What kind of converters and plugs do I need to bring to operate my electronics? REI has a $10 converter kit but I don't know if I need anything to change voltage. I will be travelling to Paris,Amsterdam,Munich and Rome.
Check the power cords of the electronic units you're taking. If they say something like "100-240 watts," then they can cope with European power, which is 220 volts. Some equipment, like hairdryers, may have a switch. In these cases, all you will need is the adapter plugs to fit European outlets. However, if your devices only say "110 volts", then you will need a converter to safely switch the power to 220 volts. In many cases, there are two power converters available....one for low-wattage devices like chargers, and another for high-wattage devices like hair dryers. A high-wattage device will charge batteries, altho more slowly than usual. But a low-wattage converter will be fried by a hair dryer, etc. Try to get one that covers all wattages.
Norm, Good explanation.
Joe, I think you will find that the $10 REI kit is just a set of "plug dapters". These plug into the wall receptacle in other countries and accept the American two-bladed plug. They do NOT convert voltage.
Unless you think that you might go to sleep in Italy and be teleported overnight to China, you don't need a full set. Just a two round pin Europlug is all that you need. You can get those individually for less from ETBD, from REI, or from your local ACE Hardware.
I traveled all through Europe for the last twenty years and my advice to you is spend the thirty to forty dollars it cost for a voltage converter and plug adaptors, you wont be sorry. You can purchase a set at any travel or luggage store, or buy them on line.
You can get everything at a AAA travel store, as well. They're usually cheaper, especially if you're a member.
Thanks to everyone who replied with a helpful answer..I'm still new to this site so I'm still finding my way around but it's you,the other members who actually answer the questions asked that makes this site very welcoming.
So adapters and converters it is!!
It's very rare to need a converter. Most all electronics manufactured these days are able to handle all currents. Check the items you will be traveling with. As Norm explained, if the device says 110v-240v you don't need a converter just the adapter plug. Buying a converter will probably be unnecessary.
I try to pack ultra-light and travel with as few electronic devices as possible. I don't even take my lap top.
For the things I can't live without, like a compact travel size flat iron (for hair, not clothes), I've bought it in Europe or the UK so I don't need convertors or adaptors.
The only challenge there is to make sure I've packed the right one for the right destination! :->
Michael is right, it's rare to need a convertor these days, anyway. I think I bought mine across the pond for the novelty factor more than anything! Plus, they were a really great price for the quality Vs buying the same one back home!
Joe, a few comments & some clarification to add to the other posts.
As mentioned by others, check the ratings of EACH device you'll be travelling with. Look for the words "Input Voltage". If it states "100-240 VAC", the device will work fine on both N.A. and Euro electrical systems. If these state "115 VAC, 60 Hz", then you will also need to pack a "Voltage Converter".
There are two principles used in voltage conversion and it's important to use the proper type for each appliance! For electronic devices (Camera Chargers, etc.) it's recommended that a Transformer be used, with a capacity of about 50 watts. For high wattage appliances that contain only a heating element, solid-state Converters are best with a rating of about 1500 watts. It's NOT advisable to use solid state converters with electronic products, as problems can result (explanation would be lengthy).
You WILL need Plug Adapters though. The Euro models have two round pins (take at least two). Check Magellans for info.
Joe, one more point to add (couldn't fit it in, due to the goofy text limit on this Board).
Magellans offer an auto-switching Voltage Converter that will detect which type of appliance is connected, and select the correct conversion method. I've used one of these in the past, and it has worked well.
My eventual goal is to travel ONLY with devices that are designed for "world" operation. I'm just about there, as most of my electronics (Cameras, Cell Phone, Razor, etc.) all have power supplies that will operate on 100-240 VAC.
Based on your list above, it doesn't appear that you will be in the UK. For future travels, a different model of Plug Adapter is required in the UK (larger rectangular pins).
Hope this and my previous post have helped.
Norm, a few questions.....
I'm assuming you mean 100-240 Volts?
" you will need a converter to safely switch the power to 220 volts"
I'm assuming you mean "switch the power FROM 220 volts"?
Joe, in years past I had the same concerns. Thanks to the helpful people hear I just use the 2 round plug converter for our most recent German stay. My Toshiba laptop, my Apple ipod, and my NIkon D80 all were for world use. No need for expensive converters. Good luck!
P.S. make sure your not taking anything with a 3 prong plug. My wifes previous Dell had a 3 pronger. Not good.
Actually, a 3-prong plug isn't too much of a problem; you can buy a grounding adapter anywhere in the US, then plug that into your Europlug adapter. Sure, it means it's not grounded, but it wouldn't be with 2 prongs anyway.
The other option is to buy a slightly less common and more expensive Schuko (may also be called CEE 7/7) plug adapter, which will take your American 3-prong plug and convert it to a hybrid that should fit most any grounded or ungrounded outlet in Europe.
It's not uncommon to find a shortage of outlets in some European accomodations. Or at least a shortage of "convenient" outlets...Or "safer" ones that aren't located near the sink in the WC.
If you've got multiple things to plug in at one time and don't want them plugged in throughout the place, including the WC, considering getting one of those multiplier type plugs. (Sorry I forget what you call these things...)
Anyway, they are small and give you three outlets in one single plug. They don't cost much across the pond and really do come in handy...
Just don't use overly power hungry appliances all at the same time as you could trip the fuse in some really old wired places. I used the kettle, coffee maker, iron and lap top all at the same time from one outlet and did just that ONCE! I don't know if it was a freak thing or not, I'm not electrically literate, but let's just say I haven't tried it since!