The CEE7 European standard

CEE7 is a standard for AC plugs and sockets, dating from 1951 and published by the predecessor of the IECEE, the Commission internationale de réglementation en vue de l’approbation de l’équipement éléctrique or International Commission on the Rules for the Approval of Electrical Equipment. 

CEE7 is the only CEE standard to retain its name; all others have been superseded by IEC or CENELEC standards: CEE13 for cable became IEC 60227; CEE17 for industrial plugs became IEC60309; and CEE22 became IEC 60320.

CEE publication 7 in full is the Specification for plugs and socket-outlets for domestic and similar uses.  It lists general requirements for 6 plugs and 3 mating socket outlets, not all of which are in common usage any more.  Individual countries have their own national standards that incorporate and may add to CEE7.  See our European product page for a full list of national standards and approvals.  Many other countries use the same pin spacing, most of which are listed in IEC/TR 60083, and this makes the unearthed CEE7/16 Europlug near-universal. 

The only European countries that do not use CEE7 as their main plugs and sockets are: UK (inc. Gibraltar); Ireland; Malta; Cyprus; Denmark (inc. Faroe Islands and Greenland); Switzerland (inc. Liechtenstein); Italy (inc. San Marino and Vatican City).  N.b. all CEE7 plugs fit Danish standard sockets, but will not be earthed. 

All CEE7 plugs and socket outlets except the Europlug are rated up to 16 Amps at 250 Volts AC (alternating current).  The plugs are characterised by a generally circular face, with two 4.8mm diameter round pins with their centres spaced at 19mm.  Both plugs and sockets are unpolarised, so the line and neutral connections can be either way round.  The major variations are in the existence and location of the earth contacts.  Plugs can be moulded or rewireable, angled or straight, or panel mounted appliance inlets; outlets can be domestic type wall sockets, inline connectors, and extension lead sockets. 

CEE7/1CEE7/1 The CEE7/1 unearthed socket was designed to take the CEE7/2 unearthed plug, along with the unearthed CEE7/16 and CEE7/17 plugs; it in fact accepts all CEE7 plugs.  However, whilst earthed plugs fit, the equipment they power will not be grounded, creating a potentially dangerous safety problem.  Whilst CEE7/1 sockets may still exist in older installations, they have largely been phased out because of this; plugs are still available to buy in Germany and Scandinavia. 

Because the socket is symmetrical the plugs can be inserted either way round, making it unpolarised.  May be referred to as Type C socket.  A cable-mount socket connector may be called a contra-plug.

CEE7/2CEE7/2The CEE7/2 unearthed plug fits the CEE7/1 socket, but no others.  Because of this, it has largely been replaced by CEE7/16 and CEE7/17 plugs for unearthed applications and has become rare.  It is round, and has two 19mm long 4.8mm diameter round pins with their centres spaced at 19mm, which is the basis for all other plugs in the standard.  Like the socket, the plug is unpolarised.

CEE7/3CEE7/3 The CEE7/3 socket is the German standard DIN 49440 / DIN 49441, and commonly called Schuko (for Schutzkontakt or protective contact, meaning earthed).  Earthing is ensured by two metal clip type contacts at the top and bottom of the socket.  Compared to CEE7/1 the socket is recessed 17.5mm to make it harder to accidentally touch a live pin when the plug is partially inserted.

It accepts CEE7/4, CEE7/16 and CEE7/17 plugs.  The sides are not perfectly round, being squared-off with cut-outs, which prevents the round plugs being inserted: the unearthed CEE7/2 plug and the French CEE7/5 will not fit.  It is still symmetrical however, so the plug can be fitted either way up.  Many other countries use the Schuko as the basis for their plugs and sockets, some of which add the requirement for childproof shutters.  Also known as Type F socket.

CEE7/4CEE7/4 The CEE7/4 earthed plug is also called the Schuko.  It has contacts at the top and bottom of the plug which align with the socket’s grounding clips which make the earth connection before the live pins are inserted.  It fits CEE7/3 sockets, and (without earth connection) CEE7/1 sockets.  Like the matching socket, the Schuko plug is symmetrical and fits either way round.  Sweden does not allow a rewireable version for medical use.  Also known as Type F plug.

