International travel power converter
October 30, 2017 1:53 PM   Subscribe

I'm looking to buy an instant pot for my sister for Christmas. The issue is that she'll be leaving for a year abroad in Pakistan from the US, so I want to ensure I also find the right power converter to power the thing as well. There seems to be both a voltage and a frequency difference, so I want to make sure I also find the right adaptor for the job.

This is definitely something she's interested in and has explicitly asked for from the family, so I'm not worried about it being unwelcome or her having to lug it around out of a sense of obligation. As well I realize that I can't fix any potential power interruptions or anything else that happens there other than providing something that will work when the power's available. That said I don't know if it makes sense to provide an electric option when I could get a stove top version as a stop gap while she's away.

She said she's potentially interested in a stovetop version if it's strictly better and more flexible while she's abroad, but would prefer the instant pot if it's in any way viable as she'd prefer the long term option. I was hoping to see exactly what I would need to get to have the instant pot work in Pakistan, as well what power adaptors/transformers were recommended to convert the 230V into 120V. Lastly do I need to worry about the frequency difference?
posted by Carillon to Travel & Transportation around Pakistan (13 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
I have had excellent customer service responses from them, and it's both an engineering-heavy and international company, so I'd just write and ask.

And the "will not blow up if I get distracted" nature of the electric ones is so, so nice....
posted by clew at 2:03 PM on October 30, 2017


"The US/Canada version of Instant Pot models are designed to work only with 110~120v. It doesn’t work with 220v without a voltage converter. A few users have tried it and reported that the cooker works well, in UK, Italy, Australia and Malaysia with a proper voltage converter that is able to accommodate up to 1500 Watts. We also produce 220~240v model for sale in UK. Please see www.instantpot.co.uk or on amazon.co.uk."

From this page on their website.
posted by soelo at 2:11 PM on October 30, 2017 [1 favorite]


I would purchase the 220V version. Heating elements are more efficient at 220V.
posted by humboldt32 at 3:13 PM on October 30, 2017 [1 favorite]


You cannot use a plug adapter. You have to have a voltage converter which will weigh about 40 lbs and cost as much as a second Instant Pot.

So, she should just buy another once in country.
posted by flimflam at 3:24 PM on October 30, 2017 [3 favorites]


Another option is to add a 240V outlet in her kitchen, but that, again, will cost more than a second appliance.
posted by flimflam at 3:25 PM on October 30, 2017


The transformer is a pain in the ass to have in a kitchen. Friends in Cambodia who brought over kitchen devices ended up switching to local versions, and I had one for an AV device I loathedbecause it got hot and took up space. Get her the UK version (220) so she can use it in Pakistan reliably where it will be way more helpful in a brand new kitchen. Amazon.co.uk might ship to the US, I know it ships some things directly internationally fairly cheap.
posted by dorothyisunderwood at 6:07 PM on October 30, 2017


In the meantime you could get her a cookbook of Pakistani recipes for now to balance out the gifts.
posted by dorothyisunderwood at 6:08 PM on October 30, 2017


People in Australia buy the UK version from amazon.uk, as the voltage matches, and use it with an australian cord (it's a common plug type here, and I'm guessing it would be in Pakistan too, or you could get a European one, which is the same). It's expensive, and not always available for international shipping (people on a pressure cooking facebook group I follow are pretty obsessed!).

But she wouldn't be able to use in when she got back to the US. I'm not sure it's worth the hassle to only be able to use it for one year. She may be able to find one locally in Pakistan that she could then sell when she left. Philips make one, according to their Pakistan website, which is the brand I bought in Australia. The manual is terrible, but instant pot recipes work fine in it.
posted by kjs4 at 6:11 PM on October 30, 2017 [1 favorite]


I gather an instant pot is a combination pressure cooker/ slow cooker, correct?

Given the unreliable power situation in Pakistan, I'd suggest that she avoid using it as a slow cooker at all, unless she's in a place where power cuts are predictable. Islamabad is usually better than other places for this. However, if she's in Islamabad (and often other parts of the country) during the winter, stovetop slow cooking isn't easy as there is inevitably a gas shortage when it gets cold. In the winter gas tends to be most reliable when demand is low, ie mid-afternoon though she definitely should not leave anything on the stove when she is not there.

If you must get her an instant pot: US appliances never work well in Pakistan, this is partly because you need not just a transformer but should really also have a voltage stabiliser to prevent one or the other burning out. For this reason, I'd get one from the UK or the Philips one that kjs4 recommended.

Personally, I'd get a regular stove top pressure cooker instead, that's what people in Pakistan actually use, but if she wants an instant pot I suppose my suggestion is to get a UK electric powered one or one from Pakistan, but don't expect to use it for slow cooking until she's familiar with how the power cuts work, and to expect occasional disasters when there are long or unexpected cuts. If she's in Lahore, Al Fatah is a reliable store for such appliances, and I can suggest other shops depending on the city. Otherwise some online shopping sites are good and reliable (cash on delivery or card payment - check to see if US cards can be used) - the one I've used regularly is Daraz.
posted by tavegyl at 8:45 PM on October 30, 2017


Thanks all for the advice, she'll be in Karachi I believe for the majority of the time, but am not 100% positive where else and for how long.
posted by Carillon at 9:30 PM on October 30, 2017


Just agreeing with others that it’s probably not worth bringing the 120v instant pot to Pakistan. I moved from a country with 120v to one with 240v (though I gather my country has a mostly more reliable power supply than Pakistan). I had a whole kitchen worth of nice 120v appliances and use a 2000w step down transformer, one of the big boxy things with a handle on top that weighs at least 25lbs. It works, although the timers on slow cookers and instapots run significantly fast, but it’s hard on anything with an engine or a heating element no matter how good your transformer is - I gather this has something to do with how the voltage can be converted but not the frequency, so the power input still isn’t quite what the machine was built to handle. Several folks I know have seen treasured kitchenaid mixers die an early death, for example.

So, if you want to do it a power transformer with the right wattage (from above looks like that’s 1500w minimum) is the answer, but it’s probably not worth it if the instapot will be the only thing she needs it for, and it may well shorten the life of your thoughtful gift.
posted by exutima at 10:03 PM on October 30, 2017


Sorry, just read your question more closely. More succinct answer: in the short term the frequency difference doesn’t really matter but may cause increased wear in the long term, and there’s not much you can do with it without spending $1000+.
posted by exutima at 10:08 PM on October 30, 2017


Well, Karachi doesn't get cold enough for gas shortages in the winter and is on a different natural gas pipeline than the north of the country so there shouldn't be issues with a stovetop set up. Electricity remains an issue though may depend on the nature of her housing as some places do install expensive high-powered generators. If you decide to buy an instant pot or equivalent from Pakistan I'd use daraz.pk, otherwise she might check out Dolmen mall. If you want to get something she can abandon on leaving, Hyperstar or Metro should have something suitable, possibly Philips, possibly a no-name Chinese brand. These are Walmart/supermarket equivalents and there is a branch of one of them at Dolmen.
posted by tavegyl at 12:38 AM on October 31, 2017


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