No Transformer Required

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Today’s Question: The voltage in Australia and New Zealand is 220-230 [volts]. Is it your experience that, like with the iPhone, you need an adapter but don’t need a transformer for charging camera batteries?

Tim’s Quick Answer: Most electronic devices will work perfectly well with higher voltages found in other countries. It is important, however, to confirm your battery charger and other electronic devices support the higher voltage levels.

More Detail: On your battery charger and other electronic devices you should find a label that typically has the serial number and other details on it. You want to make sure that the specifications cover a wide enough range to include the power in the countries you’ll be visiting.

In the case of Australia and New Zealand you want to make sure that the input voltage for the device goes up to 240 volts at 50 hertz. In the US, as you know, the power is 110 volts. Typically you’ll see an indication of the voltage on a device as something like “AC 100-240V 50/60Hz”. That means the device can handle AC (alternating current, as opposed to direct current) power anywhere between 100 and 240 volts, at 50 or 60 hertz.

These days most devices will support the higher voltages found internationally. There are, however, some devices (such as hair dryers) that often only support a narrow range of voltages. That means the device might only support US power voltages, or only higher voltages found in other countries. In that case a transformer would be required to be able to use the device.

If you plug in and turn on a device that can’t support the higher voltages found in other countries, the device will either blow a fuse (if you’re lucky) or be fried and potentially start a fire. But as long as the label for the device you’ll plug in shows a voltage range up to 240 volts, only a plug adapter would be required, with no need for a transformer.

For what it’s worth, none of the devices I own require a transformer to be plugged into any international outlet. They only need a plug adapter. And I didn’t do that on purpose! It is just that most devices support international voltages right out of the box. But even so, I still check the rating of every device before using it on an international trip.