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110 or 220 what should I do?

Please tell me if I should take our French multi-outlet extensions cord, or if I should buy an American one for our two-part trip..

Part one we'll be in France and Spain. We have a French cord and an assortment of different adapters we bring every trip.
Part two we're taking a ship back to the US. The cabins have one 220V outlet and a couple 110V.
We need to run a c-pap and charge the usual variety of electronics; everything takes 110/220..

Is a cord made for US 110V safe in European 220V outlets? Should I take the 220V cord we already have? Or, should I weigh the bunch and take the lightest?

Posted by
7168 posts

I've been all over western and middle Europe and Russia (and China) more times than I can count and have never ONCE needed an extension cord of any kind. Yes, I also use a CPAP and have all of those other usual devices that need charging...phones, laptops, cameras, etc.

Posted by
6752 posts

Non-need of an extension is irrelevant; we've needed one occasionally. We probably stay in grubbier places. The question is about 110 or 220.

Posted by
5487 posts

Is a cord made for US 110V safe in European 220V outlets?

Short answer is yes.

The long answer: To deliver the same amount of power (i.e. watts, kilowatts) at the higher 220-240 voltage, wire gauge (cross section area) can be smaller than wiring seized for 110-220 volts. The 220-240 volt supply need only half the amperage is needed for the same power. A 120 watt device would need 1 amp at 120 volts. The same device would need only 0.5 amps at 240 volts. The North American 120 volt device would need wiring twice the cross section area as the Euro device.

Posted by
6752 posts

Thanks Edgar. So I'll just weigh the two systems on the kitchen scale and take the lightest.

Posted by
23402 posts

I'd take whichever makes you happy. As long as the US one is dumb - no lights, no special circuits, no whistles and no bells - it should be fine in Europe with what you are planning to plug into it. A plug adapter and you are good to go.

Or use the European, and put plug adapters on US plugged chargers.

The usual stuff is pretty low draw, should be no problem.

Posted by
17647 posts

By your "French multi-outlet extension cord" I would assume you mean it has a French type E plug and type E sockets. So each socket needs an adapter for the US plug devices. I think it makes much more sense to take one French to US adapter and a US cord, so each device does not need it's own adapter.

I don't think 110V vs 220V should make any difference for the extension cord, as long as it is not damaged. The cords are probably "hipot" tested to 1000V or more, so 220V on a 100V cord should not breakdown the insulation.

I'm not sure about the CPAP, but most electronic devices today charge from a USB power converter, which has an output of 5W - 10W (1 or 2 amps at 5 volts DC) so either extension cord will easily handle the power.

If you were using something like a dual voltage hair dryer with the French extension cord, I would definitely say to use the 220V receptacle, since the French cord is probably designed with smaller gauge wires for lower amperage; it would be overloaded at the almost 15 amps of a hair dryer.

Better yet, if the 110V receptacle is polarized, i.e., one slot wider than the other, and your hairdryer has a polarized plug (one blade wider), then use a US extension cord so that you don't lose the safety features provided by polarization.

Posted by
6752 posts

Yes, Lee-- an E-socket and four E-outlets, all grounded. I'm relieved to know that a US cord can safely plug into a higher voltage European outlet. Thank you and Nigel for the info. BTW, haven't had a hair dryer for decades but lesson is understood.

Posted by
2353 posts

I always take an extension cord - outlets are not always conveniently located.

Posted by
30932 posts

Bets,

For the reasons that Lee mentioned, I'd suggest using a North American extension cord as it's much less cumbersome than having to use a Plug Adaptor in each outlet when using the French extension cord. When you're in Europe, you'll only need one Plug Adaptor, and on the ship you can connect it directly to the outlet.

Again as mentioned, the North American cord should be fine when connected to a 220 VAC electrical system, as they're normally designed with a safety margin and the insulation shouldn't be a problem (although these days with most products of that type manufactured off-shore and materials "cheapened-down", I sometimes wonder how much the quality has deteriorated).

If you decide to buy a North American extension cord (such as a power bar), it's important to note that it MUST NOT have any surge, RFI, noise filtering or other "electronic enhancements". It must be only a plain cord with a plug, copper wires and metal terminals in the outlets. THIS product is one that's designed to be used in both North America or Europe, although the cord is not very long. THIS is another product that should work, although I haven't tried it so I can't comment beyond the information they've posted online. One important point to mention with these products is that they have a three-pin (grounded) Plug, which means you would have to use grounded Plug Adaptors specific to each country you visit in Europe to connect them to the power point.

