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Using and Charging our Electronics

This fall I will be traveling to Germany, Austria and Switzerland with my daughter and 18 yr. old granddaughter. I have been there many times, but this is the first trip for them, and I know they want to stay in touch with friends and family back home. We all have iphones which will need to be charged daily as we will also use them for most of our photo taking. I have the adapter plug which will fit the outlets, but since we have so many things that will need charging, or using electricity, can we plug a 3-outlet plug into the adapter to charge them all at once. Please be kind and don't slam me for asking.

Posted by
28121 posts

No reason to slam. Perfectly sensible question.

Will a 3 outlet plug (do you mean the sort of t-shaped rubber whatsit?) be enough for all the things you want to plug in?

The answer is that as long as the devices are all rated for 100-240v, and as long as the 3-outlet plug or power bar (my choice) is either dumb (no electronics at all inside) or rated for at least 240vAC you should be good to go.

You do know that you will need a different adapter for Switzerland than that used in Germany and Austria?

Going to Europe from the UK I don't have the voltage concerns that you do but I do usually have a LOT of things to plug in at night - 2 laptops, one netbook, 3 mobile phones, a tablet (and a partridge in a pear tree) and it is so much easier to plug them all into a UK power bar and just have to adapt one plug.

You have a lucky daughter and granddaughter.

Posted by
5789 posts

We all have iphones which will need to be charged...

I should add that your iPhone power adaptors [http://www.apple.com/power-adapters/] are NOT grounded. The Apple power conductors are not even polarized (both flat pins the same width).

If you want to (or need) to ground your three conductor power strip, you would need the adapter with flat strip ground conductors on the side of the plug [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Schuko] but that would be overkill for an iPhone power unit that is not grounded.

If you do bring a power strip, verify first that it is rated for 240 volts/50 Hz power.

Posted by
9363 posts

Any power strip must not have any kind of surge protection.

Posted by
823 posts

Many mobile devices, particularly iPhones, pull too much power to have more than one device plugged into a USB power adapter safely. I would opt for a travel-sized multiple outlet power strip. It's a little bulky but it will be more reliable as each device will have it's own power socket. Look around the travel store web sites or google...

I would also take a recharging battery or two, especially if you are taking iPhones. Again, they are a little bulky (but getting smaller all the time) but they can be recharged overnight and provide the extra power bump during the day.

Posted by
41 posts

I remember reading that newer TVs have a USB port in back, giving you one more place to recharge. Can anyone say how modern the televisions are in the average hotel?

Posted by
28121 posts

a fair number of the hotels where I stay have no television in the room

Posted by
504 posts

It's always interesting to see how many outlets a room has. You can ask ahead of time, of course. A powered hub is a good idea, but make sure it will charge everything before your trip.

Posted by
12991 posts

True about the hotel not having a TV, or one that works. I've been in several Pensionen or two star hotels in Germany where the room did come with a TV, or if it, it did not work. It is also quite possible that getting that TV to work was beyond me. After trying a few times, I gave up on it, never did tell the management either.

I bring a cell phone, the flip type, a converter to adapt to the current in Germany, France, etc, the recharger, and the other special attachment with the two round plugs designed to fit in German sockets.

Posted by
961 posts

Joy - On all of my trips I now take a regular extension cord (in case the only outlet is underneath or behind furniture), a couple of adapters if out of country, the usb cord for each of my devices, and an Xtreme USB hub which allows me to connect up to six devices to recharge at once. I can do my windows phone, hubby his iphone, both of us our tablets, and then whatever else we want to plug in. I put the hub and all of the usb cords into a small pouch and just unload it and hook it up at each place. Takes very little space to carry around, seconds to hook up, and works like a charm. Shop around for the cheapest price. Walmart may carry them. Here is a link to what I am talking about: Xtreme USB hub

Posted by
5697 posts

We just carry an ordinary extension cord, plugged into the wall outlet with an adapter.

