How do I get to waffles from here?
January 12, 2012 7:50 AM   Subscribe

After months of rambling on the wonders of waffles to my UK housemates, I was gifted the best present ever...a waffle maker! I am desperate to make this thing work. Need electrical advice.

This is a Waring Pro WWM450PC waffle maker (120VAC/60Hz/1200Watts). It was purchased from the US store and I am in the UK. I cannot for the life of me find the proper step-down transformer to make it work. The first one blew up (the waffle maker) and so I paid to return it to the US (heavy, not cheap, no fun, a waffle-less existence).

I've tried the replacement WWM450PC with a Mercury Step-down voltage converter (230Vac to 110Vac)'s not the one I ordered, but that's another story. It gets the waffle maker lukewarm.

So I ordered a Tacima Autotransformer (Model No. SC 5474), max load is 50VA. Input: 220/240V A.C. 50/60Hz. Output: 110/120V A.C. 50/60Hz. The waffle maker light turns on, then off (like it's supposed to). Then, after 1 minute or so, the thing just continually beeps. I can't Google why. I've tried this in a kitchen outlet and a wall outlet.

What is going on here? Pretend I know nothing about electrical power. Returning the waffle maker is not an option. They don't sell a UK version of it, either. What do I do to salvage this sad waffle situation?
posted by iamkimiam to Home & Garden (34 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Finding a tinkerer/home hacker type in an electrical supply shop to replace the power unit inside is all I can think of. My father did that for my Dell desktop which was purchased in the US and was already obsolete when it was shipped over to Singapore. But hey it works since I am typing to you now.

Prior to the full on power unit change he was using a jiggered solution of some kind of transformer (now that I read that old comment, I notice that he had used the transformer on a US style electrical outlet strip/surge protector for all the 110V things at once) but you say that you can't find it. Ask around in the Uni etc for someone who is a DIY electrical hobbyist. They would be sure to know.
posted by infini at 7:58 AM on January 12, 2012

You need a much larger capacity voltage transformer. For your purposes (resistive load), VA and watts are the same thing, so you need a transformer that can handle 1200VA or watts. This will be bulkier and more expensive. This may not be worth the trouble.
posted by ssg at 8:00 AM on January 12, 2012

As ssg said, if it turns out it's not worth the trouble, it seems like they have them in France. Do they use the same
posted by la petite marie at 8:02 AM on January 12, 2012

sorry - hit "post too soon" - meant to say, do they use the same electrical current?
posted by la petite marie at 8:02 AM on January 12, 2012

Concerning infini's suggestion, this is a waffle maker, not a computer, and there won't be a power supply to replace.
posted by ssg at 8:03 AM on January 12, 2012

They have waffle makers on Amazon UK too, although if the French selection is better then you would only need a Euro->UK plug socket adaptor (like £5, so it will fit the UK plug socket).
posted by EndsOfInvention at 8:04 AM on January 12, 2012

Do you own your flat? If so, you could follow the lead of some expats my gf knows - they installed an American-style outlet in their kitchen to keep some of their appliances working after moving to London. (They are also insanely wealthy and somewhat crazy. But it should work if you can swing it.)

If the electrical one can't work, perhaps your housemates could cover the much less significant cost of a cast iron one? I got one from Rome cast iron for $20 from Amazon - no electricity required, works on a gas or electric stove. link
posted by brackish.line at 8:04 AM on January 12, 2012

Given that any solution that you come up with will, by its nature, be a kludge, and has the potential to burn your house down, I'd suggest biting the bullet and blowing a few quid on

Or what EndsOfInvention said.
posted by veedubya at 8:05 AM on January 12, 2012 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: It is not worth the trouble, but since I live with these people and can't return the waffle maker (it's an unnecessarily complicated story as to why, but it's actually impossible to return at this point...both they and I have sunk over £90 each into it...I know, that's INSANE) I'd like to make it work.

I just need to make sure I'm getting it right and want my next purchase to be the right one. Do you know how I can find out which model transformer I might need and where I might order it?

I suppose I could purchase an equivalent UK waffle maker and *say* I returned the other one, do I get rid of the big one?

I really like waffles.

posted by iamkimiam at 8:06 AM on January 12, 2012 [1 favorite]

As I know where you are I suggest you pop into Ernest Roy Electrical on Patrick Pool in York (just off the Market, just down the lane from York Camera Mart) and ask if they have a transformer that will work.

