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electrical adapters

i will be in the UK for 4 months as well as travel to germany, austria and italy.
i must take my laptop, ipod and 35mm SLR digital camera. i cannot find consistant answers and i'm concerned about my expensive equipment.
please help!

Posted by
35 posts

Hi, I assume your questions are [1] "if I plug in my equipment, will I burn it out?" and [2]"where do I get the proper plug?"

For [1], look on the transformer part of your power cord....Look for some wording that begins with INPUT. It might say something like "100-240V", which means it can be used for US or European voltages. My laptops and cameras all are dual voltage and I'll bet yours are too. In that case, all you will need is a plug adapter [covered in the next section] However, to be safe, reply to this message with what is written and one of us will respond.

For [2], this image will show you the differences between plugs: shows the continental European plug at left, UK/Ireland plug in center, and US/Canada/Mexico plug at right.

You can get plug adapters for the plugs in many places, travel stores, book stores, etc., as well as overseas.

Posted by
2 posts

thank you so much. from what i can see after checking my equipment it seems all
i'll need are adapters. now, how about a power strip. do i get a surge protector
strip with us outlets or european outlets?

Posted by
59 posts

Just take your US power strip and stick a plug adapter on it. Make sure to get a just a power strip, not a surge protector. Surge protectors have extra electronics designed for use on US power only. A power strip is nothing more that outlets and wires inside.

Posted by
31830 posts


First, could you clarify one point? Are you using a 35 mm SLR Camera or a digital full-frame (35 mm) SLR?

Regarding Chargers for your kit, could you clarify whether all Chargers are designed for "world" operation? Look for a nameplate on EACH device - if they say "Input 100-240 VAC, 50/60 Hz", the devices will operate on the Euro electrical systems without a Voltage Converter. If they say "115 VAC, 60 Hz", you will need a Volt. Conv.

A Power Bar is certainly one solution for charging multiple devices, however I wouldn't recommend using a North American model as even the "basic" models without surge suppressors are not designed for continuous duty operation on 220 VAC electrical systems AFAIK.

I use a small Euro Power Bar (purchased for about Eu$6.00) for attaching multiple Chargers. This approach is a bit cumbersome as it's necessary to use a Plug Adaptor for each Charger, but they're cheap so I don't have a problem with that.

Happy travels!

Posted by
241 posts

Our voltage converter was problematic. It burned up two hair dryers. It did not burn up the chargers for video-cam and camera batteries, but those chargers ran HOT.

Posted by
4555 posts

Voltage converters usually come in two low-wattage one for things like battery rechargers, and a higher wattage one for thngs like hair dryers, curling irons, etc. The upper wattage they'll accept is listed on the converter. One that will cope with a hair dryer (say 1600 to 2000 watts) will recharge batteries (although slower than usual), but using a hair dryer on a low-wattage one will fry it. If you're concerned about your laptop, Magellan's sells something called a "eurosurge" which provides two outlets and, as it suggests, surge protection. Haven't tried it, but it looks interesting!

Posted by
4555 posts can also find voltage converters that will cover low-end items like battery chargers, and higher end items like hair dryers....but they're usually more expensive.

Posted by
1568 posts

During our 8 week trip, we use the electrical adapters for our battery chargers, mini cam charger and our hair dryer.

The hair dryer has dual voltage 110/250.

Be sure to turn that dial to 250 before you leave for Europe.

My hair dryer is still working and will be taking it to Israel with me in the fall.

You will fry your heating devices if they are not dual voltgage and turned to the correct dial if only using the electrical adapter.

Posted by
11 posts

I always bring a step-down converter with fuse protection with me when travelling overseas. I use an Austin House 1-100 step-down converter for electric products up to 100 watts. I can't find this one on Austin House's website anymore however. (

I also bring along a 50-watt transformer as a back up (a little paranoid I know).

IMPORTANT: There is a difference between converters and transformers. A converterr is designed to be used ONLY with electric applicances such as hair dryers etc... and should only be used for a short period of time, a maximum of 3 hours. Transformers however are designed to be used with both electric and electronic appliances. Transformers can only be used continuously at 80% of their capacity.

Posted by
31830 posts

Some further clarification regarding "Voltage Converters" (sometimes referred to as "step down transformers").

There are two basic types of voltage converters used for travel (without getting too technical):

TRANSFORMERS - these are best suited for low wattage electronic devices such as Camera or Phone chargers. Transformers are inherently heavy (iron cores, copper windings) so 50 watts is a reasonable size to travel with. The voltage is represented accurately, but they don't have the ability to change the frequency (50 Hz vs. 60 Hz.), therefore clocks or other devices that use line frequency for reference will not be accurate.

SOLID-STATE CONVERTERS - these are best suited for simple heating appliances such as Hair Dryers that have resistive elements and no electronic controls. These often have a capacity of 1600-2000 watts, but are light weight and easy to travel with.

There are units on the market that contain both types of converters in the same package.


Posted by
31830 posts

Part 2 (the character limit is DARN annoying!)

One example of a Voltage Converter that contains both a Transformer and Solid-State Converter is available at and features "auto switching" so that the user doesn't have to operate switches or whatever. This makes it a bit more "foolproof" and less likely to select the wrong method of conversion.

One thing that should be STRESSED is that none of the "Travel" Voltage Converters I've encountered so far, are rated for "continuous duty operation". Therefore it's a VERY good idea to unplug these as soon as the charging or appliance operation is finished, rather than just leaving them connected.

continued again....

Posted by
31830 posts

Part 3...

Some travellers have suggested connecting Converters to a Power Bar, so that multiple devices can be charged at the same time. NOT something I'd recommend for two reasons:

1.) It's easy to exceed that rating of the device if connecting multiple appliances, and some Converters use a non-replaceable Fuse; if the user "blows" the Fuse, they'll be without the Converter for the remainder of their trip (some of the newer ones have solid-state protective circuits).

2.) If connecting multiple appliances to an "auto sensing" Converter using a Power Bar, the device might choose the wrong conversion method, and damage either the Converter or the appliance.

One other thing to mention is that Voltage Converters are often equipped with "Euro" Plugs, so if one intends to use them in the U.K. or other locations, then a Plug Adapter will also be required.

Many electronic products these days are supplied with "world chargers", so a Converter is not required as often.

Hope this helps!

Posted by
10344 posts

Ken: I read with interest the detail you have provided. Is there a simpler summary of all this for us non-technical types? Some simple guideline?

Posted by
31830 posts


It's getting late, but I'll give it some thought and try and post something tomorrow. It helps to know what type of electrical / electronic devices people are travelling with, because in many cases these days, Voltage Converters aren't even required; only Plug Adapters are needed.