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Dealing with charging multiple devices in the UK and France

Dealing with charging multiple devices in the UK and France

Jul 23rd, 2013, 07:56 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jul 2013
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Dealing with charging multiple devices in the UK and France

My family of four is traveling to the UK and France with 10-12 devices (cameras, phones, laptops, iPad) and I've been reading a lot of conflicting information. We own some appropriate converters since my husband travels a lot for business but we have never been out of the country as a family with all our charge-hungry devices. I read I might be able to use US power strips and plug chargers in there and then plug power strip into a single converter. This seems appealing since we may not habe a lot of outlets in every place we stay - especially older properties like B&Bs. I am not a frequent travler and my husband usually travels alone and in corporate settings.
Mtrafficante is offline  
Jul 23rd, 2013, 08:09 AM
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What do you mean by a "converter??? We have many cameras, iPhones, electric toothbrushes, Kindles, etc that need recharging, and the only thing we use in France is a small plug adapter for each device. You don't need any voltage converter(s) - at least we haven't in the past 25 years.

I would be leery about any US extension cord or power strip. They are designed for 120V - not 220. I took an extension cord to France once in the hopes I could use it on my hairdryer. It blew the built-in circuit breaker on the dryer. Make sure others have reported "no problems" with power strips before you lug one over.

The bulkiness of UK plug adapters might be a problem. I have had to rig up some very clever configurations to plug in the devices I needed to charge.

Stu Dudley
StuDudley is offline  
Jul 23rd, 2013, 08:17 AM
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Most electronic devices are "dual voltage" All you need is the appropriate adapter to fit into the electrical outlet. I am from Canada and sucessfully charged my camera, iPad, iPod in Europe with only a two pronged adpater.
jane1144 is offline  
Jul 23rd, 2013, 08:18 AM
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Hi M,

If you have reasonably new devices, their chargers are suitable for 110-220V.

You will need at least 1 plug adapter to allow you to hook up to a UK wall socket and one for a Continental wall socket.

As Stu says, don't use a US power strip on 220V.

You can get a power strip when you arrive in the UK.

Enjoy your visit.

ira is online now  
Jul 23rd, 2013, 08:28 AM
Join Date: Jun 2013
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Well first I'd have to say that that is a lot of devices. Can you not share some and cut the number as well as the weight down?

Most laptops, cellphones, etc. have built in capability to charge and work on either 120 or 240 volts. So you do not need converters at all unless a specific device cannot handle 240 volts.

What you need is simply a compatible adapter plug to fit the wall outlet wherever you are. Those for the UK differ from those for France as you may already know from your husband's experience.

Forget using a US power strip. While it might work, it will definitely be a serious fire hazard. You cannot run 240 volts through something intended to deal with only 120 volts without generating heat. People have discovered this when plugging a 120 volt only hair dryer into a 240 outlet and fried the hairdryer.

What you want is a USB power strip. You plug a laptop into the wall using an adapter plug and then plug the USB power strip into the laptop. Then you plug your other devices into the USB power strip. Simple. Here is an example:

Personally, I'd leave most of the devices at home. I have this image of a family so busy with devices they have no time to look around them.
Improviser is offline  
Jul 23rd, 2013, 08:46 AM
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Look at the body of the device beside where the power goes in. The acceptable voltage range is stamped on it. (oh yes it is)
If you have to use a convertor (because your device wont run on 220v) then you must also check the power rating of the device (in amps or watts) to ensure the convertor can supply more than that amount. The amount it can supply is stamped on it.
If your device says it's fine with 220v, you may still need an adaptor to make the plug fit into the mains socket. These shapes vary across europe. Multi-fit types are available.
zippo is offline  
Jul 23rd, 2013, 08:47 AM
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I just had another image flash into my head. Picture this everyone.

An adapter plug plugged into the wall outlet.

1 power cable to a laptop
1 7 outlet USB power strip plugged into the laptop
1 4 outlet USB power strip plugged into the 7 outlet strip giving you a total capacity of 10 free outlets to use plus the laptop plugged in directly to the wall for the ability to charge 11 items including the laptop at one time.
3 USB charging cables for cameras
4 USB charging cables/stands for phones
1 USB charging cable for a second laptop
2 USB charging cable for two iPads.

A total of 11 devices charging. But look at this big pile of cables and power strips you have to lug around to do the job. Look at this big pile of devices.

NOW weight the entire pile and measure the bulk/space required in your bags to carry it all. Does anyone see anything wrong with this picture?

Go put them all in a pile at look at it Mtrafficante. Do you really want to lug all that around? This pile will be big enough to fill a suitcase all on it's own.
Improviser is offline  
Jul 23rd, 2013, 08:58 AM
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There are power strips available in the US which accept US plugs, but are rated for 240volts. Have a look at Amazon.
I think a normal US one would work fine too, with the right adapter, providing you aren't using masses of watts, as a hairdryer does. They are tested to cope with huge power surges after all.
Try and sort out a minimum to take, and if devices can share chargers then that will reduce the weight somewhat.
Make sure you turn off data roaming on all smart phones, unless you have a good roaming package, or vast amounts of money.
hetismij2 is offline  
Jul 23rd, 2013, 08:59 AM
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You can find 220 or universal power strips through Amazon. We bought this one before our trip to Europe last year:


You'll still need an appropriate plug configuration but this one worked like a charm in Amsterdam, Italy and Iceland.
sharona is offline  
Jul 23rd, 2013, 09:03 AM
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Well that's not true because the strips are often dual voltage. Do your homework, Mtraf, and you'll be fine.

