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Guide to Electrical Converters & Adapters

[Special to the Travelite.FAQ]

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Should I take a surge protector?

If you are travelling to a country with an unreliable power source and some very expensive equipment, it might be a good idea to take along a surge protector. This offers extra insurance against equipment damage in the event of a power surge. Remember that your surge protector is a 110v product and MUST be plugged directly into the transformer (on the 110v side) NOT directly into the wall. Using a North American grounded adapter, the transformer is then plugged into the 250v surge protector, protecting your transformer as well as your equipment. If your equipment is dual voltage, then you will not need the transformer and your equipment can be plugged directly into the 220v surge protector. You will probably need an adapter plug for this.

What do I need for my computer?

All computers are electronic devices and should ONLY be used with a transformer. The good news is that most laptop battery rechargers are dual voltage and can be used overseas with just a grounded adapter plug. It will be dual voltage if the plate on the back of the recharger reads 100v/250v 50/60 cycles. If the recharger (or full size computer) is not dual voltage, the plate will read 100-125v/50/60 cycles and you will need a transformer. The wattage of the transformer will depend upon the wattage of the battery recharger or computer. If the recharger is 90 watts, then the 1-100 watt transformer (or 1-200 or 1-500) should be used.

If you are travelling with an external modem, you should check to see if the AC adapter is dual voltage. External modems are usually low wattage and a 1-50 watt mini-transformer will be sufficient. Internal modems do not require any such equipment.

Should I care about the cycle difference between North America and foreign countries?

Since computers convert internally from alternating current (AC) to direct current (DC), the cycle difference between North America at 60 cycles and foreign countries at 50 cycles is irrelevant. Non-laptop computer users however should check with the manufacturer to see if the fan runs on DC. The 50 cycles overseas may not dissipate heat as efficiently as at 60 cycles and a periodic shut down may be required as a cooling off period.

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