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Adapters & Converters 101

The Basics

In the USA our electrical current is rated at 110-125 volts. Many other countries throughout the world operate on 220-250v. You will need an electrical converter to use your 110v appliance when traveling in these 220v countries.

The two-prong electrical outlets that you are familiar with in the USA can be very different in other countries throughout the world. There are actually 16 different types of electrical outlets that you may encounter worldwide, but thankfully, for 90% of those countries our 9430 4-plug Non-Grounded Adapter Kit will take care of your needs. The correct adapter is necessary to plug your converter or dual voltage appliance into the wall.

Adapters vs. Converters

An adapter is a connector that changes the plug shape to match the outlet; adapters, however, do not change the voltage. Most electronic devices—including recent-model laptops, smartphones (such as iPhone®), tablets (such as iPad®) and readers (such as Kindle®)—now have smart power supplies that can be used for travel almost anywhere with the appropriate adapter.

If equipment requires a specific voltage, then it also needs a converter. Small electronics such as razors can operate with a 50-watt converter; heating appliances such as hair dryers require a 1600-watt converter.

If you are traveling with anything that runs on electricity, you will need to pack the correct adapter plugs and possibly a converter for the countries you plan to visit. There are two types of adapter plugs: Grounded (the type with the third pin, like those used by some laptops, CPAP machines or power tools), and non-grounded.

Is your appliance dual voltage?

Dual voltage appliances are the best for travel because all you need is the correct adapter plug for the country that you are going to visit. The somewhat heavy converter is not needed.

If your appliance is dual voltage (like ALL of the appliances we sell in our catalog), it will operate on both 110/125v and 220/250v current, and you will only need to take the correct adapter plug(s) for the countries to which you will be traveling. It is easy to tell if you appliance is dual voltage. There is usually a switch on the back of the appliance, or a note at the base of the cord that reads “100v/250v”. It will also likely be noted in the appliance’s instruction manual. Be sure to flip the switch to the higher voltage before you pack your appliance in your luggage.

If your appliance is NOT dual voltage, then you will need a converter to step down the 220v-250 volt current of the country you will be visiting to the 110v-125volt current that we use in the USA. If you fail to use a converter with a 110v/125v appliance plugging it directly in to a 220v-250v outlet such as the ones used in Europe, your appliance will burn up or spark like the 4th of July—or possibly take out the electrical power of your entire hotel. This is not good for international relations, or for your vacation!

Converters are designed to be used only with electric appliances such as hairdryers, steamers, curling irons, etc., typically for short term use (10-15 minutes at most).

So, what should you take?

If your appliance is designed for single-voltage 110/120v use, then a converter is what you need. If the appliance is dual voltage, only the correct adapter plug(s) are needed for travel.

What do you need to set up a laptop computer?

The good news is that most laptop battery rechargers (made within the last five years), are dual voltage, and only the correct grounded adapter plug is needed. The charger is dual voltage if the plate on the back of the recharger reads 100v/250v/50/60 cycles.

Always confirm the requirements of your electronics before connecting to the power grid in a foreign country.

Don’t fry your laptop when traveling to Europe!

For travelers to Europe who will be using a laptop computer, in addition to the correct grounded adapter plug for the countries you are visiting, we recommend the 90882-EuroSurge Protector. That way, you can use your computer and other devices when traveling without worry.

In addition, we recommend the purchase of the 90883-EuroSurge Ground Collar. This ground collar is required to complete the connection when using the 90882-EuroSurge Protector.

Also note: some countries require different adapter plugs in different parts of the country. We recommend, in these situations, that customers purchase ALL the adapters recommended for travel to that country.

Traveling to multiple countries with USA 110v/120v single voltage appliances?

Choose Item # 9430-50-2000 Watt Auto-Switch Voltage Converter with 4-Non-Grounded Adapter Plugs. This kit is good for travel to 150 countries. Electrical Adapters for countries highlighted in RED below are covered by this item.

Traveling to multiple countries with dual-voltage appliances?

Choose Item # 90977-TravelSmith All-in-One Universal Converter with Adapters. This kit, too, is good for travel to 150 countries. Electrical adapters for countries highlighted in RED below are covered by this item.

Going to far-flung destinations?

Choose Item # 90920-Set of 12 Grounded Adapter Plugs, which contains the correct grounded adapter plug for every country in the world. Never worry again about having the correct electrical adapter plug.

For more information on adapters and convertors
Voltage Valet at

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