It is very necessary for today’s global road warriors and international travelers to have a lightweight voltage converter. It’s up to your travel accessories and destinations, a transformer, adaptor plugs, and more may be an absolute must. Picking up electronics in your travels and getting them to work back home become more easier with a smart shopper like you.
Let’s take a look at how to figure out what you need to be a smart global traveler and consumer these days when it comes to power-the electric kind!
First a little background. Whereas most countries operate on 220-volt (and even 240) electric current, the United States and Canadian systems function with 110-volt electric current. This means that in order to use North American appliances abroad you’ll need a voltage transformer or voltage converter in order to “step up” the voltage. For those traveling TO North America, a “step down” transformer or converter is needed to adapt from 220 volts to 110. For use anywhere around the globe, consider a voltage regulator converter that can Step Up or Step Down.
Which One: Converter or Transformer?
Transformers and converters both change 110 volts to 220 or the reverse so that your equipment works. Converters however are designed to work just with electric appliances (e.g., hot pots, curling irons). Transformers are used for electronic devices, e.g., those with a chip or circuit, e.g., camcorder recharges, and radios, as well as electric appliances. So when in doubt, use a transformer. Very lightweight ones make it simple to travel easily and still use your equipment.
In addition to the transformer, you will almost surely need plug adapters too since the shape of plug outlets varies, generally from continent to content. For example, in Buenos Aires, you would need a “V” shape plug adapter and a converter to recharge your shaver.
What about Your Cell Phone and Laptop?
The good news is that not all electrical devices need converters. Check any devices or appliances that you plan to take. Some, e.g., hair dryers and curling irons, may have a switch or dial to change from 110 to 220. If so, be sure to change it as soon as you arrive and again upon your return to the appropriate voltage.
More common are devices that automatically change voltage, most notably cell phones and laptops and other devices that come with an AC adaptor. Check the label of the AC adaptor, and if it says “100-240V AC 50/60AC,” then it is safe to use in either system. However you are likely to need a plug adaptor, as noted above.
What about Electronic Purchases Abroad?
For reasons of economy, convenience, or availability, there are times when you may wish to purchase items in one electrical voltage system for permanent use in another. Check first to make sure that the cost of adapting the device to your permanent use location does not turn out to eat a hole in your wallet.
For example, what if you find a good price on a Nintendo Wii in the US, where it comes outfitted for US with 110-voltage, but want to use it in India or Chile? For about $20 you can buy a new AC cable that works with 220 volts, and so the savings may still be significant.
For luxury items such as HC LD televisions, you can shop for ones that come ready for the global market by looking for the feature “multisystem.” Sharp, for example, has several plasma models that do not require any kind of voltage converter box.
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