If you’re traveling or moving outside of your home country, you have to be aware that your country may have a different voltage from the country you’re going to. If you plug a 110V device (common for US devices) into a 220V socket (common in the UK, Europe and parts of Asia) it may work initially, but it will surely fry it eventually. This is where a voltage converter is required.

In this article I’ll introduce you to the different types of voltage converters and which one you’ll need to travel internationally.

Types of Voltage Converters

Depending on the type of voltage converter, it will convert the socket voltage to a higher or lower voltage to be compatible with your device. But which voltage converter do you need? Before we move on to the actual list, let me explain how the different types of voltage converters work.

There are 3 types of voltage converters:

  • Step down converters
  • Step up converters
  • Step up and down converters

Step Down Converters

Step down converters (also called 220v to 110v converters) are the most common type of voltage converters for travelers from the US. Keep in mind that step down converters can only decrease the voltage, but cannot increase the voltage! Therefore, a step down converter is a good choice for travelers from the US/Canada visiting Europe (and other higher voltage countries).

Step Up Converters

Step up converters (also called 110v to 220v converters) are used to safely plug a 220V device into a socket with a lower voltage, e.g. a 110V socket. This type of voltage converter is required for Europeans and (many) Asians traveling to the US or Canada. A step up converter is a good choice if you’re temporarily in the US and don’t purchase any US devices that you’ll use in Europe (they would need another converter).

Step Up and Down Converters

Step up and down converters are the best choice for international travelers, as they allow the most flexibility. They can convert voltage from 220V-240V (common for UK and EU sockets) to 110V (common for US devices) and vice versa. This means you can plug any device (provided they support the maximum watts) bought from anywhere around the world to any socket from anywhere around the world. They are the best choice e.g. for expats or travelers who want to be flexible to charge their devices worldwide (US, UK/Europe, Australia, Asia etc).

Voltage Converters Comparison Guide

After choosing the right category of voltage converter, you need to keep in mind the maximum wattage of your converter. A typical universal travel adapter/converter has a maximum of 250 watts, while a typical hair dryer runs in about 1000-1875 watts. That means that they will work fine to charge your gadgets while traveling (e.g. smartphone, laptop, camera…), they aren’t suitable for high-power appliances.

The first four voltage converters in this list are suitable for the typical traveler that needs to charge their smartphone, laptop and other gadgets overseas. If you’re relocating abroad or need to charge high-power appliances while traveling (e.g. a fridge, food processor, flat iron…) you need a heavy-duty voltage converter like the Hyted Converter (for traveling) or the Rockstone Power (for relocations).

With that being said, here are the best voltage converters for different uses.

Step Down Converter with Fast Charging Technology

One of the most important things to look for when looking for a travel voltage converter are size, adaptability, and portability. When traveling from one country to another, you want to choose a universal converter that fits easily in your bag. The Easton Universal Travel Adapter has 3 AC outlets, 2 USB ports, 1 QC 3.0 port type C that is compatible with newer smartphones, laptops, cameras, and many other devices. Plus, it has a built-in 490J surge protector that ensures the safety of your precious devices.

Aside from its wide array of compatibility and safety features, one of the reasons why this is our top pick in the list is that it has a built-in smart IC charging technology and can auto-detect your devices, and helps maximize the charging speed. It comes with 1 EU power cable and 5 international adapters that support outlets in Australia, North America, United Kingdom, and 150 countries around the world.

Features at a Glance

  • Step down converter (220-240V to 110V converter)
  • Suitable for US/Canadian devices used in Europe and the UK
  • 3x AC outlets, 2x USB ports, 1x QC 3.0 port type C and 490J surge protector
  • Includes EU power cable and 5 international adapters

Step Down Converter with Large Number of Ports

Another high-quality and portable universal adapter and power converter is the Bestek travel adapter/converter. This universal voltage converter charges 7 different devices simultaneously. It’s equipped with 4 USB charging ports and 3 AC sockets that support up to 250W power. The great aspect of this voltage converter is that the USB outputs are completely isolated from the AC power which helps prevent damage to your devices.

It comes with 1 EU power cable along with international adapters that support outlets in North America, Australia, United Kingdom, Japan, China, Continental Europe, and more than 150 countries all over the world. Furthermore, it’s equipped with over-current, over-load, over-heat, and short-circuit protection to help keep you and your devices safe.

Features at a Glance

  • Step down converter (220-240V to 110V converter)
  • International adapters for usage in over 150 countries worldwide (US, UK, Europe, Australia, Japan, China)
  • 4x USB charging ports and 3x AC power sockets
  • Charges up to 7 devices simultaneously

International Voltage Converter (Step Up and Down)

The LiteFuze is a step up and down voltage converter. It allows you to plug devices from higher voltage standard countries like the UK and EU (usually 220V-240V) to lower voltage standard sockets like the US (110V) and vice versa. Since it can work both ways, it’s a great choice when traveling internationally. This portable voltage converter has a 500-watt maximum capacity, suitable to charge gadgets such as smartphone cameras and laptops.

