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Discover the Difference Between Voltage Converters and Voltage Transformers?

For most people, the distinction between voltage converters and voltage transformers can be confusing. If you go looking for a simple answer, you often end up on a page that seems to be written for electricians with references to watts and amps and hertz and cycles. Now, you can take a deep breath and relax. You really don't have to know and understand all that to decide whether you should be looking at voltage converters or voltage transformers. Here's a quick and simple explanation to help you make your decision.

Both voltage converters and transformers perform the same essential function - they change the way that electrical power is delivered from the wall outlet to your electronic or electrical device so that your device will work. If you're traveling to another region of the world and planning to bring your own electrical appliances or electronic devices, you'll probably need a converter or transformer in order to run your device.

That's because the different regions of the world deliver electricity to your devices at different strengths, or voltages. In Europe and much of Asia, the standard household current is 220 to 240 volts. In North America, Japan and some parts of South America, the household current runs at 110 to 120 volts. Manufacturers of electrical devices make products that run on their local current. If you try to plug them into an outlet that delivers power at a higher or lower rate than the appliance can use, your device won't work - and the current may completely destroy your device.

Voltage converters and transformers change the current that passes through them by either stepping it up from 110 to 220 or by stepping it down from 220 to 110, allowing you to safely run your device in other countries. If you're running a 110V appliance in a 220V country, you need a step up converter or transformer. If you're running a 220V appliance in a 110V country, you need a step down converter or transformer.

Choosing between transformers and voltage converters depend on a couple of different things. If the device you want to plug in is an electrical appliance - a device that has a heating element or a mechanical motor, such as a hair dryer, a curling iron or a coffee maker, you need a voltage converter. If your item you want to plug in is an electronic device powered by electronic chips or circuits, such as a computer, DVD player or television, you need a voltage transformer. If you're not sure whether you need a voltage converter or a voltage transformer, choose a transformer. Both types of electrical devices will work with a transformer, but you can only use a voltage converter with electrical appliances.

In addition, the way that you intend to use your device also makes a difference. Converters are designed to work for an hour or two at a time. Transformers are meant to be used for long-term continuous use, such as in a radio or battery charger.

Finally, keep in mind that many of the newest electronic devices are designed with their own internal transformer/converters. These 110v to 220 volts consumer electronics don't require exterior voltage converters or transformers. Before you plug them in, though, check the label to make sure that your device will operate at the higher or lower voltage. If the label does not specifically say that the device will operate at 110v to 220v, play it safe with a voltage converter.

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