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The Power Converter - Sometimes it's Just Not Enough!?

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Just because you have packed your handy power converter don't get too confident that all your electrical problems are solved. Electronic appliances (CD players, stereos, VCRs) require a transformer instead of a voltage converter. Single Volt products with electronic circuitry need a specific sine wave to operate. An AC transformer will maintain the quality of the sine wave where as an AC power converter won't, and therefore damage the electronic circuitry. Fortunately many dual voltage converters include a built in transformer.'

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Another thing that you will want to factor in is the difference in Hertz (50 and 60Hz). Even with a travel converter, AC motors brought from North America (60Hz) to Europe (50Hz) will run slower. In some cases, like a hair dryer or electric razor, the difference won't be noticeable and as long as you used the correct AC voltage converter you should be ok. However, other devices, like tape and CD players or electric clocks, even with the use of your travel voltage converter, will not operate correctly. These devices, operating at 5/6 normal speed will be noticeably slower (i.e. Music will be played slower and clocks will lose time). When purchasing your voltage converters you I suggest purchasing a battery operated travel clock.

Some things, even with an AC power converter won't work at all. For example, don't bother bringing a television with you. Despite being able to overcome the differences in electricity with an international voltage converter you still will only receive rolling static as the broadcast signals in Europe and North America are different. Another thing you need to worry about is old wiring. Bad wiring will defeat a transformer or a converter every time. Many older European hotels have older electric wiring and will not be able to support your 1000 watt travel iron. Luckily most hotels have warning signs; however, if the lights start to flicker unplug your electrical device immediately.

And finally, be very careful with the European bathroom electric shaver socket. They are designed for low wattage electrical appliances (shavers and toothbrushes) and are not meant for use with a hairdryer or curling iron.

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