Converters and Adaptors: Traveling With Electronics

Learn how to tell if appliances are dual voltage.
Find your destination's voltage and plug type.

Traveling with electronics has gotten easier over the last few years but it can still be tricky. Nowadays virtually all high-end appliances (cell phones, iPads, laptops, digital cameras, etc.) are dual voltage. That means they can run on the 110-volt system we have here in North America and they can run on the 220-volt systems you’ll find in most overseas countries. To plug in dual voltage items all you’ll need is the correct adaptor plug for the country in which you are traveling.

However, lower end appliances (hair dryers, curling irons, electric razors and more) are still most often only available in 110-volt versions. So if you want to take a 110-volt appliance abroad you will also (in addition to the adaptors referenced above) need a converter so that your 110-volt appliance doesn’t fry when you plug it into a 220-volt outlet. In some cases the building’s electrical system can also be damaged so be careful.

Which countries are on 220? Almost all of them. All of Europe is on 220, as is almost all of Africa, Asia and South America. Check out this list for country-by-country details.

So, which converter do you need if you are traveling to a country that has a 220-volt electrical system and you’d like to take a 110-volt appliance? That depends on the appliance itself.

If you’ve got a low-wattage (50-watts or less), non-heating appliance like a battery charger, CD player, electric toothbrush, or shaver that you’d like to plug in for a short while (15 to 20 minutes) you’ll need our 50-Watt Converter. If you’d like to use a low-wattage appliance for longer periods of time, or even continuously, our 85-Watt Long-Term Converter is the way to go.

If you have a higher wattage appliance, such as non-electrical heating devices - clothes steamers, coffee makers, curlers, bottle and food warmers, hair dryers, heating pads, irons - our 2000 Watt Short Term Converter is what you're looking for. But, be very careful when using it because any of these devices that also contain electronic components (temperature control, timers, etc.) can be severely damaged if used with this voltage converter.

So if you do want to use an electronically controlled device - anything that uses a timer, temperature control device, digital timing, auto-start or shut-off functions, or anything with temperature detection circuits - we recommend switching to a dual-voltage version of the appliance, since the converters that can handle them are bulky, heavy, and quite costly.

If you want to use both low and high Wattage devices on the same trip, we also have a 50/2000 Watt Automatic Converter, which will sense the wattage needs of your appliance and automatically switch to the correct setting.

If you have any questions, feel free to call us 1-800-258-0758.

Plug Adaptors Converters Dual Voltage Appliances