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BASIC ELECTRICITY - AN INTRODUCTION

BASIC ELECTRICITY - AN INTRODUCTION

INTRODUCTION



    Most of the world outside of North America uses electricity at approximately 220 volts/50hz. while most North American appliances are designed for 110 volts/60hz. In addition to the voltage/frequency problems, the wall outlets (receptacles) configurations are also different from country to country (there are 10 different grounded wall outlet plug adapters and 6 different ungrounded wall outlet plug adapters). The solution to the different voltage/frequencies you will encounter as you travel is either a VOLTAGE CONVERTER or a TRANSFORMER depending on the type of appliances or equipment you plan to use. The solutions to the problem of wall outlet (receptacle) differences are PLUG ADAPTERS (but remember: plug adapters don't change the voltage).



                 UNGROUNDED CONVERTERS

If the appliances or eqipment you intend to take overseas with you are all ungrounded and you will only need to use them one at a time for short periods of time, then you might consider an Ungrounded Voltage Converter as a solution to the differences in voltages as you travel.
  Ungrounded Converters can be used only for ungrounded appliances (2 pins on the plug) and only with "electric" (never "electronic") appliances, that is, appliances that are used for heating purposes and / or use "universal" motors (curling irons, hair dryers, steam inhalers, bottle warmers, irons, etc). Converters and Transformer/Converters do not change the frequency differences (hz or cycles) you will encounter outside of North America. The issue of Frequency will be covered below.

You must always read and follow all instructions about converters and all electrical devices for your safety. U.S. visitors to foreign
countries will want to convert the 220 volts to 110 volts through the
use of one of our "step down" converters. The following"step down" converters are available: a 0-50 watts model, a 50-1875 watt model, and a "hi-lo" 0-1875 watt model (it has a setting switch for 0-25 watts and for 26-1875). We also carry a "step up" 0-50 watt model for the use of foreign low wattage appliances in this country. 

    Converters are for ungrounded (2 pins) appliances only. You can follow the link below for instructions and specifications of all our models. You will also find a link below that will take you to a listing of over 220 countries that gives their voltages and required adapters. Most converters are not designed for "continuous duty" and should be used for short periods of time, 45 minutes to an hour. They must be unplugged from the wall when not in use.

UNGROUNDED CONVERTER / TRANSFORMER



There is a converter/transformer (our TA-50A) , a hybrid if you will, that like a converter can only be used with ungrounded appliances but like a transformer produces a full sine wave electrical output, making it suitable for up to three hours continuous use and and it be used with all electronic devices except computers.



       
              GROUNDED TRANSFORMERS



Transformers can be used with grounded plugs (3 pin) and can be used with "electric" and "electronic" appliances alike(unlike a ungrounded converter that can only be used for "electric appliances"). "Electronic" refers to those devices and appliances that contain electronic circuitry of some sort such as: most radios, some shavers, fax machines,computers, printers, etc. We carry transformers that just "step down" 220/240 volts to 110/120 volts (as would apply to a U.S. visitor to a foreign country) and we carry step up / step down transformers that will, with just the flip of a switch, "step up (110/120 to 220/240 for the foreign visitor to the U.S.)" or "step down" 220/240 volts to 110/120 volts.
Features of all the Transformers include: off/on power switch, replaceable safety fuse, heavy duty metal case, 5' of cord with either a European grounded "schuko" plug (on the step down transformers) or a grounded U.S. plug (on the step up / step down comination), and a power indicator light. There is 1 U.S. grounded outlet on the 100 and 200 watt models and 2 U.S. grounded outlets on the remaining seven models which go up to 3000 watts. For warranty information click on the link below. The Transformers like the Converters do not change the frequencies. That issue is covered below.



WALL OUTLET (RECEPTACLE) PLUG ADAPTERS

If you were looking for a worldwide standard, forget it! There are at least 13 different configurations that we know of, each requiring its own adapter. And if that wasn't complicated enough, some countries use 2, 3, 4, and even 5 different configurations in different areas within their borders. Adapters are a simple solution (once you have found the right one[s]) to the configuration problem and we have attempted to provide you with the best source for finding the correct adaptors with our World Electric Guide

Plug adapters are available as either grounded or ungrounded. Which one you need depends on the plug of the appliance or equipment you intend to use overseas. A plug with 2 pins or blades is ungrounded and one with 3 pins or blades is grounded. Usually you can use an ungrounded plug in a grounded adapter but not vice versa. One very important warning!! Remember that plug adapters do not change voltages!
In creating the World Electricity Guide we used the most reliable sources we could find, including the U.S. Department of Commerce and travelers like yourself. We appreciate your assistance in trying to create a reliable source for what is obviously a complicated issue and to make this information available to all travelers with no obligation to buy. We've done a lot of research in order ensure the accuracy of the information you find here (there are over 220 countries listed here), but we can only guarantee that it isn't infallible and there will be some mistakes and/or omissions. In cases where we found sources that recommended different or additional adapters for the same country we included them all (we hope that "it is better to have and not need than to need and not have" applies here).

FREQUENCY, CYCLES, HERTZ, HZ (60 HZ vs. 50HZ)

AC frequency refers to the number of cycles that electrical voltage or current (maximum positive values then maximum negative values) goes through each second. In North America the frequency,expressed as Hertz, is 60 cycles per second (60 Hz). This information about frequencies would never be important in your life if you never left North America. But if you do leave the U.S., in addition to having to deal with those higher voltages in other countries, you may also have to contend with the lower frequencies (50 Hz) in most foreign countries . Because of the lower frequency, as an example, most AC motors will rotate 17% slower.   

Appliances and equipment that simply contain heating elements with no electronic timers, microchips, or other electronic circuitry are unaffected by frequency. Many appliances have DC (direct current) motors and convert the incoming AC into DC which is not affected by frequency. Many appliances are "multi-voltage" and have electronic circuitry that automatically senses and then compensates for the frequency and voltage differences. There are also some appliance that are "dual voltage" that can be manually switched from one voltage to another.

WATTAGE CALCULATION (volt X amp = watts)

Wattage refers to the amount of power (electricity) consumed by your appliances and equipment. Sounds simple, doesn't it? Actually it is very simple and it is important to know a little about it because you need to know wattage in order to choose a Converter or a Transformer.

The wattage of most appliances and equipment is found on decals or labels of some sort on the appliance or equipment or in the owner's manual. In addition, the decals or labels also usually give the voltage and/or amperage of the appliance.     

If the wattage isn't given you can still figure it out if you know the voltage and amperage. If you multiply the voltage times the amperage, the result equals the wattage of the appliance. For example, the decal on the appliance you want to take overseas doesn't list the wattage but gives the voltage as 120 volts and the amperage is 1.1. To find the wattage of that particular appliance, multiply the voltage 120 times the amperage 1.1, 120X1.1=132 watts.






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