Q:

When purchasing an appliance, how much should the voltage be taken into account?

A:

Quick Answer

Appliances with motors such as kitchen appliances and power tools are affected by incompatible electrical systems, while electronics generally aren't impacted. North American homes usually run on 110- to 120-volt electricity at 60 Hz. Homes elsewhere use 220- to 240-volt electricity at 50 Hz.

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Full Answer

The difference in cycles can cause the motor in a 60-Hz North American appliance to run more slowly when used on 50 Hz electricity. Conversely, the motor in a 50-Hz foreign appliance might run faster when used in North America.

As a result, people traveling to or from North America should use voltage converters for motorized appliances they bring. Voltage converters convert electricity from 220 to 240 volts when used in North America and from 110 to 120 volts when used overseas. Two kinds of voltage converters are available: transformers and solid state converters.

Transformers are sized according to their wattage capacity as well as the wattage requirements of the appliance. Input voltage and wattage requirements for appliances can typically be found on the appliance manufacturer's label situated on the bottom, back or handle of the appliance or in the specification section of the owner's manual.

Heating appliances can be used with either transformers or solid state converters. The best option for a heating appliance is a lightweight solid state converter supplying up to 2,000 watts.

Aside from computers and stereos, other modern electronic equipment which is usually unaffected by use on an incompatible electrical system includes battery chargers, printers, and MP3/CD/VCR/DVD players.

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