electrical outlet

Will I need a surge protector with adapter for use with my iPad, camera, iphone/cell phone and curl iron?

Posted by Nancy
Bloomington, IL, USA
7683 posts

NEVER use a US surge protector in Europe! A plug adapter is all you need for everything but the curling iron. It must be dual voltage (or buy one there).

Posted by Ray
Portland, Oregon, USA
1356 posts

Mary, ive never thought about one of those. I guess you could bring/buy one for you travels. Im not familiar with the electrical code in any european country, but i would ASSUME that some or most of the newer stays will have their version of overload protection. so far on my travels i havent had any surge issues (knock on wood), but it would be interesting to see how many that travel did. happy trails.

Posted by Sam
Green Bay
2276 posts

Red Flag. You lost me when you said curl iron. The first 3 are no problem with just a plug adaptor, the 4th requires a voltage converter unless it was specifically designed for dual voltage.
PS. My wife melted the inside of her ski boots when she thought the clunky universal socket adaptor device was also a converter. Boot dryers were not dual voltage.

Posted by Emily
Vienna, Austria
312 posts

Depends on your destination. If you are traveling to places with unstable electricity, such as Africa, then, yes, a surge protector is a good idea. If you are traveling to places where stability is not an issue, say Europe, a surge protector is not necessary. Ipads and iphones only require an adapter as the plug unit automatically converts the electrical current. Cameras, curling irons, other cell phones would require an adapter and a voltage converter (which is entirely different from a surge protector).

Posted by Sam
Green Bay
2276 posts

On any electronic device that requires a charger, look at the charger and you will see in small print "100-240 V, 50-60 Hz". That means it will work just fine in Europe. Laptops, cameras, cell phones. That is so universal that I've never seen any device that doesn't say that (check nonetheless). Curling irons, hairdryers, etc are a whole different animal. They use electricity to generate heat and that means power, lots of power. Power enough to melt stuff.

Posted by Ken
Vernon, Canada
17780 posts

mary, To begin with, it would be a really good idea to check EACH device that you'll be travelling with to determine whether they're designed for multi-voltage operation. The iPad and iPhone will most certainly be rated for operation from 100-240 VAC, but your Camera and Curling Iron may only be rated for 115 VAC, depending on their "age". You need to verify that! Look for the wording "Input Voltage" on the Charger or the appliance. For travel in western Europe, IMO a Surge Protector is not required, as the electrical system there is modern and well designed. There are always some spikes and voltage variations on any electrical system, but they shouldn't cause any problems. You could certainly pack along a Surge Protector designed for use on 220 VAC electrical systems if you wish. There's one listed on the Magellan's website. One other point to mention is that you'll have to determine if your Cell phone/iPhone will work in Europe. Which model phone are you using and which network are you with? As you're using an iPhone, you'll have to be EXTREMELY careful with cellular data roaming as the costs can be HUGE (ie: five figures). I'd suggest checking with your home network regarding that. It's possible that your Curling Iron is not designed for 220 VAC systems. If that's the case, I'd suggest either buying a dual-voltage device here (Magellans or other stores) or buy an inexpensive model when you arrive in Europe. Happy travels!

Posted by Charlie
Honolulu/Seattle, HI/WA, USA
1841 posts

One thing many folks fail to recognize is that you can buy almost anything in Europe that you can buy in the US/Canada. There is no need to take along anything that may cause problems and is not an expensive purchase if gotten in Europe.

Posted by Lee
Lakewood, Colorado
11276 posts

I have heard, but don't know for sure, that US voltage surge protectors, even when used on a converter, can be cause damaged and/or not work, but I have never used one. I have traveled with a computer with a dual voltage power supply and no surge protector for 10 trips and never had a surge problem. As far as voltage converters, there are two types. One is a small transformer rated at only about 50W. It's what you should use for small electronics, but would burn up if you tried to use it for over 50W. The other type is a solid state converter that "chops" off the sine wave to produce a lower voltage, but creates a wave-form that can damage the power supply for computers, phones, etc. These converters are intended for higher wattage appliances like hair dryers, but I have heard of problems with them. The best option is to find an applicance that runs on dual voltage or get a 230V one over there.

Posted by Ken
Vernon, Canada
17780 posts

"I have heard, but don't know for sure, that US voltage surge protectors, even when used on a converter, can be cause damaged and/or not work" With Surge Protectors that are designed for use only with 115 VAC electrical systems, that's very true. The "clamping voltage" (ie: the voltage at which the device dissipates surges) may be LOWER than 220 VAC, so when connected to higher voltages like 220 VAC, the product will usually fail quickly and provide NO surge protection after that. Using them with a solid-state Voltage Converter adds another "unknown factor" to the mix, and not something I'd do. There are Surge Protectors designed for use on both 115 & 220 VAC electrical systems, but I doubt you'll find those at your local Target store as they're more of a specialized item. As Lee mentioned, I've also been travelling for years using only the appliance power supplies and no Surge Protection devices, and have yet to experience any problems. Cheers!

Posted by Christe'
DeLand, FL, USA
53 posts

I don't use a curling iron but I use a flat iron. I once stood in a store and compared about a dozen flat irons. At that time the only brand that stated they were dual voltage was Conair. I was so impressed I bought it. I got home and realized I was already using the same flat iron. I felt pretty silly. Follow the advice above about how to ascertain if your curling iron is dual voltage. Good luck and have a great trip.

Posted by Lee
Lakewood, Colorado
11276 posts

I've noticed that some women have straight hair and state emphatically that they have to have their curling iron, while others with curly hair can't live without their hair straighteners. Maybe the solution is brain transplants.

Posted by Greg
Billings, Mt
14 posts

Good advice from previous posts. One thing I would point out is this: Most voltage converters I've seen for use in Europe have the dual round-pin plugs that are flush with the body of the converter. However much of Europe (Germany, Austria, France that I know of) now uses grounded outlets that are recessed. Consequently, the flush pins on converters will not reach without an additional adaptor to fit into the recessed outlets. Also, most higher wattage converters that you would need for a curling iron or hair dryer, don't provide true sine-wave power. They work fine for heating appliances, but are not good for electronics like computers.

Posted by Tom
Hüttenfeld, Hessen, Germany
9131 posts

"However much of Europe (Germany, Austria, France that I know of) now uses grounded outlets that are recessed. Consequently, the flush pins on converters will not reach without an additional adaptor to fit into the recessed outlets." Good point. When my mom visited last year with her favorite curling iron, this was precisely the reason the portable converter she bought didn't work. At my house, this wasn't a problem, because she could simply plug it into one of the transformers I had in the house. But when we went on the road, and thus couldn't bring my 15+ kg household transformers with us, she ran into problems. Switzerland does not use recessed outlets, so those handheld converters might be easier to use.