Dual voltage devices and travel adapters

Posted by Martin Parker on

 Multi-voltage devices and travel adapters

The world has become a much smaller place. No, not physically of course, but in terms of the time to travel anywhere. More people are venturing out to other countries and one thing that is often overlooked is how to charge their smartphones and tablets while away.

Travel adapter with USB ports

There are several factors to consider, from the plug and socket combination to the voltage of the electricity in the country you plan to visit. A travel adapter is a great companion in your suitcase, but do you need anything else?

Multi-voltage, what does it mean?

Modern electrical devices have become more and more sophisticated. Over the years we have got used to this continual change, and one of the more useful improvements is dual voltage, or multi-voltage.

Single voltage devices will only work in one of 2 voltage ranges, either 100V-127V or 220V-240V. 

If you plug a lower voltage device into the higher voltage, it will most likely damage the device and might be very dangerous. 

The other way round, plugging a 220V-240V device into the lower voltage supply may be okay, but damage can still occur. 

Only plug single voltage devices into the correct electrical supply or use a power converter. 

Multi-voltage and dual-voltage devices are different. They can be used in any country, regardless of the electrical supply, and they require no converter. A travel adapter is not a power converter as it allows you to connect your item to the electrical supply but does not ensure the correct voltage is available. 

How do you know if your device is multi-voltage?

It’s actually far simpler than you think. 

Either on the side of the device or in the manual, you will find a statement such as “Input: 100V-240V”. If you see this, your device is multi-voltage and you can plug it into any electrical supply in the world.

Multi-voltage transformer

A dual-voltage device will have a switch, so that you can set the item to the correct input voltage. These are less common now, but you may still find them.

The only thing to add concerns the electrical supply frequency. Worldwide, there are two AC supply frequencies, 50Hz and 60Hz. 

Plugging your device into a different frequency supply to the one it was designed for probably won’t damage the item. However, some electrical items use the frequency to operate electronic timers which probably won’t work correctly. 

Charging USB devices

The last thing to mention regarding voltage is the USB connector.

You can charge many of your devices, such as smartphones and tablets via their USB socket. The standard for USB is international, so it makes no difference where you are in the world. This is because the voltage is always 5Vdc regardless of where you are in the world.

Travel adapter with USB connectionsAll you need to charge your USB devices is a travel adapter that will fit the local socket.

Conclusion

Being able to charge your electronic devices when traveling is important. In some countries, all you will need is a travel adapter, but in others you may also need a power converter.

Connecting a device to the wrong voltage can be catastrophic and seeing your expensive laptop go up in smoke would not be funny. It can also be dangerous, so you need to be sure.

One exception, that gets around all of this is the USB connection. The voltage from a USB socket is always the same and your travel adapter should offer at least 2, but preferably more. 

The Sublime Multi-Country travel Adapter has 4 USB connections, enabling you to charge all your devices at the same time almost anywhere in the world.

Using a travel adapter to charge multiple devices


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