Our Tips on Electricity Abroad

If you’ve read our last blog post, you will know how to prepare your home before you leave for a holiday or trip away so we thought it may be useful to write about using electricity abroad.

Using electricity abroad carries just as many hazards as using it at home. In fact, electrical safety standards are much higher in the UK than they are in many other countries. You may be using something purchased from the country you are visiting such as television, air conditioning etc. but may decide to use some appliances or chargers that you’ve brought from home.

The first thing to consider is what do you actually need and what can you manage without. Many hotels tend to have hairdryers and irons available for you to use and it is better to use manual toothbrushes, razors etc. during your trip. If you are planning to be abroad for a while, it may be worth buying any small appliances that you definitely need when you get there so you can be sure they are suitable for the country you are visiting. Only take with you what is absolutely necessary.

Differences with electricity abroad

Depending on where you go, the main thing you may notice is that the plugs and sockets look different to UK ones but this isn’t the only thing to consider. Voltages can vary from 110 volts to 240 volts depending on which country you visit. This could mean that your electrical equipment isn’t safe to use if it has a different voltage to the local supply. 230v 50Hz is the normal voltage and frequency of the UK electricity supply.

What adapters/converters do you need?

A travel adapter will allow you to plug an appliance in but will not convert electricity. To do that, you need either a converter or a transformer. These will both change the voltage but there is a difference between them.

Converters are for electric products such as hair dryers/straighteners, electric razors etc. i.e. simple heating devices or products with a mechanical motor. They can only be used for short periods of time (1-2 hours max) and should be unplugged when not in use.

Transformers are designed for products with a chip or circuit i.e. electronic products but they can also be used with electric products and for long periods. They are larger and more expensive than converters though. Some electronic devices nowadays are dual voltage so can be used safely with just a travel adapter.

Before you go

• Work out what you definitely need, what will be available when you get there and what you can manage without.
• Do some research to find out what sockets and voltage are used in the country you are visiting.
• Find out if you will need adapters, converters or transformers. Purchase these before you travel as you can then be confident that they meet British safety standards.

For additional advice, you could ask your travel agent or even better, a reputable electrician such as Barton Electrical.

General safety

Safety rules abroad are much the same as they are here but as a quick reminder:

• Never touch anything electrical with wet hands.
• Check for any signs of damage such as cracks before using light switches or sockets. Don’t use them if they look damaged.
• Never use any mains powered appliances in wet areas such as bathrooms or near the swimming pool or hot tub.
• If you notice any signs of danger such as a smell of burning, scorch marks, hot wires or buzzing/cracking noises, stop use immediately and get it checked or replaced by a professional.
• Check that you are using the right adapters/converters etc. for the country you are visiting.
• Don’t leave heated appliances unattended whilst they are plugged in.

All of us at Barton Electrical wish you a safe and happy holiday and please feel free to contact us with any of your electrical needs.