electric converters

Old Mar 30th, 2008, 04:24 PM
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electric converters

I'm getting mixed messages on electric outlet converters. If I take the converters from the USA with me to France, Spain and Italy will they work so I can use my hair dryer and curling iron? I've heard that they will and I've also been told that they won't and I will need to buy a curling iron there. Which is true?
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Old Mar 30th, 2008, 04:55 PM
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You can get a curling iron (at Target) that's dual voltage - no converter required. Ditto for hair dryers - many are dual voltage. For the hair dryers, there's usually a slot that you have to toggle (with a coin) to go from one voltage to the other. The curling iron automatically adapts to the right voltage. But you'll still need the plug adaptor since Europe uses the round prongs (they're cheap - a couple dollars).
I think this is the best way to go since you don't have to carry the rather heavy converter, and the appliances will work at home as well as abroad - anywhere in the world.
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Old Mar 30th, 2008, 10:22 PM
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My advice - if you have an item that requires a voltage converter to work on 220 to 240V then it's better - and safer - to buy something that will work on 220 to 240V in the first place.
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Old Mar 30th, 2008, 10:37 PM
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Check on the hotel website or by email if a hairdryer is provided. That will mean 1 less item to carry and 1 more souvenir you can carry back . Most places these days provide hairdryers. Even budget hotels provide a hairdryer to share. A curling iron is another matter. Can't you make do with a round hairbrush and the hairdryer??
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Old Mar 31st, 2008, 02:22 AM
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I agree, buy dual voltage here and an adapter and you shouldn't have any problems. Unfortunately, I can't exist without both a hair dryer and curling iron. I just used both of mine with only an adapter for 16 days in Europe with absolutely no problems.

Good point about hotels, though; most do have a hair dryer, but if you don't want to take a chance, pack a travel-size one just in case.
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Old Mar 31st, 2008, 06:16 AM
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You only THINK you can't exist without those things. When I was a kid, we didn't have hair dryers or curling irons, and we got along just fine. Why haul them, and maybe a voltage converter to make them work, around your whole trip? For my last trip, I learned to shave with a disposable razor in order to save the almost 1# of my rechargeable.
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Old Mar 31st, 2008, 09:48 AM
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Hi, I took a converter from Eddie bauer that has all the different pugs needed recessed into it. You just push out the one you need and takes up very little room. It also extends long enough to fit even the most recessed of plugs. Yes many hotels have hair dryers but most are the elephant trunk kind that don't work very well.
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Old Mar 31st, 2008, 10:17 AM
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weasel, it sounds like what you are talking about is a plug adapter, not a converter.

To the OP, you may also be confusing the terminology, since you used the phrase "electric outlet converters". If your hair dryer and/or curling iron are designed for use with 110V systems, you would need a converter or transformer, as well as an adapter. If your appliances are dual voltage - and please be very sure about this - you would only need an adapter.

Adapters are for the plugs/outlets, converters are for voltage transitions.
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Old Mar 31st, 2008, 10:25 AM
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My converter/transformer has a hi/lo selector switch to cover voltage and frequency variations between small appliances. For a 120v. curling iron you'll probably want a low setting for maximum protection, but check the converter while it's in use to see if it's overheating. If it is try the high setting.
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Old Mar 31st, 2008, 12:42 PM
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Recommend you follow the advice of althom1122 and buy a dual voltage hair dryer and curling iron at Target or Walmart. You will then have appliances designed to work on European electricity, and one less item to pack in your suitcase.
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Old Mar 31st, 2008, 12:53 PM
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I have a dual voltage curling iron and a dual voltage hair dryer. With a plug adapter to change the shape of the plug to that of the country that I am visiting, I have never had any problems. In the last several years I have not taken the hair dryer because the hotels I stayed in all had hair dryers.
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Old Mar 31st, 2008, 01:55 PM
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European electric plugs/sockets are DIFFERENT from US plugs/sockets in both SHAPE and in VOLTAGE.

You will most definitely need PLUG ADAPTERS (I usually carry two or three).

Whether or not you need a VOLTAGE Converter (Transformer), depends upon what your devices require.

Look at the UL Label/Plate/ Imprint on your device. If it says something similar to:
"Input 100-240V 10A 50-60Hertz" then you have a dual voltage device. The US uses 110VAC, while most European countries use 220VAC. If the UL Label only says "120VAC, 60 Herts", then you MUST have a Voltage Converter AND a Plug Adapter to use it in Europe.