Posted by
18378 posts

If you can still find a non-grounding, 3-outlet plug adapter (without the grounding pin), you should be fine.

If you can only find a grounding 3-outlet plug, the 2-pin adapter should fit on the male end of the 3-outlet plug with the grounding pin hanging out in the air next to the adapter. It will fit in a circular German or Austrian Schuko receptacle, but not in a smaller Swiss receptacle.

Have you tried the 2-pin adapter in a Swiss receptacle? Some 2-pin adapters don't quite fit into the sharp ends of a recessed Swiss receptacle.

Joy, if you don't have a non-grounding, 3 outlet plug adapter, I might have one. I'll let you know. You could pick it up on the 3rd Saturday.

Posted by
31521 posts

Joy,

Will you be taking any other electronic gadgets besides iPhones that will need to be charged? How many iPhones in total?

One of the simplest solutions for charging multiple USB devices is the ChargePod although it won't be the cheapest solution. In addition to the basic unit, you'd also need up to six of their USB pigtail cables in order to connect the factory phone chargers. You'll only need one Plug Adaptor to use with that, and the two-pin Euro style will work fine for the three countries you'll be visiting (however it's always a good idea to take more than one Plug Adaptor, as they're small and easily misplaced).

With the three outlet Adaptor that Lee suggested, be sure that you can plug three Apple charging cubes into it at the same time (they may be too wide and you may only be able to connect two at a time). You could also consider something like THIS Monster Power Bar which is capable of use on European electrical systems.

As you're all travelling with iPhones, I assume you've addressed the issue of cellular roaming charges (and especially data roaming). If your daughter and granddaughter use the phone the way they do at home in sending multimedia messages to friends, those require more data so the costs may be steep. Of course if they wait until they have Wi-Fi available, that will solve the problem.

Posted by
11446 posts

Everyone is making this so complicated. For the past two months I have been charging, every night, a cell phone, ipad, and either an ebook or bluetooth keyboard. Here's what I use:

Wall adapter (you have this)

Charging cables that came with the devices (you have these)

a USB multi charger like this one

The actual USB charger I use has been discontinued. It has four usb ports and a folding wall plug but the longer one in the suggestion above might be better for some older hotels with poorly placed receptacles.

I have stayed in 18 hotels without a problem. And unless you are staying in tiny pensiones that are actually old homes that rent out rooms, you will be fine.

With the multi-usb charger you can leave the three individual device chargers at home.

Posted by
31521 posts

Frank II,

The solution you mention is also a good one, however the Monster Power Bar may be better if one also has to charge camera batteries using proprietary chargers. Two of my cameras have special chargers and there is no USB option.

Posted by
6 posts

Frank II,

The adapter you linked is the exact one I brought for Germany/Austria/Switzerland. I also brought a europlug cord for it instead of having an adapter. It worked like a champ and barely even got warm when charging two phones, a pair of camera batteries on a single USB charger, a spare lithium ion battery, and a kindle. It also charged the two phones (Galaxy S5 and Nexus 5X) at their max charge rate.

Posted by
138 posts

Thanks for all the help and suggestions. The people on this forum are always so helpful.
We will be charging 3 iPhones, 1 Kindle and I think, 1 iPad.

Posted by
11292 posts

"Can anyone say how modern the televisions are in the average hotel?"

No, because there's FAR too much variation. Hotels in European countries are much less "standardized" than in the US. Some will have no TV at all; some will have a 20 year old "relic" TV; and some will have a brand new LED flatscreen (which, in turn, can be of any size from small to large). Then there's the issue of which channels, in which languages, your TV will get. And the issue of how easy or hard it is to operate; I've encountered several with complex satellite boxes that I didn't have time to figure out.

You get the picture (so to speak).

Posted by
138 posts

I second Frank Ii's multi USB device. We used that for iPhones and an iPad last month.

And you will get no slamming from me! 😀

Happy Travels!

