Enable my cheese toasties please
June 23, 2019 8:16 PM   Subscribe

Because of a FPP cheese toastie discussion, I have bought this toastie maker mentioned here. Unfortunately I reside in the US. Could someone actually link to the adapter or plug whatever that I need to make the British machine work in the US?

I don't have experience in this area, sorry if this seems like a basic question, but when I look at whatever is on Amazon, I can't tell which is an adapter for the plug prong configurations and which is the actual voltage changer for adapting the different voltages. Actual links to what I need would be stupendous, thanks!
posted by Rufous-headed Towhee heehee to Grab Bag (18 answers total)
According to the VST 041 user manual, page 9 you will need 13 amps of 240 volt power. According to this page, you'll need 850 watts.

That's a hefty requirement. A product such as this KRIËGER 850 Watt Voltage Transformer will probably do the job.
posted by blob at 8:37 PM on June 23

Look around on the device, and possibly the plug adapter, does it say something like "120-240V" anywhere?
posted by aramaic at 8:38 PM on June 23

Isn't the UK 240v? That link doesn't give voltage info, you need to check on the label to see if it is '110-240v', or '240v'. If the latter, you will need both a plug adapter AND a voltage adapter. If the former a plug adapter only.
posted by GeeEmm at 8:39 PM on June 23

That particular model isn't sold in the USA. There are some other choices.
posted by blob at 8:49 PM on June 23

Voltage converters need to be rated at higher wattage than the appliance they’re running, they can only run at around 80% of their maximum wattage for sustained periods, so even the 850 watt converter wouldn’t be enough, you’d want one rated even higher. In addition to being heavy and expensive, voltage converters are also pretty loud.

Unless you’re just really, really into toasties and there isn’t a 110v press on the market at all, I would extremely reconsider whether this is a worthwhile project.
posted by strangely stunted trees at 8:53 PM on June 23 [6 favorites]

There are many of functionally the same product for cheap on US Amazon if you search for "sandwich press" that will work with US power without expensive adaptors and added fire risk... Probably better to just buy one of those.
posted by brainmouse at 9:07 PM on June 23 [1 favorite]

Modern low power consumer electronics (phones, laptops, etc.) are rated for a range of voltages that includes the US (at the low end) and UK (at the high end). For these you just need a physical adapter.

But anything bigger (and certainly anything with a serious heating element like a toaster, kettle or hair dryer) tends to need a voltage converter to convert your home's 110V to 230-240V. You're talking about a 20 lb device that will make a huge amount of noise and is not terribly safe (especially in a kitchen).

Source: I was on a team that used one for a several million dollar astronomical instrument built in Europe and shipped to the US. Even then it hardly seemed worth the bother.
posted by caek at 9:13 PM on June 23 [4 favorites]

OK so please explain further. Travelers from the US to other countries take electrical appliances ( including hair driers or curling irons that heat and then switch to cool and back to heat etc.) with them all the time, are you saying travelers from the UK buy a $200 transformer to go with them? If they don't why not, in other words what are they getting or doing that enables them to not have to use a transformer? (I really have no experience with this, thanks for answering my questions.)
posted by Rufous-headed Towhee heehee at 9:17 PM on June 23

Home appliances like this are usually NOT dual voltage. This toaster is meant for 230V UK mains, as opposed to 120V mains in the US.

Personal electronics, on the other hand, are almost all dual voltage and some grooming devices like electric razors and hairdryers are too (but not all). These dual voltage devices only need a simple plug adapter to work in various countries.

You will need a step-up transformer in order to use this sandwich toaster in the US. This will likely cost several times more than the cost of the toaster. It would be silly to do this since there are similar sandwich toasters made for the North American market, but if you do get a step-up transformer make sure it's rated to at least 10% more wattage than the device you're plugging into it -- in this case your sandwich toaster is 850 watts, so you'd want a transformer rated to 1000 watts.
posted by theory at 9:25 PM on June 23 [2 favorites]

The travelers are using dual voltage appliances. They do make dual voltage hair driers and curling irons. If your sandwich press were dual voltage you would be fine and need a $2 plug adapter. However, it only runs on 240v so you are not fine, and either need a large, heavy, loud, and expensive voltage converter, or (and this would be a much, much better idea) a sandwich press that runs on 110v.
posted by strangely stunted trees at 9:27 PM on June 23 [3 favorites]

I'm from the UK and live in the US. When we moved here we had to abandon all our UK household appliances because the voltage here is 120V and that's only half of the 240V our UK appliances needed.

