How to Make Sure Your Electric Devices Work in Europe

Updated: June 7, 2022 | Has affiliate links

Traveling can create lots of fun memories, but many times we can have trouble recording those memories if our electrical devices, like cameras and phones, do not work properly at our travel destination. These days, with the many advances in technology we only need to work about two important issues in order to ensure our electronic gadgets work properly in Europe. Read on to find out how to prepare your electrical devices for travel.

2 Electrical Differences You Must Know About When Traveling to Europe

First off, in order to run any electrical device in Europe you have to plug it into an electrical outlet. Your device must be able to use the electrical outlets in Europe.

Secondly, the device has to to run on the electrical network of that country; it needs to be able to handle the voltage in Europe.

1. Electrical Plugs in Europe are Different from the US

This means you can’t simply take your phone charger, travel to Europe and expect to simply plug it into the wall. It will not work if you do not have a plug adapter for the country you are traveling to.

2. Electrical Voltage in Europe is Different from the US

Most of Europe is running at 220 volts while in the US we use 110 volts to run our electrical appliances. This means that you can’t just simply take your US electrical device and expect it to work in Europe unless the device has been designed to work in Europe.

Get Your Electrical Devices Ready for Europe

First, gather all the electric devices you want to take to Europe. you have to know if you device will work in Europe or not.

Here is how to check if your electric device will work in Europe.

Check your device’s voltage inscription. If your device shows an inscription for a range 110V-220V then all you need is a plug adapter. Some devices may have a switch with two positions: one for 110V and one for 220V. So, check for a switch in the 110 position. When you get to Europe, you need to change the position of the switch to 220V.

If you only see an inscription for 110V, then you need a transformer that will transform the electricity from 220V to 110V. Otherwise, if you attempt to plug in your device without a transformer, you will “fry” your device right away.

Fortunately, most modern electrical devices like phone chargers and digital camera chargers work on a range of voltages. This means you can simply take your device, with the proper plug adapter, and just plug it in wherever you’re going in Europe.

Do I Need an Adapter in Europe?

The simplest answer is yes! You always need to purchase the correct plug adapter for the country in Europe you’re traveling to. Your American device or gadget will not fit in any European electrical socket. However, as mentioned above, you must determine if all you need is an adapter and you don’t need a power transformer.  I will repeat it again, please check the label on your device and carefully make sure that your device support an electrical range from 110V to 240V before you plug it into an Europe electrical socket with the correct adapter.

Get the Right Electrical Plug Adapter for Europe

To make sure your device can can use electrical plugs in europe, you need to adapt your US electrical plug to the country in Europe you are traveling to. Plug adapters do not perform any power conversion and you have to ensure that your device has a power range of 110V – 240 V.  Just check the label on your phone charger or camera charger and check the voltage range it supports.

If your device support a broad range of 110V to 240 V, then all you need is a plug adapter.  If however, the label on your device only indicates 110v, then you need an electrical transform and not only a plug adapter.

  1. Universal plug adapter. If you are traveling through different countries in Europe, your best choice is the excellent universal adapter with a USB charger. Even though bulkier, a universal plug adapter will work in every country.
  2. England and Ireland – The United Kingdom has one of the weirdest electrical plugs, and the bulkiest. It is best to buy a grounded plug adapter since every plug in England is grounded. Even though it is bulky, this type of plug adapter has worked perfectly for me in England and Scotland.
  3. Rest of Europe – The rest of Europe is using a two prong simple electrical plug for which you can just buy a very simple and inexpensive plug adapter. This adapter has worked for me all over Europe, in Belgium, France, Italy, Switzerland and Romania.
  4. Electrical outlet plug in SwitzerlandSwitzerland has a wall plug that looks deceivingly complicated and it appears it needs a special plug adapter. However, a regular European plug adapter with two prongs will work mostly fine if the adapter is small enough to fit. A plug adapter just like the one from above for the rest of Europe will work fine.

Do I Need a Transformer in Europe?

Whether you need a transformer or not depends on the devices you take with you when you travel. If some of your devices only show 110 V on the label (like some hairdryers), then you need an electrical transformer which is a bit bulkier and heavier. You can also opt for a travel hairdryer with dual voltage so you only switch the voltage to 220 V and use a plug adapter.

Check the total Wattage allowed on your transformer and check the labels on your devices that need a transformer.  For example: a typical hairdryer uses between 1500 and 2000 Watts, while a curling iron between 50 and 100 Watts. So, if your transformer is rated for 200 Watts, then you can only use your curling iron.

The only devices that you need to check are hairdryers, curling irons, power tools and other uncommon devices not really intended for travel. If you are looking for a transformer to use in Europe, look for one that supports high wattage devices, as most transformers don’t support these devices. If you have single voltage devices (110 V) that require high power (over 500 W), buying a high wattage step-down electrical transformer is the only way to go.  Even in this case you have to be careful not to exceed the power limit for your transformer.

This particular transformer for Europe is an actual all in one: high wattage transformer, plug adapter and USB charger. It works all over the world as it comes with all the plug converters you need. This is all you need to buy.

It’s Easy to Ensure Your Electronic Gadgets Work in Europe

In my experience, I have never needed an electrical transformer and I have only used two electrical plug adapters to travel all over Europe: one for the UK and one for the rest of Europe. It is true that I have only needed to run laptops, camera battery chargers and cell phone chargers. Even our blow drier worked completely fine, with the appropriate plug adapter.

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