belgium and Alsacemarker. Newer installations adhere to national standards.

In parts of the Republic of Irelandmarker, schuko was commonly installed until the 1960s. For safety reasons and to harmonize with the UK (with which Ireland has a long-standing free travel arrangement) and avoid having a different outlet type in Northern Irelandmarker and the Republic of Irelandmarker, the Republic standardised on BS1363 (transposed into Irish Standards as IS401 (Plug) and IS411 (Socket outlet). This standardisation in Ireland occurred at the same time as the UK was phasing out older BS546 plugs and socket outlets (which were also used in parts of Ireland). The adoption of BS1363 also eliminated a situation whereby grounded schuko plugs could be connected to non-grounded outlets, or to BS546 grounded outlets without making an earth connection. The UK had similar problems, where a mixture of old 2-pin and 3-pin BS plugs created all sorts of compatibility and grounding problems. The new BS1363 standard was specifically designed to be incompatible with any existing system, thus forcing compliance with grounding and other safety regulations. It should also be noted that in the 1960s compatibility with other European countries was not considered to be a major issue, as travel was less frequent and people did not carry as many portable appliances.

However, in the Republic of Irelandmarker many wiring practices remain more like Continental Europe, particularly Germanymarker. Socket outlets (which, unlike the UK, are often unswitched) are normally fed by 16amp or 20amp radials rather than UK-style ring circuits and are required to be protected by a 30mA RCD (US Terminology: GFCI). Also, fuses and other installation equipment tend to follow German DIN standards rather than British Standards.

Schuko has been completely phased out of use in Ireland and will not be encountered in hotels or businesses and only very rarely in private homes. However, some hotels do provide a Schuko outlet alongside BS1363 outlets for the convenience of European visitors. The only standard in use for general residential or business use is BS1363 and it is now mandatory (as in the UK) for appliances sold for domestic use to be pre-fitted with BS1363 plugs (or shaver plugs where appropriate). This avoids the need for adaptors or the temptation to force European plugs into BS1363 outlets which have had their shutters overridden.

Safety features

CEE 7/4 schuko plug and schuko socket
When inserted into the socket, the Schuko plug covers the socket cavity (1)  and establishes protective-earth connection through the earth clips (2before the live and neutral pins (3)  establish contact, thereby preventing users from touching connected pins. (Hence the Schuko system does not require partially insulated pins as used in the europlug and the British and Australian plugs.) A pair of non-conductive guiding notches (4)  on the left and right side provides extra stability, enabling the safe use of large and heavy plugs (e.g. with built-in transformers or timers).

Compatibility with other plug/socket types

non-earthed socket (bearing Dutch standard approval) that can mate with schuko plugs

Schuko sockets can accept two-pin unearthed type C plugs, namely CEE 7/16 and CEE 7/17. Less safely, schuko plugs can be inserted into many two-pin unearthed sockets and into some sockets with a different form of earth connection that will not mate with the earth contacts on the schuko plug (e.g., some variants of type K). Many such sockets also lack the cavity required to prevent users from touching the pins whilst inserting the plug.

The Russianmarker standard plug defined in GOST 7396 is similar but has 4 mm pins. Therefore, modern Russian plugs (but not soviet plugs, which are still widely used) will fit Schuko outlets, but Schuko plugs will not fit Russian outlets. Russia currently has no official standard for earthed plugs. Schuko plugs were adopted de-facto. Many former Eastern bloc countries are currently undergoing a process of transition from the (10 A) GOST to the (16 A) Schuko standard.

In Italymarker, Argentinamarker and Uruguaymarker, hybrid versions of Schuko sockets are seen with an extra hole that will take the smaller variant of type L (CEI 23-16/VII) plugs. There are also hybrid Schuko sockets with three extra holes and a wider cavity that will also accept the larger variant of type L plugs.

Although Schuko sockets are unpolarized, it is recommended to wire them the same way most universal CEE 7/7 plugs are wired (live on left and neutral on right, when looking at the socket) for consistency and so that universal CEE 7/7 plugs will plug in polarized fashion in most cases (when the plug's female ground receptacle is on top). However, there is no observed standard for that, so in most cases they are connected at random. That's why if there is a need to be sure which side is live, the socket's polarity must be tested every time.


Schuko sockets are sometimes criticized for being unfused, unpolarized by design, and also for requiring significant force to plug and unplug, which is a problem for some people. Supporters of the standard argue that in-plug fuses and polarization are largely unnecessary features, and that the convenience of both-way insertion outweighs possible benefits of having polarized sockets. In many situations the firm connection between the socket and plug is a good feature, and smaller equipment like cellphone chargers usually come with europlugs anyway, which can be used with Schuko-sockets with little force.

The IEC 60906-1 standard was intended to address some of these problems and replace Schuko, but has had little success so far.

See also


  • German standard DIN 49440: Schuko sockets
  • German standard DIN 49441: Schuko plugs
  • IEC/TR 60083

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