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SO confused with converters/adapters...HELP!!!

Travel Forums Travel Gear SO confused with converters/adapters...HELP!!!

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1. Posted by Squarabara (Budding Member, 58 posts) 10 Apr '08 22:33

Hi TPers!!!

Okay, I need some help with all this converter/adapter stuff. I'm moving to New Zealand in July and I have no idea which one to get. Also, do I need both??? I don't even really know the difference. Some people say I need only one if I have a new laptop and some people say I need both and I'm like WHAT?!!?!? I DON'T KNOW!!! I really only need it for 3 items. My laptop, hair dryer and hair straightener. I would probably only need one of whatever it is that I need to buy. Can anyone offer any suggestions/help???

Going crazy here, people!!!

2. Posted by mojorob (Moderator, 1044 posts) 10 Apr '08 23:00

There are 2 considerations regarding this, voltage and plugs/sockets.

USA - 120 volts
New Zealand - 240 volts

If you're electrical appliance is able to work at both voltages, then all you need is a convertor for the plug (so a US plug can fit into a NZ socket). You should be able to get these fairly easily in an electrical shop in the USA.

3. Posted by sofe1978 (Respected Member, 127 posts) 11 Apr '08 03:50

I am confused with this now too... sorry to jump in on this but I thought an adapter made your plug fit into another country's plug socket?

I have a UK to US/Oz plug adapter to take with me when travelling round the world. I don't think my electrial applicances (except travel hairdryer) are dual voltage so do I need to take something else too?

4. Posted by tway (Travel Guru, 7274 posts) 11 Apr '08 06:07

You need two things:

  • an adapter (to fit the plug hole)
  • and a converter (to convert the voltage: 120/240, as mojorob mentioned)

Without the converter, you risk ruining your appliance and/or starting a fire. You can buy both at any travel store.

Or save yourself the hassle and the assortment of plugs and gadgets and just buy new stuff over there. May be more convenient since you'll be in NZ long term.

Enjoy your move!

[ Edit: Edited on Apr 11, 2008, at 6:08 AM by tway ]

5. Posted by laurim (Respected Member, 260 posts) 11 Apr '08 06:24

Adaptor: only changes the shape of the plug but doesn't change the voltage.There is usually a guide with the kit that says what adaptor is used where.

Converter: changes the voltage so that it is safe to use in countries with another voltage standard. Must also add the right adaptors for each of the countries you plan to visit. Usually clunky and heavy.

If your appliance is dual-voltage, you only need an adaptor for the plug shape. Usually you can tell an appliance is dual voltage by looking at the tiny type on the plug and seeing if it says it is good for 120v/240v or input:100v-240v. Find the manual or look it up on the internet to see if it can handle the higher voltage. My mac laptop says it can handle the higher voltage because there is already a converter on the plug to lower the voltage to about 18v.

With something as expensive as a laptop, I would contact the manufacturer and make sure you have what you need to protect it.

[ Edit: Edited on Apr 11, 2008, at 6:26 AM by laurim ]

6. Posted by sofe1978 (Respected Member, 127 posts) 11 Apr '08 06:48

Ok soooo.. I have checked this site http://www.voltageconverters.com/voltageguide.htm and it looks like the UK runs on 240 volts.. presumably this mean that this is the maximum so if I go to a country where it is only 120v then it just might not be as powerful as it had been in the UK...

Whenever I've been away before I've only ever taken a travel adaptor and that's it.. I can't remember having any problem charging phones etc or drying my hair before, actually I think once my hairdryer felt like it had lost a bit of it's energy but it still worked...

7. Posted by Squarabara (Budding Member, 58 posts) 11 Jun '08 17:29

Okay it's been awhile, but I thought I'd bump this thread up.

Thank you everyone for the info. Now that I have things figured out, can anyone recommend a particular adaptor/converter that they know is dependable??? Also, since I'll be going to New Zealand, if anyone can tell me wether or not these types of things can be purchased at the duty free shops???

Thanx again guys!!!

8. Posted by TLWH (Travel Guru, 516 posts) 11 Jun '08 20:12

In most major international airports you should be able to get converters and adapters.

tway pretty much hit the nail in the head. I lived in Africa for over two years. It was a serious pain having to use a converter and then an adapter for a host my stuff. It also puts a strain on a socket in the wall having all that stuff hanging out.

Buy all your stuff out there like hairdryer and straightners etc.

For the stuff you cannot, laptop mobile etc. and if you are in the UK just have a look through the Argos catalog it should have everything you need.

EDIT
Sorry I just saw you were listed in the USA. ERm... head to travel center or major electrical retailer. These things shouldn't cost you a fortune. Have a look on amazon too.

[ Edit: Edited on Jun 11, 2008, at 8:14 PM by outcast ]

9. Posted by goglobalnz (Budding Member, 7 posts) 15 Jul '08 14:47

You can easily buy both converters & adaptors here in NZ also. One thing that I've done before when living abroad is to bring a splinter board (4 way plug board) from home and then plug that directly to the wall with a plug adaptor. That way you can use your existing appliances.

Of course, you'll still need to make sure your appliances can work on the voltage of the country you're moving to.

10. Posted by Squarabara (Budding Member, 58 posts) 15 Jul '08 21:13

Hey. that's a good idea. I should've thought of that. But you know, now that I'm here, I completely understand how converters and adaptors work. I knew it would end up being that way anyway. But thank you everyone for the good advice and tips!!!