Posted by
108 posts

Like others, I've used a version of this USB power hub with various devices (phones, tablets, e-readers) in hotels and it's worked well. http://www.amazon.com/Anker-Charger-PowerPort-Multi-Port-Foldable/dp/B00VH8G1SY?ie=UTF8&qid=1465423582&ref_=sr_ob_12&sr=8-12

I haven't been to Switzerland in about 14 years, so can't speak to different outlets there, but the Anker hub has worked well with a plug adapter where I've used it (Germany, Belgium, Austria, UK, France, etc.).

Posted by
630 posts

Any power strip must not have any kind of surge protection.

Nancy, thank you for posting this. I just recently purchased this Belkin 3-Outlet Mini Travel Protector (2.1 Amp) in preparation for our Italy trip but I guess I can't use it because it has surge protection. I just added Frank's suggestion to my Amazon Cart. Once again, Frank comes to my rescue! Most of my luggage gear have been from Frank's suggestions. :) Thanks, Frank.

Posted by
21307 posts

I'm traveling in Spain right now. I've had nine hotel rooms so far, most in the budget price range. All have had flat-screen TVs, but most (maybe as many as eight) have been mounted high on the wall. Even if they have USB ports, getting to them could be awkward.

Posted by
28121 posts

Pilgrim, that won't work, as your instinct told you, as it is not rated beyond 120 V. Also I would hate to know what those USB ports would put out if plugged in whilst in Europe. You could have fried goodies.

Posted by
367 posts

I just got back from Switzerland and two of the hotels had USB ports in the walls. They were in the same fixture where you plugged in the light. All I had to do was put the cable in the wall and the iPod charged.
Wow no adapter, or plug needed .

Posted by
630 posts

Pilgrim, that won't work, as your instinct told you, as it is not
rated beyond 120 V. Also I would hate to know what those USB ports
would put out if plugged in whilst in Europe. You could have fried
goodies.

Thank, Nigel. I'm going to buy the one that Frank recommended. I'm glad I saw this post so I won't use the surge protector one. That could have been an expensive mistake! :)

Posted by
1058 posts

I took a six foot extension cord with multiple plugs at the end of it. Be sure to tape your European adapter to the extension cord so you won't accidently unplug the extension cord and leave the adapter in the wall socket.

Posted by
18378 posts

i wouldn't be worried about the 120V "limit". The device is probably "hipot" tested for 1000V. As far as the electronics inside to power the USB ports, it's probably made for a multi-voltage input, 100V-240V, anyway. I don't know why someone like Amazon doesn't show the part of the device with all the specs printed on it. Notice, they also don't show the plug, either.

As far as the one Pilgrim linked to, the view only shows part of the plug, but it looks like it has a grounding pin, so you'd have a problem plugging it in in Switzerland, without a special adapter. I found a similar one on the Belson website, and it has a surge protector, also not good.

Posted by
18378 posts

i wouldn't be worried about the 120V "limit". The device is probably "hipot" tested for 1000V. As far as the electronics inside to power the USB ports, it's probably made for a multi-voltage input, 100V-240V, anyway (I don't think I have ever seen one that wasn't). I don't know why someone like Amazon doesn't show the part of the device with all the specs printed on it. Notice, they also don't show the plug, either.

As far as the one Pilgrim linked to, the view only shows part of the plug, but it looks like it has a grounding pin, so you'd have a problem plugging it in in Switzerland, without a special adapter. I found a similar one on the Belson website, and it has a surge protector, also not good.

The main thing is to make sure that there are enough USB ports with enough amperage to charge your deviceS. I think regular cell phones only need 1 amp; iPads need at least 2; an iPhone, I'm not sure.

Since you probably won't need this device for domestic use, maybe you should consider a multi-port USB charger with a continental European plug. There are lots of them for sale on Amazon.

