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voltage converter

My family & I will be in Paris for a few months & I'm looking to purchase a voltage converter. I am looking for specific brand recommendations. Thanks!

Posted by
18620 posts

Most electronics sold today accept an input of 100-240 VAC. Check on your power supply for "Input Voltage". It's not that they are doing you a favor, it's less expensive for the company to stock only one power supply for all the voltages in the world. Check the power supply. If it says something like "100-240V 50-60Hz", you don't need a power converter. These electronics that accept 100-240V are typically under 50W. On the other hand, heating devices, for over 50W, maybe 1500W, like hair curler/straightener might be able to use a voltage converter that uses a special type of transistor to "chop" the sine wave to produce a lower RMS voltage. However, there have been reports of problems with this kind of device. You are better off, if all of your low wattage electronics are dual voltage, to buy your high wattage devices in Europe and forgo the converter.

Posted by
1852 posts

Chris - I bought a voltage converter at Brookstone that worked well. I agree with Lee, most applicances (hair dryer, curling iron, travel iron) have dual voltage now. I haven't taken my converter on the last 2 trips to Europe.

Posted by
31747 posts

Chris, It would help if you could provide some additional information on what type of appliances you'll be using in Europe? As the others have mentioned, you may not even need a Voltage Converter. You will most certainly need Plug Adapters. One very important point to note, is that there are two types of Voltage Converters, and it's important to choose the correct type for specific appliances. Electronic devices should only be used with transformer Converters. If you could provide more specific information, it would be easier to provide more specific advice. Cheers!

Posted by
29698 posts

Transformer based converters are the only ones which can reliably work for high wattage devices, for extended periods of time. They have a really big down side - they are really heavy. We brought 3 with us from the US, a 500w, a 950w and a 2200w one. The small one weighs about 3 kg, the big one has never been weighed but I guess it weighs about 12 kg. If you will be there long enough you might get in touch with the ex-pat community. You may find somebody returning to the US who wants to sell one, and you could in turn sell it when you leave. I think I paid about $150 new for the big one, at Frys. We use the big one for an electric griddle and a waffle maker. We also used to use it for a vacuum cleaner. The only thing we use the small one for is a Cuisinart food processor. Since we replaced the vacuum cleaner and bought a British voltage Cuisinart a few years ago the only thing we pull out the transformer for now is waffles once a year or so and the griddle a couple of times a year. We replaced all hair devices as soon as we arrived. - - Off topic - - because Schengen only allows 90 days with the visa waiver program I'm sure you have your visa issues sorted?

Posted by
12040 posts

I have a few voltage converters made by Tramag, and as Nigel noted, they are quite heavy. Unless your employer is paying to move your household items, they are too heavy to take with you on the plane. I only use them for very large-end items, like my TV and desk-top computer. My laptop and all the other smaller electronic devices are all dual voltage and work just fine with only a plug adapter. For smaller appliances, like hair dryers, traveling irons, etc, that might not have dual voltage capability, it's probably just easier to buy that stuff in Europe. And echoing Nigel again... "My family & I will be in Paris for a few months". If this plan is more in the aspirational than concrete stage right now, make sure you familiarize yourself on the provisions of the Schengen treaty that deal with travelers from outside the EU.

Posted by
19 posts

Thanks for the helpful suggestions! I am specifically concerned about my hair straightener/flat iron. I have checked and it is not dual voltage. In regards to the "off topic" visa issue: We will be there for eight weeks. Thanks again....Chris

Posted by
29698 posts

OK, here are your choices. Spend money on a converter, somewhere between $15-$30 for a non-transformer type, take it and your device to Paris. Maybe it will be OK for 8 weeks. Go home. or some days or hours into your stay the device will blow up in a shower of sparks and smoke (flame is extra credit), perhaps, or perhaps not, taking out the circuit(s) in the place you are staying, and probably frying the converter. Or the device will survive and the converter will go phut. Either way you waste the converter, get to replace your device when you get home, don't get to treat your hair that day, and have to go out and buy a French one. (and deal with the landlord.) My suggestion is to not buy the converter or take the risk. Leave your good one at home and make a point to visit one of various sources of the device you want when you land. Darty, Monoprix, Auchun, Carrefour all jump to mind as places to buy good one, inexpensively.

Posted by
31747 posts

Chris, Thanks for the additional information on the appliances you'll be travelling with. My suggestion would be to: (a.) Purchase dual-voltage Hair appliances - check Magellan's as they have a good selection. (b.) Wait until you arrive in Europe and purchase what you need there. These would be useful for future trips as well. IMO it's not worthwhile to buy a Voltage Converter for one or two appliances. A more important point is the fact that some manufacturers of hair appliances specifically state that these products should not be used with Voltage Converters. If you do decide to use a Converter, it's possible that the scenario described in the previous reply could be the result, and the product could self-destruct in a spectacular fashion resembling a July 4th celebration! Cheers!

Posted by
125 posts

I am in Germany for the month and packed my "older" curling iron by mistake. After I plugged it in (using a converter) the plastic surrounding the metal started melting!! Glad I caught it in time. Went out to buy a new one today. Another question: I have my nook reader and have been charging it via my laptop. Does anyone know if I can use a "voltage valet" 250V to charge my reader? Bought the "valet" at RadioShack and using it successfully on the laptop. Thanks.

Posted by
19 posts

OK. OK. I was a hard sell, but I think I have been convinced to buy my electronics in Paris and forget buying the converter here in the US. Thanks to all....Merci!

Posted by
132 posts

A side point. I know I ran into it in Germany. A believe also in France. The wall plugs were recessed in a round hole. My converter couldn't plug directly into the wall outlet. I needed an adapter to bridge the gap between the two. I suggest getting one or two adapters for your converter to allow you to plug into the outlet. They;re cheap and light. As it seems schools for hotel room design, must have a required class in making wall outlet inconvient. I would suggest a short euro extension cord.

Posted by
137 posts

I agree with Lee,
We traveled to Paris 6 years ago and never needed a converter. I just took the multi-plug set I bought at WalMart and was able to run my phone charger and camera battery charger with it. Didn't need it for anything else.