If it exists they should have it.
posted by hardcode at 8:25 AM on January 12, 2012

Best answer: Sounds like your problem is more of a sunk-cost fallacy problem than a waffle iron voltage problem. If you want waffles, it is going to be easier, cheaper, and safer to just buy a new waffle iron than it is to get the one you already have going.

I think you need to throw away the waffle iron. It's sad, I know.
posted by mskyle at 8:26 AM on January 12, 2012 [4 favorites]

Per ssg's suggestion, I believe you want one of these or equivalent.
posted by chazlarson at 8:27 AM on January 12, 2012

Response by poster: Screw it. I guess getting rid of a giant, useless waffle maker is easier than trying to make a giant, useless waffle maker make waffles. Maybe I'll just call it a day. We're all on diets here anyway.

This is a sad day.

(How do I get rid of this thing? Seriously. And preferably quietly and inconspicuously.)
posted by iamkimiam at 8:32 AM on January 12, 2012

Instead of getting a new electric waffle iron, why not just get a stovetop waffle pan? They work the same way, honest.
posted by xingcat at 8:33 AM on January 12, 2012 [3 favorites]

I'm not certain it'll work, but for industrial use, 110V power supplies are available from Machine Mart. You'll be out about £60, plus an adapter, so it's a little more manageable.
posted by ambrosen at 9:20 AM on January 12, 2012

You will need a stepdown transformer than can handle at least 1200 watts (1200 VA). Look at the bottom of your US waffle maker to see the power rating - this will tell you the size/rating of transformer that you need. Most of the ones I saw listed on Amazon could not handle more than 100VA (100 watts), which is useless for your purposes.
Stepdown is a lot easier and cheaper than step up (which is the problem that I faced when I brought my UK appliances to the US). But in the end, you may just find it cheaper to buy a UK waffle iron. I had one made by Breville when I lived in the Uk - it made brilliant waffles and heated up quickly. The advantage of a device manufactured for the UK is that UK voltage is double that of the US (240V vs. 120W). This means that UK devices will have more power and will probably get a lot hotter than a US device used in the UK.
Try some of the local department stores - Debenhams or Boots - to see what they have on sale. It's that time of year. You may be able to get a UK waffle maker pretty cheaply.
posted by Susurration at 9:41 AM on January 12, 2012

Any 1200VA stepdown transformer is going to cost a hell of a lot more than a 240V waffle maker. And the only way to adapt your 110V waffle maker to 240V natively will be to replace the heating element, which may or may not be even possible. Just buy a 240V waffle maker.

In general you're far, far better off with appliances designed for your country's standard electricity supply that fartarsing about with power conversion, unless the appliance is really small and draws less than the 50W you've already found an autotransformer for.
posted by flabdablet at 10:42 AM on January 12, 2012

Or, get your friend to send you a second US waffle maker, then get a handy electrician to wire the two in series. Now you have 2400 watts worth of waffle maker and you can churn them out twice as fast!
posted by flabdablet at 10:44 AM on January 12, 2012 [1 favorite]

Most likely, there is already a transformer inside the iron. You can possibly have it replaced, unless it's not physically possible to extract the old one or fit a new one in. Ask an electrical repairs corner shop something.
posted by krilli at 10:59 AM on January 12, 2012

(But don't; Just get a new iron instead.)
posted by krilli at 11:00 AM on January 12, 2012

Most likely, there is already a transformer inside the iron.

No way. There might be a small one to power the electronics, but the actual heating element, which is the thing that dissipates the rated 1200 watts, will run direct from the mains.
posted by flabdablet at 11:02 AM on January 12, 2012 [2 favorites]

I've only taken apart 4 waffle makers, and they were all from the US, and all very old.

But the upper and lower heating elements were connected in parallel on all 4.

If your Waring is like that, simply connecting them in series would suit it to your 230V supply.

On my old irons this would require taking off the covers and unscrewing and rescrewing a few terminals, a work of 20 minutes, but on a modern iron it might be difficult or impossible-- but I'd give it a try.

