Thursday, May 19, 2016

Travel Gear: UK Electrical Adapter

Next month we'll be taking our nephews and their parents to the UK. Today the mother of the nephews asked me about adapters for UK electrical outlets.

I had anticipated the question and had stocked up on this necessary item. Ax-Man, a local surplus store had a supply of UK adapters at 75 cents apiece.

In the USA the voltage is generally 110 V, and plugs have flat pins. In the UK the voltage is 230 V, and plugs are bulkier with rectangular pins.

Most USB chargers automatically adjust to the voltage, so voltage is generally not an issue. Hair dryers and curling irons are best left at home for many reasons.

A visitor from the USA just needs a simple adapter. You plug the adapter into a UK electrical outlet, then plug a USB charger into the adapter.

Rather than splash out on a set of international adapters, you just need a so-called shaver adapter. Electric shavers, even in the UK, come with 2-pin plugs.  The adapter accepts the flat pins used in the USA, as well as round pins. It contains a fuse that will blow if you plug in a high-powered appliance like a hair dryer.

Shaver adapters can be bought in just about any electrical store in the UK. For example, our first port of call is Edinburgh, Scotland. The last time I checked, the Curry's store on Edinburgh's main shopping street had shaver adapters in stock.
It might be tempting to buy several adapters, one for each charger. The problem with this strategy is finding enough outlets in a hotel room. A better strategy is to bring a multi-outlet tap.
Make sure the tap does not have built-in surge suppression. 230 volts will fry a surge suppressor designed for 110 volts, and could start a fire.

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