CEE7/5CEE7/5 The CEE7/5 grounded socket originates as French standard NF C 61-314 and is generally called the French socket.  The socket is recessed 15mm, and has a projecting earth pin 10mm above the line and neutral apertures, sometimes called a reverse earth pin; as a safety feature this makes contact before the live pins are inserted.  This earth pin prevents the round CEE7/2 and Schuko CEE7/4 plugs fitting. 

The socket is technically polarised, as the earth pin means plugs can only be inserted one way; however in reality the socket may be wired either way round.  Since 2002 French sockets have the polarity marked, but this is the opposite of the recommendation when used in the Czech Republic; other countries do not specify polarity.  As well as France it is used in Belgium, Poland, Czech Republic and Slovakia.  France and Belgium require child-proof safety shutters on the line and neutral apertures.  May be known as French socket or Type F socket.

CEE7/6CEE7/6 The CEE7/6 French plug fits the CEE7/5 socket, and also the CEE7/1 but unearthed.  There is an aperture on the plug which lines up with the earth pin in the socket to make the protective earth connection.  This should ensure polarity, but the wiring of the plugs is not 100% standardised, so live and neutral could be either way round.  Also known as Type F socket.

CEE7/7CEE7/7 To simplify and standardise the manufacture and sale of pugs in Europe the CEE7/7 plug was designed to fit into both CEE7/3 and CEE7/5 sockets.

It has both earthing sysyems, an aperture in the plug to accept the French earth pin and contacts at the top and bottom for the German earthing clips.  Because of this it is sometimes called the Hybrid plug or double or twin earthing plug; it is often incorrectly called a Schuko. 

It will fit either way round in a CEE7/3 socket, but only one way round in a CEE7/5 outlet; in either setting polarity is not guaranteed.  The majority of electrical appliances are fitted with this plug.  Due to the hybrid design, there is no matching socket.  Also known as the continental European standard, this is the version we stock in depth to simplify powering electrical products in Europe.

CEE7/16 Alternative ICEE7/16 Alternative I CEE7/16 Alternative 1 is essentially the same as Alternative 2, being 2.5A rated with tapering 4mm diameter pins, but with a larger round face similar to the contour plug.  It is very rare, and usually ignored in preference for alternative 2.  It fits CEE7/1, CEE7/3 and CEE7/5 power outlets.

CEE7/16 Alternative IICEE7/16 Alternative II The CEE7/16 Europlug was added to CEE7 supplement 2 in 1962 for low power class II applications, defined in CENELEC EN 50075 and also in various national standards.  Its full name is Alternative II of Standard Sheet XVI in CEE publication VII.  It is unearthed, and rated 2.5A at 250V AC.  It has slightly thinner 4mm diameter pins with the same spacing; the two pins taper inwards and are slightly flexible to guarantee contact.  The prongs are partially-insulated so that accidental contact cannot be made when the plug is partially inserted. 

There is no matching socket specified in the CEE7 standard, although these are available.  Its elongated hexagonal design means it fits all CEE7 sockets, along with sockets in the standards from Brazil, Denmark, Israel, Italy, Russia, Korea, South Africa, Switzerland and Thailand, along with all other countries that use these type plugs.  It should not be sold as a rewireable plug, so if supplied loose the design must prevent it being opened again once assembled.  It resembles the UK shaver plug, and may be called this; the CEE7/16 will fit UK shaver sockets.  Two pin plugs for Switzerland, Brazil and South Africa are near-identical, but these do not have tapering pins.  There is also a French national version rated at 6 Amps.  Also known as the Type C plug.

CEE7/17CEE7/17 The CEE7/17 Contour plug or Kontur plug is a 16A rated class II unearthed plug.  It has cut outs at the top and bottom to bypass the German CEE7/3 earthing clips which also incorporates holes for the French CEE7/5 earthing pin to pass through.  The sides of the plug are also flattened to fit into Schuko CEE7/3 sockets.  Like the Europlug, it has been designed to fit all CEE7 outlets, and being symmetrical it is non-polarised.  There is no matching socket in the standard, although these do exist, usually as part of an extension lead. Please see the main European page or contact us for more technical information or pricing on any of these parts.

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