Posted by
5789 posts

RE: I think regular cell phones only need 1 amp; iPads need at least 2; an iPhone, I'm not sure.

Apple mobile devices (iPhone, iPad etc) charge through their USB port at 5 vdc. Although the iPhone input (power unit output) charges at 1 amp, the 1 amp is at 5 vdc, only 5 watts. An Apple iPhone USB power adapter line input is rated at 0.15 amp at 110 to 240 vac with an output of 5 vdc at 1 amp.

The iPad charges does charge at about 2 amp, but again, at 4 vdc, or 10 watts. It's USB power adapter's line input is 0.45 amp at 110 to 250 vac and an output of 5.1 vdc at 2.1 amps (10.7 watts).

Posted by
138 posts

There's a lot of information in this conversation that I can't begin to understand; all abomut vdc and vac, which I never heard of, but the idea that was given about purchasing a device with multiple usb ports with a continental plug seems like the best solution. Thanks for the idea, Lee.

Posted by
630 posts

As far as the one Pilgrim linked to, the view only shows part of the
plug, but it looks like it has a grounding pin, so you'd have a
problem plugging it in in Switzerland, without a special adapter. I
found a similar one on the Belson website, and it has a surge
protector, also not good.

Lee, I did purchase this grounded adapter for my original travel charger. But I now realize this travel charger will not work because it has a surge protector. So, I'll have to purchase yet another travel item (I chose to buy the Anker 4-Port USB Charger per Frank's suggesion). I'll bring my new grounded adapter as well as Rick Steve's Europe Electrical Adapter that I purchased a long time ago when I bought his carry-on luggage. I hope I'm all set with electrical devices once I get the Anker 4-Port USB Charger (I already ordered it from Amazon).

I always appreciate everyone taking the time to pass on their knowledge. :)

Posted by
18378 posts

Joy,

vac means voltage, alternating current
vdc means voltage, direct current

Alternating current is what you have in your house wiring, where the electrons go one, then the other, 60 times per second. Direct current is like from a battery, where the electrons just flow one direction. USB devices take 5 vdc.

Volts and amperage (amps). Think of the wire as like a garden hose. Amps are the flow rate (gal/min); voltage is the water pressure (pound per sq. inch).

USB chargers put out 5 volts (5V) of direct current (5 vdc). On Amazon, I find a lot of USB charging devices with multiple ports (4, 5, 6). Some ports only put out up to 1 amp; others put out up to 2 amps or a little more and often they are marked. According to what Edgar said, you could charge an iPhone on any port (1 or 2 amp); an iPad, having a bigger battery, probably takes 2 amps to charge properly. The charger for my ASUS Transformer Pad has an output of 2 amps.

The charges only have "female" USB plugs. You will need connecting cables with the proper "male" end for each device.

I just purchased a 20-port USB charger with a 2-pin European plug (all one piece, nothing to lose). The maximum amperage from both ports is 3.1 amp. I also have a portable USB power supply (battery) with 1 and 2 amp ports.

Posted by
31521 posts

" According to what Edgar said, you could charge an iPhone on any port (1 or 2 amp); an iPad, having a bigger battery, probably take 2 amps to charge properly."

Just to confirm, that's correct. iPads require more current, so have a slightly larger USB charger. You can charge an iPhone with an iPad charger, but the reverse is not true. The iPad charger is 12 watts, while the iPhone charger is only 5 watts.

Posted by
18378 posts

Here is a 4A USB charger with 6 ports. I don't think you can realistically use all 6 ports at the same time, but you could charge all three phones at the same time or the iPad and two phones. The plug is interchangeable, so you could use it at home, too.

This one would do the iPad and all three phones at the same time, but only has a European plug. BTW, I bought a European male plug to US receptacle adapter for $1.38 with shipping, just to test my Eurpean plug charger at home.

