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Guide to Electrical Converters & Adapters

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Travelling to foreign countries is exciting and rewarding. But it takes preparation to ensure a trouble-free trip. So, before you go, pack your money belt and read this guide. It tells you everything you need to know about travelling to 220v countries with appliances ranging from hair dryers and irons to computers and modems. It's also written in an easy-to-read question and answer format so that you can quickly find the information you need. If we haven't covered something you want to know, visit the Magellan's travel store web site at, where you will find many of our products. If you already know the basics, skip to the Summary to make sure that you have everything you need before you travel.


Many foreign countries have electrical current that operates on 220-250v while North America runs on 110-125v. You will need a converter or a transformer in order to use your 110v appliance in these 220-250v countries.

North American electrical outlets are different from those found in many countries around the world. You will need an adapter in order to plug your converter/transformer or dual voltage appliance into the wall. Like electrical outlets, telephone jacks are different in many foreign countries. You will need a telephone jack adapter before you can use your modem.

The Details

What are adapter plugs?

If you are travelling with anything that runs on electricity then you will need to pack an adapter plug and possibly a converter or transformer. Depending on the country, wall outlets can be recessed, designed for three prongs or accept only rounded pins making appliances with the standard North American flat, 2-pin and 3-pin plugs impossible to use without an adapter plug.

There are two styles of adapter plugs. The first accepts 2-pin polarized appliances such as hair dryers, shavers and 2-pin converters and transformers. The second style is the grounded adapter plug that will accept 2- and 3-pin grounded, polarized appliances and transformers. We recommend that travellers with computers, stereos, power tools and other high wattage appliances with a grounded pin use the grounded adapter plugs. Both types of adapter plugs are available for almost every country in the world. If you are traveling overseas, make sure you take the right version with you.

Is your appliance dual voltage?

If your travel iron, hair dryer or other appliance is dual voltage then it will operate on both 110/125v and 220/250v currents and you will only need to take an adapter plug. It should be easy to tell if your appliance is dual voltage. There will be a switch or a label on the back of the appliance that will read 100v/250v. A simple label indicates that it adjusts automatically for the higher voltage. If there is a switch, be sure to change it to 250v before you pack your appliance away in your suitcase!

If your appliance is not dual voltage, then you will need a converter or a transformer to step down the current or your appliance will burn and blow out. When using a converter, always carry the appropriate adapter plug for the country to which you are travelling. While a converter has the European outlet configuration, it will not fit into the European Schuko or recessed sockets without an adapter. Some heavy-duty transformers have the British plug on the end of the cord, but if you are travelling to a country that has outlets different from the United Kingdom, the appropriate grounded adapter should be purchased.

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