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Using your Electrics Abroad

Are you planning to travel abroad soon? If so, you need to decide in advance on how you will charge your gadgets while overseas as some countries tend to have different voltage requirements. Do not let your batteries fail you as far as using your electrics abroad goes. Do equip yourself with the right charging equipment for your smart phone, portable media player or other gadget you brought along.

List of Countries with Different Voltage Requirements

While most countries have the same plug, socket, voltage and frequency standards, there are a few countries with completely different ones. In fact, plug, socket, voltage and frequency specifics differ between regions.

Country Voltage Hertz
Africa 230-240V 50Hz
Asia (excluding Japan and Taiwan) 230-240V 50Hz
Australia 230-240V 50Hz
Canada 120V 60Hz
Europe 230-240V 50Hz
Japan 100V 50/60Hz
Taiwan 110V 60Hz
South America 230-240V 50Hz
USA 120V 60Hz

A voltage of (nominally) 230 V and a frequency of 50 Hz is used in Australia, Europe most of Asia, most of Africa as well as much of South America. The same goes for the plug and socket specifics, which means a gadget that is manufactured for the European, Australian or other market can be easy to plug and charge in any of these regions.

In the US as well as Canada, however, the plug, socket, voltage and frequency standards are significantly different. The normal voltage and frequency combination is 120 V and 60 Hz. Therefore, if you are travelling to Canada from US or vice versa, powering your gadgets would not be a challenge unlike if you are travelling to other parts of the world from any of these two countries. Other countries have, for instance, a standard voltage of 230 V and a frequency of 60 Hz.

In addition, the standard North American power outlets or sockets, in British English, are slightly different from those commonly used in other countries in terms of design. Designed for a standard voltage of 120 V and a standard frequency is 60 Hz, these sockets feature two pins while most sockets used in other parts of the world feature three. Therefore, if you are planning to travel to Europe, Australia or to other parts of the world from US or Canada, you will need to equip yourself with a converter or an adapter. That is the only way you will be able to charge your phone, iPod or other portable gadget.

How to Decide on a Converter or Adapter

Using your electrics abroad will be easy and seamless if you pack the right charging equipment. You will need the appropriate converter or adapter to charge your phone or other portable gadget. If you are shopping for a converter or adapter, knowing how to pick the right product is crucial. A converter or adapter that is not suited to your gadgets will not serve the purpose, and even if it does, it may damage your batteries, forcing you to budget for new batteries sooner than you had planned.

So how do you obtain the appropriate converter or adapter? Do you walk into a physical store that deals in electric equipment and ask the attendant to find you the appropriate one? Or do you simply rely on your instincts? The answer is simple--you do none of these!

  • Check your existing charger's voltage specifications and look for a converter or adapter that matches them. If for example, your charger supplies 5 Watts (5 volts at 1000 mA), when connected to a power outlet, search for a converter or charger with similar specifications.
  • Research on the type of AC sockets commonly used in the country you are planning to visit. Once you know, look for an AC adapter that is specifically suited to them. For instance, if you are planning to visit Australia from Canada, narrow your search down to Australian suited AC converters or adapters.
  • Ask the seller to try out the converter or adapter to see if it fits the appropriate socket and charges portable gadgets. If you are purchasing online, ask them to send you a video of that process and take note of the item's serial number so that he/she does not show you a false video. Reputable stores selling charging accessories will have various types of plugs and sockets and therefore finding a socket with which to test your converter or adapter need not be a challenge.

Using your electrics abroad need not be a challenge when you equip yourself with the appropriate charging accessories. No matter where you go, charging your smart phone, portable media player or another gadget will not be a problem if you pack the right adapter or converter. Nevertheless, the above tips will help you find the right adapter or converter.


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