I brought some personal appliances: my shaver had a little switch that I moved to tell it to work on 120V, and my laptop and phone figured it out for themselves, but they take only a small amount of power to work. "Non-portable" things which need more power, like kettles, heaters, etc., don't have the ability to use different voltages because it would be too complicated for the internal wiring.

As others suggest I think your best course is to get a US-specific toaster.
posted by anadem at 9:32 PM on June 23 [2 favorites]

The kind of power a sandwich maker needs is surprisingly high - they're really one of the highest-draw things you'll routinely run in your home.

You can buy sandwich makers in the US. I own a $20 Proctor-Silex without removable plates, one like this would be comparable to the one you have.
posted by Lyn Never at 9:35 PM on June 23 [1 favorite]

Here is an adapter which will give your toastie maker its full original performance.

It works by identifying two outlets which are on the two different legs of your house power, plugging into both outlets at the same time, and adding them together to give you 220-240 V -- and it costs more than $1 per volt.

If you happen to have a electric stove with an accessible plug, you might be able to find an adapter which would allow you to unplug your stove, plug the adapter into the stove outlet, and then plug the toastie maker into the adapter.
posted by jamjam at 9:54 PM on June 23

The voltages around the 220V-240V outlets for stoves and dryers found in US homes are not the same as they are in countries like the UK or Australia where 220-240V appliances are the norm. A US stove or dryer outlet will typically have four pins: two hots, a neutral, and a ground, with 220V between the two hots, 110V between either hot and neutral, and 0V (nominally) between neutral and ground. If you jerry-rig a 220V outlet from two suitably phased 110V outlets using the device that jamjam linked above, you end up with the same thing.

The power switch inside a US 220V appliance will typically be a double-pole type, which breaks both the incoming hot connections when it's turned off. This means that when the appliance is turned off, none of the interior wiring downstream of the power switch remains at mains potential.

A UK or Australian appliance might have a double-pole power switch, but single-pole types that break only the hot side of the 240V supply are much more common. Also, unlike a US 220V stove or heater, UK or Australian appliances never have any provision for internally strapping the incoming neutral and ground wires together.

So you can make a UK appliance work when plugged into a 220V US-style stove or dryer outlet by wiring a plug onto it in such a way that the hot wire from the appliance connects to one of the hot pins on the plug, the neutral wire from the appliance connects to the other hot pin on the plug, the earth wire from the appliance connects to the earth pin on the plug, and the neutral pin on the plug remains unused. But you need to be aware that if you do this, switching the appliance off with its own inbuilt power switch will likely leave some of its internals at 110V with respect to ground so unplugging it when not in use would be safer.
posted by flabdablet at 10:19 PM on June 23 [2 favorites]

Here's a US standard one for $18. Not Breville, but close.
posted by dancinglamb at 10:26 PM on June 23 [1 favorite]

As caek says, things with high-wattage heating elements or motors (e.g. a stand mixer) that aren't built with travel in mind are really not worth the bother.
posted by holgate at 5:38 AM on June 24

You can't do this in a safe way. Your better (well, only) option is to buy a model intended for US power. It will take longer to heat up, but unless you need to make many toasties back to back that shouldn't be a practical problem. If you get one intended for US power it wouldn't run the risk of electrocuting you or causing a fire because of improper fuses.
posted by fedward at 8:58 AM on June 24

At work we use something like this to power our equipment that we build for other parts of the world. We've had some of them in use continuously for several years. They're heavy and ugly and a pain in the ass, but they work.

That being said, I would 100% buy one made for the US market. Edit: By "one", I mean the appliance, not the transformer.
posted by Grumpy old geek at 3:10 PM on June 24

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