One important point to mention regarding extension cords is that the outlets are often close together. That makes it difficult to attach more than one larger power cube or camera charger at a time (ie: in a four-outlet extension cord, you may only be able to connect two power cubes at a time, leaving two outlets unusable.

If you have a lot of USB devices to charge, you could also consider taking a multi-USB Charger, as that will only require one outlet. There are lots of those listed on Amazon as well.

Hope this helps.

Posted by
17647 posts

I don't take a lot of devices that require charging. A pad, yes. My camera, which has rechargeable AA batteries, yes, and I have a AA/AAA charger that uses a USB power converter. That's it. I'm not married to a phone. I also will take along a portable power supply (battery) to extend the use time on my pad, and it, too, can be charged by USB.

I recently bought a USB converter with a Europlug male end and two USB A sockets, 1 and 2 amps. There are USB converters on the market that have Europlugs and will handle multiple devices. Maybe one of these will suffice for you.

Posted by
17647 posts

I always take an extension cord - outlets are not always conveniently
located.

I've never needed an extension cord, but then my computer's "brick" has a 5' cord set and another 5' line to the computer, so I guess that serves as an extension cord. However, the most "inconvenient" receptacle I've ever used was under the desk. Everything else I charge off my computer's USB ports.

Posted by
5397 posts

This is fascinating. I would have guessed the exact opposite of what everyone has said here, so I've definitely learned something!

Posted by
607 posts

We carried short 5' North Am extension cord and taped the appropriate adapter onto the plug (so as not to lose it). We can then plug up to 3 devices at a time. Great to have if outlet is in difficult spot or if only one outlet is available.

Posted by
103 posts

On my last cruise, the only electrical outlets I could find in the cabin were on the corridor wall just below the ceiling of the bathroom and over the desk which was diagonally in the opposite corner of the cabin from the bed. If you check the cruise line web site and contact the email address or telephone number listed there for people with health issues and physical disabilities, they should be able to tell you where in the cabin the electrical outlets will be. When I inquired at Holland America Line, I was told exactly what length of extension cord I should bring so that it would suffice in any of the several cabin configurations on the ship. It was much longer than the one I usually travel with (4 feet). I was able to plug in my CPAP and sleep securely. I've often stayed in hotels/motels, cottages, and family members' guest rooms in the US and Canada where I needed to have that 4 foot cord. My last European travels were before I became yoked to my CPAP.

Posted by
13930 posts

I took a short extension cord (2 meters) to Europe last year, mostly for the multiple outlets. Some of my stuff has US prongs, some European, and the computer has the weird Israeli prongs. It was very useful on my first stop and it was the one thing I left behind. Somehow it just looked like it belonged to the room, not to me! I tried to replace it at stops on my RS tour without success. After the tour, I just gave up - I'd managed nearly 2 weeks without it, but not without some difficulties. So please don't make my mistake.

And I'll copy what Ken wrote about US items - One important point to mention with these products is that they have a three-pin (grounded) Plug, which means you would have to use grounded Plug Adaptors specific to each country you visit in Europe to connect them to the power point.

My guess is that the 220 and one of the 110 outlets shipboard are in the bathroom. That's not the most convenient or safest place to charge electronics. On the other hand, with 24-hour access to the room it's easy enough to charge one or two things at a time. So I'd probably opt for what is more convenient in Europe.

Posted by
6752 posts

Thanks for all the help everyone.

I am having a very difficult time finding a multiple outlet with more than two sockets but without a surge protector. I don't need a particularly long extension--3 to 5 feet will do. If anyone finds an outlet with four sockets and a meter or more of cord, but not more than 5 feet, please let me know.

BTW, surge protectors are confiscated from luggage when boarding the ship as they are considered a fire hazard.

Posted by
30932 posts

Bets,

"BTW, surge protectors are confiscated from luggage when boarding the ship as they are considered a fire hazard."

There's a good reason for that. As I often mention, 115 VAC power bars with surge suppressors will self-destruct immediately when connected to a 220 VAC electrical system, often in spectacular fashion with sparks and smoke.