Posted by
20 posts

I got a dual-voltage power strip. It has 3 "American" plugs and a usb port. I just put an adapter on in and plug everything else in. I did find a package of 3 adapters (the dual pins for most places in Europe) and threw those in my bag as well. The Kindle shouldn't need charging if you keep it in airplane mode (mine is a paperwhite, so maybe a Fire uses more?)... I charge my less than once a month, and I use it nightly for at least an hour.

We traveled with 3 phones, 2 ipads and a gopro.

Posted by
2 posts

This forum has been very helpful! I will be traveling to Ireland/Scotland this fall. I am also looking for a 4-port USB charger as I already have the adapters. In reading the posts, I see that you should not get one with a surge protector. The Ankar one that is suggested says it does have surge protector so I am confused as to which one to purchase. TIA for your input.

Posted by
9363 posts

The Anker unit does not have surge protection, as far as I can tell from the product description on Amazon. You should never take a US power strip with any kind of surge protection.

Posted by
31521 posts
Posted by
11446 posts

I suggested the Anker 4 port USB and recently used it all over Europe and the ME. It never failed to charge my devices. There is no surge protection.

The devices included two cell phones, Ipad, ereader, backup battery and noise cancelling headphones. All charged just fine. All I needed was a plug adapter.

I even use it in the U.S. when not traveling. It's just very convenient.

Posted by
630 posts

Frank II, I have purchased the Anker based on your recommendation. I have also purchased many more items based on your recommendations - thanks! :)

Posted by
2 posts

Thanks so much. You have been very helpful! I will check into those adapters!

Posted by
931 posts

I'm late to the party here, but I've just returned from a seven week trip using this adapter: Arctic 4-port USB charger. It worked really well. I left my iPhone bricks at home, just took the cables. It charged my 2 iPhones, Bose noise cancelling earbuds, and Bluetooth portable keyboard at the same time. And it has interchangeable plugs for use in Europe, UK, and North America, so I expect to get lots more use from it. The list above is everything electronic I took with me. It all fit in a very small stuff sack.

Posted by
138 posts

I still haven't solved my electronics charging issue, and I need to get that done as my trip to Europe is fast approaching. I was looking at the Anker 4-Port USB Wall Charger which is $25.99. It looks good and the reviews are good, but one person in their comments said it has a Surge Protector. If that is the case, I won't be able to use it in Europe, right? Also, with any 4-Port Wall Charger I get will it get too heavy with 4 things plugged into it, that it will pull the Adapter plug out of the wall. And can I plug it into a current converter in Switzerland, because the normal European adapter doesn't fit in some Swiss wall plugs, but the one on my Converter fits perfectly. And do you good people have any more ideas for me to solve my electronics charging situation. We will be charging at least 3 iPhones, 1 Kindle Fire and maybe an iPad Mini each night? Should I get the 5-Port one? It is actually $2 cheaper, which I can't figure out!

Posted by
630 posts

Joy, you could purchase the Euro version so you wouldn't need an adaptor. I'll provide the Amazon link when I get on my computer.

Posted by
11446 posts

In regards to the Anker 4 port. There is no surge protector. This is the third time it's been mentioned. And excuse me I'm going to shout:

IT DOES NOT HAVE SURGE PROTECTION.

I'm holding it in my hands as I write this. I've used it all over Europe with no problem. I charged cell phones, Ipad, ereader and noise cancelling headphones. No problems. Everything charged. I didn't destroy any electronics. They are all still working fine. There were no problems. (The adapters I used were the ones in the Rick Steves store. (The $1 one.)

And no, the weight of four plugs will not pull it out of the wall. I've done it numerous times. However, when attached to the wall with an adapter, the charger sometimes drops a little but stays plugged in enough to charge.

For Switzerland, should your hotel be one where the standard Euro plug isn't used, the hotel will have adapters. They will have then either to borrow or for sale. I have never stayed anywhere in Europe where the hotel didn't have an adapter available for guest. If you run into this problem, you will not be the first person to do so.

