Not all electrical appliances are designed to work all over the world. In fact, what may work perfectly fine in Japan or the US, can get damaged or even explode once plugged into an outlet in Australia. The reason for this is the difference between the voltage of the appliance and the mains power voltage of the country. In fact, there are two main voltages used worldwide: 110-130V in the US, Japan and Canada, and 220 – 240V in the rest of the world.
So, say you have an expensive American laptop and you want to be able to use it in Australia, what can you do then? Considering how Australian mains power has a voltage of 230/240V, you need a device that can transform it into a lower voltage in order to safely run your valued device. Such a device is called a stepdown transformer.
Stepdown transformers, also called stepdown voltage converters, can transform the 220-240V power into 110-130V that the appliance can safely use. But before you buy a stepdown transformer, there are some things you need to consider. First of all, different appliances also have different wattages. So, the stepdown converter you buy needs to correspond with the wattage of the appliances you plan to use it with.
For instance, phones and other rechargeable portable devices usually need a converter that’s up to 500 watts. On the other hand, to run a TV, a computer and most other electronics, you’ll need a stepdown converter that’s at least 1500 watts. Kitchen appliances and devices that produce heat usually need a more powerful converter that’s around 2000-5000 watts. As these numbers are mere estimates based on the average consumption of appliances, make sure to check the wattage on the device and match it up with a transformer that uses three times more wattage. This will allow you to plug in several devices in a single transformer.
Furthermore, you also need to check whether the appliance has a motor or not. If there’s a motor included, it may need 20% more wattage than the one that’s listed on the appliance. If there are no watts listed on the device, but you know the Amps, you can easily calculate them with the following formula: the number of Amps x 110v or 120v = total wattage. For instance, a 5 Amps device running on 110 Volts uses 550 watts of power.
On the other hand, if you travel from Australia to a region with lower voltage, you’ll need to increase the power outlet voltage with a, you’ve guessed it, step up converter.