Go to originalpower.com and check out what they have - various power strips, plugs, usb power hubs (where you can charge 4 items that charge through a usb cable), etc. See here: http://www.originalpower.com/usb-power/quad

The voltage should be 110-220V. If so, your products will work - most cameras, phones, computers and istuff work on 100-240V (check the actual plugs). Then you just need an adapter for both the UK and French outlets.
BigRuss is offline  
Jul 23rd, 2013, 09:09 AM
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Get a plug adapter for your laptop and charge everything else through a USB hub attached to it. That's all you need.
yodababe is offline  
Jul 23rd, 2013, 09:09 AM
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You will prob also want another adapter to charge your camera batteries. Sorry, forgot to add that.
yodababe is offline  
Jul 23rd, 2013, 09:10 AM
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Thank you all for such helpful and immediate responses. I am new to Fodor's and I am extremely impressed. Some of the issues I have already considered but most address things I simply didn't know about. For those who think we are obsessed with electronics: the 4 phones are essential for us to stay connected if we separate (even unintentionally) the laptops are necessary since my husband and I must stay connected to business, and the cameras are a wonderful obsession, especially for my 12 year old talented photographer. We will try to cut back on one or two if we can since I do agree the world is way too "connected" Unfortunately, the only way we can manage a vacation (far too rarely) is to work a bit while we are away. I had read the suggestion of the US powerstrip on another forum and I am thankful to learn that it might be dangerous. Time for some streamlining.
Mtrafficante is offline  
Jul 23rd, 2013, 09:27 AM
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I completely understand why somebody would want this. I have a phone, ipad, ipod, speakers for the ipod, my big SLR, my small point and shoot camera. I want those things when I travel, it's the main reason I bought some of them. There are sometimes very few outlets available for charging. I have some US/UK plug adaptors, but with a power strip I can use one adaptor for several devices at once.

I have ordered this travel strip for my trip next week to Scotland. Reviews say it has been used in Europe successfully, that it accepts the voltage there.

Nikki is online now  
Jul 23rd, 2013, 09:45 AM
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Mtrafficante - I don't think it's unusual to have all those devices - they add up!

Re comments above regarding power strips available in the US which accept US plugs, but are rated for 240volts.

Just be careful - the voltage is not the only issue - the Frequency has to be correct as well. That's why so many people "fry" dual voltage hair dryers, because they don't have dual 50/60 frequency.
Elizabeth_S is offline  
Jul 23rd, 2013, 09:52 AM
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I just travel with a little three-plug adaptor since there is often only one available socket unless you start unplugging lamps and the TV. However, this will finally change because I was recently in a hotel that actually provided 4 power outlets (it was an Ibis Styles).
kerouac is online now  
Jul 23rd, 2013, 09:57 AM
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If you go to the UK first, Boots has a little section with every imaginable plug adaptor, including some that deal with all prong configuations. They are clearly labeled things like "US to UK, US to Europe, UK to Europe, Europe to UK, universal", etc."
kerouac is online now  
Jul 23rd, 2013, 10:09 AM
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I travel with a US heavy duty extension cord that I use for computer, phone, Kindle, CPAP machine - everything. Been doing so for 20+ years. No problems, ever. Remember that it's Watts that count, not Volts (Watts = Volts x Amps.) If a device needs so many Watts to charge, then in 220v environments it just uses half the amps it would in a 120v environment. Usually it's devices with moving parts (hair dryers, computer hard drives etc.) that require voltage conversion, since the line voltage can effect the speed of the motor. When you use a 110v hairdryer in a 220v environment, it's usually the blower motor that burns up, not the heating element. (And once the motor is gone, the heating element either melts or shuts off with a safety breaker.)

Phones, etc. have internal transformers that convert the line AC - either 120v or 240v - to direct current (DC) used internally.
Gardyloo is online now  
Jul 23rd, 2013, 10:14 AM
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...sooooo Electrically challenged here. I can take my year old HP Laptop to Nice with me with only the litte thing that plugs into the wall with 2 prongs and presents me with the american style 3 prong "male" end. Right?
sueciv is offline  
Jul 23rd, 2013, 10:36 AM
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Yes sueciv, you can.

Gardyloo, how does your extension cord answer the question asked of how to charge 10-12 devices simultaneously?

This thread is somewhat surprising me in that everyone seems to be concentrating on the 120/240 question and controversy over whether it's safe to use a 120V power bar or not etc. and ignoring the bigger question asked of charging up to 10-12 devices.

There is a simple answer (I gave it above) and that is to use USB hubs. There is no reason to debate volts vs. cycles vs. watts and whether a power bar would be safe or not. The simple answer removes all those issues.

This thread should be dead by now. Asked and answered.
Improviser is offline  

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