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 for analog products such as clocks as this can cause it to keep incorrect time. Other products such espresso makers and turntables may not operate properly with a voltage converter if they only operate on single frequency. When in doubt, consult with the manufacturer of the product.
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.
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.
Selecting the correct converter or transformer
1. Determine if your appliance actually requires a transformer/converter for use in abroad. Look for the voltage rating on your appliance, if the rating states something similar to 100V~240V that means your product is dual voltage, in this case you can use your product in a 220V without a transformer/converter. Most laptops and camcorder battery chargers are dual voltage. However, you may need a plug adapter to plug it in to the outlets abroad. Now, if the voltage rating states 110V or 120V it means that your product is only single volt and it will require a step down converter/transformer for use in 220V countries abroad.
2. Now that you know that you require a voltage converter/transformer, you need to determine which one or what kind. Look for the watt rating on the appliance or calculate the wattage by multiplying voltage x amps. For example, 110V x 1.5A = 165W. Select the converter/transformer according to the wattage rating of your appliance. We recommend using a converter/transformer that is rated at least a 25% higher than your products wattage rating. Using converter/transformer to their maximum capacity will eventually burn out the converter/transformer after prolonged use. Some items, such as, laser printers and power tools spike when you turn them on. For these types of situations you need to buy a transformer that is at least double the products rating.
3. After selecting the correct converter/transformer, make sure that you have the proper plug adater on the converter/transformer to plug it in to the outlet abroad. All of our dual step up/down voltage transformers include both US plug adapter and European plug adapter. Consult the world plug adapter chart to determine which plug adapter you need.
Still need assistance selecting the correct converter/transformer, feel free to call us at 773.381.1796.
Voltage Converter and 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, its always better to unplug a transformer when not in use for longer life. Always make sure to check the wattage of you 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.
Whats the difference between plug adapter and voltage converter/transformer?
Plug adapter do not convert voltage or electrcity. If your appliance is dual voltage, you can plug it in foregin outlets simply by using a proper plug adapter. Converter/transfomers convert voltage. They allow you to use your single voltage appliances in foreign or vice versa.
Can I you 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.