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Voltage and Frequency in Electrical systems

Voltage and Frequency in Electrical systems

Map of the world coloured by voltage and frequency
Map of the world coloured by voltage and frequency
Start by taking a look at the back of the device you want to use. If it says something like "100-240V, 50/60 Hz", it will work anywhere in the world with the right plugs. If you've got both covered, you can skip to the next section. If not, keep reading. Dealing with electricity differences can be daunting, but it actually isn't too hard. There are only two main types of electric systems used around the world, with varying physical connections:
  • 100-127 volt, at 60 hertz frequency (in general: North and Central Americas, Western Japan)
  • 220-240 volt, at 50 hertz frequency (in general: the rest of the world, with some exceptions)
  • Occasionally, you will find 100-127 volts at 50 Hz, such as in Tokyo, Madagascar, and some Caribbean islands. On the other hand, there's 220-240 volts at 60 Hz, such as in South Korea, Peru, and Guyana. A few other countries using 60 Hz are internally divided, with 100-127 volts in some locations, and 220-240 volts in others, such as in Brazil, the Philippines, and Saudi Arabia. Be extra careful each time you travel to a new destination within these countries, and ask about the voltage. Be aware of multiphase electrical systems (see below under Large Appliance Power). If the voltage and frequency for your device is the same as where you are travelling, then you need to worry only about the physical plug. (The small difference between 110V and 120V is within the tolerances of most electrical devices. Likewise for 220V and 240V.) If the voltage provided by the local supply is not within the range accepted by your device, then you will need a transformer or converter to convert the voltage. Most travel accessory sources offer them and come with several plug adapters to solve all but the most exotic needs.
    Travel Warning

    WARNING: Giving a device a lower voltage than it was designed for is generally not dangerous; the device may not work correctly, but no dramatic failure is likely. Giving any device a voltage higher than it was designed for is dangerous and will very likely damage the device. If you put 230 volts into a device designed for 110 it may melt, catch fire, or even explode.

    The Most Frequently Asked Travel Questions about Electrical systems

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    Electrical systems Travel Guide from Wikitravel. Many thanks to all Wikitravel contributors. Text is available under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0, images are available under various licenses, see each image for details.

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