Month: February 2011

One of the less-publicized factors of traveling abroad is the need for voltage converters to account for the differing electrical systems in Europe and Asia. If you’re planning to tote your favorite hair dryer, coffee maker and battery chargers on your overseas trip, you’ll also need to invest in the right voltage regulator and plug adapters to use with your appliances.
Without a voltage regulator, you run the risk of destroying your personal appliances and small electronics when you plug them in—if you can plug them in at all. Most countries have different plug configuration as well as different strengths and frequencies of electricity flowing through the circuits. But that doesn’t mean you have to leave your personal electronics at home, it just means you’ll have to do a little research and bring the right voltage converters and plug adapters along with you. Here’s how to make sure you’ve got the right stuff to run your electrical appliances when you travel.
  1. Check the electrical system and plug type you’ll need for the country or countries you’re planning to visit. There are references available online that list the plug types and voltages for most countries in the world.
  2. If you’re traveling from the U.S., which uses 110 V current, to most EU countries, you’ll need a step down converter in order to use your 110 V appliances with the 220 V electrical systems there.
  3. Purchase a plug adapter that will fit the outlets in the countries where you’ll be traveling. The plug configurations are designated by a letter code – the UK uses a G adapter, for example, while Albania, Italy and Sweden use a C adapter.
  4. Check your electronic device to learn its power requirements. A few, such as many hair dryers, are rated for both 110 and 220 volts. You won’t need a voltage regulator with those, just a plug adapter, but you should be sure that you’ve set the switch to the right type of voltage before plugging it in.
  5. Calculate the amount of wattage your device needs by multiplying the voltage by the amperage – both listed on a label on the device. If your cell phone charger is listed at 110 V and 2 A, for example, it requires 220 watts to run. Make sure that your voltage converter fits the wattage that you need. If it’s rated too low, your appliance won’t work. If it’s too high, you may short out your device.
  6. If you’re using a transformer or voltage converter, plug the device’s power cord into the power socket on the converter. Insert the plug for the converter into the correct plug adapter, and plug the adapter into the wall outlet.
If you travel often, invest in a deluxe automatic voltage regulator, which can handle conversions from 110 V to 220 V and vice versa, instead of a basic voltage converter. A plug adapter kit that includes adapters for use with several different electric plug configurations will save you from having to purchase multiple plugs.
With the explosion of online retailing there are very few things that cannot now be purchased online.  Sites for consumer goods range from the small niche local retailer, to auction sites to big brand online retailers to online malls.  The Internet is a fantastic source for products that are not available in your local are. You can also buy products in bulk and find some fantastic price deals. The purchase of major electrical appliances such as a multisystem TV can also be accomplished online. 
Buying Electrical Products Online
The biggest advantage to buying electrical products online is that you are able to browse at your leisure, visit as many sites you like, and look around for the best deal you can find—all without leaving your home. You’ll be able to compare prices and features easily, both within sites and between sites, and compare household name products and their lesser known counterparts.  You’ll also be able to select from products that may not be within your reach geographically if you were to buy from a store.
Another advantage to buying electrical products online is the array of technical data that’s available. For example, if you’re an electronics engineer who is looking for something to control an alternator, you would be able to find out that the deluxe automatic voltage regulator is better than the standard one or whether or not it will deal with the level of output you are working with. With the Internet you can look up the full range of technical specifications and read user reviews.
Internet shopping also helps when you don’t know exactly what you need. For instance, you might have a passion for a film that is only available as a limited distribution, and you’ve learned that you’ll need a player that can play DVDs from anywhere in the world. By doing a little research, you’ll learn that you’ll need to buy a region code free DVD player.
What are the Potential Pitfalls?
There might be times when seeing a demonstration of a product working is better than reading about it on an internet site. An example might be when you want to compare the picture quality of a Plasma v LCD TV, but that won’t be as important when you’re looking for single function items such as voltage converters.
Some electrical appliances might need to be installed by a qualified engineer, and this might make the purchase a two step process; first buy the product online, and then find a local installer.
No matter which electrical appliance you’re looking for—whether it’s voltage converters or a multi-system TV, you’ll do well to research your options online and then find a good online store to buy from.