hether they’re traveling for business or for leisure, every international guest that stays at a hotel or a bed-and-breakfast inn brings along an electronic or electrical appliance to use during the trip. Almost always there’s a mobile phone or smartphone, a tablet, or a laptop in their luggage. Most laptops or phones have dual-voltage capability and only need corresponding travel adapter plugs that fit into the sockets of the country they’re visiting. The following information should help travelers choose the right adaptor plugs to bring along in their trip.
About Electronic and Electrical Appliances
Though both categories of appliances run on electricity, electronic appliances often need transformers with specific outputs, such as a power converter that accepts an input of 110 to 120 volts and only outputs 220 volts. Appliances with electronic circuits or chips, such as clock radios, battery chargers, and computers, should be used for short periods of time, preferably less than three hours. Plugging in these electronic appliances for long might cause overheating and lead to fires.
Meanwhile, electrical appliances that provide simple heating functions, such as a flat-iron, water heater, or hair dryer, must be used with a converter or transformer with the corresponding wattage for no more than an hour at a time. The sockets available in bathrooms of hotels and inns in European countries maybe labeled as 220 to 240 volts AC, but these were designed for use with low-wattage appliances such as shavers and electric toothbrushes that need around five to ten watts. They’re not fit for use with a hair dryer, a travel iron, or a phone charger for long hours.
Identifying Dual-Voltage Appliances and Wattage
If you want to know whether your appliance is dual-voltage, simply check its package for a 120/240 label or look at its plug for any embossed electrical information. These appliances won’t need a converter or power transformer. However, you may still need to find their wattage. When only the voltage and amperage are given, the formula to find the wattage of an appliance simply multiplies the volts with the amps. For instance, 120V multiplied by 0.5A equals 60W, which means an appliance that needs 120 volts at 0.5 amps should run at 60 watts of electricity.
Travel Adapter Plugs and Power Output Standards
Most homes and businesses in the United States, Canada and Mexico use 100 to 120 volts of power with around 60 Gigahertz of alternating currents. The rest of the world outputs 200 to 250 volts at around 50 Gigahertz of alternating currents per cycle. Most travel adapter plugs used in North and South America have two parallel flat prongs for the non-earthed types while the earthed type has a grounding pin below.
In some countries in Europe, the plugs must have two rounded pins parallel to each other. Grounded types have a third pin or flat prong below the pair. Great Britain, in particular, uses a double-rounded pin plug with a flat prong for grounding. In France and Belgium, their plugs have grounding clips instead along with the two-pronged structure. In Australia, the prongs were arranged in a V-shape set at an angle to each other.