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power adapter vs. converter

We're going to France and I'll be taking a $30 quad-band GSM cell phone that I just bought at Best Buy, and then will buy a SIM card once I'm there. The phone's charger has a regular flat two-prong US plug. I'm reading on p. 15 of RS's France book that "Most newer electronics (such as laptops, battery chargers, and hair dryers) convert automatically, so you won't need a converter plug, but you will need an adapter plug with two round prongs..." How do I know for sure that this phone charger is modern enough to convert automatically if I just purchase an adapter plug? I don't see anything on the box or in the manual about it being ok with either 110 or 220 volts. Thanks.

Posted by
32227 posts

Rick, What you'll need to do is check the Phone Charger and look for the words "Input Voltage". If this states "Input 100-240 VAC, ~50/60 Hz" then all you'll need are inexpensive Euro (two round pin) Plug Adaptors. I'd suggest taking at least two as they're easy to misplace. They're cheap so not a huge travel expense. However, if the Charger states "Input 115 VAC, 60 Hz", then you would also need a Voltage Converter. There are two principles used in voltage conversion and it's important to use the correct type with electronics such as cell phone chargers. If your Charger is in fact only rated for 115 volts, post another note here and I'll advise further. Also, are you only going to France? Happy travels!

Posted by
65 posts

Thank you! Yup, I see on the charger itself 'AC 100-240V .... 50-60Hz' so I'm all set. Thanks, guys. Ah, another question: I want to keep a steady supply of batteries charged for my camera. Should I take along my Duracell charger (also AC 100-240V), or buy a cheap one in France?

Posted by
12040 posts

I wouldn't even bother with a charger. Just buy batteries as you need them in France... unless, of course, your camera requires a specific type of battery that isn't otherwise commonly available.

Posted by
32227 posts

Rick, What kind of Camera are you using and what type of batteries are you using? I'm assuming either NiCd or NiMh? How large is your Duracell Charger?

Posted by
65 posts

Ken, my camera is an ancient Canon PowerShot A510 from 2005, still giving me great pictures. It uses regular AA NiMH batteries. The charger takes 4 batteries. Tom, I've always used rechargeable batteries -- I don't think regular off-the-shelf batteries work well in digital cameras. btw, yes I'm going only to France!

Posted by
32227 posts

Rick, If your Duracell Charger is reasonably compact and you have room in your luggage, I'd just take that. It's great that it's designed for multi-voltage travel use. Thanks for the clarification on which countries you'll be visiting. The U.K. uses a different style of Plug Adaptors so I wanted to cover that.

Posted by
32227 posts

Rick, If you have the room in your luggage, I don't see a problem with packing along both your Cellphone Charger and Duracell Battery Charger. You're going to need Plug Adaptors in any case, so that's not an issue. I'm assuming you operate with two sets of Batteries for your Camera? If you charge or top them up each night, you shouldn't have any battery problems. While Lithium Batteries may also work well, I have an aversion to tossing toxic items in the landfills. I do use Lithium Batteries for some devices here at home, but they all go for recycling when they're depleted. Cheers!

Posted by
65 posts

Thanks, everyone, for the thoughts about lithium batteries. I've never used them and have heard good things about them. So even an older camera like mine from 2005 would be fine with them? Amazing. I would like to try them at some point. I guess for now I am like Ken and feel philosophically and environmentally disposed towards rechargeables. I'll take two sets with me and keep the opposite pair topped up. Laura, my recharger does have a cord so it sounds like it'll work ok. Thanks for all the help; much appreciated.

Posted by
2081 posts

rick, you may want to look at what you will be bringing in terms of power requirements. chances are you will need sometype of adapter. you may want to look for a USB charge cord for your phone and then look for an adapter that has USB power on it. my first trip to europe i bought one of the adapters, but no USB. so this time, i bought another adapter w/USB. the cord takes little or no space whereas an adapter will. just some food for thought and your mileage may vary. happy trails.

Posted by
65 posts

Ray, your comment about whether the Duracell charger is "reasonably compact" is the crucial issue. Its plastic base is 3"x5". I have to decide if taking up that much room in my rolling carry-on suitcase is worth it, vs. buying a charger in France. Wait a minute: if I buy one in France, whatever I get is still going to be taking up space in my carry-on, though I imagine I could get a smaller charger, say with a capacity of only two batteries. But .... I'm not sure a smaller size would make that much of a difference in my decision. Ken, the phone does come with a USB charge cord. It's the only way the phone can charge. That cord connects on one end to the phone and on the other to the charger which plugs in to the outlet. Is that what you meant? Thanks.

Posted by
5587 posts

Rick, Have you tried Lithium AA batteries? I also have an older Canon Powershot; mine takes 2 AA batteries. I've found the lithium batteries last significantly longer than NiMH. I often can go an entire trip without changing batteries. I now leave my charger at home and just bring two sets of lithium batteries (one set in the camera), one spare. Some types of battery chargers aren't designed particularly well for use with an adapter. If you have one where the prongs come straight out of the charger (as opposed to one with some type of cord), they often won't stay plugged in once vertically on the wall after you add an adapter to it

Posted by
11294 posts

Laura beat me to it. I also have an older camera that takes 2 AA batteries, and I find that the lithium batteries work much better than rechargeables. As she said, you just need 2 or 3 sets total for the trip, and when they're used up, just throw them away. It's much more compact than a charger plus batteries, and much less work. Yes, your USB cord plus charging plug will work fine in Europe with the plug adapter. Do not use a converter.

Posted by
9363 posts

Another vote for lithiums! On my three week trip last month I took two sets (one in the camera and an extra). I switched to the second set somewhere into the third week. I have a Nikon Coolpix, and I take a lot of pictures.