These days, most of us want to travel with our electrical gadgets, whether that be a cell phone, tablet or similar mobile device, laptop, camera, music player or hairdryer. But not using the right power adapter when you are traveling can be worse than an inconvenience–it can damage equipment and lead to electrical failures. What’s more, it can be hard to find the adapter you need in some parts of the world, so it’s always best to travel prepared.
While most modern electronics are able to take 220 or 110 volts (V) power, many devices still need adapters even if you don’t have to convert the voltage. An adapter will allow you to connect to the power supply for the country you are in.
Whether you are staying in the fanciest hotels in New York or the best Las Vegas hotels, it’s always worth asking, as they may be able to offer you advice or lend you an adapter–find out before you travel.
And while many hotels provide some of the actual gadgets you may need, not all will. Most cheap hotels in London, for example, won’t be able to supply hair dryers in rooms or computers in a business center. (Though they may have one if you ask.) Therefore, it’s important to understand the various types of power adapters on the market as you travel and be able to read the voltages labels on your gadgets so you choose the right equipment you need.
Reading Power Labels Properly
You can find information regarding your gadget’s power supply requirements on a label stuck to the back of it, on the plug or on the transformer box. The input will mostly be AC100-240 V 50-60Hz 14W with an output of DC 1.2V 23A. The input line reveals whether a gadget is single, dual or multi-voltage.
In the U.S., power supplies use between 110 and 120 V; in Europe it’s more likely to be between 220 and 240 V. Other parts of the world will have other variations. Again, check before you travel.
Power adapters are usually 110-120 V to 220-240 V or 220-240 V to 110-120 V. They convert the incoming voltage into an output your gadget can operate on. But in addition to the right power adapter, you will need the right plug adapter as well, as follows:
- The UK standard has three rectangular pins in a triangle.
- The EU standard has two circular prongs.
- The U.S. standard has two parallel prongs of different sizes.
Some countries will be different, and, again, some may use different plug types for varying devices.
Finally, consider a universal adapter, which combines a power adapter with a plug that fits into varying socket types (expect to pay more for these, however).
This post was originally posted on Hipmunk’s Tailwind blog on 2015/09/10