Features at a Glance

  • Step up and down converter (220-240V to 100-110V and 110V to 220-240V)
  • Suitable for US devices in Europe and European devices in the US
  • Different models available: EU-Cord, UK-Cord, US-Cord
  • Choice between 300 to 500-watt capacity (not suitable for high-power appliances)

High-Wattage Travel Voltage Converter (2000W)

The Hyted travel voltage converter is a great choice if you’re looking for a step-down converter (US to over 150 countries worldwide) with a high wattage (2000W). What sets it apart from the previous models is its maximum capacity of 2000 watts. In addition to smartphones, laptops, speakers, cameras, this voltage converter is also suitable for electric-controlled appliances such as hairdryers and certain electronic devices with a high wattage. It’s portable which makes it perfect for traveling.

On the downside, the Hyted voltage converter is only suitable for charging one device at a time.

Features at a Glance

  • Step down converter (220-240V to 110V)
  • Suitable for US devices for usage in Europe, Asia, UK (compatible with 150 countries worldwide)
  • Portable and small size (ideal for traveling)
  • 2000 watts capacity (suitable for electric controlled appliances e.g. hairdryers)

High-Power Voltage Converter for Relocations

If you’re moving across different countries with a different standard voltage and don’t have the budget to buy new appliances, a heavy-duty step-up and down converter will do just fine. The Rockstone Power voltage converter is the proud supplier of Tesla Inc and has made a name for itself in electronics. Unlike the more common portable step-down voltage converter that isn’t compatible with appliances, the Rockstone converter comes with a capacity of 3000 watts. For this reason, it’s one of the few models that is suitable for high-power appliances. It allows you to convert most appliances from TV to washing machine to hairdryers from the US to the UK and EU and vice versa.

Features at a Glance

  • Step up and down converter (220-240V to 110V and 110V to 220-240V)
  • Suitable for high-power appliances
  • The best choice for relocations
  • For usage at home (not suitable for travelers)

Best Voltage Converters at a Glance

Below is a summary of the best voltage converters for travel and relocation and their main features. Click on the product link for more details on each item.

Voltage ConverterFeatures
Easton Universal Travel AdapterStep down converter, for US/Canadian devices used in Europe. Includes EU cable and 5 international adapters. AC outlets and handy USB charging ports. Portable and fast charging.
Bestek Travel AdapterStep down converter, for US/Canadian devices used in Europe. High number of ports (AC outlets and USB ports). Great for travelers with many devices. Charges up to 7 devices simultaneously.
Hyted 2000Watts ConverterStep down converter, for US/Canadian devices used in Europe. Portable and ideal for traveling. Single device charging. Suitable for high-wattage devices (e.g. hair dryers).
Rockstone Power Voltage ConverterStep up and down converter, for US devices in Europe and vice versa. Suitable for high-power appliances. For home use only.
LiteFuzeStep up and down converter, for US devices in Europe and vice versa. Best choice for frequent international traveling. Not suitable for high power appliances.
Nisorpa 2000Watts ConverterStep up converter, for European devices in the US/Canada. Suitable for high-wattage devices. Double port (simultaneous charging of two devices). Lightweight adapter.

FAQ on Voltage Converters

Which voltage converter is the best for you really depends on your specific situation: your home country (where your devices are from), the country you’re going to (traveling internationally or relocating?), the amount of devices you’d like to charge simultaneously, the wattage of your devices etc. We’ve received many questions on voltage converters from our readers. Here are our answers to the most frequently asked questions.

Which voltage converter for a euro trip?

If you’re from the US or Canada, you’ll need a stepdown voltage converter (220V to 110V voltage converter). The Bestek universal travel adapter is a good choice, as it has USB and AC charging ports for up to 7 devices simultaneously.

What’s the difference between a step up and a step down converter?

Step up converters allow you to plug a 220-240V device into a 110V socket. You’ll need a step up converter when traveling to the US from Europe, the UK etc.

Step down converters allow you to plug a 110V device into a 220-240V socket. You’ll need a step down converter when traveling from the US to over 150 countries worldwide (many of which have 230V voltage).

What’s the power supply in the Netherlands?

Same as for the rest of the EU, the power supply in the Netherlands is 230V, or 50-60 hertz. If you visit the Netherlands from another European country (France, Spain, Germany…), you can plug in your device without any issues. Travelers from the UK need a simple travel plug adapter, as the sockets in continental Europe are different from the ones in the UK, while the voltage is the same. Travelers from the US (and other low-voltage countries) need a step down voltage converter to use their devices in the Netherlands.

What’s the difference between a travel adapter and a converter?

The difference between a travel adapter and a travel converter is the electricity (voltage). A travel adapter is suitable when using the same voltage (e.g. Europe – UK) but a different type of socket. A travel converter is needed when using devices with a different voltage (e.g. US – Europe/UK).

Are there travel adapters with USB ports?

Yes! Check out the Easton voltage converter or the Bestek voltage converter. Both come with several USB ports and AC ports.

Which travel adapter for hair dryer?

Most portable voltage converters aren’t suitable for high-power appliances such as hair dryers. If you’re looking for a portable adapter for hair dryiers, the Hyted is a good choice.

Image credit: Shawnhempel / 123rf.com

You might also enjoy: