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knmusic Jan 4th, 2007 10:52 PM

220 volt extension cord in Amsterdam
I'm going to be in Amsterdam for a week starting at the end of February. I have a few things that I'm planning on taking along (CPAP machine, laptop computer, cell phone battery charger) that are all, according to their manufacturers, suppose to work on the European current in Amsterdam. It was suggested in one blog that a U.S. citizen visiting Europe should take along an extension cord that will safely work on their voltage. Can anyone confirm that for me? Can anyone tell me if there is a place near the Central Station (my hotel is near there) where I can pick up such an extension cord? I will be bringing 3 adapter plugs with me so that will not be an issue. I appreciate all thoughtful responses. Thanks!

Dukey Jan 5th, 2007 12:23 AM

I think you can bring a regular extension cord from home.

hopscotch Jan 5th, 2007 12:51 AM

There is a V+D department store on Kalverstraat near the Mint Tower, <i>Munttoren</i>. That is about a mile south of the train station. Walk south on Damrak and then Rokin to the tower and look right.

Or you can take a tram. Buy a Strippenkaart and get a free system map at the GVB tram, bus, metro office outside Centraal Station. There are half a dozen trams which go past the Mint Tower.

Get a power strip at V+D rated for 230 volts and 50 Hz.

I would not bring an American power strip, which would have been made in China, for fear of flaming the hotel.

Beware of pickpockets in the station and on trams.

Heimdall Jan 5th, 2007 01:26 AM

A 120v extension cord would probably be okay as long as you didn't overload it, but I would never advise doing so. Safest would be to buy a 230v power strip.

I can understand your problem: you will probably run the CPAP machine all night, and the laptop batteries require frequent recharging. Your cellphone battery will probably last for a few days, though, unless you make a lot of calls.

Why don't you contact the hotel to see if they can lend you an extension cord while you are there? Or check to see how many free outlets there will be in your room. With one near the bed, and at least one more elsewhere in the room, you won't even need an extension cord.

knmusic Jan 5th, 2007 01:05 PM

Thanks for replying to my posts. Since I won't know just where the outlets are until I get to my room, I guess I'll have to wait until I get to the hotel. If need be, I will go to the V+D to get a 230v power strip. Thanks for all of your help.

Heimdall Jan 5th, 2007 01:33 PM

knmusic, I said I would never recommend using a 120v extension cord, because it would be irresponsible for me to do so without knowing the power requirements of your appliances, and what sort of extension cord you will be using.

I live in Europe, and have for years been using 120v extension cords to connect table lamps and other low wattage devices to my 230v power supply. That's what Dukey was suggesting. If you have a good quality extension cord, and your CPAP machine is low wattage (no more than the 100 watt lamp bulbs I use), then it would probably be safe enough. You didn't hear it from me, though.

Gardyloo Jan 5th, 2007 08:24 PM

I travel with the usual battery of devices - computer, phone chargers, blah blah, including a cpap, and have used a heavy-duty 3-prong 120v extension cord with absolutely no difficulty for years and years. Get a long one along with a 3-to-2 pin adaptor as well as standard European plug adaptors and you're good to go.

tara3056 May 9th, 2007 05:26 PM


ira May 10th, 2007 08:34 AM

Hi KN,

I suggest contacting your hotel and asking them if they can supply an extension cord.


nukesafe May 10th, 2007 08:54 AM

Correct me if I am wrong, but it is the wattage that the extension cord sees, not the voltage. The higher the voltage, the less energy lost to transmission resistance, so 220 v. current will produce less heat in the wire than 110 v., for a given wattage. A 220 v. extension cord would be overkill, for your usage.

Surprised me when I first saw the wiring in a European house. Looked like bell cord to me, not house wiring, until I realized you don't need thick wires to carry household current at 220 volts.

Your U.S. extension cord will be fine; you just need an adapter.


Robespierre May 10th, 2007 09:00 AM

Well, both current and voltage matter. Appliances draw Watts, which is the product of the two - for purposes of illustration, let's talk about a 110 Watt dual-voltage laptop supply.

