If you’re bringing any electronic device with you on your next trip such as a Smartphone, laptop, PDA, camera or video charger, Mp3 player, e-reader, rechargeable shaver, or travel coffee maker, here are some guidelines that may come in handy.
1. Adapters In North America our electrical outlets are configured to accept two flat, parallel prongs and a third round pin if a device needs grounding. However, in many parts of Europe, wall outlets take two round pins. In all, there are about twenty different sockets worldwide, some of them grounded, some of them not. And sometimes a country may have multiple sockets; it is not uncommon to find yourself in a hotel room with an electrical outlet that allows you to use more than one type of plug. The first thing you need to know is the type of adapters the country you’ll be visiting requires to make sure that your appliance fits into the electrical outlet. But an adapter does not change the voltage or frequency. Most electronic chargers these days are dual voltage and adapt to the voltage as soon as they are plugged in. If not, you will need a converter or transformer. The voltage, watts and frequency are written on the bottom of your charger, device or appliance.
2. Converters and Transformers In North America, our voltage standard is 110 or 120V (they are the same) and a frequency of 60Hz. The second basic standard in the world is 210 or 220V (same thing), and a frequency of 50Hz. In order for your device to work at 210-220V you must alter the voltage using a converter or transformer (unless it is dual voltage). A travel transformer is used for any small appliance or charger under 50 watts such as shavers, electric toothbrushes and chargers for cameras. A converter is used for non-electronic devices over 50 watts, such as a hairdryer or travel coffee maker. Larger transformers for specialized equipment do exist but they are too heavy and bulky for the average traveler. We do not recommend taking non-dual voltage ceramic straight irons to countries with 210-220V as they do not adapt well.
3. Supplemental Power - Rechargers If your Smartphone, tablet or MP3 battery runs out of power and you don’t have access to an electrical outlet, a small hand-held recharger comes in very handy. These rechargers are available in various capacities to give your device a boost of power when it is depleted.
There are plenty of great resources for more information on voltage adaptors, converters, and country information here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mains_electricity_by_country http://wikitravel.org/en/Electrical_systems