The 8 Best Voltage Converters

Updated April 24, 2018 by Gregg Parker

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We spent 44 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 one of these handy and feature-rich voltage converters, to make sure you can power up your devices wherever you're headed. 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, like hair dryers. 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 step power up or down automatically 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. Foval Power Step Down

The Foval Power Step Down has four USB ports to go with its two standard US plugs, making it perfect for traveling families who need to charge several phones. However, it can't handle appliances that require a power draw of more than 200 watts.
  • 5 foot detachable power cable
  • surge and overload protection
  • not good for irons or hair dryers
Brand Foval Power Step Down
Model pending
Weight 15.2 ounces
Rating 3.8 / 5.0

5. Bestek 200W

Less weight means greater convenience. The Bestek 200W is very lightweight indeed, and includes three replaceable plugs, making it an excellent travel companion. Its dual cooling fans ensure that it should be a safe companion, too.
  • power up to 7 devices simultaneously
  • also includes car adapter
  • rattles loudly when fan is operating
Model MRI2011GU
Weight 9.6 ounces
Rating 4.2 / 5.0

4. DoAce Transformers 1875W

The DoAce Transformers 1875W boasts a lot of power in a compact design. You won't need to worry about misplacing adapter plugs, and it comes with a convenient carrying case to eliminate concerns of scratching other items in your bag.
  • spare fuse in case of overloads
  • supports irons and hair dryers
  • only has one socket
Model pending
Weight 8.8 ounces
Rating 4.2 / 5.0

3. Bestek USB 35W

Those only taking phones and tablets overseas can go a bit more compact with the Bestek USB 35W. It won't take up a ton of space in your carry-on, and it has smart technology that senses the current required for each device.
  • 4 usb charging ports
  • works in 150 countries
  • led status display
Model EL-07381
Weight 16 ounces
Rating 4.6 / 5.0

2. PowerJC 1875W

If you're traveling with a vast array of devices, the PowerJC 1875W has you covered. It sports three grounded AC outlets that can handle American appliances without an adapter, and it can support hair straighteners and electric shavers, too.
  • four usb charging ports
  • five plug adapters
  • 59-inch power cord
Brand Powerjc
Model pending
Weight 1.5 pounds
Rating 4.8 / 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 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 April 24, 2018 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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