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Voltage Converters: Understanding Your Wattage Needs

shockedWhen traveling or relocating internationally, there's a good chance you're going to bring some electronics along with you. Since certain countries and/or regions of the world use different voltage standards for the delivery of electricity (either 110 volt or 220 volt), it's important to be aware of the standards at your destination. If your devices are designed and manufactured in a 110 volt environment and you're traveling to a 220 volt environment, you won't be able to simply plug them in as you normally do. The difference in voltage means that you'll need a voltage converter (also known as a voltage transformer) to properly operate your electronics. Attempting to use a 220 volt electronic device in a 110 volt outlet would result in the device not operating properly, or at all, due to insufficient power. The opposite would likely result in your device being destroyed along with the risk of possible electrical shock or worse.
 
While a voltage converter can simplify the transitions between 110 volt and 220 volt environments, you're going to need to understand that choosing a converter with the proper wattage capability is also critical. Someone who is relocating overseas an planning to take a great deal of electronics along is generally going to need a much more powerful voltage converter than a traveler or someone who doesn't have a great deal of electronics to bring along.
 
However, please realize that although you won't be bringing a washing machine with you on vacation doesn't mean you'll be okay by purchasing the smallest voltage converter available - your needs depend on exactly what you plan to take with. For example, don't assume that if you're only going to bring a laptop, cell phone, electric razor, and a hair dryer that you'll be fine with a low wattage converter - the hair dryer alone uses 5 times more wattage than the first three items combined.
 
To help you understand the variations in wattage used by different devices and appliances, we will show some examples below. Please keep in mind that these are only estimates and in no way do they represent numbers that are applicable to the specific electronics you own. There are many factors that can change the wattage of a device. This includes brand, model, size, and whether or not it is designed to be energy efficient. In order to identify exactly what size voltage converter you'll need you're going to have to check the watts of the actual products that you own.
 
First, we'll start with some items that operate on relatively low wattage. The items in the table below would require a voltage transformer with a relatively low wattage to be operational.
 

Appliance
Watts
Cell Phone Charger
5
Clock Radio
8
Electric Shaver
15
Portable Fan (Small)
15-25
Cable Box
20
Blu-Ray DVD Player
35
Sewing Machine
75
Curling Iron
90
Can Opener
150
Electric Blanket
150
Laptop Computer
150
Xbox 360
165
20" Box Fan
180

 
Next, let's look at some items that require a slightly higher wattage to operate. These items would generally be used by someone who was relocating as compared to someone who is traveling, but there are a few exceptions. A flat iron uses more than 3 times the watts needed for a 42" television.
 

Appliance
Watts
42" LCD
210
42" Plasma TV
270
Drill (1/4")
300
Clothes Dryer (gas heated)
350
Dehumidifier
380
Hedge Trimmer
450
Blender
560
Vacuum Cleaner
600
Drill (1/2")
640
Humidifier
680
Slow Cooker
700
Range Burner
800
Coffee Maker
825
Food Processer
900
Flat Iron
950

 
This last table shows some items that require a voltage converter capable of delivering well over 1,000 watts. Notice that the hair dryer falls into this category.
 

Appliance
Watts
Window Air Conditioner (medium size)
1000
Toaster
1000
Microwave
1150
9" Disc Sander
1200
Hair Dryer
1200
Space Heater (high setting)
1440
Broiler
1500
Dishwasher
1600
Oven
3000
Clothes Dryer (electric)
3400

 
Additionally, and as a preventative measure, it's recommended to purchase a voltage converter that exceeds the wattage of your electronics by about 50%. If your hair dryer is rated at 1180 watts, a 1200 watt transformer may not be sufficient. A much better choice would be to purchase a 2000 watt voltage converter to avoid any issues.
 
For more detailed information on purchasing the proper converter for your specific needs, view our voltage converter buying guide. The guide will help you understand the difference between step up converters and step down converters, voltage stabilizers, the different types of voltage converters and the difference in Hz (cycles).
 
To view a complete line of high quality voltage converters and related equipment including outlet adapters, please visit our voltage converters page. We have over 30 years of experience in international electronics relocation and our specialists are available to assist you with any questions you may have.