What happens when you can’t plug-and-play your electronics without risking damage to your device from the electric current? From traveling to different countries with different power standards to using a generator, you might need a converter to use devices or tools safely.
The concept of a power converter can be challenging to understand. However, when you determine the right type of converter for your needs, you can find plenty of options to transform the electricity you have to the power you need.
What is a power converter? Keep reading to find out!
Adapter Or Converter?
What’s the difference? Before you buy a converter, make sure it’s what you need. Sometimes an adapter will do the trick. Other times, you might need a converter. In some cases, you might need both an adapter and a converter, or one device that does both tasks! How can you know which one you need?
Do you travel overseas often? If you do, you’re familiar with travel electricity adapters. As helpful as it would be if all countries around the world used the same types of electrical outlets and voltage, it’s not the case. To use electrical devices that work in the U.S., you need an attachment when traveling overseas.
You’ll see a variety of shapes and sizes to electrical plugs when traveling outside of the U.S. Two holes, two prongs, three holes in a row, and more different types of outlets mean you need multiple plug adapters to plug in your devices.
Even in the U.S., you’ll find two or three common types of electrical outlets: those for two-pronged appliances and outlets for three prongs. An adapter attaches to the end of the plug on an electrical cord to change the way it fits into the outlet socket. However, it doesn’t do anything to change the current. For that, you need a converter.
An electric power converter can upgrade or downgrade the power source to the right level for your appliance or device. In the U.S., we operate primarily on 120v power. Outside of the U.S., you’ll find anything from 110v to 240v standards, depending on where you are.
To use your electronic devices in the United Kingdom, you need a converter that downgrades their 240v power standards to 120v for your device to work correctly. Even with the right adapter to fit electrical outlets in the U.K., you still need a converter—or you risk damage to your devices.
This might seem simple enough so far. However, before you run out and buy the first converter you see, we need to look into different types of converters!
Types of Converters
We mentioned converters that can adjust international electrical standards to fit your electronic devices when you travel. With the right adapters and converters, you never have to worry about plugging to use or charge your electronics!
We touched on these above. Use a voltage converter to adjust the volts coming from a power source to power your device properly.
Not all powered devices run on the same type of current. Make sure you know your currents before getting into the details of the converter you need for a conversion.
There are two types of currents:
- Alternating Current (AC). This type of power comes from your power provider. It’s the 120-volt electricity that comes through the wall outlets in your home.
- Direct Current (DC). You’ll find this type of current coming from solar panels, batteries, or fuel cells.
A current converter can help translate a current into what you need to power an appliance or device. When choosing the right converter, you have several options:
- DC to AC (also known as an inverter)
- AC to DC
- AC to AC
- DC to DC
It’s critical to know the type of current from your power source and the current you need at the power’s destination. Depending on the type of conversion, you might also need expert help to keep yourself safe.
Convert an AC current to DC is the more straightforward conversion while converting current from DC to AC becomes a more complicated operation.
Using Multiple Converters and Transformers
In some cases, you need as much help as you can get to make the electricity from a source provide the right kind and amount of power. Choose a device that can convert both voltage and the type of current, or set up a series of devices to accomplish the conversion.
You might also need a transformer to help transition the electrical current to a usable current for your appliance or device. If you find yourself need more than a single adapter or converter to complete your circuit, it’s best to consult an electrician to guide you the safest and most effective way to connect a power source to a device.
Choosing Your Converter
An electric power converter isn’t hard to find. However, not all converters are a good choice. Electronic devices and appliances can be expensive to replace if a power surge or the wrong type of converter ruins your device.
- Do the research to get what you need: adapter, converter, or both
- Consider these benefits before settling for a cheap converter
- Professional advice
It’s easy to take electricity for granted, delivered directly from our walls to our devices. However, when transforming currents and working with devices that require different types of power, be sure to take all necessary safety precautions to avoid electrical shock.
Stay Charged With the Right Power Converter
Never go without power for all of your needs! Choose the right power converter to keep your electronics and appliances running at home or abroad.
Was this information helpful? We hope you’ll read more of our Lifestyle articles!