European 220V to N American 110V Adapter


Old 09-02-07, 09:54 PM
Thread Starter
Join Date: Jul 2007
Location: Upstate NY
Posts: 17
European 220V to N American 110V Adapter

Not sure where to post...

Instead of going abroad, we have a foreign exchange student coming to the US who needs an adapter to plug in laptop computer and cell phone. I realize that just unplugging our dryer is not an option.

From what I read on-line, a transformer in addition to the adapter would be necessary to operate the computer without causing damage. As an electronic device, this requires more power or higher wattage and just the adapter would be insufficient. I don't understand why though when computers manufactured in the US run OK on 110V.

Is it because the rated watts/amps are calculated based on a fixed voltage (110 or 220)?

Thanks in advance.
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Old 09-02-07, 11:36 PM
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Join Date: Jun 2002
Posts: 261

This could be tricky. I'm not sure, but I think the electricity frequency in Europe is 50 Hz, and here in the USA it's 60Hz.

I don't see why a transformer would be necessary since our homes are already wired with 220 V, but it is at a different frequency.

I think it'd take a rather expensive transformer to change the frequency of the electricity. Not to mention it seems odd to transform 110 to 220 instead of just plugging the adapter into a 220 outlet.

Just because an appliance uses higher voltage does not mean it also uses higher watts. Amps multiplied by volts equals watts. The device only needs a certain amount of watts to operate, no matter how many volts.

So a device that uses 1 amp at 110 volts will use only 1/2 amp at 220. This won't change the amount of energy it uses, it'll still be 110 watts either way.

I don't see how you're going to get around the frequency change. I have noticed a switch on the back of pretty much all of my computers that will allow for either 110 or 220, but I don't think the frequency can be different without causing damage.
Old 09-03-07, 01:56 AM
Join Date: Jul 2006
Location: USA
Posts: 61
Before you buy anything you may want to look at the power supplies themselves for these items. When I went overseas I had the same concern then discovered the power supply for the cell phone, digital camera, laptop, and camcorder all worked on a range of voltages found here and over there. Printed on the power supplies themselves they said something like "100-240VAC 50/60Hz". The only adapters we had to buy were the type that changed the physical plug type from the standard USA plug to the 2 pin rest-of-Europe or 3 pin British plug, the voltage and frequency remained unchanged (they were $3-5 at Fry's).

My guess is that the same may apply to the equipment your visitor has so I suggest checking it before buying an expensive transformer. On the other hand, if you truly need 220 @ 50Hz, small step up transformers which supply about 100 watts are available pretty cheap (for example, like these

Another idea is to buy the US power supplies for the computer and cell phone while your guest is here if the originals are not the "100-240VAC 50/60Hz" type. My guess is the adapter/charger would be the only difference, I doubt a manufacture would completely redesign the phone/computer with a different internal voltage for a different market if they only had to supply a different power supply, it's just not cost effective. Plus this may be more convenient in the long run cause he/she won't have to lug a large/heavy adapter around.
Old 09-03-07, 08:06 AM
Join Date: Mar 2007
Location: Norway
Posts: 256
Moast PC's sold here in Norway is eighter with a switch on the poversupply for 120/240V or is automatic sensing voltage (Typical Laptop)
My advice will be bring a mitiple outlet of the standard you have on the equipment, and change the plug. If 240V outlet is avalable evrything works fine even at 60 hz. (maybe not the oldfashion record player withch may run at 6/5 speed)

My PC, mobile phone charger, shaver etc all accept 120V.

Heating devices as heardryers etc will need 240V

As I said the 120V will probably do.

Old 09-03-07, 05:53 PM
Thread Starter
Join Date: Jul 2007
Location: Upstate NY
Posts: 17
Thanks much folks. Sounds good.
Old 09-03-07, 11:44 PM
Join Date: Mar 2007
Location: Norway
Posts: 256
By the way, most adaptors for use in US/Canadiens outlets are just fine for 5 min use and 40W, but be careful to use them for more. The may be causing a fire!

Old 09-05-07, 06:56 AM
Join Date: Apr 2004
Location: Ontario Canada
Posts: 1,767
A 240V hair dryer will work on 120V with reduced output.
Hair dryers are cheap enough anyways to not bother trying though.

I don't think there is a problem of a student bringing a record player or analog plug-in clock.

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