The utility frequency, (power) line frequency (American English) or mains frequency (British English) is the frequency of the oscillations of alternating current (AC) in an electric power grid transmitted from a power plant to the end-user. In most parts of the world this is 50 Hz, although in the Americas it is typically 60 Hz. Current usage by country or region is given in the list of mains power around the world.
During the development of commercial electric power systems in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, many different frequencies (and voltages) had been used. Large investment in equipment at one frequency made standardization a slow process. However, as of the turn of the 21st century, places that now use the 50 Hz frequency tend to use 220-240 V, and those that now use 60 Hz tend to use 100-120 V. Both frequencies coexist today (Japan uses both) with no technical reason to prefer one over the other and no apparent desire for complete worldwide standardization.
Unless specified by the manufacturer to operate on both 50 and 60 Hz, appliances may not operate efficiently or even safely if used on anything other than the intended frequency.