Taking Appliances to the West

If I buy cheap electrical appliances here, how can I use them in Canada, South Africa, Australia … considering the voltage is different? Can I buy an electrical converter? Are they expensive or bad for the appliance?

Converters are cheap but if it’s your TV or DVD player and they are not multisystem NTSC PAL and multiregion then your in for some troubles.

yep… u can use a transformer

however good ones can be expensive and cheap ones tend to fail, my old playstation experienced a smokey encounter one time.

There are a few limited options.

  1. If the manufacturer is Taiwanese, ask if they are willing to provide you with a 230-240v device. Generally it will cost a bit more, but is worth the hassle. My mum has done this with a rice cooker from Tatung.

  2. Find one that can take the universal 100-240v, laptops and computer devices are generally universal.

Hmm… that’s about it… or u can buy them from Hong Kong as they use 230v which is close enough :smiley:

And yeah, follow Satellite’s advice on the TV stuff, need multisystem.

Be careful: the size (wattage) of the appliance will determine the necessary size of a transormer (e.g. a major appliance like a hifi would probably need a big (expensive) transformer). If you can find something that has a built-in universal transformer, then it will save you the cost of buying a separate transformer to run the appliance.

Confused? Ok, a friend of mine just returned to Oz with a universal (90-250V) DVD, which she bought for about $2000NTD. All she had to do was get a cheap adaptor for the plug, or simply replace the plug with one that was suitable for Aussie gpo’s, and it worked fine. On the other hand, I bought a good cd player from the US years ago, and then had to get a converter for it, which cost about $100AUD.

However, I bought a new DVD player in Oz for $79 (about $1700NTD), so I’m not convinced that it’s always cheaper over there…

I second the Big Babou’s advise, observe the Wattage - else it might cost you more than just the price of a transformer, like a new house and a bill from the fire department.

Also note that you must be cautious about connecting them, most of those that I have seen have identical connectors for in- and output. And if you connect them wrongly you get 440V instead of 110V!

Only if really necessary I would use a transformer and then only for low-current appliances like e.g. a DVD player. I would not run electric kettles, hair dryers, heaters, TVs etc. via such a transformer.

Posing a question …

Let’s say someone wanted to take something bigger back home, like a TV. I don’t, but hypothetically. Are there places around, in Aus, UK or wherever your new place of residence be, that can do some kind of replacement for you? Could your standard sparky (electrician) do a simple change of the plugs to make your appliance then 240v compatible? Or is this not possible?

It’s possible but usually expensive. You need to replace the power supply unit (PSU), that is the transformer and perhaps some electronic components.
Easy if there is a pre-made unit, which means it has to be available from the same manufacturer, but difficult if no such thing is available. Then finding the right part can be time consuming or impossible - or extremely expensive if the component is custom made for that manufacturer.

Changing plugs is not sufficient unless you have a appliance that already supports 110-230V.

Normally it’s not worth the hassle IMHO, so plan ahead before purchasing your appliances.