Help me find a 110V to 230V voltage converter
March 3, 2007 9:26 PM   Subscribe

I have a Electric shaver, Electric kettle and a Sandwich maker that uses 230V. They have round type pins in the plug. I would like to use them in USA. So I need to find a 110V to 230V voltage converter that also supports round pin plugs. I found this worldwide adapter plug in Amazon, and it seems like the idel thing I'm looking for except for the fact that it doesn't convert voltages. So if I can find something similar to this which converts from 110V to 230 v and vise versa it would be great. If it's not possible at least a one that converts from 110v to 230v. Please recommand me any converter that you are satsfied with and show me a place to buy. Thanks in advance.
posted by WizKid to Technology (11 answers total)
If those items do in fact need 230V, then you're likely SOL, even if you can do the pin conversion.
posted by notsnot at 9:41 PM on March 3, 2007 [1 favorite]

Something that changes the voltage is called a transformer, as opposed to a plug adapter, which doesn't. But that may not matter, because:
  • your shaver may accept both voltages, which means you just need a plug adapter (check on this first though)
  • a transformer that is rated for enough wattage to run a heating appliance like your kettle or sandwich maker will probably cost more than buying a new appliance. It will also waste a lot of energy.

posted by grouse at 9:50 PM on March 3, 2007

The shaver might adapt. It'll depend upon whether it plugs in directly or uses an adapter/charger. Even a plug-in shaver might have a 110/230 switch. More here. The Breville and kettle may be more hassle than they're worth: heating elements (high wattage) often require bulky transfomers (see here for the problem in reverse).

Still, this place has all the kit in the UK, and this place in the US. The latter link also explains the difference between transformers and converters.
posted by holgate at 10:06 PM on March 3, 2007

Whatever you get, make sure you remember than an electric kettle could easily be a 1000-2000 watt appliance, and many converters won't enjoy that sort of load.
posted by PEAK OIL at 10:17 PM on March 3, 2007

Most transformers you can buy for this purpose are rated at 100W or so, which is about 1/10-1/20 of what the kettle or sandwich maker require; they'll break if you try to use them with those appliances.
posted by polyglot at 11:28 PM on March 3, 2007

Other than your electric shaver, which may operate at both 120V and 230V it is probably not practical to use a voltage converter.

Transforming voltages at low frequencies (50 Hz or 60 Hz) requires a lot of iron to prevent magnetic saturation and other bad things. This means that a 1000W transformer would probably weigh about 30 pounds but be relatively cheap. You might be able to find something for under $100.

The more sophisticated solution would be an uninterruptible power supply (UPS) that allows both 120V or 230V input and selectable 120V or 230V output. You would be using the UPS in an on-line mode in which the backup battery is never used. This UPS would be a two stage device that uses very high frequency (100 KHz) to convert the AC input to about 350V DC. The second stage then converts the DC to the selected output AC voltage. This method requires more complicated electronics but the advantage is that the transformer can be much smaller because of the higher switching frequency. It might weigh less than 10 pounds minus the batteries. However, you would probably pay several hundred dollars.

So I would say that a voltage converter for any device requiring more than about 50 watts is going to be prohibitively bulky or expensive for your purposes.
posted by JackFlash at 12:34 AM on March 4, 2007

It would be a lot cheaper to replace those two devices than it would be to properly convert them.
posted by wile e at 6:57 AM on March 4, 2007

Response by poster: Thank you everyone for your responses.
It seems like that it's not worthwhile investing in a voltage converter, rather than buying the devices.
posted by WizKid at 7:38 AM on March 4, 2007

In general, especially for US-based folks, when it comes to voltage conversion and plug adapters, Magellan's Travel Supplies ( is a great resource. They've got lots of charts and information on their website, but the easiest thing to do is just to give them a call, (800-962-4943). Their people really know their stuff and are happy to help. I'm not affiliated with them, just a happy customer.

They do have a 1000W step-up transformer for about $95:
But that's really meant for non-heating appliances, and your sandwich maker and kettle is probably going to pull more power than that.

Most likely, your best bet is just to buy a kettle and a sandwich maker in the US. Even a super nice electric tea kettle will be about $70, and there are many that cost significantly less, and Amazon shows a lot of sandwich makers for around $50. All told, that's probably cheaper then a heavy-duty transformer, and you won't have a giant transformer block to deal with and swap between devices.
posted by zachlipton at 8:01 AM on March 4, 2007

I would be wary of the company that zachlipton cites. On at the page he links to there are at least two important inaccuracies. They describe a 1000 watt converter yet the picture is of a 50 watt converter. Even worse, they describe it as for use with non-heating appliances. This is exactly the opposite. It can be used only for non-electronic heating devices. This is because it outputs a square wave instead of a sine wave. Heating appliances don't care, but many electronic devices do.
posted by JackFlash at 11:09 AM on March 4, 2007

These square-wave converters can be weird. I have one for going from 220 to 110V, and it made the circuit breaker box in the apartment buzz like mad. No telling where else the power was buzzing. It didn't seem to hurt my griddle though, and it was light weight, and cheap. Whether they go the opposite way (step-up) is another question. I think I got this one from Radio Shack. I don't use it anymore though, because someone gave me a ~$400 heavyduty transformer.

Seriously, replace the kettle and sandwich maker, unless the equivalent doesn't exist in your new location. (very weird, to me, electric griddles for home use appear non-existant in Europe or South Africa)
posted by Goofyy at 7:43 AM on March 6, 2007

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