Step 3: Is my device single voltage or dual voltage?

First off, let’s find out if you need a voltage converter or simply a plug adapter. This can be discovered by determining if your device is a single voltage device or a dual voltage device.

Here’s how you can tell and why it’s important:

Is my device dual voltage? How can I tell?

A dual voltage device can accept both 110-120V and 220-240V. Luckily, many travel gadgets are dual voltage, so you’ll only need a plug adapter, also called a travel adapter.

Plug adapters are much smaller, lighter, and, thankfully, they’re also pretty cheap. Many common persovonal devices--like an iPhone charger, laptops, and cameras--that people like to travel with can be easily powered up abroad with a simple plug adapter because they are dual voltage devices.

Plug adapters do not convert electricity; converters do that, but you won’t need one for a dual voltage device. These devices should read something like 100/240V (V=voltage) or 110~220V AC (V AC=volts, alternating current). Some dv devices have settings on them so be sure it’s switched to the correct V before operating it. Many digital dual voltage devices adjust automatically.

Common dual voltage devices:

  • iPhone chargers
  • Laptops
  • iPads
  • Cameras

How do I know if my device is single voltage?

If you see something on the power label that looks more like 110V AC or 120V AC, it’s a single voltage device. Single voltage devices require a plug adapter AND a voltage converter and/or a transformer for international travel. To determine now what model of converter you’ll need, you will have to figure out the wattage of your device and purchase a voltage converter that complements that. Read on for all you need to know about watts.

Watts: Watts (W) measure how much power a device uses. You can find out the wattage of your device by looking for the W on the power label.

A low-watt range is typically 23W to 50W, which is usually the wattage range of the most common travel electronics. But many heating devices needing a higher setting can consume between 1000W and 2000W. You need to know the wattage of your device in order to determine the appropriate voltage converter to purchase so look on the indications label of your device for the W to get this information. Then, be sure to buy a converter with a wattage rating that is two to three times higher than the device you plan to operate in order to safely convert. For example, for an appliance rated at 400 watts, you should get a converter that is at least 800 watts.

Next Step: Step 4: What kind of plug adapter / travel adapter do I need?


10 Step Guide to Buying a Voltage Converter

Voltage Converter Knowledge Base FAQs