Plugged into a 110 Volt outlet in the U.S., the unit would draw one Ampere. 1 A * 110 V = 110 W.

On a European 220 Volt outlet, it would draw half an Ampere. .5 A * 220 V = 110 W.

So as far as the current-carrying ability of a power strip is concerned, a given Ampere rating is twice as good in Europe (for the same load).

Now, about Volts. Well, if the voltage being used exceeds the &quot;breakdown&quot; voltage of the device's insulation (the point at which it stops insulating), then you get a short circuit, fire, and onerous liability claims. But every outlet strip I've ever used has a breakdown voltage rating well in excess of 220 V - usually 600 or more. So I use my North American outlet strip in Europe with impunity. One adapter and one strip is all I need.

hopscotch May 10th, 2007 02:59 PM

How the heck did this surface?

See for common sense about electricity.

e=mc(^2), or so says Einstein. You are definitely not up to the speed of light on this subject, notwithstanding all of your valuable information on traveling in Europe.

nukesafe May 10th, 2007 03:13 PM

And just how is Robespierre wrong in the information he gave? Nothing he said contradicts the link you referenced, that I can see.

The bottom line remains, that the OP can take an American extension cord, properly sized for his gear in the States, to Europe and use it safely.

ipod_robbie May 10th, 2007 03:22 PM

Robs is 100% correct. P=IV. Power = current x voltage. For a given power, if you double the voltage you halve the current. Concept is first taught in middle school physics, again in HS physics, and is a fundamental concept of all electrical engineering.

logos999 May 10th, 2007 03:34 PM

What about double insulated cords required by law in the EU?

Robespierre May 10th, 2007 03:57 PM

hopscotch - evidently you didn't understand what you read, so tell me where you're confused and I'll attempt to explain it in a way you can comprehend. Sorry, can't guarantee anything.

I could explain E=MC² to an intelligent sixth-grader. Once you grasp P=IE, maybe I can explain it to you.

hopscotch May 11th, 2007 03:04 PM


You have experience that I do not. I have never used an American power strip in Europe. I do not trust them on the higher voltage and do not want to take the risk. I purchased local power strips when I lived there.

I agree that your equations are correct for purely resistance devices, for example heaters and light bulbs. As I recall from my electrical engineering course there is also something called impedance which can have a play in the game. If you are an EE maybe you can dispell this notion. I am too far out of school.


Robespierre May 11th, 2007 03:10 PM

&quot;You are definitely not up to the speed of light on this subject...&quot;

Go look it up, genius.

Wayne May 11th, 2007 03:36 PM

I'm sorry, but most of you so-called experts are becoming way too technical over a simple matter. If a U.S. device like a laptop is specified to operate on either 110 or 220 volts, that's because it has some kind of internal transformer to convert the 220V, or it has a similar adaption circuit internal to the machine. Usually a switch on the machine in question will be set to 110 or 220, although there are adaptive devices around that don't require switching.

If your machine has a switch to select 110 or 220, you use the switch and the problem is solved. If it doesn't require a switch but is definitely specified to operate on 110V or 220V, then it's still OK. A U.S. extension cord made for 110V operation will absolutely be fine for 220V operation because the current carried (as one intelligent observer remarked) is half that at 110V. Further, if anyone ever looked at the Underwriter Labs requirements for UL approval of electrical stuff, they would find that the issue of insulation in a U.S. extension cord is not a problem at 220V, which some of you &quot;experts&quot; think might cause arcing.

So I don't know whom you want to believe, knmusic, but as a graduaate EE with advanced EE degrees, I can certify that what I'm telling you is correct. Go buy your U.S. extension cord, one that is well made and not flimsy, and use your adapters and all is well. The 220V European strip isn't necessary.

Robespierre May 11th, 2007 03:42 PM

Thank you for validating the data I provided above.

By the way - laptop supplies that output a constant voltage regardless of input voltage use <i>switching</i> supplies that use however much of the AC wave (in the time domain) they have to in order to maintain the specified output voltage.

Chargers, by contrast, just put out twice as much voltage at 220 as they do at 110 - but the batteries don't care.

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