Guide to Electrical Converters & Adapters
[Special to the Travelite.FAQ]
Clicking on the page numbers will take you to the top of each page.
Clicking on a phrase will take you to the specific section of the page.
Note: Parts of this section has changed as of March 13, 2000.
The difference is very important and what you use will depend upon your
appliance. There are two categories of appliances: electric and electronic.
Electric appliances are those products with simple heating devices or
with universal motors such as hair dryers, irons, toothbrushes and small
fans. Electronic appliances are those products with a chip or a circuit
such as radios, camcorder rechargers and computers.
A converter is designed to be used ONLY with electric appliances such
as hair dryers, immersion heaters and irons. A transformer is designed
to be used with both electronic appliances such as battery rechargers
AND electric appliances. Some high wattage transformers (NOT the 1-50
watt transformer) are all continuous-use transformers. This means that
travellers with appliances that are used for long periods of time (such
as overnight) should purchase a continuous-use transformer whether or
not the appliance is electric and could be used with a converter. Converters
should ONLY be used for short periods of time, up to a maximum of three
hours. Transformers can only be used continuously at 80% of their capacity.
So if you have a 1-500 watt transformer, it can be used continuously ONLY
with an appliance up to 400 watts.
Converters and transformers are available in distinct wattage combinations.
Converters are available from 50-1875 watts and transformers are available
from 1-50 watts, 1-100 watts, 1-200 watts and higher. Transformers more
powerful than 1-00 watts begin to weigh more than is practical for most
First, ask yourself if what you are packing is electrical or electronic.
If your travel iron or other electric appliance is 500 watts, you can
use either the 50-1875 watt converter or the 1-1000 watt transformer.
However, the 1-1000 watt transformer is hardly practical since it weighs
almost 20 lbs!! If your camcorder recharger or other electronic appliance
is 75 watts, use the 1-100 watt transformer. The wattage of the appliance
must fall within the range of the converter or transformer being used
(allow a buffer of 10-20 watts) otherwise your appliance will be damaged.
The chart at the end of this guide offers some help as to which converter
or transformer to use depending upon the type of appliance that you will
be taking. Don't forget that you might also need an adapter plug!
The most popular unit for many travellers taking small appliances is
our combination converter/mini-transformer, the HILO converter. It is
a 50-1875 watt converter and a 1-25 watt mini-transformer in the same
unit. If you are taking a 110v 1500 watt hair dryer and a 15 watt curling
iron, you should also pack the HILO converter together with the appropriate
adapter. The hair dryer is used on the HI setting (the converter) while
the curling iron is used on the LO setting (the mini-transformer). A switch
adjusts the unit from HI to LO.
Some converters are equipped with safety cut-off switches that stop
power surges to the appliance. Once the surge has passed, the converter
will resume operation. Converters will also shut off if their temperature
is too high and will resume operation once their internal temperature
Some transformers have fuses that will prevent surges from passing through
to the appliance. A power surge could blow the fuse in the transformer
in which case it is quite simple to replace the fuse.
Base URL: http://www.travelite.org/
Contents © 1996 - 2002 Lani Teshima. All rights reserved. Travelite®
is a registered service mark owned by Lani Teshima. Send email
to the author.