Help with Power Converter

Old Jun 18th, 2006, 04:57 AM
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Help with Power Converter

Hi when to my local Wal-mart and bought myself a power converter for our trip overseas.
Then decide to read the warning "do not use with electronic circuitry and battery rechargers...etc.

The brand is an "AMERICAN TOURISTER".

Someone please post what they use for their battery charger ie. video and digital camera recharagle battaries "AA & AAA", along with a shaver.

I never thought this would be such a problem.
Please let me know what brand and where I can buy this?

p.s.
Anybody ever used this unit "AMERICAN TOURISTER" ? Any problems? Am I just asking for problems?

Thanks in advance
tc
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Old Jun 18th, 2006, 05:17 AM
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I too had lots of questions. If you type in "power converter" in the search section you'll get a lot of info that was helpful to me.

Tannya
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Old Jun 18th, 2006, 05:22 AM
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Hi tc,

Look at the labels on the chargers of your devices.

They should say "110-240V".

If they do, you do not need a converter, you need only a plug adapter.

If they say "110V", it might be time for some new equipment.

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Old Jun 18th, 2006, 05:24 AM
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If your appliances/battery chargers are dual voltage you need only an ADAPTER, not a CONVERTER. Adapters are just to change the shape of the plug so it will plug into the wall of the European country you are visiting. UK/Ireland have different plug shapes than continental Europe. My DVD player and battery charger are DUAL VOLTAGE - which means they say 100-240V on the back of them. So for those items I just use an adapter.

My travel alarm clock has batteries but you can also plug it in. It is not dual voltage, so I need to plug it into a converter to step down the European voltage from 220 to the American 110 so my alarm clock will work (not melt down). The converter also needs an adapter but some are sold with the European or UK plug on it already. When you have a converter, you have to be careful to NOT plug in an appliance whose wattage exceeds the capacity of the converter. So, don't plug your TV in the same converter you would plug into your travel clock. Converters are more complex and subject to melting down or breaking your appliance so I always avoid using them when I travel (use batteries in the travel alarm clock, bought a curling iron in Europe that can be used here).

Perhaps the wattage of the converter you bought is very minimal.

I think you should first check the voltage of your appliances and see if they are dual voltage. If not, you should make things easy on yourself and purchase dual voltage chargers so you can just buy adapters which are like $5 each. My Rayovac 15 Minute Charger for AA batteries is dual voltage as well as my Sony Camcorder battery pack and Polaroid DVD player battery. I think most portable electronic equipment is made dual voltage.

Most European bathrooms have only a shaver plug - no other plugs in the bathroom. The one in my house can switch from US to European voltage. So in my house you would just need an adapter. I don't know if this is common in Europe b/c we don't use electric shavers so perhaps someone else can help you out there.
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Old Jun 18th, 2006, 07:40 AM
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Most likely, you did not need a POWER CONVERTER, just a PLUG ADAPTOR costing just few dollars.

Battery chargers that come with video/digital cameras are USUALLY dual voltage. The label on the charger would tell you this, 110-240v, etc.

If you bought an AA & AAA charger off the rack, apart from your digita camera, these are USUALLY NOT dual voltage. But most stores, such as Radio Shack, also carriy dual voltage chargers. There are more expensive models.

Many hotels have a shaver plug in the bathroom for 110v. I don't even bother with this by using a disposal razor.
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Old Jun 18th, 2006, 07:47 AM
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Summary:

1. If an appliance is rated for dual voltage use (e.g. 110-240V), then all that is needed is a plug adapter.

2. If the appliance's power requirement is up to 100 Watts, then a properly sized transformer is the appropriate choice. Virtually any charger or small electronic device can use a 50-Watt transformer. Some laptops and DVD players may require one with up to 100-Watt capacity.

3. High-power devices (things like 1500-Watt hair curlers or dryers) should use a lightweight converter. Do NOT plug low-power devices into a converter.

By the way, plug-in electric clocks typically synchronize to the frequency of the alternating current they're plugged into, regardless of the voltage. In the U.S., 60 Hertz is used, but in Europe, 50 Hertz is standard.

This means that many (if not most) U.S. clocks will run at 5/6 normal speed on the other side of the pond. Battery-operated clocks don't exhibit this syndrome.
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Old Jun 18th, 2006, 07:51 AM
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Tchibo (Germany) sell a 15€ charger in their stores. (AA and AAA) Included are 4 batteries 2300mA (AA), dual voltage, 12V input and car adapter. High speed (100min) charging. Currents are chip controlled.
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Old Jun 18th, 2006, 07:59 AM
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I bought a converter at Home Depot. It has all the little plugs and the converter in one easy to use unit.
I used it with my travel battery recharger and sometimes my hair dryer. Works great. I don't know the brand, it was the only one H.D. had.
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Old Jun 18th, 2006, 08:29 AM
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Depending upon where you are going, most bathrooms have an outlet that will handle a shaver (only).

If the chargers for your video and digital cameras are not dual voltage, you can most probably find chargers suitable for your models/batteries that are dual voltage on the web.

It is far preferable to travel with dual voltage electonics than bother with a converter.
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Old Jun 18th, 2006, 09:12 AM
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The newer converters (less than 5 years old) do handle high and low wattage. Mine has a high/low switch on the front. The directions on the back read:
Low setting (0-25 watts) for electic shavers, radios, curling irons, etc.
High setting (26-1875 watts) for high wattage appliances such as hair dryers, irons, steamers, etc.

The converters made in the last few years that are rated now rated to 2000 watts and switch automatically.

Mine is marketed under the brand name "Travel Smart", but is manufactured by Franzus. You can see mine and the newer ones on this Franzus link.
http://www.franzus.com/page/FOS/CTGY/ELEC-CONV
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Old Jun 18th, 2006, 09:24 AM
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Illegal to use in Europe. It needs to have the "CE approved" mark. If you don't care use them!
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Old Jun 18th, 2006, 09:26 AM
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Certain kinds of converters are incompatible with certain kinds of electronic devices. The vast majority of consumers can't tell which combinations are bad.

If you plug an electronic device into a converter, you are playing Russian roulette with both the converter and the device.

This is true whether it is a low-power, high-power, or automatic-power converter.

Unless you know exactly what you're doing, you should NEVER plug electronics into a converter - only a transformer.
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Old Jun 18th, 2006, 09:40 AM
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>Unless you know exactly what you're doing
This may well be the reason, those things aren't allowed and no insurance will cover you. But this doesn't keep people from using them.
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