The 8 Best Voltage Converters

Updated October 09, 2017 by Gregg Parker

8 Best Voltage Converters
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We spent 42 hours on research, videography, and editing, to review the top selections for this wiki. If you're addicted to your phone, tablet, or laptop, don't get on a plane without first making sure you can charge your devices wherever you're headed with one of these handy and feature-rich voltage converters. We've included models that are compact enough to slip in your hand luggage, and larger, more powerful ones that you may need for higher-draw appliances. When users buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn commissions to support our work. Skip to the best voltage converter on Amazon.

8. LiteFuze LC-300EU

With a 300-watt capacity, thermal fuse protection, and converting box technology, the LiteFuze LC-300EU is a great option for regular travelers. It features a cord designed for use in most European outlets, and an additional model for outlets in the UK is also available.
  • transformer is built in
  • energy efficient device
  • not designed for high-power products
Brand LiteFuze
Model LC-300E
Weight 2.2 pounds
Rating 3.7 / 5.0

7. Seven Star SF500

The Seven Star SF500 is one of the most convenient options available, with features like automatic voltage detection and a universal socket with the ability to accept most plug types. It can automatically step power up or down as needed.
  • no need to replace fuses
  • great for appliances up to 500 watts
  • needs plug adapter to use in the usa
Brand Seven Star
Model SF500
Weight 4.1 pounds
Rating 4.3 / 5.0

6. Key Power 200-Watt Step Down

For those with a lot of devices, the Key Power 200-Watt Step Down offers three US inputs along with four USB ports. Though limited to 200 watts, it can handle most electronic devices and is fairly lightweight at three-quarters of a pound.
  • perfect for tablets and phones
  • overload protection
  • fan can get loud
Brand Key Power
Model LXC200W-PC
Weight 1.5 pounds
Rating 4.2 / 5.0

5. Ceptics 150W

The Ceptics 150W comes with a four-foot long European outlet-ready power cord. With 3 US inputs and 4 USB inputs, it can handle several devices at once. While great for charging phones and tablets in Europe, it requires adapters for other parts of the world.
  • does not overheat
  • led power indicator
  • flimsy construction
Brand Ceptics
Model PU-151
Weight 1.9 pounds
Rating 4.0 / 5.0

4. LiteFuze 200W

With a 200-watt capacity and a compact travel size, the LiteFuze 200W is perfect for personal use with devices like shavers and trimmers. It includes 3 adapters, allowing it to be used in many parts of the world without the purchase of accessories.
  • lightweight - less than a pound
  • input voltage up to 260v
  • won't work with heat-producing items
Brand LiteFuze
Model pending
Weight 1.2 pounds
Rating 3.9 / 5.0

3. Bestek 200W

Less weight means greater convenience for the traveler. The Bestek 200W is very lightweight indeed, and includes three replaceable plugs, making it the perfect travel companion. Its dual cooling fans make it a safe companion, too.
  • power up to 7 devices simultaneously
  • works in more than 150 countries
  • also includes cigarette lighter plug
Model MRI2011GU
Weight 9.6 ounces
Rating 3.9 / 5.0

2. Goldsource STU-2000N

The large and powerful Goldsource STU-2000N offers a 2000-watt capacity and four-level input voltage selection ranging from 110-240 volts. It also includes a 5-volt USB jack along with two grounded outputs of 120V and 220V.
  • 3 outputs can be used simultaneously
  • sturdy and durable
  • capable of handling small appliances
Brand Goldsource
Model STU-2000
Weight 25 pounds
Rating 4.5 / 5.0

1. ELC T-5000

The ELC T-5000 is a heavy duty step up/down unit offering an impressive 5,000-watt capacity with dual circuit breaker protection. Capable of handling larger appliances, it is routinely well reviewed by users from around the globe.
  • extremely powerful and reliable
  • 3 available outlets on front panel
  • whisper quiet operation
Brand ELC
Model T-5000
Weight 21.9 pounds
Rating 4.5 / 5.0

Powerless Abroad

A voltage converter employs some incredibly complicated electromagnetic principals. Without getting into the particulars of ideal and real electrical transformation, we can understand the process of taking a 110 V outlet and getting 220 V out of it (and vice versa) by simply grabbing hold of a steering wheel.