And if you need the 5 port version, then get that one.

No disrespect but I think you are really overthinking this. You have been given some excellent suggestions in this thread. Trust the people here who have actually used the devices they are suggesting over one person on Amazon who probably has no clue.

Posted by
138 posts

Thank you, Frank. I do tend to overthink things I don't really understand. I so want this trip to be wonderful for my granddaughter and daughter, as it's their first trip to Europe. I don't want any glitches in any areas I can prevent. I appreciate your help. I will get the Anker 4-Port. Thanks for telling me that you personally have used it for multiple devices all over Europe. That is most assuring.

Posted by
308 posts

I brought two of the $1 Rick Steves adaptors on my last trip to Europe, one for me and one for my husband. My husband lost his during week one of a three week trip, so we ended up sharing the one adaptor (and we each had several devices). This worked fine for us. We just had to make sure we ALWAYS had something charging at all times. My lesson learned: buy a few more of the $1 adaptors and bring a spare next time! They are very small and lightweight.

Posted by
138 posts

Thank you, Frank. I do tend to overthink things I don't really understand. I so want this trip to be wonderful for my granddaughter and daughter, as it's their first trip to Europe. I don't want any glitches in any areas I can prevent. I appreciate your help. I will get the Anker 4-Port. Thanks for telling me that you personally have used it for multiple devices all over Europe. That is most assuring.

Posted by
270 posts

No slamming needed for a good question.

We travel pretty often predominately in Switzerland but also Germany/France/Austria/Netherlands. We carry 3 iPads, 7 iPhones, 3 laptops, 2GoPros, 3 DSLR cameras, multiple hard drives, etc. It all fits in an aluminum briefcase and is a nightmare to get through security as they like to see each unpacked and placed in its own plastic tub--ugh. At least we can group the iPhones...

We have settled on taking a Belkin charger (2 USB & 3 outlets, https://www.amazon.com/Belkin-3-Outlet-Swivel-Travel-Charger/dp/B0016IXEWG/ref=sr_1_2?s=electronics&ie=UTF8&qid=1465424856&sr=1-2&keywords=belkin%20mini%20travel ) and we pick up a 5-7 foot extension cord from an airport shop. You would be surprised at how much easier that extension cord makes things (plugs can be in CRAZY places and sometimes one is all you get) and it is never more than $5-7. Sometimes we bring the cord home at the end of the trip and sometimes we find someone at the last hotel or airport to give it to.

We do take plug bricks for the iPhones, but only 3--one for each outlet on the Belkin--so we can charge 5 USB devices at once or 4 USB devices and a laptop.

Depending on where you are flying into check out Chad's thread from several weeks ago about iPhones in Switzerland. For between 10-30CHF you can get unlimited data or 10's of gigs of data and hundreds of minutes of avoids service. Is you use an iPhone (4S or newer) you just buy the SIM chip and go from there. Check coverage based on where you will be and for how long to see what might work for you.

Bon voyage

Posted by
630 posts

We have settled on taking a Belkin charger (2 USB & 3 outlets,
https://www.amazon.com/Belkin-3-Outlet-Swivel-Travel-Charger/dp/B0016IXEWG/ref=sr_1_2?s=electronics&ie=UTF8&qid=1465424856&sr=1-2&keywords=belkin%20mini%20travel
) and we pick up a 5-7 foot extension cord from an airport shop. You
would be surprised at how much easier that extension cord makes things
(plugs can be in CRAZY places and sometimes one is all you get) and it
is never more than $5-7. Sometimes we bring the cord home at the end
of the trip and sometimes we find someone at the last hotel or airport
to give it to.

Cabalist, the Belkin charger you referred to has surge protection which I believe we should not use in European outlets.

Posted by
270 posts

Marsha_travis, good link. They show how to check your equipment and what to look for.

Pilgrim, I have never heard of an issue with surge protection, but in my very recent googling I found folks on both sides. What was the specific issue?

