How can I use small electrical appliances in Europe?

Help! I'm not sure what to do in order to make my small appliances like curling iron, blow dryer and phone charger, etc. to work while in Europe next month for my vacation travel? Do I need an international converter, adapter or both??

Posted by Rose
922 posts

Ken's reply is great. Here, too, is a good article with pictures and a short video with close-ups of what to look for on your appliances. Article: Video: Caution! Do not use a voltage converter just because you think it might be needed. Almost all modern-day small consumer appliances are dual voltage, including hair appliances, and all you need is a simple adaptor plug. However, there may be a small switch on the appliance that you need to flip from 110 to 220 - especially hair appliances. Do it before you leave home, so you won't forget when you get there and are jet-lagged. If still in doubt, ask at your hotel Reception; they will be highly motivated to help you prevent a fire! :) Brookstone makes a great little ionic dual-voltage travel hair dryer -- very compact but powerful:

Posted by Ken
Vernon, Canada
21697 posts

Mary C, The first thing you'll need to do is check EACH of the appliances you'll be travelling with. Look for the words Input Voltage on the nameplate label, which will be attached or hot stamped onto the Charger or the device itself. If the Input Voltage ratings state "100-240 VAC, 50~60Hz", the product will work fine in Europe with only an inexpensive Plug Adaptor. If you'll be travelling in the U.K. as well as the continent, you'll need two different types of Plug Adaptors. You'll can buy good quality Plug Adaptors at Magellan's (they have stores in Santa Barbara and Santa Monica, should you be in the area, or you can order online). If the Input Voltage states "115 VAC, 60 Hz" then you will also need a Voltage Converter. There are two principles used in voltage conversion and it's important to choose the correct type for the appliance. It's likely that your hair appliances are only designed for use on 115 VAC electrical systems. If that's the case, DO NOT use them in Europe or they'll self destruct almost immediately, perhaps with a spectacular display of sparks and smoke and possibly cutting power to an entire floor of the hotel (the hotel staff will NOT be impressed). If it turns out that your hair appliances are not easily usable in Europe, you have three choices: 1.) Use them with a Voltage Converter (keeping in mind that some manufacturers prohibit use of their products with Converters) 2.) Buy dual-voltage appliances. Magellan's also has a good seleƧtion of those. 3.) Buy 220 VAC hair appliances when you arrive in Europe (those will probably work the best). Note that many hotels now provide Hair Dryers, either in the room or at the desk. Happy travels!