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Best Voltage Converter with surge protection?

I need a 220 to 110V voltage converter that has surge protection. Ideally it would have at least one USB port that could charge an iPad.

I saw another thread asking essentially the same question because while there are converters (and adapters which don't step the voltage down) on places like Amazon, reviews were all over the place.

Some responses along the lines of "if you have a dual voltage device from Apple or other companies, you don't need to worry - just take an adapter" are NOT what I am looking for. One place I want to take a travel converter to is India -- which appears to have among the worst power supply infrastructures on the planet and some sort of surge suppressor seems to be *highly recommended. An adapter letting surges, under voltages and who knows what directly through to the Apple, camera, phone or other charging brick has a good chance of frying an expensive charger

Anyone know of a solution with good surge suppression that isn't junk?

*example: https://community.ricksteves.com/travel-forum/to-the-west/best-voltage-converter

Posted by
3304 posts

I have a converter kit that I bought at the Apple store for my Apple products. It has a converter with adapters that fit onto it that are interchangeable and work in every region of the world. What you need to make sure of is that the converter you buy has a "voltage regulator" also called a "voltage stabilizer" that adjusts to whatever happens to be coming out of the socket...I've never needed one so I don't know if the Apple converter kit has this feature built in. I'm sure they can look this up and tell you at the Apple store. At least it's a place to start! My Apple converter kit is of excellent quality and has lasted for 8 years with A LOT of traveling. I've used it in China where I'm sure it experienced a few surges when I was in less developed areas but I've never really thought about that before now. Good luck and let us know what you find out. I'm curious to see if mine has this feature...

Posted by
388 posts

Unfortunately Im not sure which type of convertor you will need. I know that most modern electronics are already dual voltage. I have heard of some folks using a surge protected power strip instead. I don't know what would happen if you used one on a higher voltage like in India. Sorry we couldn't help more.

Posted by
30929 posts

groundlizard,

A Voltage Converter that includes surge protection is likely going to be somewhat expensive, and I don't know of any products of that type. You could also use separate devices to ensure that your Apple Charger is protected while travelling in India.

You could start with a product like THIS Surge Protector sold by Magellans. According to their specifications, you would also need to buy THIS Grounding Collar for use in India. You may also want to take a selection of Plug Adaptors, as you could encounter a variety of outlet styles in that part of the world. You'll have to check with Magellans for more detailed information on the products.

That would take care of the surge protection function. At this point, you have two options....

  1. Use your multi-voltage Apple Chargers only with the Surge Protector. While they'd be operating at 230 VAC, they would at least be protected from spikes or whatever.
  2. Also take a Voltage Converter, and use that with the Surge Protector. This would provide a surge-protected source for the Voltage Converter, and your appliances would be operating at 110 VAC.

IF you decide to use a Voltage Converter, it's VERY important that you choose the correct type for use with electronic devices. There are basic two principles used in voltage conversion:

  • Transformer
  • Solid-State

With electronic products such as the iPad chargers (which use a switch-mode technology), it's IMPORTANT to use a Transformer voltage converter and NOT a solid-state type. According to Apple spec's, the newer iPad Chargers draw up to 12 watts, so a 40-watt Voltage Converter like THIS model should suffice. However, if you want extra capacity then a 100-watt model could be used. As Transformers are constructed with an iron core and copper windings, they're inherently heavy but a small 100-watt model shouldn't be too difficult to travel with.

Note that the smaller models such as the 40-watt model are not usually designed or intended for continuous-duty operation, so I wouldn't recommend using it for long periods of time. The 100-watt model appears to have a more robust design, but you'll have to check with Magellans on whether the heavy duty models they list are designed for continuous duty.

IF you decide to use both the Surge Protector and Voltage Converter together, it could be an awkward and ungainly arrangement. With the Surge Protector connected to the mains, you'd have to also use a Plug Adaptor to connect the Voltage Converter, since they usually only come with Euro (Schuko) pins.

Of course you could always consider alternate solutions for charging such as a Battery / Solar Charger. You could connect that to the Surge Protector, and since you'd only be charging an external battery, it wouldn't impact your iPad Charger. You'd also have the option of solar charging the external battery during the day when you're out touring, and then recharge your iPad from the battery at night.

There are undoubtedly many other solutions, but I'd have to do some further research and it's getting late. FWIW, in the same situation I'd probably just use the Surge Protector with Grounding Collar in conjunction with my normal Apple Charger. The Surge Protector would take care of voltage spikes and lower voltages wouldn't be a problem since the Charger is designed for operation from 100-240 VAC. I'd probably still pack along a backup charger though.

Happy travels!

Posted by
30929 posts

groundlizard,

One note to mention concerning Power Bars with surge protected outlets.....

DO NOT use a surge protected Power Bar purchased in North America when travelling in areas which use 230 VAC power system. It will self destruct very quickly when connected to 230 VAC, possibly with just a "pop" or perhaps with a spectacular display of sparks and smoke. If you must use a Power Bar, buy one that's specifically designed for use on 230 VAC systems, such as the small three-outlet model listed on the Magellans website.

Posted by
20596 posts

If you believe that a surge protector is critical, then buy it after you arrive so that you buy just a local surge protector. Dual voltage items do not always do well behind a converter because the converted current from a converter will confuses the built in circuity of dual voltage system and can cause damage.