electrical conversion

I'm wondering why all the converters I find say not for curling irons and hair dryers? That is the main reason I need to bring a converter with me. Is it possible that a curling iron from the US just won't work?

Posted by Lee
Lakewood, Colorado
14135 posts

Voltage converters are one of two types (or rarely, both types in one). Low wattage converters (~50W) for computers, cell phone chargers, etc, are transformers that decrease the voltage from 230V European power to 115V for US appliances. These transformers cannot handle the high currents used in hair dryer and curlers and would burn up. There are higher wattage converters that use transistors to chop off the top of the sine wave to reduce the voltage. They are suitable for heating devices, but their waveform can damage electronic chargers. Check with an electronics store like Radio Shack. Better yet, buy the appliances in Europe. "Is it possible that a curling iron from the US just won't work?" US curling irons are made to run on 115V. Sometimes they have a switch to allow them to be used on 230V. Unless you can switch the voltage, the higher European voltage will cause US irons to burn up. But the human race existed for millions of years without hair dryers and curling irons. You can for a few weeks.

Posted by Raul
Plano, TX, USA
4 posts

In general, appliances that create heat use a lot more power. If your appliance need s more power to run (watts), then it will draw more electrical current (mA) from the wall outlet. If your converter/adapter is not made for higher currents, then you can run the chance of it heating up, melting or catching on fire. Hair dryers and curling irons usually require a lot of power.

Posted by Karen
Sacramento, CA, USA
31 posts

Misty - check with your hotel - they probably have a hair dryer available already. And that saves you having to pack it. AS another poster suggested, if you absolutely must have a curling iron, buy an inexpensive one when you get there.

Posted by Edgar
Medford, OR, USA
2081 posts

As Lee & Raul noted, the concern using converters is the power draw of appliances that draw significant amounts of power. Devices that convert electrical power into heat such as irons draw much more power than electronic devices such as laptops and tablet devices. One of our USA cross country skiers at a event in Germany (220-240 volts) burnt out his 130 volt waxing iron using a voltage step-down converter box. One of the Aussie skiers commented that even though the converter box claimed to have the power capacity for the waxing iron, it "looked" physically too small to handle the power load. Electrical Power is measured in watts and is mathematically the product (multiply) of Current (amps) and Voltage (volts). Single phase vs 3-phase power makes the exact formula more complex. You would need a voltage converter that is rated for the amount of power (watts) your device demands and hope that the nameplate is correct. So all that said, your best bet is to forget bringing North American irons or hair dryers. Many European hotels have hair dryers. If it is a must have electrical device consider buying a Euro device rated for 220-240 volts with a built in Continental Euro (two round pins) plug.

Posted by JHK
Fremont, California, United States
598 posts

YOu can wait and buy an inexpensive iron in Europe or you can do what I did I buy a travel curling iron which has dual voltage and worked quite well with any electrical adapter.

Posted by Ken
Vernon, Canada
24160 posts

Misty, The others have provided lots of good information, and I have a few comments to add. In order to handle the wattage required by a curling iron or hair dryer, you'd either have to pack along a high capacity Transformer or a solid-state Voltage Converter. Neither solution is practical. A Transformer is constructed with an iron core and copper windings, and a large model would be FAR to heavy to travel with. A solid-state voltage converter produces a very "rough" sine wave, which doesn't work well with many newer appliances that have solid-state control circuits. In fact, some hair appliance manufacturers specifically prohibit using their products with voltage converters. Doing so will void the warranty. As the others have said, many hotels provide hair dryers, either in the rooms or by asking at the front desk. I would also suggest buying 220V curling iron when you arrive in Europe. Another option would be to buy dual-voltage hair appliances from Magellans, and pack those along. They have numerous models on their website. Happy travels!

Posted by Sab
2 posts

Hi Misty,
On my Europe trip earlier this year, I made do with the hair dryers provided by the hotels, they were not as strong as the 1875 watt ones we are used to in the US but it was better than nothing. I supplemented with a dual voltage curling iron from Target for about $20, all that was needed was an adapter plug.

Posted by Ken
Vernon, Canada
24160 posts

Misty, Good reminder in the previous reply. DON'T forget Plug Adapters! The style for continental Europe is different than for the U.K. You'll need both if you'll be travelling in both areas. I'd suggest taking a couple of each type (they're cheap) as they're easy to misplace. Magellans has lots of different types of Plug Adapters on their website. Given your home location, you can also buy travel supplies such as Plug Adapters at: > ETBD in Edmonds > The Savvy Traveler in Edmonds (they have a dual-voltage Curling Iron) > Bergman Luggage in Northgate Mall Cheers!