Unlike most other voltage transformers, PowerBright transformers can be used as either a step up transformer or a step down transformer. This means a PowerBright transformer will work for just about anybody, no matter what the origin and destination countries may be. Exceptions are Japan (100V) and a handful of countries whose standard voltage is 127V.
If you are bringing a U.S. or Canadian 110-120 volt appliance to a country where the voltage is 220-240 volts, you need a step down transformer. Step down transformers take the 220-240 volt electricity supplied in most countries, and convert the voltage down to 110-120 volts for use by the appliance. PowerBright transformers do that.
On the other hand, if you are bringing a 220-240 volt appliance from another country to the U.S. or Canada where the voltage is 110-120 volts, you need a step up transformer. Step up transformers take the 110-120 volt electricity supplied in the U.S. and Canada, and convert the voltage up to 220-240 volts for use by the appliance. The same PowerBright transformer will do that too.
PowerBright VC1000W Step Up / Step Down Voltage Transformer Features:
But do I need a voltage transformer? Or would a plug adapter be enough?
Well, that depends on what you need to plug in. If your appliance's voltage matches the local voltage at your destination, then a plug adapter will do just fine all by itself. But if your appliance is not compatible with the local voltage, that's when a voltage transformer comes in. Voltage transformers actually change the local voltage to a voltage that's suitable for your appliance.
Electrical sockets in most parts of the world outside of North America generally supply electricity at between 220 and 240 volts AC. If you're plugging in an appliance that was built for 220-240 volt electrical input, or an appliance that is compatible with multiple voltages, then an adapter is all you need.
But plug adapters do not change voltage, so the electricity coming through the adapter will still be the same 220-240 volts the socket is supplying. North American sockets supply electricity at between 110 and 120 volts, far lower than in most of the rest of the world. Consequently, North American appliances are generally built for 110-120 volts. But that doesn't mean that your specific appliance isn't already compatible with the higher voltage -- it may very well be.
So how do I know whether or not my appliance is compatible with the local voltage at my destination?
Short answer: The only way to know is to check, and there's absolutely no getting around that crucial step. Electricity is nothing to mess around with, and assuming can be bad news. If you're wrong, you could "fry" your appliance, or worse yet, start a fire.
That being said, generally speaking, most modern "digital-age" appliances (especially ones that run on batteries) are being built to be compatible with all worldwide voltages, from 100 volts in Japan to 240 volts in the United Kingdom. This usually includes things like laptops, PDAs, cell phones, digital cameras, digital camcorders, many portable video game devices, digital music players, etc. More and more personal grooming items like hair dryers curling irons, shavers (especially cordless ones) and such are being built to be compatible with multiple voltages as well, but most of them aren't.
"Conventional appliances" like kitchen items, audio/video equipment, vacuum cleaners, lamps and lights, and most bath appliances are not compatible with multiple voltages. Again, the only way to know is to check. A common misconception is that there's any such thing as a "standard" electrical input for appliances. There's not. They're all different.
Okay, so how do I find this info for my specific appliance?
The electrical input specifications will appear on a label on the appliance itself, or on its charger or AC adapter if it uses one, near where the brand name and model number appear. Look for the word "input." As a last resort, you could check the back of the manual, but 99 times out of 100, it will be on the appliance's or charger's label. The input voltage is usually abbreviated to "V" and it should look something like this:
Input: ~100-240V 50/60Hz 65W -- This means the appliance is compatible with multiple voltages. This item can be brought just about anywhere in the world, and any difference in voltage is basically irrelevant. The appliance (or charger) adjusts itself to whatever voltage it receives. The only issue is whether or not the plug can physically interface with the socket. The appropriate travel plug adapter is all that's needed.
---or--- Input: 115/230V 50/60Hz 200W -- This means that the appliance can be switched between 110-120 volts in North America, and 220-240 volts in other parts of the world. This is common of desktop computers and some hair dryers/curling irons/etc. You probably have to physically flip a switch somewhere, but as long as that switch is in the proper position and you have the appropriate plug adapter, you're fine.
---or--- Input: 120V 60Hz 2.8A -- This means that the appliance is only compatible with a single voltage, in this case, 120 volts. If the socket is 220-240V, then an adapter by itself isn't enough, because travel plug adapters do not change the voltage supplied by the socket. Plugging it in with just an adapter can "fry" it (if you're lucky, that's all that will happen) because the voltage is too high for the appliance to handle. To use this appliance safely, the voltage needs to be changed from 220-240 volts to 110-120 volts by way of a voltage converter or transformer.
Is this transformer big enough to support my appliance?
The transformer you buy must be capable of supporting the amps and/or watts that your appliance needs in order to operate. If the transformer is too small, you will blow the fuse. The model VC1000W supports 1000 watts. So as long as your appliance is 1000 watts or less, this transformer should be fine.
The watts and/or amps that your appliance requires can be found on a label on the appliance (usually on the bottom or back) where the brand name and model number appear. If the appliance uses a charger or AC adapter, the information will appear on that piece. Sometimes this info is molded into the plastic or stamped into the metal, as opposed to a label. Look for something like this: "Input: 110V 60Hz 100W " The "W" number is the watts. For this model transformer, that "W" number should be 1000 or below.
Sometimes the label will show amps instead of watts. In that case the information would look something like: "Input: 120V 60Hz 10.0A " If the label lists amps, you can figure out a rough approximation of the watts by multiplying the amps by the volts (the "V" number). Example: 120 volts x 10.0 amps = 1200 watts. In this case, the VC1000W would not be big enough to support the appliance. You would need to buy a larger transformer than this one. Fortunately, PowerBright manufactures transformers that support up to 3000 watts!
Plugging the transformer into the electrical socket:
These PowerBright transformers are wired with a standard U.S./Canadian household plug, and are designed to plug into U.S./Canadian wall sockets. The transformers also include a plug adapter for European Schuko sockets. So if you're coming to the U.S. or Canada, or going to a country like France, Spain, Italy, Germany or another country that uses the European style sockets, then everything you need is included. If you are going to Great Britain, Australia, India or another country that uses a different type of socket, you will also need one or more plug adapters that match the outlet type(s) used in your destination country. You would plug the adapter into the socket, and then plug the transformer into the adapter.
For various reasons (usually the lack of a single standard) many countries use several different socket types. Socket types can vary from city to city, region to region or even building to building. It may be advisable for you to bring other plug adapters just to be sure you're covered if your particular building is wired with a secondary/less-common type of socket. We also have travel adapter kits for most countries. Travel adapter kits include multiple adapters for different socket types you may find in a particular destination country. If you're not sure what socket types you may find, a kit can be an easy solution.
Plugging your appliance into the transformer:
Your appliance will plug into one of the two sockets on the transformer. In the picture above, the socket to the left is a standard U.S./Canadian socket. This is where you would plug in your U.S. or Canadian 110-120 volt appliance when using the transformer abroad in step down mode (220-240 volt source to 110-120 volt appliance). The socket to the right is a universal socket, which will accept almost any kind of international appliance plug. This is where you would plug in your international 220-240 volt appliance if you are using the transformer in the U.S. or Canada in step up mode (110-120 volt source to 220-240 volt appliance).
PowerBright VC1000W Step Up / Step Down Voltage Transformer Specifications: