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World Travel Guide #2 - In-depth analysis of your needs

WORLD TRAVEL GUIDE - U.S. to Any 220-240 Volt Country

Please read all of the world travel information presented in the points below. World travel with U.S. electrical and electronic appliances can be confusing and, since there is no “one-size-fits-all” solution, it does require some input on your part.

The good news is that most U.S. appliances used in world travel are designed to handle both the U.S. voltage and the higher foreign voltages of 220-240 volts. Often, they are also automatic (self-sensing) but some have switches that need to be moved manually.

Also, be aware that, if your appliance is designed for that type of world travel capability, you should NOT use a voltage converter. If you do, there is a very good chance that both the converter and the appliance will malfunction.

  • Many appliances are what they call "multi-voltage" or "dual-voltage". If you have an electrical appliance that you want to use in a foreign country (where the voltage can be 220/230/240) and the appliance is multi-voltage (says input 100-240 volts) or dual voltage (says input 125/250 volts) you usually only need a plug adapter. The input voltage (and the watts or amps) information can usually be found on a charger but it could be anywhere on the appliance. It is often on the main body of the appliance in the same color where it can be difficult to see. Some dual voltage appliances have switches and some others are self-sensing, switching to the higher voltages for you automatically. There are entirely too many appliances manufactured for us to know if some have additional limitations or restrictions put on them by the manufacturers, so, if you aren't sure, contact a tech rep with the appliance manufacturer or the retailer.

  • If you determine that your appliances only need plug adapters take a look at our World Electric Guide. It is a list of all the countries in the world showing their voltage, frequency and, when you click on the country name, it shows which plug adapter(s) are needed there. Many countries have more than one configuration so there are often more than one adapter required.

  • We strongly recommend the convenience of dual voltage appliances. Dual voltage appliances can be bought from us at our Dual Voltage Appliance Store but many hair appliances and shavers sold at stores like TARGET are dual voltage. Most laptops, cell phone chargers, digital camera chargers, camcorder chargers, and similar chargers are multi-voltage. If they are they will usually say somewhere (on the charger usually), input 100-240 volts, 50/60 Hz). If they don't actually say that, they can usually be made available by the manufacturers. CPAP machines (medical devices needed by many travelers) are usually dual voltage (input 100-240 volts) or can be made available by the manufacturers.

  • Dual voltage appliances are extremely convenient when traveling. They allow you to avoid the weight, hassle and having to deal with heavy transformers and voltage converters. They save money also because most are ungrounded and ungrounded plug adapters are less expensive and more compact than grounded adapters. Dual Voltage Appliances can be bought here and a complete set of ungrounded adapters, such as our AK-UNGR Kit, can be had for under $20.00. All of the Dual Voltage Appliances that we sell require just ungrounded plug adapters and the ungrounded adapter kit AK-UNGR is available here

  • If an appliance is not multi or dual voltage but you still want to use it when you travel, you will need a transformer or a combination transformer / solid state voltage converter. Any appliance containing any electronic components such as laptops, chargers, some hair straighteners and curling irons, etc. will require an actual transformer while many non-electronic appliances (most, but not all, hair dryers, travel irons, most curling irons, etc) can just use the solid state voltage converters and don't usually require a transformer. Even automatic shut-off usually requires electronics.

  • If your appliance is not multi or dual voltage, but you still want to use it when you travel, there are voltage converters like the VCSP or the VCAP that can perform both functions with some restrictions. These voltage converters can handle both electronic appliances up to 50 watts and non-electronic appliances up to 2000 watts. Most small electronic appliances are under 50 watts. Most hair dryers are under 2000 watts. We said most, not all, so be sure to check your appliance or with the manufacturer to be sure. The VCSP and VCAP combination voltage converters all have some limitations on their use. Follow instructions carefully. Usually they can only be used for short time periods and only with ungrounded (2 pin plugs), non-electronic devices or appliances. Transformers usually have no such limitations other than to be sure you don't exceed its watt rating. Again, to avoid all of this hassle, we recommend dual voltage or multi-voltage appliances found at our Dual Voltage Appliance Store or sometimes at retail stores like Target

  • If you want to use a surge protector for your electronic appliances while overseas, you definitely want to consider one of these surge protectors most of which are rated up to 250 volts. A US surge protector cannot be used in 220-240 volt countries since they are designed and approved for a maximum voltage of 125 volts. We also have power strips if you just need to provide more outlets than provided in most foreign countries without the surge protection.

  • If your appliance requires a transformer and needs more than the maximum 50 watts available with the VCSP and VCAP you will need one of these Power Converter transformers. As you can see, these transformers are available in sizes from 50 watts up to 8000 watts and in a variety of types which may or may not apply to you. Transformers are sized according to the maximum watts (amps) that they can provide.

  • All appliances have the watts (or sometimes amps) they require posted somewhere on them. The appliance may list the power required as so many amps (for example, .5 A) in which case you can multiply volts times amps to find the watts (V x A = W). In the example .5 A times 120 volts equals 60 watts. It may also show the amps as so many mA (milli-amps). In this example, 50 mA converts (50 divided by 1000 = ..05) to .05 amps. In the same formula, .05 times 120 (volts) = 6 watts as an example.