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Travel Tip: Travel Converters Versus Travel Adapters

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In this post we describe the differences between a travel converter and adapter.

What is the difference between a travel converter and adapter?

A travel converter converts electricity.

A travel adapter enables you to change to the shape of the electrical plug to fit the electrical socket/outlet shape in another country. In most scenarios overseas, you will need a travel adapter to to fit your phone, tablet, laptop or other electronics into the wall outlet to charge.

Why is this important?

In advance of your travels, plan to research the types of converter or adapter you may need in your destination. It can be tricky to acquire these electronics when on the road – and if you’re luckily enough to find one, the quality may be inferior, and the price steep.

Which Type and Size of Voltage Converter Do I Need?

  • The size of a voltage converter you purchase is determined by the wattage.
  • The size of converter you need will depend on the device and the number of watts it uses.
  • The recommendation is to get a transformer that has two or three times higher than your appliance.

Types of voltage

Single voltage (i.e. 100-127V)

  • Converter is needed to step up voltage to 110 volts to 220 volts.
  • For devices that are not dual voltage, consider how many watts they may require and what your travel converter can accommodate. Hair dryers are notorious for frying travel converters when stepping up from 110 volts to 220 volts. Consider purchasing electronics that are purpose-built for travel and dual-voltage.

Dual voltage (i.e. 120V-240V)

  • Many electronics created today (especially phones and laptops) are dual voltage and don’t require a converter. Plan to purchase a travel adapter.
  • Check the label on your device. If it says  110 – 120 volts, it is single voltage. If it says 110 volts – 240 volts, it is dual voltage.

When do I use a converter?

It depends. If you have a tool that is single-voltage, you will need to convert the electricity. If you omit this step, you will ruin your electronics.

Fortunately made modern electronics are made dual-voltage and therefore only need an adapter to work.

Which travel adapter do I need?

Ideally you purchase an all-in-one adapter that offers each of the outlet types in a single tool.

The IEC World Plugs keeps a list of locations to find out which plugs are in use.

Outlet types A & B

  • Made for Canada, United States of America, Japan, the Caribbean and parts of Central and South America.

Outlet types C, E and F

  • Made for Europe, Israel and some countries in Asia and Africa.

Outlet type G

  • Made for Hong Kong, Ireland, Malaysia, Singapore, United Kingdom and some countries in Africa.

Outlet type I 

  • Made for China, Australia, New Zealand and Fiji.


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