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USB charger question

This might be a stupid question, but I can't seem to find a straight answer online, so I thought I'd ask you wise folks. I'm looking to buy a multi-USB outlet charger for both domestic (US) and international travel. The electronics I travel with are all charge-able via USB ports and this seems like a great way to save space and weight in my luggage. My current multi-plug outlet adapter requires me to bring the larger pronged part of all my chargers instead of just the USB cables. (Sorry I don't know the technical names of these things, hopefully this makes sense.)

The devices I use are all dual voltage (cell phone, camera battery charger, and e-reader) thus I have never purchased a converter. My stupid question is this: since the words "dual voltage" are printed on the part of the chargers I would now leaving at home, does that mean that I would now need a converter to use with my multi-USB outlet? I'm just not sure if it is that part of the charger that makes the devices dual voltage, or if the devices themselves are dual voltage.

Also, if anyone wants to recommend a good multi-USB outlet that they've successfully used, I'm definitely open to suggestions. I've seen a few on Amazon that include adapters for various countries, but I always appreciate recommendations. Thanks!

Posted by
5486 posts

Starting point is to read the RS FAQ response: https://www.ricksteves.com/travel-tips/phones-tech/electric-adapters-converters

USB chargers/power adapters TYPICALLY accept a range of inputs and are TYPICALLY labeled and certified for 100 to 240 volts at either 50 Hz or 60 Hz. The power adapters for products like Apple devices with output 5 vdc at 1 amp (5 watts) or 5.1 vdc at 2.1 amps (10 watts) and higher depending on the device. Phones typically only need 5 watts while the larger devices need the higher power adapters to charge.

What the above means is typical electronic device power adapters have voltage step downs and covert alternating current to direct and typically do it automatically. Read the certification label.

PS Power devices like irons and hair dryers often have switches that need to be set properly.

Posted by
8569 posts

What you need to get is a multi USB Dual Voltage Wall Charger. All you would need then are the USB cables. These will change voltage to what your USB device needs. You may or may not need a plug adapter for the country your are going to depending on whether or not the one you buy has built in plug adapters.

What is important is the device itself. Ipads and tablets need more power than cellphones or they charge very slowly.

I use an Anker PowerPort 4. It is an older model but charges my devices just fine anywhere I go. I did have to use an adapter plug to fit in the wall sockets.

Just look for a charger that has enough ports for the amount of devices you have. Something like this:

USB Charger

Posted by
119 posts

Thank you both for the replies.

Frank II, the charger in that link you provided is one of the ones I was looking at on Amazon. Good to hear that I was on the right track. I don't use an iPad or tablet so power shouldn't be a problem. My e-reader is an old boring black and white Nook, no tablet functionality. I limit electronics as much as I can while traveling, but some things do come in handy. Glad to know that I can purchase a small USB charger like this without worrying about frying my devices.

Posted by
8889 posts

The devices I use are all dual voltage (cell phone, camera battery charger, and e-reader) thus I have never purchased a converter. My stupid question is this: since the words "dual voltage" are printed on the part of the chargers I would now leaving at home, does that mean that I would now need a converter to use with my multi-USB outlet? I'm just not sure if it is that part of the charger that makes the devices dual voltage, or if the devices themselves are dual voltage.

Allie, this is your confusion. Your cell phone, camera battery charger, and e-reader are not dual voltage, you plug a USB cable into them, and USB is always 5 volts DC. The thing you plug into the wall is not "part of the charger", it is the complete charger. It converts the electricity coming out of the wall into 5V DC which is what your phone etc. needs.
If this charger says "Dual voltage" on it, or more importantly "110-220V 50-60 Hz AC", then it can convert both US and European electricity into 5V DC.

The second and bigger problem is that the pins (prongs) on a US charger will not fit into the sockets in Europe (which are sometimes different in different countries).
There are two options, buy a plug converter to fit on the front of your charger; or you buy a new USB charger with the correct plug pins on it. The best idea is to buy this after you land. Note the UK plugs are different from the rest of Europe. If you are travelling to both the UK and (say) France you then need two types of plug converters or USB chargers.

Posted by
30932 posts

Allie,

The charger that Frank II linked will work just fine if you only need four outlets. You'll need appropriate Plug Adaptors for the countries you're visiting, and of course will have to pack USB cables for each device. Note that the U.K. uses a different style of Plug Adaptors than continental Europe. I'd recommend packing at least two of each Adaptor as they're small and easily misplaced.

You can probably find multi-port chargers at your local Best Buy or similar stores. The important thing to look for are the words "Input Voltage". If this says Input 100-240 VAC 50~60 Hz. then it will work just fine in Europe with only a Plug Adaptor.

Posted by
172 posts

We use a 4 port USB charger from Syncwire. It includes adapters for many countries. Since European hotels usually have only one or two outlets, this charges all our devices--iPhone, iPad, wireless keyboard, portable charger.

Posted by
119 posts

Thank you everyone for the suggestions and links to specific models. I have a great idea now of what to shop for and am looking forward to having less to pack on my next trip. Plug adapters are not a problem as I have those lying around from previous trips to the UK and continental Europe. And I have the USB cables for my devices, just needed the middle component to tie it all together. Hopefully this will simplify my packing and overseas recharging in the future.

Posted by
17642 posts

For electronic devices, as several people have alluded, dual voltage is a misnomer.

Unlike heating and motorized devices, like hair dryers, where the elements take 115V and the switch puts them in parallel for a 115V source or in series for a 230V source, electronic power supplies, like USB, simply take the input voltage and chop off everything above 5V. So technically, they should be able to accept a continuum of input voltages from 5V (or just about) up to the maximum voltage that the electronic can physically take (440V?). My partner's oxygen concentrator accepts 12VDC from a car's power port or 120VAC to it's brick.

Posted by
503 posts

Allie, I bought one at Wall Mart for about $14.00. Used it for two cell phones and two ipads. It worked great in Europe and now at home. Don't let all the techno terms confuse you (as I use to do!). Just buy one you like and take your cables.