electrical converters

Is it necessary to have a converter when you travel in Europe for phones, note pads, etc.? My granddaughter is traveling after graduation and I think it would be a good gift.
Thanks Lyla

Posted by Sam
Green Bay
4465 posts

99.9% of all electronics accept 110v to 250v and 50hz to 60hz, so she'll only need plug adaptors. A converter is required for things that need heat, like curling irons, hair rollers, etc. If these are from US/Canada, they run on 120v only unless they have a dual voltage function. Europe is 240v.

Posted by Lee
Lakewood, Colorado
12957 posts

A converter is an electronic device which converts 230VAC European power to 120VAC for American appliances. However, most portable electronic devices sold today are dual voltage, that is, they accept anything from 100V to 240V, so a converter is not needed. All that would be needed on the continent would be a plug adapter to allow the American two bladed plug to be used with the European two circular hole receptacles. The plug adapter for UK use is different. Look at the device or it's power supply. It it says something like "Input: 100V-240V 50/60 Hz", it will operate in Europe without a converter.

Posted by Suz
Denver, USA
223 posts

No, not a converter. The AC power units (or battery chargers) that come with modern consumer electronic/electric gadgets - including laptop computers, netbooks, digital cameras, tablets (iPads etc.), iPods, cell phones, even electric toothbrushes - are as far as I know dual voltage. Look at the power block or wall charger; it should say something like "100-240 V, 50-60Hz." If it does, that means it's dual voltage and will not need a voltage converter or transformer in order to be used in Europe. Which is good, because those things are heavy as bricks, and often malfunction anyway. Your granddaughter will need plug adapters to plug in the chargers or AC power units for her phone, tablet, camera, etc., while in Europe. Those are inexpensive and would be a good gift. A word about heat-producing electrical gadgets: hair dryers, curling irons, coffeemakers, etc.. Those draw a lot of power and are not usually dual-voltage; US ones are 110/120 only. You can buy dual-voltage hair dryers and curling irons - they will be noted as such as as far as I know have a switch you have to move in order to change from 110 to 240 V and back again. BUT those things can still be a problem in Europe unless just used on low, so rather than haul one, it's better to just use the ones provided by the hotel. Or buy one on arrival in Europe. There's a long discussion of the ins and outs of this subject in a topic below called "Electrical needs when in France". EDITED to say, Lee was posting as I was composing my more long-winded answer. He's right, and less wordy.

Posted by Ken
Vernon, Canada
21467 posts

Lyla, As the others have mentioned, it's unlikely that your granddaugher will need a Voltage Converter while travelling in Europe. However, I would recommend that she check EACH DEVICE that she'll be travelling with to determine the Input Voltage. That will be listed either on the device or the power supply / charger. If it states "Input 100-240 VAC, 50/60 Hz" then the device will work fine in Europe with just a Plug Adaptor. One point to note is that if she's travelling in both the U.K. and the continent, she will need two different types of Plug Adaptors. This page shows the different styles: http://www.magellans.com/adaptors-and-converters/adaptors-and-converters-plug-adaptors One other point of concern is whether she plans on taking a Cell phone / Smartphone? Her phone may or may not work in Europe depending on which U.S. network she's with, and which model phone she's using. If she's using a Smartphone, she will need to be VERY CAREFUL with data roaming as the costs can be HUGE (ie: five figures!). Cell phone use in Europe can be reasonably cost effective if mainly using texting with occasional voice calls, and NO data. Cheers!