I'm headed to Europe at the end of the month and have an old travel converter from 1996 that I'd like to bring... does anyone know if this would still work? Have things changed in the world of converting technology?
It should work just fine. Just remember many things today are dual voltage and just require the plug adapter and not the power converter. Just check the device.
I usually bring an extension cord so can plug several things in at once - kindle, cell phone, net book, etc.
The simply answer is that it will work just as well today as it did in 96 but a better question is do you need it? And if you need it, is it the proper size? So tell what you intend to use it with.
In 2000 I looked at digital cameras, and the one that was recommended to me, Kodak, only charged on 115V, so I would have needed a converter. In those days, converters on the market, at least what I could find, were transformers, and except for very low wattage, were very heavy.
Everything has changed in today's world of converting technology. Converters for higher wattage work electronically and are not so heavy, but the wave form they produce is not good for small electronic devices (cell phones, laptops, cameras), but today, most of these devices are so-called "dual voltage" (100V-240V) and can operate on most electrical services.
Lastly, a lot of converters have only European 2 pin input or US 2 blade input and need an Europlug adapter. First, the 2 pin Europlug is only approved for 2½ amps (about 575 watts), so you'll be violating European safety codes by using it. Secondly, if the converter is not grounded, the receptacle for the American plug will not be polarized, which most US appliances like hair dryers and curling irons relay on for safety per UL.
So the answer is, if it is undamaged it will probably work as well as it would have in 1996, but it wasn't really safe then, and it won't be any safer today.
Thanks all. I plan on brining my iPhone5 and charging that. Does that change things?
The iphone should be dual voltage and not require a converter.
Your iphone6 should be fine with just a plug adapter since the charger is designed to accept any voltage in the range of 120 - 250volts. Small point - technically it is not dual voltage. It will accept anything in the range. However, don't bring a hair dryer.
Most cell phone chargers today bear the CE mark (European equivalent of UL) and are double insulated (square in a square symbol) and are fine for use in Europe with just a Europlug.
If the only device you'll be charging in Europe is an iPhone you do NOT need a Voltage Converter, as iPhone chargers are designed for operation from 100-240 VAC. You will of course need an appropriate Plug Adapter.
There are two main principles of voltage conversion used, and it's important to match the conversion method with the appliances that will be connected. Unpleasant consequences (sometimes involving smoke or sparks) can result if incompatible products are connected together. For solid-state chargers, ONLY a Transformer type of Voltage Converter should be used.
Throw the Voltage Converter back in a drawer, as you won't need it.
A plug adapter from 20 years ago may be awkward since many receptacles now want a three-prong grounded plug.
Helpful information. Thanks all.
"A plug adapter from 20 years ago may be awkward since many receptacles now want a three-prong grounded plug."
By code, the ungrounded type C receptacle, with just two sockets for round pins, is, no longer acceptable in continental Europe. Note, that is the receptacle. The plug is still legal, but only on appliances drawing less than 2½ amps, mostly lamps or double insulated electronic power supplies.
On the continent, grounded receptacle are mostly the German Schuko, type F, and the French version, type E, Switzerland, type J, and Italy, type L (see). A non-grounding, two pin Europlug adapter will usually fit in any of these receptacles (I have an old two-pin adapter that is too fat on the ends to fit in the pointed Swiss receptacle).
One additional point to mention.....
If you're going to be travelling with any other electronic gadgets (ie: camera, laptop), then you MUST check EACH device to ensure that the charger / power supplies are designed for operation from 100-240 VAC. There will be a label on the charger, and you'll need to look for the words "Input Voltage".