I have to say I have never had any trouble--at least that I am aware of. And we plug and unplug this gear more than the average bear, too, hitting not only downtown Luzern but frequently locations north of 4000m or at least a good days hike in (see many SAC-CAS huetten) carrying a good bit of, although not ALL of, this gear. So the source of our electricity ranges from Hilton in Zurich to Cabane Corno Gries or Bintallhuette. In the last 20+ years of doing this I would think that I would have gotten proverbially 'bitten' by this at least once, or it would have happened by now at least. But I may not understand the issue.

The setup I use:
0. Swiss extension cord (5', 2-prong, white)
1. 85 Watt Voltage Converter (Voltage Valet model V35 circa 1994; large, black brick w/ one outlet)
2. Belkin BST300bg (it is different than the original link but looks IDENTICAL, unfortunately for me… ;) NEW LINK: https://www.amazon.com/Belkin-BST300BG-Mountable-Protector-External/dp/B00AQKHEN0 It also has surge protection.

I plug everything that needs charging into the Belkin.

While we are up but after we have retired to the hotel/ect. we run and charge the laptops (MacBook Airs) and sometimes the GoPro batteries (otherwise they get it in the morning as soon as we get up). When we head to bed we charge the DSLR battery, iPhones, and iPads--whichever ones need charging. Usually several, at least one per person, and sometimes another one or two that are used in other, dedicated, activities. If these don't work out, and it is a traveling day, they just get plugged into the car. My favorite traveling outlet.

I will keep googling ;)

Posted by
630 posts

I'm definitely not an expert when it comes to adapters and charging equipment - I'm still learning myself. I just read somewhere on these forums that we shouldn't use surge protection. So, don't take my word for it. :)

Posted by
300 posts

I'm not specifically sure, but as an engineer I could probably offer some educated guesses.

U.S. surge protectors are designed for power normally in the 120
volt range and power in the 220-240 volt range might represent a
surge to such a device and activate the protection which could
render the device useless.

Different grounding schemes may affect
the function or safety of a surge protector designed for US
electrical systems (for example, they usually depend on a working
ground connection and many plug adapters don't incorporate a
ground).

Posted by
31521 posts

Pilgrim,

"I just read somewhere on these forums that we shouldn't use surge protection."

Yes, that's correct although there are exceptions. Most of the cheap power bars and other products of that type manufactured offshore are only designed to function on 120 VAC systems. Specifications vary but the clamping voltage (ie: the maximum voltage before the surge protection activates) may be around 170 volts. ∴ if the device is connected to a 220 VAC source, unpleasant things may happen (possibly involving sparks and smoke).

There are some power bars that are designed for use on both 120 and 220 VAC electrical systems, but I've never had occasion to look for stores to buy that sort of thing.

One other point to note is that metal-oxide varistors (MOV's) which are a common device used to provide surge protection, have a finite life. After a number of operations, they may no longer provide much protection, which is why some power bars have a pilot light to indicate that it's still providing protection.

Posted by
270 posts

Ken, funny, I've never noticed it but the Belkin I use does have the indicator. Good to hear someone mention varistors. The worst I read was that if the voltage spiked high enough then surge protector's varistors would be unable to provide the surge protection as the max rating would be exceeded. We always connect our cheapest iPhone first (we have backups in the tech briefcase) as a coal-mine-canary using the little, white ibrick.

I may start a new thread on this. We are always in Switzerland, and most of the places we stay are 2-prong 'Swiss' outlets, so that is what I am most concerned about. An overall "So How Do We Charge ALL of Our Awesome New $h## in the 21st Century" would be good, too, but maybe too much to ask.

I do wonder about the life of my step-down (and indeed whether it would be better made because it is from 1994 or at the end of its life because it is 2016). It looks (and smells) mint condition and has always been kept in its box in carry-on and then packed in safe locations once I hit the road. It is my...precious.