Frequently Asked Questions
What's the difference between a transformer and a solid state converter? The important difference is how the device converts voltage.
The household electricity our North American appliances use is delivered at 120VAC (volts alternating current) 60 Hz. (60 cycles/second). When the electric current flows it rises from 0 volts to 120 volts back to 0 volts and then it falls to negative 120 volts and rises back to 0 volts. This rise and fall completes one cycle (1 Hz.) and is called a "sine wave." To convert 240VAC to 120VAC, for example, a transformer reduces the height of the 240 volt sine wave in half creating a 120 volt sine wave that can be safely used by all types of 120 VAC appliances, a solid state converter however chops the sine wave at it's positive and negative 240 volt peak reducing the power in half but creating a chopped waveform that can ONLY be used by NON ELECTRONIC heating appliances.
How to Find Voltage and Wattage Ratings on Your Appliances
To determine the correct voltage converter you need, you must know the input voltage and wattage requirements of your appliance. You can find this information listed on the appliance manufacturer's label located on the back, bottom or handle of the appliance, or in the specifications section of the appliance’s owner’s manual.
The label or manual will show the input voltage (110, 120, 220, 240; written as: 120 volts, 120V, 120 volts AC, or 120VAC), the wattage (written: 100 Watts or 100W) or the amperage (0.5 Amps, 0.5A or 500mA).
NOTE: If only the amperage rating is shown, multiply the input voltage by the amperage rating to find the wattage rating.
Volts x Amps = Watts, e.g., 120V x 0.5A = 60W
Cycles: 50 Hz vs. 60 Hz
North American 120 volt electricity is generated at 60 Hz Alternating Current (AC). Most foreign 220–240 volt electricity is generated at 50 Hz Alternating Current (AC). This difference in cycles may cause the motor in your 60 Hz North American appliance to operate slightly slower when used on 50 Hz foreign electricity.
As a rule of thumb, the appliances that are most affected by cycle differences are those with motors such as turntables, clocks, kitchen appliances, medical equipment and power tools. They will run faster or slower than they should depending upon the cycle difference and may be damaged in the long run as a result. As with any rule of thumb, however, there are many exceptions. The only way to be sure is to consult the appliance's technical documentation or contact the manufacturer.
Most modern electronic equipment, including battery chargers, computers, printers, stereos, MP3 and CD players, VCR/DVD players, etc., will not be affected by the difference in cycles.
IMPORTANT NOTE: Transformers and solid state converters do not convert cycles.