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What You Should Know About Traveling Overseas with Electrical Appliances

Make sure to check this page before you travel as it will be updated when new important information becomes available.

Appliances built for use in North America are designed to operate on 110-120VAC (Volts Alternating Current). Most of the world, however, operates on 220-240VAC. When traveling overseas, it is important to convert the voltage to match your appliance’s voltage requirement. Failure to do so could severely damage or destroy your appliance.

Voltage Converters
Voltage converters convert electricity from 220-240 volts down to 110-120 volts when traveling overseas (they step-down the voltage); or from 110-120 volts up to 220-240 volts when traveling to North America (they step-up the voltage). 

There are two types of voltage converters available: Transformers and Solid State Converters.The one you need depends on the appliance you plan to use.

Electronic and Motorized Appliances must be used with a transformer-type converter. Transformers are sized by their wattage capacity and the wattage requirement of your appliance MUST be below the transformer’s maximum wattage rating. As transformers are heavy, those designed for travel are usually limited to 50 watts, although heavy-duty transformers are available when more wattage is needed.

Heating Appliances can also be used with transformers but their wattage demands are high and the appropriate transformer would usually be too heavy for travel. Therefore, we recommend our lightweight solid state converters that can provide up to 2,000 watts for your high wattage heating appliances.

Voltage Valet offers both transformer and solid state-type converters for use with a wide range of electronic, motorized and heating appliances when traveling overseas.

How to Find Voltage and Wattage Ratings on Your Appliances
To determine the correct voltage converter you need, you must know the input voltage and wattage requirements of your appliance. You can find this information listed on the appliance manufacturer's label located on the back, bottom or handle of the appliance, or in the specifications section of the appliance’s owner’s manual.

The label or manual will show the input voltage (110, 120, 220, 240; written as: 120 volts, 120V, 120 volts AC, or 120VAC), the wattage (written: 100 Watts or 100W) or the amperage (0.5 Amps, 0.5A or 500mA). 

NOTE: If only the amperage rating is shown, multiply the input voltage by the amperage rating to find the wattage rating. 

Volts x Amps = Watts, e.g., 120V x 0.5A = 60W

 

Frequently Asked Questions

What's the difference between a transformer and a solid state converter? The important difference is how the device converts voltage.
The household electricity our North American appliances use is delivered at 120VAC (volts alternating current) 60 Hz. (60 cycles/second). When the electric current flows it rises from 0 volts to 120 volts back to 0 volts and then it falls to negative 120 volts and rises back to 0 volts. This rise and fall completes one cycle (1 Hz.) and is called a "sine wave." To convert 240VAC to 120VAC, for example, a transformer reduces the height of the 240 volt sine wave in half creating a 120 volt sine wave that can be safely used by all types of 120 VAC appliances, a solid state converter however chops the sine wave at it's positive and negative 240 volt peak reducing the power in half but creating a chopped waveform that can ONLY be used by NON ELECTRONIC heating appliances.


How to Find Voltage and Wattage Ratings on Your Appliances
To determine the correct voltage converter you need, you must know the input voltage and wattage requirements of your appliance. You can find this information listed on the appliance manufacturer's label located on the back, bottom or handle of the appliance, or in the specifications section of the appliance’s owner’s manual.

The label or manual will show the input voltage (110, 120, 220, 240; written as: 120 volts, 120V, 120 volts AC, or 120VAC), the wattage (written: 100 Watts or 100W) or the amperage (0.5 Amps, 0.5A or 500mA). 

NOTE: If only the amperage rating is shown, multiply the input voltage by the amperage rating to find the wattage rating. 

Volts x Amps = Watts, e.g., 120V x 0.5A = 60W


Cycles: 50 Hz vs. 60 Hz
North American 120 volt electricity is generated at 60 Hz Alternating Current (AC). Most foreign 220–240 volt electricity is generated at 50 Hz Alternating Current (AC). This difference in cycles may cause the motor in your 60 Hz North American appliance to operate slightly slower when used on 50 Hz foreign electricity.

As a rule of thumb, the appliances that are most affected by cycle differences are those with motors such as turntables, clocks, kitchen appliances, medical equipment and power tools. They will run faster or slower than they should depending upon the cycle difference and may be damaged in the long run as a result. As with any rule of thumb, however, there are many exceptions. The only way to be sure is to consult the appliance's technical documentation or contact the manufacturer.

Most modern electronic equipment, including battery chargers, computers, printers, stereos, MP3 and CD players, VCR/DVD players, etc., will not be affected by the difference in cycles.

IMPORTANT NOTE: Transformers and solid state converters do not convert cycles.