For High Wattage devices like hair dryers and curling Irons you will need a Converter rated at AT LEAST 1500 Watts (most inexpensive ones are only rated for 50 or 60 Watts).
Even WITH a High Wattage Converter, you may STILL 'Burn Up' your device, as the difference in CYCLES (Hertz) can prove bothersom to some appliances.

If you DO buy Dual Voltage Units, MOST require that you SELECT the voltage that you will be using. If you have it set to the INCORRECT setting, you WILL 'Burn It Up' -- rather quickly.

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Old Mar 31st, 2008, 02:12 PM
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"most inexpensive ones are only rated for 50 or 60 Watts"

It really has nothing to do with the price. I have seen 50 or 60 watt ones selling for more than 1600 watt ones.

The difference is how they reduce the voltage. High wattage converters just chop off the top of the sine wave to make the average voltage the same as it would be with full wave, 110 V power. That's usually fine for hair dryers, curling irons, and other "heating devices", but that wave form can harm electronic device, no matter how expensive the converter. The 50/60 watt converters are usually a small transformer and work fine with electronics.

However, most electronics sold today have dual voltage power supplies. It's just easier for the manufacturer to provide one power supply that handles all voltages rather than to stock multiple ones.
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Old Mar 31st, 2008, 11:39 PM
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Larryincolorado is correct. Even a device with a motor (like a hair dryer) will wear out prematurely with the 1600 watt travel converters he mentions. They are designed for short-term use only. Electronic devices must be used only with transformers. Travel transformers are typically rated for 50-60 watts.

This whole subject is rather confusing, which is why I simply recommended buying dual voltage appliances for Europe. It is too easy to make a mistake and ruin an expensive appliance.
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Old Apr 1st, 2008, 05:27 PM
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All that foo foo stuff is cheap over there so just buy what you need when you get there. Then you'll be just like a local and you'll have it for future trips also.
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Old Apr 2nd, 2008, 12:18 PM
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I agree with Lumpy. I bought a small folding hair dryer several years ago in Spain and I have used it all over Europe. They are not expensive and well worth it. You can pick one up almost anywhere. Besides, as other posters have said, most hotels provide hair dryers. I always like to have my own anyway.
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Old Apr 2nd, 2008, 05:40 PM
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Heimdall - When was the last time you looked at a travel converter? Mine, which is at least 8 years old, is rated 50-1600 watts. The newer ones are rated to 2000 watts. This isn't the newest model because it has a high/low switch but you can see it's 2000 watts. The newer ones switch automatically.
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Old Apr 2nd, 2008, 11:31 PM
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Kybourbon, I have several heavy-duty transformers in constant use in my home, operating 120V American equipment on 230V UK electricity. These are the only transfomers/converters suitable for long term use with 120V appliances. A small 75 watt transformer of this type weighs about 4 lbs - a 1500 watt transformer is so heavy it would alone take up half your airline weight allowance.

Naturally these are a lot more expensive than travel transformers or converters, so why don't I use the travel type in my home? Beacause they will eventually wear out anything used with them. Once I experimented with a cheap electric fan, plugging it into a travel converter for a few days. It damaged the motor, and the travel converter went straight into the dustbin.

I realize there are some circumstances when use of a 50/1600 watt switchable tranformer/converter is unavoidable, but in this case we are talking about a curling iron and hair dryer. The OP got very good advice to either buy them in Walmart, or wait until arriving in Europe to buy them there.

Personally I would never use a travel transformer/converter. Every appliance I use for travel is 100-240V 50/60Hz.

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Old Apr 4th, 2008, 02:26 AM
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just buy an adapter and you will be safe
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Old Apr 4th, 2008, 03:27 AM
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English lesson? The question asks about OUTLET converters. Personal appliances need to meet TWO conditions: It can be attached to a power source and it will operate on that power. Outlet adapters are devices that match an appliance's power converter/transformer plug with a foreign power socket. A voltage converter or better a power transformer changes the foreign current/power to that the appliance uses. Connect the appliance to the transformer and the transformer to the socket adapter. Visit Radio Shack and inquire. France - 220 volts, type B adapter; Spain - 220 volts, type A and B adapters; Italy - 220 volts, type B adapters.
England uses 220 volts and type B and D adapters. (Voltage Valet <www.voltagevalet.com>.
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