Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Info about electrical plug adapters, power strips and voltage converters for Italy


Here are some links about electrical plug adapters, power strips, surge protectors
and voltage converters (transformers) for Italy:

  • PowerstripsSource: Quail Electronics – "is a world leader in domestic and international power cord supplies for the OEM market. Our power cords, cord sets, adapters and power strips are in use across every industry and are available from stock items or as a custom-made product."
  • Universal Power StripsSource: Wonpro / EuroPlugs
    • Detachable Power Cords – country specific and sold separate from the above mentioned Universal Power Strip
    • TIPS
      • When traveling to Italy and/or another foreign country from the USA, you do NOT need to buy multiple country specific electrical plug adapters for each AC adapter that you bring with you, i.e., battery chargers for digital cameras, laptops, iPod or MP3 players, medical equipment, etc. You can buy just one country specific electrical plug adapter and a USA 3-way plug/triple tap. Then, you can plug up to 3 USA electrical devices into one country specific plug adapter. NOTE: Your AC adapter from the States MUST be dual voltage (110V/220-240V).
          • In Italy, the electrical plug adapter comes in 2 sizes: 10A and 16A. In newer facilities, you will usually find 16A electrical sockets/receptacles. In older facilities, you will find 10A electrical sockets/receptacles. If you get to Italy and find out that the plug adapter that you bought in the States does not fit into the electrical socket/receptacle, you can buy another plug adapter than will convert your 10A plug adapter to fit into a 16A electrical socket/receptacle or vice versa. Besides the electrical plug adapter being available as 10A or 16A, you will also find them having 2 or 3 male prongs.
          • In the United Kingdom/Great Britain, their electrical plug does NOT fit into most electrical sockets/receptacles in Europe.
          • In Germany, the current electrical plug configurations are usually 2 prong, 16A male plugs.
          • Personally, when I have traveled in Europe, the Middle East and China, I carry a ziplock bag containing various size electrical plug adapters that I have picked up over the years.
      • When traveling to Italy and/or another foreign country from the USA, consider bring an extension cord. You will find out that there are fewer electrical outlets in a room in Europe than you'll find in the States. Where you may want to use your electrical device from the States, it may not be near the electrical outlet in the room. For instance, I use a medical device to aid and assist in my sleeping. Many times, when I am traveling, the electrical outlet is not close to the bed. By having an extension cord packed with the medical device (cpap device for sleep apnea), I always have a solution for this type of problem and situation. The same situation may exist for using one’s laptop computer.
      • PLEASE NOTE: When using a dual voltage an electrical hair dryer or curling iron outside of the bathroom, please exercise extreme caution because the electrical socket/receptacle may not be rated for the wattage required to power the electrical hair dryer or curling iron. This may cause a circuit breaker to be tripped or depending on the age of the facility, a fuse to blow.
      • These triple taps from the USA are available in various shapes and sizes. They can be bought from Lowes or Home Depot or any DIY (do it yourself) store or your local hardware store. Since these triple taps are being plugged into 220V electrical sockets/receptacles, I would highly recommend and strongly suggest buying the heavy duty rubber ones rather than the cheap and inexpensive plastic ones.
* = Blog entry has been updated.
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Updated 21 May 2007: Recently, I have read on some travel web sites about which electrical plug adapters to buy for use in Italy: 2 prong or 3 prong? Please be aware that you can only use the 3 prong electrical plug adapter for Italy in an electrical outlet that has an 3 prong FEMALE power outlet receptacle. Whereas, the 2 prong electrical plug adapter can be used in an electrical outlet that has a 3 prong FEMALE power outlet receptacle and in other European countries. Remember: an international electrical plug adapter does not convert electricity! It just connects your USA 2/3 prong plug to the electrical plug configuration used in Italy. One more item to be aware of concerning the USA electrical plug. Many international electrical plug adapters only accept a 2 USA prong (Male) electrical plug UNLESS you buy an electrical plug adapter with a 3 prong (FEMALE) receptacle on it. This may be confusing to some folks and I suggest posting a message and I'll reply to it. ### End 21 May 2007 update.

There are two schools of thought about bring your USA 110v appliances to Italy and Europe. The first school of thought is to leave them and buy new 220v appliances. The second is bring it all and run these appliance off of voltage converters (read transformers).

If you can afford it and you are planning to be in Italy or Europe for at least 2 years or more than go this first route. Also if this is a corporate or company sponsored move, there may be an allowance to buy new 220v appliances to replace your 110v appliances. A few years ago when I was transferred to Germany, part of my relocation package included a replacement appliance allowance and I was given a 220v clothes washer and dryer for my apartment for the duration of my assignment in Germany.

In the States, to protect my electronics and computer equipment, I have a UPS and several surge protected power strips. I use a UPS for my printer, laptop and desktop PC. In addition, I have a power strip connected to the UPS with my cable modem, 10/100 ethernet switch, cordless phone, a stand-alone CD burner and an external 160 GB disk drive. I have separate surge protected power strips for my stereo equipment, TVs and VCRs, refrigerator and various A/C adapters for cell phones, etc. When I move to Italy in September, 2007, I plan on having a similar setup. Buying a 220v UPS's and surged protected power strips are a small price to pay to protect my laptop and other associated electronics.

It should be noted that power strips come in 2 flavors: surged protected and non-surged protected (inexpensive). Whenever I use a non-surged protected power strip, I usually connect it to a UPS. An alternate approach would be a non-surged protected power strip connected to a surge protector plugged into the power outlet in the room. Please note: a non-surged protected power strip offers NO protection to whatever is plugged into it! If you value your electronic component whatever it is, ALWAYS plug it into a surged protected power strip or a surge protector or a UPS or some combination of these devices.

While I have listed certain companies that offer 220v products to world travelers, it has been my experience that their prices are usually higher than if you comparison shop among other vendors. However, if the time is short before your trip or overseas relocation, you may not have sufficient time for this option. For instance, I have seen an electrical plug adapter for use in France, Germany or Italy as low as .75 cents and as high as $8.00 each in the States. It gets no better in Europe or Italy. If you forgot to pack or buy an electrical plug adapter for your laptop power adapter, cell phone battery charger, etc., you'll pay the going price wherever you are. Remember whether you have a 2 prong plug or a grounded 3 prong plug and buy the right electrical plug adapter for your device.

Also remember the exchange rate as of this date is $1.34 for 1 Euro! If you can buy it here in the States before you depart, do it today and save.

That's it for Tuesday, 10 April 2007: martedì, 10 aprile 2007.

Ciao, Ben

Moving2Italy2 – #1 source of links About, For or On Italy for those individuals moving, traveling or already living in Italy.

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