The United Kingdom power converters

What does a power converter for a UK power outlet do?

Power converters enable you to use a 100-120 volt electric appliance with a 230 volt UK power outlet.

Also known as: electrical converter, electrical transformer, voltage converter, power transformer or voltage transformer.

What is the difference between a power converter and a plug adapter?

A lightweight, cheap and small power adapter (or plug adapter) changes the shape of the plug on your appliance to fit into a power outlet in The United Kingdom, whereas a more expensive and heavier power converter [3] transforms a 230 volt UK power outlet to work with a non-230 volt appliance.

Do I need a power converter for The United Kingdom?

If travelling to The United Kingdom from a different region check that the device will accept a 230 volt power supply.

  • You need a step down power converter [4] if you are visiting The United Kingdom from a country that uses 100-120 volts and your appliance or device isn't compatible with 230 volts. Read our world power outlets page to see which voltage your country uses.
  • You don't need a power converter if you are already using either a 230 volt single voltage device or one that supports dual voltage.
  • Normally electrical devices designed to use a lower voltage (such as 120 volts) and then used in a 230 volt power outlet run a risk of damage to your device, an electrical fire hazard or a blown fuse unless a step down power converter [4] is used.
  • You shouldn't need a converter if you need to charge a smaller electrical device such as a tablet as these are typically designed for international use and dual voltage, however always always check the device for dual voltage support prior to your journey.
  • If powering high wattage appliances or generate heat (for example hair straighteners or clothes irons) then you will need to use a much larger higher wattage heavy duty power converter [5].
  • Buying a smaller lightweight dual voltage travel appliance should be more cost effective and practical than trying to carry a much heavier high wattage power converter just to use your existing domestic appliance.
  • For more information read these guides on how to use curling wands, clothes irons, flat irons and blow dryers with a UK power outlet , along with recommendations for affordable dual voltage alternatives.

What converter do I need for The United Kingdom?

You will need to use a step down power converter [4] which will allow you to use any 100, 110 or 120 volt appliance in The United Kingdom.

What is the difference between a power converter and a power transformer?

Voltage converter

What is the difference between a power converter and a power transformer?

Converters and transformers are both used to change one voltage to another, but this ambiguity can cause confusion as their purposes are different:

  • Power converters are designed for simple electrical appliances which typically generate heat or use motors such as clothes irons, shavers or hair dryers. Transformers are designed for more complex electronic items such as televisions or games consoles.
  • Buying a power converter is cheaper than buying a power transformer.
  • Power transformers are larger and heavier making them more suited for permanent residential use; for example an expat wishing to use an imported television would need to use a transformer for this purpose.
  • Power converters are more suitable for travellers wishing to bring domestic appliances abroad such as hair dryers or flat irons. However, it is more practical and cost effective to purchase a dual voltage appliance designed for travel rather than a heavier power converter.
  • Power converters are suitable for 2 pin ungrounded appliances, it could be harder to find a converter if you want to use a grounded 3 pin appliance.
  • Transformers can be used constantly however it is recommended that converters are used for no longer than a couple of hours at a time.
  • Shops may sell transformers under the name of converters, for the purposes this guide we will be referring to both converters and transformers as converters.

How to convert 230 volts to 110 volts

  1. Use a step down power converter [4] to allow you to use a 110 or 120 volt appliance with a 230 volt UK power outlet.
  2. If the power converter doesn't include the correct shaped plug then it will also be necessary to plug in the power cord from the power converter into a power adapter for The United Kingdom before plugging that into a UK power outlet.
  3. Some power converters include the ability to perform both step up and step down voltage conversions, therefore it may be necessary to manually switch the converter to output the voltage to the 110-120 volt range.
  4. Plug your appliance into the converter and turn the power on, your 110-120 volt appliance can now be used with a 230 volt UK power outlet.

What voltage is used in The United Kingdom?

The United Kingdom uses 230 volts in their power outlets.

What voltage is my appliance?

Single voltage hair straighteners

What voltage is my appliance?

One way to tell if a appliance is single or dual voltage is to check for a sticker on the charger, or on the unit itself, typically on the rear of the appliance or near to where the power cord plugs into. The location might depend on the make or model of your unit and should also state on the box.

  • Single voltage devices might have a specific number - such as 240V.
  • Single voltage devices might also say a small voltage range (20 volts difference) with a dash to accomodate small voltage fluctuations - such as 220-240V.
  • Dual voltage devices will typically say a large voltage range separated with a slash - such as 100/240V.

  1. - UK Wikipedia web page.
  2. - International Electrotechnical Commission World Plugs
  3. Power converter - A step up step down power converter converts 110-120 volts up to 220-240 volts and 220-240 volts down to 110-120 Volts, under £110.
  4. Step down power converter - A step down power converter allows a 100-120 volt appliance to be used in a 220-240 volt power outlet, £80-£90.
  5. Heavy duty power converter - A 5000 watt heavy duty step up and step down power converter used to convert voltages for domestic appliances, power tools, televisions, heating appliances and motors, estimated cost under £110.