Posted by: Brian | January 7, 2009

Juice: Getting Power to Your Gadgets

While applying for my study abroad last semester, it occurred to me that I wasn’t sure was sort of power standards exist in China. There’s communist power, of course, and power to the people (though in China, that’s an irony if there ever was one), but what about the power that comes out of the wall? I had no clue about that power.

Fortunately, there are a ton of resources on the subject. If you’re going abroad, and haven’t bothered to check what sort of power your destination country uses, check out Treehouse, a great travel guide that includes information about power standards. This page has an exhaustive list of possible destinations, and here is where I found what I was looking for about China.

As it happens, electricity in China is 220 volts, at a frequency of 50Hz. While this is firmly within the normal range, the shape of plugs is not. Prongs are set at an angle, with the grounding prong at the bottom – kinda like a capital Y. My plugs just aren’t going to work.

Kensington 33117 Travel Power Adapter

Kensington 33117 Travel Power Adapter

The solution to my problem is the Kensington 33117 Travel Plug Adapter. The name might be a little long, but this thing is worth it. It includes configurations that are compatible with more than 150 countries, so it’ll probably work for wherever I end up in the next few years, too! The only caveat is that it is certified up to 550 watts – anything over that, like a hair dryer, shouldn’t be used with it. In case you were curious, it can be purchased from Office Depot or Newegg, a great online electronics retailer.

Before you go off and buy one for yourself, take note: this is only an AC adapter. It doesn’t convert the wall’s electrical output, it just gives it to you in a physical format that your stuff can plug into. Check everything you’re taking with you to ensure it’s compatible with the electrical output of your country. All my gear will work with 110-240 volts and 50-60Hz, so I’m good to go. If you’ve got something a little less flexible, you might end up frying it by plugging it in.

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