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Learn more about travel adapters around the world

With international travel, it is common to deal with jet lag and delayed flights. As if that is not bad enough, they find that they cannot charge or use their hair driers, laptops, cameras, mobile phones, hair straighteners, etc. when they arrive at their destinations. That is because most countries’ mains supply is between 220 and 240 volts (50 or 60 Hz) and a few operate on 100 to 127 volts but they all use different types of plugs and sockets. Travelers have to find out the electricity standards of the countries that they are visiting prepare to adapt their gadgets and appliances accordingly. If they don’t, they risk damaging their devices and appliances or causing a fire.

Electrical kit for world travel

Obviously, it is hard for travelers to determine the type of plug adapter or transformer they will need for their trip. The easiest move is to purchase all the components required such as voltage converter, adapters, transformer, and plugs that can suit all the countries’ being visited. Check here for each country’s standards. To see more adaptor types, visit this page.

Adapters

The plugs on electric devices normally won’t match the outlets in different countries because there are 12 different styles of outlets in the world. Travelers need adapters in order to use a plug from their country in the outlets within the destination country.

Converters and transformers

Most countries use 220-240 volts while North America and a few countries in South America use 110-120 volts. People whose electronic devices are rated for single voltage (only 220V or only 120V) have to use a transformer or voltage converter when traveling to countries with a different voltage.

Step up or step down

The converter makes sure that the device receives the correct amount of voltage by either stepping it down or stepping it up.

Step down: It will take higher voltage (220V-240V) from the mains and make it lower (110V-120V).

Step up: It will take the lower voltage (110V-120V) from the mains and increase it to 220V-240V.

Dual voltage devices

A converter or transformer is not necessary for dual voltage devices which can be switched to the correct voltage on arrival. Most laptop chargers, iPhones, cell phones, camera battery chargers, tablets, iPads and CPAP machines are dual voltage and don’t need a converter. The traveler only needs the right adapter.

Check device’s AC voltage

Travelers should check each device’ spec label to determine if it is single or dual voltage. If the INPUT has one number such as 110V, then the device is single voltage and the traveler needs a converter while visiting a country that uses 240V or 220V. If the INPUT has a range of numbers such as 110V-240V, the device can handle AC voltage outlets from all countries. In that case a converter is not needed.

It is wise to buy dual voltage hair dryers and straighteners because a converter may not be able to handle them. The traveler only needs to switch the device to the correct voltage and use an adapter.

Transformer vs converter

A transformer and a converter will do the same work. However, the transformer can be used continuously, will keep electronics safe and can be heavy and bulky. Meanwhile, a converter can only be used for short term, may not handle certain devices such as hair dryers and straighteners, but it is light and compact.

Grounded and non-grounded plugs

There is a huge difference between plugs that have three prongs and those that have two. The plug that has three prongs is grounded. That third prong between the two parallel ones is the grounding prong that sends excess power into the ground away from the device. It prevents power surges that could overload the device causing electrical shock. Electronic devices such as PCs, laptops, power tools and vacuums need more power and therefore typically have a grounded plug.

The plug with two prongs is non-grounded. Such plugs are normally found on electronic devices such as toothbrushes, phone chargers and electric razors that don’t need large amounts of power to operate.

Safety is important with electricals and the number of prongs on the plug play a role in safety. It is wise to make sure that the right outlet adapter is used for each device. A grounded adapter is crucial for grounded devices but it can be used safely for both plug types.

Get ready to travel

People who have to visit a number of countries should prepare by buying converters, transformers and adapters for each country. Alternatively, they can buy a kit containing all 12 worldwide adapters.

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