Electricity in Spain

...most new electronics like digital cameras (or their chargers rather), external harddrives, printers, mp3 players, and of course laptops/computers are of the 110V - 240V variety."

Posted by The Expatriator

Information on your electronics, electrical appliances and setting up electicity for your flat or house.

Endesa is the national electricity company.

There are two different prong sizes for the electrical plug-ins. Apparently, this is done for safety: The fat-pronged plugs include a ground; the thin ones don’t. However, you can buy a converter, and break off the little plastic piece which sticks out so that you don’t use it as a converter (but is meant to be broken off).

For an 120 Volt appliance to work, you need to buy a hulking transformer (available at El Corte Ingles). Transformers have to be capable of handling the wattage of the appliance or else it will overheat and you might ruin the appliance. I think you multiply the ampere rating of the device by 240 (volts) to determine the minimum size of the transformer you need, but don’t blame me if I’m wrong. For my 1.6 Amp monitor, for instance, I bought a transformer rated 500 V.A. Most new computers are rated for 110V - 240V so they can be plugged right in once you buy a Spanish cable. My American-bought Dell monitor is also rated at 110V - 240V, but it only worked at 640 x 480 pixels until I bought a transformer for it. Strange, but true.

Speaking of modern electronics, most new electronics like digital cameras (or their chargers rather), external harddrives, printers, mp3 players, and of course laptops/computers are of the 110V - 240V variety. One indication is that they will have a little (but heavy) box on the cord that you’ll have found gets pretty hot sometimes (and it should say 110V - 240V on it somewhere). That’s the transformer, so if your device has this, then you should be able to plug it in with only a little adapter that you get at the hardware store (ferreteria). It’s about an inch wide, is usually white, and should be able to accommodate North American 110V electrical plugs with a bit of effort (I don’t think they were designed for this originally so you may have to play with it). They run about 1.50€.

UK: the following excerpts should give you a good idea of what to expect for British expats, as well as some useful information for non-EU expats as well. For the full article, see the original CostaBlancaExpats article.

On the power supply:

This means, in general, that appliances bought in the UK will work in Spain and vice versa. The only difference you may notice is that items such as kettles and toasters may take longer to heat, as in the UK the actual voltage tends to be over 230V, whereas in Spain it is usually well under, and can be as low as 206V.

About domestic supply and wiring:

Your bill will consist of various items, including (obviously) a charge for units consumed and also a standing charge.  The standing charge will vary depending on the capacity (“potencia”) that your contract allows, and which is controlled by a trip in your main circuit breaker box.  Common potencias are 3.3Kw, 5.5Kw and 8.8Kw.  The higher your allowance, the higher the standing charge you pay.  The potencia can be upgraded - but at a considerable price.

... There is no ring main as used in the UK; everything is in the form of stub circuits. Although earth is green, or green and yellow stripes, there does not appear to be any consistent colour code for line and neutral. The switches for things such as lights are often placed on the neutral side, and the device itself may often still be “live” even though switched off.

Plugs and sockets:

There are two types of plug, both of which fit the standard socket.  A smaller two pin plug for double insulated appliances which don’t need an earth, and a larger two pin and side earth strip for those requiring an earth.  Line and neutral are not distinguished - plugs can go into sockets either way. Plugs are not individually fused. Appliances with UK sockets can be adapted to work with Spanish sockets either by replacing the UK plug or using a cheap and widely available adaptor.

Televisions and Video Recorders:

... When it comes to connecting UK and Spanish TVs, videos and digiboxes together the situation is easier.  Using the SCART (sometimes called Peritel) connectors all modern equipment has, all combinations can be used quite happily, as the SCART connections are standard throughout Europe.

Telephones, modems and fax machines:

The Spanish telephone system uses a different connector (RJ11) from the British. The connector is physically the same as that used in the US… If you want a device (phone or fax, probably) to physically ring, you’ll need the proper adaptor, which can be hard to get hold of or (probably better), cut off the UK plug and fit a Spanish one…


With the provisos given about changing mains plugs and, if necessary, modem plugs, your UK computer equipment will be perfectly at home in Spain.  You will need to change your system settings to take account of the new location and dialling codes, but that’s all.

Last updated 09 06 2006

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Dxwood said:

Electricity. Just about everyone I know who's not re-wired has real problems with the electricity cutting out. In addition, because the Spanish tend to use light cable, it's not "man enough" for the sort of use a British household would use.

This is also combined with the use of spurs (or stub) circuit and no fused plugs is arguably more dangerous. In addition all of your expensive items need to be surge protected (unless you want them to blow now and then).

I also use surge protecters from the UK (MUCH cheaper) just to be sure.

Personally I'd factor that into your costs of moving into a property in Spain.

Bottom-line, get a UK electrician to re-wire using UK specification cable and ring main set-up and you won't be sorry.

BTW I'm NOT an electrician but I'm NEVER sorry I had the place re-wired as described when I hear from friends and relations over here.

Dxwood said:


If you intend to use a UK TV or watch sky etc using the RF (aerial cable) don't mix and match with Spanish RF items. It seems the Spanish use a different frequency (I'm not technical) but it means that it doesn't work. Although as the writer says, scart & HDMI etc seem to be universal.

As another point you don't seem to be able to mix & match UK & Spanish TV on the same RF connection as the sound doesn't work (depending on which setting you set the TV to). Whether you can get an adapter I don't know.

Bottom line I've learnt (the hard way) that if you want to pipe TV around the house using RF / aerial cables all of the equipment HAS to be UK spec.

I hope it helps someone

Penelopedot said:


We moved to Spain in January and bought our home on February 23rd, 2011. To date we have had no electricity bill, although we have had our meter read twice by the company. Our agent, (who helped us buy the house) informed them when we bought, and has since made a phone call and a visit. But we still have not been billed, (he speaks Spanish we don't yet).
We love in Limaria which is part of Arboleas in Almeria. We have been told our local electric office is in Huercal-Overa. Should we go ourselves and try to sort it out?


Dxwood said:

Hi Penelopedot,

Yes, the Spanish don't give any warning, they just take your main fuse out until you pay.If you do it enough times, then they take the whole fuse box away and charge you for a new one. Even if it's a bank error.
You MUST take responsibility for all bills over here. There simply isn't the UK like consumer protection.
BTW, banks will only accept payments on certain days and certain times (believe it or not) !

Get it sorted yourself ASAP
Hope it helps
Thank You.

Penelopedot said:

Thanks Dxwood,

We went to Olula del Rio and asked about this problem. Turns out the previous owners of the house did not pay a bill since Oct 09! Left owing over ?1000! They would not set up a new account for us until the debt was cleared. Short version, our Agent went down and sorted it out.
New account set up, bill paid from Feb 11 to date and we now have a proper account. Hope they catch up with the previous owners - no sympathy from us.

Thanks for your support,


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