When you use a voltage converter for electrical transformation, you send an alternating current through one wire that's wrapped around a one side of a soft iron core which is shaped like a square doughnut. There's another wire wrapped around the other side of the core, directly across from the first.

To make sense of this, take your hands and put them on an imaginary steering wheel in front of yourself. Imagine the wheel is actually square if you want to get closer to the reality of the transformer, and put your hands in the 3 o'clock and 9 o'clock positions. Now, my driving instructor taught me never to wrap my thumbs around the steering wheel, so if I got in a wreck I wouldn't shatter the bones in my thumb joints. It was good advice, so we're only going to consider the other four fingers on each hand (this also makes the math a lot easier).

At this point, you've got four fingers wrapped around each side of the steering wheel. Think of each hand as its own wire, and of your fingers as what physicists call turns, or the times that a wire wraps around a core. Imagine you pass a current into your right hand at 110 V. That current will pass over to the left hand through a process called electromagnetic induction, which the iron core amplifies and stabilizes. With four turns on each side, you get 110 V in the right hand and 110 V in the left.

Now, take two fingers away on the right hand. Suddenly, you have twice as many turns on the left side of the core as on the right. If you pass the same 110 V through the right hand with its two fingers, the doubled turns on the left side will give you twice as much voltage. 110 V becomes 220 V, and you've effectively transformed your electrical outlet. If you send the current through in the opposite direction, you will effectively half the voltage.

This is the case in an ideal transformer Transformers in practice lose voltage for a variety of reasons. With that in mind, the manufacturers of these converters take many mathematical pains to land your transformation in a safe and useful voltage range.

Blending Currents

I, for one, cannot live without my blender. I spent a ridiculous amount of money on it, and I eat at least one meal out of it each day. Staying abroad for any length of time is expensive enough; knocking back a few homemade smoothies each day saves you countless dollars, or euros, or pounds–whatever the currency. And I do, in fact, travel with this blender.

The problem is that the blender runs about 1,400 watts at 11.5 amps, and it's exclusively a 120 V unit. You may or may not be aware, you can derive the wattage of your appliances by multiplying their operating voltage range by their current, measured in amps. So, 11.5 amps x 120 V = 1,380 watts, which I rounded up to 1,400. If I subjected that motor to a 240 V outlet in Europe, I'd be introducing it to twice the wattage, at 2,760 watts. Not exactly great for the blender.

To safely convert an appliance of this magnitude (your irons, hair driers, and straightening/curling irons also eat up a lot of watts), you want to get a transformer than can handle two to three times the wattage of your most power-hungry appliance.

As you peruse the available converters on our list, ask yourself what the highest wattage is for which you need conversion. Then find a converter that at least doubles that capability. If you don't see the wattage listed on your appliance, look for a measure of the unit's amps and apply the formula above.

Transformed From The Outset

Voltage conversion was born right alongside our control of electrical power itself. Most economically transmitted sources of electricity are too powerful to practically meet any household application, so even the earliest alternating currents had to undergo transformation before anyone could make use of them.

When electricity travels along a wire, higher voltages traveling at lower currents will lose less power as they move through said wire. Use a higher voltage at a higher current and that wire will get exceptionally hot as energy diffuses through it. This is particularly useful in toasters and hair driers, but it wouldn't work so well for a bird alighting on a power line, nor would it be particularly efficient.

Thomas Edison, who's often given a blanket credit for anything and everything to do with electricity, actually made most of his discoveries and drove the majority of his inventions forward using direct current, which proved far inferior than the combination of alternating current and transformation.

So, from the earliest attempts at transmitting alternating currents in the late 1800s, Edison's competitors used higher voltages along with transformers to regulate the voltage of electricity entering an appliance, a method which quickly became the standard.

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Last updated on October 09, 2017 by Gregg Parker

Gregg Parker is an author, screenwriter, and comedian who divides his time between Los Angeles, California, and Osaka, Japan. When he’s not watching sports, he spends most of his free time on his artistic pursuits or collecting miles for his next international journey.

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