I'm currently using an old Sunbeam.
posted by jamjam at 11:06 AM on January 12, 2012

If this waffle maker beeps it has electronics in it, and those will probably not enjoy having their power supply fed from 240V 50Hz instead of 120V 60Hz. So rewiring the heater elements isn't all that would need doing; you'd also have to rejig the electronics power supply.

You might be lucky and find that it's a switching supply with an internal 120/240 switch or jumper. But since I'm pretending you know nothing about electrical power, and since you've already demonstrated by blowing up one 120V appliance using 240V that the pretence is justifiable, I cannot in all conscience advise you to go fiddling about with the innards of your appliances.

Just buy a local waffle maker and be done with it.
posted by flabdablet at 11:18 AM on January 12, 2012

Here's a 2000w voltage transformer on UK Amazon for 116 GBP. How bad do you want those waffles?
posted by Carbolic at 11:19 AM on January 12, 2012

It occurs to me that your indicator light probably won't be able to take 230V, so if you do connect the upper and lower in series, you'll have to connect the light between the upper and lower elements so that it only sees 115V.

Here's my waffle iron.
posted by jamjam at 11:20 AM on January 12, 2012

Best answer: brackish.line: "Do you own your flat? If so, you could follow the lead of some expats my gf knows - they installed an American-style outlet in their kitchen to keep some of their appliances working after moving to London. (They are also insanely wealthy and somewhat crazy. But it should work if you can swing it.)"

You'd still need a stepdown transformer, and such a configuration would be extremely illegal, and in violation of all sorts of building codes. Don't do this. Also, the wiring in many older British buildings (and even some new ones) is scary.

Coincidentally, UK shaver outlets (typically only found in bathrooms) can usually accept an unpolarized 2-prong US plug, and also sometimes contain a stepdown transformer allowing 110V devices to be used. However, these outlets are rated for 1-2amps maximum. I only mention this in case you're tempted to do it, because plugging a waffle iron or other high-current device into one of these will either blow a fuse or burn your house down. Don't do it.

tl;dr; Just buy a 240V or stovetop waffle iron. There are several available for £20-£30 on the UK Amazon. Argos even sell one. I honestly don't even know why we're even suggesting electrical modifications, expensive transformers, or the idea of mailing another broken iron back to the US at great expense.

If you have any US expat friends who are returning home, gift them with a free waffle iron to take home to their family.
posted by schmod at 12:58 PM on January 12, 2012 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Sorry to everybody for moderating my thread, and for this long response. I hope that this isn't perceived as argumentative or obstinate. I just see a new (social) problem being created with purchasing a UK waffle maker, and I don't know how to address it. Help, please.

As I've said before, this waffle maker was a gift from my housemates (they all pitched in). In my dream world, I'd like to make them all waffles without them knowing that I've bought a new waffle maker altogether (at my own expense), and therefore letting the expensive one they bought sit in ruins, mocking us all.

In this world, however, I think that you all are absolutely right about purchasing a UK waffle maker being the most logical, functioning and cheap solution. BUT, how do I do this without my housemates being hip to the notion of sneaking the US one out of the house (on foot) and into the rubbish, and my purchasing a working one? Where/how do I throw the US one away? Or, conversely, how do I come clean about all this? Without my housemates and I feeling awful about the whole mess? And who buys the new waffle maker? (This is why I didn't mind spending money towards making the one they bought work – and them being none the wiser about what went into making it work. But buying a new one altogether? That just looks...bad. The bottom line is, buying a new waffle maker trades an electrical problem for a social one. And I'm clearly not seeing a way out of this mess, which is why I come to you, wise MeFites.)

"If you have any US expat friends who are returning home, gift them with a free waffle iron to take home to their family."

I don't, but that would be an unintentionally mean thing to do. Can you imagine sticking somebody with a 20 lb. gift that doesn't even fit in an overhead compartment? It's like giving somebody an orchid as a going away present. But I do get the sentiment. I just wish that was a viable solution.

I can't even donate this thing, it's ridiculous!

The backstory is: I already mailed the first one back at great expense, in an attempt to solve what was then a smallish problem (I figured I could just return it and locate the other one, no harm, no foul and I'd just be out the shipping cost + new transformer). You see, my housemate originally bought two of them because the first one got lost in the mail. The second one (the one I returned), well, I blew it up. I located the first one in the depths of customs and paid the taxes to get it out of there (payment unbeknownst to them...just trying to solve a problem with grace. Ha.). I bought the first transformer in the meantime, to replace the one I had (and used to blow up the other waffle maker). The company sent me the wrong transformer anyway (230 to 110) and is giving me grief about returning it. The second transformer just doesn't work and never will (because of the wattage reason, of which I learnt about today...thank you smart MeFites!)

