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How to Choose Voltage Converters if You Are Traveling to China

China is changing the face of the global economy. Travel to China is becoming more and more popular, especially among college students and recent college graduates who take jobs to teach English as a foreign language in Chinese cities and towns. Since China operates on a different standard for electricity than North America, you'll need to shop for voltage converters and plug adapters if you're planning to take any electrical or electronics along with you. This can be especially important if you're moving to a smaller town where you may not find voltage converters for sale. If you're not sure what you need to buy to make sure that your electronics and electrical appliances work in China, grab the things you're planning to take with you and read the labels, following our handy guide.

Chinese Electrical Standards and Voltage Converters

In China, the standard household current is 220 volts, double the standard North American household current of 110v to 120v. That means if you're planning to take any items that use electricity at 110 volts with you, you'll need the right voltage converters to make them work. Exactly which voltage converters or voltage transformers you need will depend on the equipment you're taking with you.

Hair Dryers, Coffee Makers, Curling Irons and Other Small Appliances

Any electrical appliance that heats up or has a motor or pump will need a step down voltage converter to transform the 220 volt current to 110 volt current for your appliance to use. Voltage converters are relatively small and inexpensive - you can buy a cheap one for less than $15 - but their uses are limited. Essentially, they're only meant for intermittent, short-term use. They're ideal for hair dryers, curling irons and other small appliances that will only be running for up to half an hour at a time. If you try to use a voltage converter for longer than that continuously, you risk burning it out and damaging your device.

Laptops, Computers, DVD Players and Other Personal Electronics

Electronic devices that run use chips and microcircuits require voltage transformers, which are more complex and have more uses than voltage converters. They're also somewhat larger, heavier and more expensive than voltage converters. If the label on the back or bottom of your device reads 110-115V or anything within that range, you'll definitely need a voltage transformer in order to run it in China.

Expert Tips from Travelers

If you're not sure whether you need voltage converters or a voltage transformer, err on the side of caution and buy a voltage transformer, which will power any of your devices. A voltage converter cannot be used with electronics devices. A step up & down voltage converter transformer will cover you for all possible eventualities, and a good quality one will automatically detect which voltage needs transforming and adjust it accordingly.

If you're bringing along late model electronics, check the back to see if the device converts to the right voltage automatically. The newest trend is 110v to 220 volts consumer electronics, which have built in voltage converters and transformers and won't require an external voltage converter.

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