Converter or Adapter???

Hello Everyone :-) I'm getting confused I need a Converter, an Adapter, or a Converter/Adapter to go overseas with my electronic devices (laptop, ipod, android phone, mini flat iron (gotta have my flat iron!!):-)lol! Thanks!!
Jen :-)

Posted by Nigel
East Midlands, England
10892 posts

Jen Please go to each of your devices and note what it says on the device or charging brick or charging plug. Look for the words INPUT VOLTAGE or INPUT. It will say xxx Volts xxx Hz. Please tell us what it says on each: laptop ipod android phone
mini flat iron (gotta have my flat iron!!) and we can then help.

Posted by Southam
Windsor, Ontario, Canada
1142 posts

Many responses to this situation, both here and on other boards, agree that most small electronics will convert from 110 to 220, usually automatically or with a switch. Note that hair blowers from North America will convert but will only operate on low. The "flat iron", if it refers to hair rather than clothes, is more problematic, requiring more juice. If yours does not allow the current to be changed, buy one once you get to wherever you are going.
The other issue is plugging the gizmos into a wall socket. You will need a plug adaptor, or maybe several, since the sockets vary from country to county. A simple Google will turn up lots of diagrams, usually from sites wanting to sell them. Shop around. Most expensive are the multi-adapter kits sold in airports. Again, it may be easier to find them once you arrive (hotels often have leftovers hanging around....)

Posted by Paul
Tuscaloosa, AL
877 posts

Answering Nigel's questions will be helpful, but as an educated guess, I'd bet everything on your list except the flat iron will work with just an adapter, that is something to turn the two prong plugs we use in the U.S. into the pins used in Europe or the fatter block prongs used in the U.K. This will be a simple plug that fits on your plug. You can buy them in drug stores and countless other places overseas. A converter is likely a transformer that converts the electrical current from the European standard (240 volts) to what we use in the U.S. (120 Volts). Only needed if your devices don't work with both standards (and all modern ones generally do). This device will be heavier and bulkier. The problem with a converter is that it may not work with devices that draw a lot of current. Your flat iron is one such product. As another wrinkle, even if your iron says it will work in Europe (by saying its voltage can be up to 240 and also reading "50/60Hz"), there are many who have reported on this forum that an iron for the U.S. simply won't work overseas, regardless. Best advice: Buy an iron over there if it is an essential for your trip.

Posted by Eileen
Texan in CA
3890 posts

Ditto everybody - look for that '100-240V, 50-60 Hz' on your devices and chargers. Your iPod is fine, your laptop and phone are probably fine, your flatiron is probably not. IF it's dual voltage, then maybe OK; anything like a flatiron or hair dryer that requires lots of heat often doesn't work as well overseas as it does at home, even if it's 'OK', electricity-wise. Do you want a hot flatiron, or a warm one? If you anticipate returning to Europe you might consider buying one there. Use the 'Search' box at the top of this page for 23,849 - or so ;-) - posts on the topic of flatirons. You'll see several posts mentioning which irons people bought in Europe, and those dual-voltage ones people bought here and their reviews. Remember - unless it's dual-voltage, anything you buy there WON'T work here! Plus, you'd need an adaptor for USA outlets. Best to keep that appliance with your international luggage :-)

Posted by Ken
Vernon, Canada
20324 posts

Jenny, If you could provide some answers to Nigel's questions, the group will be able to provide more specific information. You need to check the "Input Voltage" specifications of EACH device that you intend to travel with. Cheers!

Posted by Paul
Cedar, IA, USA
2578 posts

....and I will "pre-answer" the question, likely the flat iron will not be dual voltage, meaning it will require both a converter and adapter. In that instance, to get a large enough wattage converter will be an expense, plus a weight to lug around. If you must, must, have the flat iron, consider looking over there to buy one. I have gotten to the point that if an item is not dual voltage, I find another one that is, or leave it at home.

Posted by Rose
922 posts

For all hair appliances that create considerable heat and have the potential to melt down or catch fire, it's important to read the manual that came with the appliance. Many of them specifically stipulate that they are not to be used with a voltage converter.

Posted by Paul
Cedar, IA, USA
2578 posts

To add to Rose's point, the reason for stating that is many people would simply not use a large enough converter, causing too much current flow, causing the converter to overheat. Most converters for travel are in the couple hundred watt range, hair appliances typically take a 1000 or more. My brother, who lived in Europe on and off, needed converters that weighed 10 pounds or more to safely handle the load.