|North American electrical appliances are designed to operate using 110 – 125 volts AC (Alternating Current), while appliances in most other countries operate using 220 – 250 volts AC. Additionally, the shape of electrical outlets differs throughout the world. If you are traveling with an electrical appliance, it is likely you will need an adapter, converter or transformer, depending on the appliances you take. |
Electric current alternates direction (AC) at 60Hz. (cycles per second) in North America, but at a slower 50Hz. in many other parts of the world. There are even some areas with a direct current (DC), which does not alternate at all. However, converters and transformers are designed to operate in AC areas ONLY.
The difference in cycles may cause your North American appliance to operate slightly slower when used on 50Hz. This cycle difference can also cause analog clocks and timing devices to keep incorrect time. Most modern electronic equipment such as battery chargers, computers and CD players will not be affected by the difference in cycles. However, because converters and transformers will not adjust cycles, it is very important to check each product’s specifications and requirements before using them, or contact the manufacturer if in doubt.
You must also determine the voltage and wattage ratings of your appliances in order to select the appropriate converter, transformer and/or adapter plug required. This information is usually listed on the appliance manufacturer’s label located on the back or bottom of the appliance, or in the product specifications section of the instruction manual.
The label or manual will show the following items: voltage, wattage, or amperage. If only the amperage rating is shown, simply multiply the voltage by the amperage to find the appliance’s wattage rating. Volts x Amps = Watts (i.e. 120V x .5A = 60W)
NOTE: If your appliance is dual-voltage (110V/240V), it will NOT require a converter or transformer for use overseas, though you may need an adapter plug.
Electric vs. Electronic
It is critical to know if the appliances you intend to use are electric or electronic. This will determine if you need a converter, transformer, or in some instances, both.
Electric Appliances operate with simple heating elements or motors (hot pots, travel irons, hair dryers, heating pads, etc.). These appliances may be used with either a converter or a transformer of the appropriate wattage range for short periods of time, less than 1 hour.
Electronic Appliances operate with electronic motors, circuits or chips (computers, clocks, radios, battery chargers, appliances equipped with timers or automatic shut-off devices). These appliances should be used ONLY with a transformer of the appropriate wattage range for short periods of time, less than three hours.
NOTE: Computers are typically dual-voltage and do not usually require a transformer – always check the manufacturer’s specifications first.
European Shaver Sockets
IMPORTANT: The 220-240VAC electrical outlets found in the bathrooms of many foreign countries are designed for use ONLY with low wattage appliances rated 5 – 10 watts maximum, such as electric shavers, contact lens disinfectors, etc. Using a hair dryer or other high wattage appliance on this outlet can blow the circuit breaker and may damage both the converter and appliance.
Converters are for use with single volt Electric appliances ONLY, and should NEVER be used with Electronic or Dual-Voltage appliances. Converters should be used for short periods of time, less than one hour. Lewis N. Clark offers three types of converters for use in countries operating on 220V:
- High Wattage (#E110): For use with 110V electric appliances rated 50 – 2000 watts. Also sold as a kit including four international adapter plugs (#EK120).
- Dual Wattage (#E111): Operates as a transformer on the low setting for use with 110V electric or electronic appliances rated 0 – 50 watts. Operates as a converter on the high setting for use with 110V electric appliances ONLY rated 50 – 2000 watts. Also sold as a kit including four international adapter plugs (#EK121).
- Automatic Dual Wattage (#E115): For use with 110V electric appliances ONLY rated 0 – 2000 watts. Automatically senses and selects the correct wattage setting for your appliance. Also sold as a kit including four international adapter plugs (#EK125). NOTE: This converter should NOT be used with computers.
Transformers are for use with single volt Electric or Electronic appliances, and should be used for short periods of time, less than three hours. Lewis N. Clark offers two types of transformers:
- Step Down (#E109): For use with 110V electric or electronic appliances rated 0 – 50 watts in countries operating on 220V.
- Step Up (#FR22): For use with 220V electric or electronic appliances rated 0 – 50 watts in countries operating on 110V.
A Note of Caution
Lewis N. Clark converters and transformers are designed to operate with small personal appliances for short periods of time. They should never be used continuously, and never used with medical or industrial equipment.
Adapter plugs do not convert electricity. They simply allow a appliance plug to fit into an outlet with a different plug configuration. Adapter plugs may be used with converters, transformers or dual-voltage appliances. Lewis N. Clark offers three types of adapter plugs:
- Standard (#E105, E106, E107, E108, EK58): These adapters are the most commonly used configurations throughout the world, and can accept 2-pin round or flat blades.
- Universal (#EK129, VF6, VR8): These adapters feature a universal receptacle that accept any appliance’s plug configuration. #EK129 is an all-in-one design with four plug configurations for worldwide use.
- Grounded (#VG3, VG10, VG12): These adapters are country-specific, feature a universal receptacle, and are also grounded for use with grounded appliances.
Note: This is a general guide to electrical requirements around the world. Always read the rating specifications on your appliances to determine your exact needs.
The Electricity-Wise Glossary
Operate with simple heating devices (hot pots, travel irons, hair dryers, heating pads, etc.). These appliances may be used with either a converter or a transformer of the appropriate wattage range.
Operate with electronic motors, circuits or chips (computers, printers, clocks, radios, battery chargers). These appliances should be used ONLY with a transformer of the appropriate wattage range. (NOTE: Computers are typically dual-voltage and do not usually require a transformer – always check first.)
The amount of energy a product consumes. All appliances have wattage ratings. If there is no wattage specified, multiply Volts by Amps. The resulting number is the appliance’s wattage.
The pressure at which electricity is delivered to a circuit.
Process which changes 220V current to 110V, so that 110V appliances may be used in areas with 220V current.
Process which changes 110v current to 220v, so that 220v appliances can be used in areas with 110v current.
The speed at which electric currents alternate (Hz).