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Extension Cords?

Hello all,

I'm not very tech savvy, and I hit several road blocks trying to understand the electrical differences in Europe.

From what I've read, I can bring an extension cord from the States and use it Europe, however I CANNOT use a power strip. Is this correct?

Has anyone used a North American extension cord in Europe? I just don't want to fry my laptop and phone batteries.

Thanks for your help
-Reed

Posted by
507 posts

Reed, here are some past threads.

https://community.ricksteves.com/travel-forum/to-the-north/power-question
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Posted by Bob
Reading, PA, USA
12/29/13 10:23 AM
291 posts
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. . . You can get, in the US (check Amazon, where else), a smart (spike, voltage protection, etc.) 240 volt power strip that has an European style
plug on the cord. The strip itself has universal outlets that will take either US or European style plugs. Note, it does not convert voltage, so you are still restricted to devices that are useable with 240 volt electricity. I am getting one for my upcoming trip to Italy.

https://community.ricksteves.com/travel-forum/general-europe/electrical-adapters-power-strip-to-use-in-europe

Posted by
23418 posts

You can use a cheap power strip as long as it goes not have a built in surge protection. And generally cheap power strips do not have surge protection. Just be absolutely sure that all of your equipment is built for an input of 120-240v. If it is only 120v that it will be fried regardless of the extension cord.

Posted by
32241 posts

Reed,

An extension cord shouldn't be a problem, since it only consists of copper conductors and insulation, and will work just the same on 220 VAC as it does on 115 VAC. The main concern with the higher voltage is the insulation ratings, but at those voltage levels that shouldn't be a problem. An extension cord will not contribute to "frying" your batteries, as it's simply (as the name implies) an extension of the power outlet.

A simple Power Bar with NO surge protection or other electronic circuits should also work fine. THIS is one model that is configured for travel use on the higher voltage.

As Frank mentioned, you'll need to check EACH device that you plan on taking to Europe to ensure that it's rated for operation from 100-240 VAC. Look for the wording Input Voltage on the charger or on the device to see the ratings.

You will of course also need Plug Adaptors specific to the countries you'll be visiting.

Posted by
8586 posts

Reed, if you are still concerned, get one over there. One less thing to pack and take with you.

Posted by
33123 posts

The problem with "get one over there" is while you won't need a plug adapter for the wall (at least in the country in which you buy it - special plugs in the UK, Ireland, and Switzerland, some plugs in Italy), you WILL need adapters for each socket on the extension cord, and if they are big they may not all fit.

Much easier to use a dumb cord with all the right extensions and only one adapter to the wall...

Posted by
19146 posts

How many things do you need to run at one time?

Most electronics today, like cameras or cell phones, charge from a USB port. You can buy power supplies that have multiple USB ports or, if you take along a small netbook, you can charge a camera or cell phone from one of it's USB ports while you are using it. (My camera takes rechargeable AA batteries, so I bought a USB battery charger and charge them from my netbook.)

I would not recommend using a heating device (hair dryer, curling iron) from the US because, even if they can be used on 240V, they are probably not CE certified; it would be like using a non-UL device over here.

Posted by
8201 posts

Your laptop will work fine with a quality 110 volt to 220 volt converter, and most phones can be charged via USB ports from the computer. Some computers also work on 220 volts.

I just use a quality converter when traveling overseas for my computer and my U.S. hair dryer. You can also carry a light extension cord, but a power strip is really overkill.

Posted by
32241 posts

David,

"Your laptop will work fine with a quality 110 volt to 220 volt converter"

I'm assuming you mean a step-down converter that reduces 220 VAC to 115 VAC?

Reed,

If you find that you need to use a Voltage Converter, it's important to remember that there are two principles used in conversion (transformer or solid-state). It's important to match the correct type of conversion to the appliance it's being used with, as "unfortunate results" can occur.

If you have any questions, post the Input Voltage ratings of each appliance / device you'll be travelling with, and that will help to determine whether or not you'll need a convertor.

Posted by
23418 posts

IF your computer or other equipment is DESIGNED to be operated over a voltage range of 120 to 240, DO NOT operate the equipment with a voltage converter. That will cause potential problems. If label on your input plug reads sometime like 120-240 vac input, then you are good to go with just a plug adapter.