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Voltage converters, volts, and watts: getting familiar with the terms

Voltage converters, also called voltage transformers are electric devices that will allow you, while traveling overseas, to use your personal equipment such as chargers, laptop computers and personal care items, such as electric shavers, toothbrushes and hair dryers, making traveling overseas a much more joyful experience. But the usage of voltage converters doesn’t stop there. Heavy duty, continuous use voltage converters are also made for bigger equipment such as TVs, kitchen appliances and any other equipment with higher wattage consumption. This becomes a very convenient tool when moving overseas, bringing equipment from overseas, or in any occasion where electrical equipment needs to be used in a different power supply environment.

Voltage converter/transformers come in a variety of sizes and wattage capacities that can range from 100 to 20,000 watts. Finding the voltage converter right for you is easy, as long as you become familiar with some terms. First it is essential to understand that 110/220 volts American and 220 volts overseas are different animals. So in order to find out what kind of converter is the most suitable for your needs, you need to know what kind of conversion needs to be done- whether it is 220 volts to 110 volts or vice versa. Keep in mind that voltage converters WILL NOT convert 220 American voltage into 110 voltage, once that 220 volts American electricity is two-phased, while 220 volts overseas is one-phased.

Second term you need to become familiar with is Step-Up and Step-Down converters. A Step-Up voltage converter will use a 110 volt’s current and turn it into 220 volts, while a Step-down converter will do the opposite. Because the demand (at least in the U.S) is higher for Step-Down converters (for obvious reasons), Step-Up converters are usually Step-Down also, which makes them more versatile products.

The third term you need to become familiar with is watts (short for kilowatts). A kilowatt is a unit of measurement that measures the rate of energy conversion of Joules per second. In order to determine the right voltage converter for your needs, you need to find out the wattage consumption of your equipment(s). If that information can’t be found, another way to figure out wattage consumption is multiplying Amps by Volts, and that will equal how many watts you equipment requires to work.

The rule of thumb to choose the converter that will work for you is to determine how many watts you need your transformer to handle, and add 25 to 30% over. For example, If your equipment’s wattage consumption is 200 watts (30% of 200 is 60. 200 + 60 = 260), that means you need a voltage converter that can handle at least 260 watts. This is a useful rule except for motorized equipment. Is this case you need a converter that can handle at least twice as much watts as the equipment requires, for example if your washing machine’s wattage consumption is 1200 watts you need a converter that can handle at least 2400 watts.

Hopefully this reading allows you to make an informed decision on what Voltage converter is most suitable for your needs. If you need more help, visit our Voltage Converter Help page and answer 4 simple question to find out which voltage converter is right for you.