We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.
We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

Extension Cord

Springfield...
Level Contributor
32 posts
58 reviews
Save Topic
Extension Cord

I am travelling soon to the UK. I normally travel with a plain old 3 outlet extension cord around the USA. I believe is rated at 125V. All of the devices I am going to use with it are dual or multi voltage. Just concerned about causing a fire with using a US rated extension cord. Will this work in the UK, with a UK compatible adapter? Or do I need to get one that is rated for a higher voltage?

Washington DC
Level Contributor
1,356 posts
23 reviews
Save Reply
1. Re: Extension Cord

It will definitely work.

Then again, it could also melt and/or catch fire.

Figuring out which is which is the tricky part. If you plug in things that draw small amounts of current, like a cell phone or even a laptop charger, you will probably be safe. Plug in something with a lot of current draw, like a dual voltage hairdryer, and you are likely to have trouble. And, of course, the more things you plug into the same cord, the more current you draw and the more risk you take.

As for me, I spent $20 on this one:

http://www.amazon.com/Simran-SM-60-Universal-110V-250V-Protection/dp/B003UHYDYO/ref=sr_1_8?ie=UTF8&qid=1407786608&sr=8-8&keywords=travel+extension+cord

Now, I am sure I can still find ways to start fires by using American bought devices on English or European circuits, but I am pretty confident that if I do, it will not be because the extension cord failed on me. It will be because I did something else that was stupid.

BTW, there are several discussions of this same question on the London forum. Read enough of them and you may decide to simply forego the usage of electricity in the UK, as you can find a poster who will tell you almost everything is unsafe.

Detroit, MI
Destination Expert
for Detroit, Travel Gadgets and Gear
Level Contributor
6,603 posts
Save Reply
2. Re: Extension Cord

Whats with all the extension cord and plug strip threads lately?

It will be fine - electronic components are the issue - copper and PVC insulation don't care too much. The US uses one 120 volt wire and a neutral wire. Europe uses two 120 volt wires for a total potential of 240. Each wire is insulated to withstand a minimum of 120 volts each. In fact it is probably rated for 300+ volts as I can't recall ever seeing power wire rated for less. Even a single thickness of the electrical tape you can by for 69 cents is rated for 600 volts.

Washington DC
Level Contributor
1,356 posts
23 reviews
Save Reply
3. Re: Extension Cord

An extension cord can overload at 120v if you ask it to handle too much current. Amperage, not voltage, is the key.

Detroit, MI
Destination Expert
for Detroit, Travel Gadgets and Gear
Level Contributor
6,603 posts
Save Reply
4. Re: Extension Cord

Amperage on 240 volts is 1/2 of that on 120. Watts = Amps X Volts, or Amps = Watts/Volts

For a 1200 watt device on 120: Amps = 1200/120 = 10 amps

For a 1200 watt device on 240: Amps = 1200/240 = 5 amps

Washington DC
Level Contributor
1,356 posts
23 reviews
Save Reply
5. Re: Extension Cord

I do not think we are really disagreeing with each other here. If you know what you are doing, or you are just very conservative about what you are doing, you can safely use a US extension cord in Europe. It is illegal since it has never received the European equivalent of the Underwriters Lab seal of approval, but I would hazard the guess that no tourist on earth has ever been charged for carrying one into a foreign country.

But, if you do not know what you are doing, a non-Euro spec extension cord is just one more thing to help you do something wrong, and it is probably worth spending a few bucks to get something designed for their grid.

Here is an article with more than anyone wants to know about the subject:

www.enjoy-europe.com/hte/chap11/electric.htm

Sydney, Australia
Destination Expert
for Train Travel
Level Contributor
83,073 posts
13 reviews
Save Reply
6. Re: Extension Cord

Any extension cord or power board sold in the USA will have been tested up to at least 500 volts, and probably higher. There is no danger of flashover or short circuit when used with 220 volts.

Multi-voltage appliances working off 200 volts will draw half the current that they would draw from 110 volts, so there is no danger of overheating or catching fire.

It is not really relevant, but post #2 is incorrect. Europe uses one wire at 220 volts and one at zero.

Washington DC
Level Contributor
1,356 posts
23 reviews
Save Reply
7. Re: Extension Cord

I think you are assuming everyone will use the cord the same way, and I am not sure that is safe. I may plug in a laptop or two, and maybe a charger for a cell phone or a camera. My cord is rated for 220, but it does not matter with that kind of a load. However, once you start plugging in power converters, or hairdryers, you are getting into territory where you'll be taking some risks. You probably won't start a fire, but if you are in some quaint old hotel with decades old wiring, why take the chance?

Spain
Destination Expert
for Travel Gadgets and Gear, New Brunswick
Level Contributor
6,667 posts
270 reviews
Save Reply
8. Re: Extension Cord

I use a Canadian extension cord when there are few outlets or when I have to plug in DH"s CPAP machine and the outlet is too far away for the regular cord to reach. I have had no problems in 10 years.

Wellington, New...
Destination Expert
for Wellington, Bay of Islands
Level Contributor
10,049 posts
206 reviews
Save Reply
9. Re: Extension Cord

Get an extension cord rated for 10 amps and you wont have a problem. It is the current that will determine if the extension cord will heat up and melt not the voltage applied to it.

Sydney, Australia
Destination Expert
for Train Travel
Level Contributor
83,073 posts
13 reviews
Save Reply
10. Re: Extension Cord

>> once you start plugging in power converters, or hairdryers, you are getting into territory where you'll be taking some risks<<

If you plug high power 110 volt devices into a 220 volt supply, there is going to be a certainty of fire whether a power strip is used or not.

There should be no need for voltage converters. Low-power devices do not need a voltage converter, and a converter with enough power to run a hair dryer would be the size and weight of a brick.

Edited: 13 August 2014, 11:57