Sign up ×
Travel Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for road warriors and seasoned travelers. It's 100% free, no registration required.

I've gone through a couple of step-down transformers (220v → 110v) over the course of my travels. Each one I've purchased doesn't quite work as advertised; usually, the output voltage is still too much, and I end up frying one of my electronic devices!

For instance, during a trip to Shanghai last year, my traveling companion had a hair straightener plugged into a step-down converter (actually, very similar to if not the same model as the one MeNoTalk suggested in the comments below). The hair straightener overheated and the heating elements melted through the plastic housing. It was not a pretty sight.

What step-down transformers are available for travelers that reliably convert 220v to 110v without spikes... in other words, that actually do what they're supposed to do!

Bonus points for compact design (fits on a power strip) and has adapters for different plug styles.

share|improve this question
Most consumer electronics come with their own transformers for converting 100-240v, 50/60Hz AC. I'd bet your transformer isn't frying your devices, your lack of surge protection is. – choster Aug 30 '12 at 16:19
Remember that a true step-down transformer that can handle any substantial amount of power is going to be HEAVY. We have a step-up that can handle some hundreds of watts, it's at least 10 pounds. (The heart of a step-up and a step-down are exactly the same.) Thus you see true step downs for very low power operation and you see fake ones that do high power but produce nothing like a proper sine wave--fine for simple things, bad for electronics. – Loren Pechtel Aug 30 '12 at 21:54
What kind of output voltage are you seeing? – Nate Eldredge Sep 3 '12 at 14:23
@NateEldredge Good question; actually, I've never measured it. I've edited my question to include a bit more information. – user82 Sep 3 '12 at 18:28

2 Answers 2

You did not specify what kind of equipment, but in my experience most electronics I carry around can handle 100-240V on their own. (as @choster said) For old equipment you might well be able to buy a new adapter with the same specifications but also handles up to 240V.

However something nifty I found was a power-to-USB adapter. So I can charge my phone and mp3 player anywhere. Maybe this kind of solution can work for you. In my case I use some adapters from Skross.

As for good converter I think portability becomes a problem. (as @LorenPechtel said) You might try go to popular web shops and check what other consumers have to say.

share|improve this answer
Good points, thanks! I have edited my question to include a bit more information. – user82 Sep 3 '12 at 18:29
up vote 2 down vote accepted

After about a year and a half of permanent travel, I've found that I actually don't need a step-down transformer.

As it turns out, all of the devices I carry with me regularly can handle 110 and 220 just fine, and the odd appliance that can't is usually inexpensive to purchase at my destination.

If you're a permanent traveler, the weight and bulk of a transformer is difficult to justify.

If you're a casual traveler, the cost of purchasing small appliances locally and then donating/trashing them when you go home is probably still less than what you would spend on the transformer itself.

share|improve this answer

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.