How to Use Travel Voltage Converters

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.

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