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How to Change a Three-Prong Italian Plug Into an American Plug

Updated February 21, 2017

The electrical systems used in different countries vary in terms of voltage, wire colours and styles of plugs and sockets. Italian three-pin plugs are unpolarized and consist of a central bare-metal ground prong and two partly sleeved nonpolarized power prongs. For safety reasons, replacement American plugs must be three-prong models, one of which is a fully working ground prong. Replacing an Italian plug with an American plug is straightforward and requires no previous electrical experience.

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  1. Dismantle the Italian plug and remove it from the cord. Reusable Italian plugs are usually held together by a central screw that, when undone, allows the top of the plug to be removed. Cut off permanently sealed and moulded plugs as close to the end of the cord as possible. If the plug can be disassembled, note the colour of the wire attached to the middle, or ground, prong. This should be either green or bare metal.

  2. Remove the top from an American three-prong plug. Clips or a screw, depending on the method selected by the manufacturer, may hold the plug together. Identify the three terminals within the plug. The silver terminal is the neutral terminal, and the gold or brass terminal is the live or "hot" terminal. The ground terminal is green, and it may be marked with the letters "GND."

  3. Strip the outer insulation from the final 2 inches of the Italian cord. Lay the cord on top of the American plug and rest the edge of the insulated outer layer on top of the cord grip. Route the bare or green wire to the ground terminal, and the other two wires to the neutral and live terminals. Italian wires and appliances are unpolarized, so it does not matter which wire you attach to the neutral and live terminals.

  4. Cut the wires to the appropriate lengths and strip the insulation from the final 1/4 inch of each wire. Twist the filaments together to form a firm metal rod. Insert each wire tip into the correct terminal and tighten the terminal screws or clips.

  5. Tighten the grip around the cord, then replace the top of the plug.

  6. Tip

    The Italian electricity supply is 220 volts AC at 50 cycles. Simply replacing the plug will not make an Italian appliance work with an American 110-volt power supply.


    Italian appliances are unpolarized and designed for use with a grounded cord. The safety of the appliance depends on the existence of a good ground connection. Do not use the appliance unless it is grounded.

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Things You'll Need

  • Wire cutters
  • Electrician's screwdriver

About the Author

David Robinson has written professionally since 2000. He is a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society and the Royal Meteorological Society. He has written for the "Telegraph" and "Guardian" newspapers in the U.K., government publications, websites, magazines and school textbooks. He holds an honors Bachelor of Arts in geography and education and a teaching certificate from Durham University, England.

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