Quick Step Voltage Converter Guide
Countries in in the North America, parts of Central and South America, the Caribbean and parts or Pacific operate on 110 Volt / 60 Hz, while the rest of the world operates on 220 Volt / 50 Hz. In general, 110V includes voltage range of 100-125V and 220V includes 220-250V. Many countries operate on both 110V and 220V.
As mentioned above, not only the voltage differ within countries but so does frequency (cycles per second). Countries use either 60 Hz (USA) or 50 Hz (UK). Most electrical products are not affected by the cycle change because they internally convert AC voltage to DC voltage. And many devices support both cycles. The difference in frequency may cause a motorized 60 Hz device to operate slower on 50 Hz. You'll need to double check the frequency for analog products such as clocks as this can cause it to keep incorrect time.
Voltage converters and transformers do not convert cycles. They can only be used to convert the voltage. Step down voltage converter/transformer will convert voltage from 220V to 110V thus, allowing you to use your US (110V) products abroad in 220V countries. On the other hand, Step up voltage converter/transformer will convert voltage from 110V to 220V thus, allowing you to use 220V products in the US (110V). Most voltage transformers are both step up and down, you can switch them to operate as step down or step up.
The third difference is the plug adapters. Not all countries have the standard US flat prong electrical outlet. In fact, most countries have a different plug adapter from the US plug. Many countries have multiple type of outlets. In this case, carry all types of plug adapters for the traveling country.
Step 1) Determine the Voltage Rating
Look for the AC voltage rating of your electric item. Voltage rating is often stated on the specification side of the item or on its power supply adapter and it is indicated with a "V" or "VAC".
Your item's voltage rating should fall within these three groups:
100-240V Also Known as Dual Voltage (Sample 120V Rating)
If your item is rated 100-240V then it is dual voltage and its designed to operate on any voltage without a voltage converter or a voltage transformer. You'll just need a correct adapter plug for the country you want to use it in.
120V or 110-125V (Sample 230V Rating)
Items rated at 110-125V require a step down voltage converter or voltage transformer for use in 220-240V countries.
230V or 220-240V
Items rated at 220-240V require a step up voltage converter or voltage transformer for use in 110-120V countries.
Step 2) Determine The Power Requirement Of Your Item (WATT)
Now that you know that your item requires a voltage converter or transformer, you'll need to find the WATT (W) or the AMP (A) rating to determine the correct size voltage converter. As shown in the step 1 above, look for this information on the specification sheet of your item.
Fairly simple, as 'W' is clearly stated in this case 23W.
220V - 500mA
Calculate W = V x A, and 1000 mA is 1A so in this case 220V x 0.50A = 110W.
240V - 1.8A
Calculate W = V x A, so in this case 240V x 1.8A = 432W.
Note: you may find a range of wattage rating, i.e 1200W - 2000W on an item so in that case select the MAX wattage rating.
Step 3) Purchase The Correct Size Voltage Transformer
Now that you know your items Voltage and Watt ratings we can determine the correct voltage converter or transformer for your item. All of our heavy duty transformers are designed for continuous use and function as step up and step down transformers. Electronics items often surge or spike when they are switched on causing the wattage ratings to exceed the specification sheets. Thus, it is always best to purchase a transformer larger than your items required wattage to handle any power surges that may occur.
Voltage Converter VS Voltage Transformer
Voltage converters are smaller travel size converters available in both Step Up and Step Down. These converters can be used for electric items with heating devices or motors such as hair dryer, curlers, irons, shaver, radio, electric calculators etc... Converters are used for shorter period of time. Voltage transformers are bigger and heavier in size. They also come in Step Up, Step Down or both Step Up/Down. Although transformers are designed for longer or continuous use, it’s always better to unplug a transformer when not in use for longer life. Always make sure to check the wattage of your appliances before using voltage converter/transformer.
Can I plug in multiple products to a single transformer?
Yes, you may plug in multiple products to a transformer using a power strip if and only if the combined wattage rating of all products is less than the capacity of the transformer. Do not plug in multiple products to a small travel converter.
What’s the difference between plug adapter and voltage converter/transformer?
Plug adapter do not convert voltage or electricity. If your appliance is dual voltage, you can plug it in foreign outlets simply by using a proper plug adapter. Converter/transformers convert voltage. They allow you to use your single voltage appliances in foreign or vice versa.
Can I use American 220-volt product such as a Dryer with a transformer or connect a transformer to American 220V outlet?
No, American 220V electricity consists of 2-phase 110V while, European electricity is single phase 220V. Transformer/converters are not designed for 2-phase American 220V.
What are Voltage regulators?
Voltage regulators also convert the voltage similar to voltage converter/transformer and they regulate the voltage by stabilizing it. These are useful in countries where the current is not stable.