The funniest thing is, I'm gluten-free and so once I get this puppy back on track, I get to figure out how to make delicious rice flour waffles. I'm starting to think this just really isn't meant to be. And if I have to stare at this big box in my little room every night I swear I'll go mad.

posted by iamkimiam at 3:45 PM on January 12, 2012

Best answer: A possible solution?

1) "I'm going down to a local electrician recommended to me by my friends on that website. he can swap out the guts or something." Note: do not name electrician, as you're about to tell a bit of a lie.

2) Take your waffle maker to said electrician. We already know there's nothing to be done, but you can ask. When the expensive/impossible solutions come up, make a sad face and ask if he can at least either scrap it for you or find it a new home.

3) Go to local Tescos or whatever if the electrical guy doesn't have one and buy a UK waffle maker. Remember, you're now money ahead over any other solution!

4) Bring it home, along with a white lie: "We rigged up a testing device and the damn thing just melted! His apprentice had left the tester on circuit A and it was supposed to be reset to circuit B or something, but the result was instant, impressive, and disheartening, accompanied by a lot of swearing. But!"

5) "He felt so bad that he gave me a huge discount on this one. And it plugs into our wall! So: It turns out this was the waffle maker you got me. Thanks so much! And look: the makings of waffle batter!" [Open shopping bag.]

Trust me, this is a story everyone can laugh over as they eat their delicious, delicious waffles. The robot zombie waffle maker from hell or some such.
posted by maxwelton at 6:13 PM on January 12, 2012 [7 favorites]

and therefore letting the expensive one they bought sit in ruins, mocking educating us all.

Your housemates are currently saddled with the mistaken belief that that high-wattage US appliances are worth buying in the UK. Having researched the facts and found that this is not in fact the case, you have a responsibility to your housemates to rid them of this potentially dangerous misapprehension.

Mains electricity is something that deserves a great deal of respect and at least a little knowledge.
posted by flabdablet at 9:04 PM on January 12, 2012 [1 favorite]

You are overthinking this plate of waffles. Just buy a new one in the UK.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 1:55 AM on January 13, 2012

In terms of the gluten free issue, you'll make a fine waffle mix with this flour. But yeah, my previous advice, which at £60 or so looked like the cheapest option for a transformer, notwithstanding, some kind of creative story why you need to get a waffle maker from over here would be your best bet.
posted by ambrosen at 4:16 PM on January 14, 2012

Best answer: some kind of creative story why you need to get a waffle maker from over here

"Turns out that the electricity here is strong enough to blow up American waffle makers. Who knew?"
posted by flabdablet at 4:14 PM on January 16, 2012

You're right that this is a social problem of sorts. I know it's really easy to get caught up in crazy thinking when you're in the thick of this kind of situation. Maybe something like CBT exercises would be useful here--figuring out what beliefs you have that are making the easy technical solution (buying a new UK waffle iron) seem impossible. Some of those beliefs might not be accurate. What are you afraid will happen if your housemates find out that the waffle maker they bought you can't be used?
posted by needs more cowbell at 8:42 PM on January 20, 2012

Response by poster: I meant to update this thread ages ago and forgot (and how strange that I thought of this now, as the thread closes tomorrow). Anyways, after sinking over £150 into my Christmas gift, my housemates got their money back on the waffle maker that I blew up and returned to the states. About two months ago I was able to give the second waffle maker* to my friends who moved back to Canada (I smuggled it out of the house when nobody else was home and my Canadian friends shipped it to their new home with the rest of their stuff). I bought a third waffle maker here in the's fairly sucky, but makes decent gluten-free waffles. My two transformers, both unable to be returned, collect dust in a corner.

My housemates are still awesome as ever, and thankfully none the wiser about this whole mess of arigata-meiwaku.

*I stared at the box for several months, slowly going mad. Then I found a really pretty silk blanket at a charity shop and threw it over the top. Voila! Instant side table!
posted by iamkimiam at 4:13 PM on January 10, 2013 [3 favorites]

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