Igor Utsumi

Igor Utsumi

Staff Writer
The Brazil Business


All About Units and Voltage in Brazil

Igor Utsumi

Igor Utsumi

Staff Writer
The Brazil Business


Running after a plug adapter is one of the first actions taken by foreigners arriving in Brazil. This article will be useful if you want to understand the Brazilian voltage system and the adopted measurement units.

Voltage System

Brazil owns a very particular voltage system. The country has two main residential voltages, 127V and 220V. The type used varies from location to location. Since it is not uncommon for both voltages to be present under the same roof, it is not possible to clearly define which cities use 127V or 220V.

Many sockets have some kind of identification on it, but asking someone or getting to know what voltage is available is always the safest solution.

One interesting fact is that in Brazil many classify the voltage system between 220V and 110V. This happens because 110V was used in prior years, but it is being phased out gradually and being replaced by the 127V.

Plugs and Sockets

Brazil changed its socket standard in the early 2000’s, but the new model, known as NBR 14136, or simply known as Type N, only became mandatory in 2010. This is similar to the Europlug, or Type C — which is used in countries like Germany, Spain, Portugal and Italy — with practically only one extra pin in the center, in a higher position.

Some residential spaces and even hotels have older Type A sockets, similar to those found in the United States. This, however, is becoming rarer and rarer, so the best solution is to always bring a global adapter with you when visiting Brazil.

Units of Measurement in Brazil

As the majority of countries in the world, Brazil has adopted the International System of Units, known as SI. This means that kilograms, Celsius degrees and the metric system are the chosen measuring standards. While many Europeans and other foreigners might find this simple, United States citizens may have some trouble converting all of these measures.

We have prepared a list of the main measuring units from SI, and, therefore, from Brazil. This might be helpful to those feeling a bit lost about measures used in the country.

Distance: Meters

The metric system is used in most of the cases, with really rare exceptions. Basically, the used forms are:

Units in Brazil Comparable Units Approximate Conversion
Meter (m) Feet (ft) 1 m = 3.28 ft = 100 cm
Kilometer (km) Mile (mi) 1 km = 0.62 mi = 1000 m
Centimeter (cm) Inch (in) 1 cm = 0.39 in = 10 mm
Millimeter (mm) Inch (in) 1 mm = 0.039 in

The measure used for areas may vary, depending on the circumstance. Squared meters is the most used unit, for example, but for long portions of land, like plantations, units like Hectare might be adopted. One hectare equals 10,000 square metres, or something close to 107,640 square feet.

Mass: Kilograms

The standard adopted to measure mass, or weight, as commonly called, is the kilogram.

Units in Brazil Comparable Units Approximate Conversion
Kilograms (kg) Pound (lb) 1 m = 2.20 lb
Grams (g) Ounce (oz) 1 g = 0.035 oz

The Arroba was widely used in the past, but nowadays it has become rarer. Some situations that still use the Arroba is the weighing of animals, like cattle. One arroba equals around 14.7 kilograms.

Volume: Litres

The most commonly used unit for volume in Brazil is the Litre, even though the International System uses cubic metres. This might be one of the most different aspects when comparing Brazil to other countries, since volume measurement varies a lot between them.

Units in Brazil Comparable Units Approximate Conversion
Litre (l) Fluid Ounce (fl. oz.) 1 l = 33.8 fl. oz. = 1000 ml
Litre (l)
US Pint (pt.) 1 l = 2.11 US pints
Litre (l)
UK/Imperial Pint (pt.) 1 l = 1.75 Imperial pints
Millilitre (ml)
Fluid Ounce (fl. oz.) 1 ml = 0.03 fl. oz.

In some situations, e.g. water bill, scientific experiments, cubic metres (m³) might be used. The conversion is pretty simple: 1 m³ equals 1000 litres.

Temperature: Celsius

Brazil uses the Celsius scale to measure temperature, as seen on most countries from America, Europe and Africa. If you come from a region where Fahrenheit is used, it is possible to use the following formula:

°F = °C × 1,8 + 32

In case Math is not your strong suit, the following summary might help you when trying to ascertain how hot or cold it is in Brazil.

  • 0 ºC = 32 ºF. This temperature is almost never reached, though, since winter in Brazil is not really rigorous.
  • 10 ºC = 50 ºF. This is considered cold by most Brazilians, and it is not rare to see the population wearing coats and scarves when the temperature is close to this.
  • 22 ºC = 71.6 ºF. This is considered a mild temperature and may roughly be considered an average in regions like the Southeast.
  • 30 ºC = 86 ºF. This temperature is frequently registered during summer in the biggest part of the country, easily reaching higher numbers in some states.
  • 44.7 ºC = 112.46 ºF. This is officially the highest temperature ever registered in Brazil, and does not happen often. Do not worry: most Brazilians will also feel like melting if temperatures surpass 38 ºC.