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Power converters in Europe

We used these USB converters to charge our phones ...etc...worked great in Spain.....FC RoHS model ca 23 ...bought on Amazon
you could plug in 2 USB cords.....

Posted by
51 posts

Converters aren't needed for charging phones in Spain or elsewhere in Europe -- only adapters -- as phones these days are dual voltage. Generally, converters are only necessary for items that aren't dual voltage, such as flat irons etc. Phones, laptops, e-readers, cameras, and the like can all be charged in Europe using an adapter. We sell both Continental Europe Adapters and Britain/Ireland adapters online in our online travel store for a dollar.

Posted by
8889 posts

USB "chargers", as supplied with most phones, are converters. They convert the electricity coming out the wall (110V 60Hz AC or 230V 50 Hz AC depending on which side of the Atlantic you are) into USB standard 5V DC, which is what phones etc. want.
Phones are not "dual voltage", their chargers are.

If you buy a new USB charger/converter with round European pins on it, that is all you need. And any electronic shop in Europe, or online, will sell them.

Edit: Not trying to annoy anybody, just being technically correct.

Posted by
18298 posts

OK, let's be technical.

You are correct, and I've said this all along, USB chargers ARE voltage converters. But, they are not "dual voltage", they are "multi-voltage"; that is, they accept any voltage (not just two voltages) between 100VAC and 240VAC. They probably accept voltages outside that range, too, but that is pretty much the range for the world (western Australia used to be 250VAC, but now, it looks like, that has been lowered to 240VAC. Japan is 100VAC (50 or 60 Hz), the US is nominally 120VAC, the EU is trying to standardize at 230VAC, some countries (Australia) are 240VAC. A USB "charger" will accept anything into which you plug it.

In the case of the product being promoted by Archer65, it converts 12VDC from a car battery to 5VDC for your phone. That's not unusual; many products are available for the same purpose. That product claims to be CE "tested and certified". Having previously done the work to put the CE symbol on a product, I can tell you that CE is a "self-certification". The manufacturer analyzes the safety of the product using guidelines specified by CE and then puts the CE symbol on the product. You must keep your work in a file that CE an see if there is ever a safely issue, but other than that, CE never sees or reviews your work. There is no such thing as CE testing and certification, like you would have with UL or CSA.

Dual voltage is an entirely different animal. It's primarily used with resistance heating devices, like flat irons, where a switch aligns elements that are designed for 110V to 125V to accept two (dual) voltages, in parallel for low voltage (110-125 V) input or in series for high voltage (220-250 V) input.

BTW, I did acquire online a USB converter with round pins so I can use it in Europe without an adapter (no worry about leaving the adapter in the wall or taping the two together).

Posted by
31 posts

All I'm going to add is I've fried 2 electric razors so far not thinking (I will never learn).

Rule of thumb: Does it have a motor? You need a converter. Just about everything else you can use an adapter.

Posted by
18298 posts


Does it have a motor? You need a converter.

The electric razor I had 30 years ago was dual voltage; it had a switch to change it from "115V to 230V". My last one was a rechargeable, and the built-in charger was multi-voltage. Both had motors, but I didn't need a converter, just a plug adapter.

Just about everything else you can use an adapter.

Most hair dryers, flat irons, and curlers sold in this country only run on 115V. You have to have a converter to use one of them in Europe. Better yet, leave it at home.

Whatever you use, check the nameplate for "Input voltage" before you take it. If it says (for example, 120V), don't take it without taking a voltage converter.

Posted by
31465 posts


"Rule of thumb: Does it have a motor? You need a converter. Just about everything else you can use an adapter."

That may have been true with older shavers, but usually not the case now. The charger on my rechargeable shaver is designed for operation from 100-240 VAC and works just fine in Europe with just a Plug Adaptor.