R2I – Choosing Converters for your Electricals and Electronics

Electric power in India is different from the US in terms of both Voltage & Frequency. In US it is 120V/60Hz while India has 230V/50Hz. The plugs used for connecting are also dissimilar with US standardized on A and B types and India on C and D types. This essentially boils down to the majority of the electrical and electronics goods from US requiring a converter for use in India. Some electronic equipment, especially laptops and associated computer paraphernalia, has dual support. Usually the back panel or the AC adapter piece will indicate whether a particular equipment will work across the board sans a converter by saying input voltage to be something like “100-240V, … , 50-60Hz”.

With voltage converters for household use, the variables to note are its power rating and whether the converter is designed for continuous use. Converters (sometimes incorrectly referred to as travel adapters) that appear as large and heavy plugs are the popular variety. These are usually rated for around 50W and can function for short periods of time – the plug heats up when used for longer periods, running the risk of fire. In general, converters designed for continuous use are bulkier/heavier (the size and weight increases as the power rating goes up), pricier, and carry safety mechanisms as fuses. On the other hand, converters designed for short duration are smaller, usually rated for just 50w or so and goes for a few dollars. Exception to this is the voltage converter that seems like a travel converter but rated as high as 2000W and is in the vicinity of $10 – these are designed for heat generating appliances such as a pressing irons and hair dryers. Instead of employing an actual transformer for conversion, this device cuts off the incoming voltage at 120V required by the appliance – though the output is not a sine wave, heat generating appliances function.




In addition to the usual bunch of electronics most households tend to acquire, we also had large home appliances. Fully aware of the bulky converters required for such appliances (refrigerator, washing machine, etc), we were only too glad to give them away with the house. However, as our buyers chose not to be saddled with existing appliances, our neighbor graciously accepted our newer refrigerator and the real-estate agent donated the washing machine/dryer.

With respect to the rest of our electronics, we formed a list to work out the type of converters and the quantity. This also helped us get rid of unwanted items. Below is the list:



For the most part, the converters held up really well – we lost a couple of fuses by accidentally plugging incompatible items – the built-in fuses with the continuous converters are a godsend. Extension chords are something we completely forgot to take with us – our adapters and travel extension chords stepped up during our initial months.


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