Electrical appliances on moving U.S. to Germany

63 posts in this topic

Posted

Okay, here goes...I know there are some TTers who will slam me for asking this "dumb question" -

I am packing up to come over for three years. Currently I am in the US. Is it worthwhile to bring all my electrical appliances (lights, TVs, coffee maker-everything) and then buy a currency converter and plug adapter for each one; or would it be better/cheaper to start over?

How easy it is to find these items (adapters and converters) and about how much do they cost? Is it risky in terms of having many things plugged in at once using these items?

Sorry, not an electrical engineer, and I really don't understand much about the electrical stuff other than the US is 110 and Germany is 220. So be kind (and that means you Bad Doggie).

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Posted

Pretty much everything you listed will need a transformer. I can't answer cost questions, but my guess is if you tried to route everything thing in your new place through transformers it would be both expensive and a pain in the ass. I'd recommend checking prices and sizes and probably buying a couple to support your favorite/most expensive appliances and then just buying the rest once you're here. Some things will of course work on the European voltage and you will only need adapters. They will usually say so on a nameplate or on the power supply so take a look.

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Posted

Adapters you can find all over the place, but transformers will probably only be available at electronic type stores. Google transformers or voltage converters to get an idea what you're looking for.

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Posted

Forget the lights and coffee maker type stuff, they are cheap here, is the TV multi system? if not then you will only be able to get AFN (American Forces network) on it. Voltage coverters range from $60-$200 depending on the voltage & you can buy them in the PX (as you will be coming over to work for the military you should get an ID card) but they do use an awful lot of electricity, and depending on the age of the place you rent, may blow the fuses frequently. You can pick up a lot of appliances/electricals from people who are leaving and depending on your status, the military will loan you a washer, dryer and refrigerator, and most electricals in the px are dual voltage so you can take stuff back with you if you buy it here or just sell it on.

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Posted

I would say it is a lot less hassel to startover and maybe even cheaper altogether.

I did not get the connection of the "currency converter" though.

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Posted

I did not get the connection of the "currency converter" though.

It's to work out how much the all the electricity these voltage converters consume is costing.

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Posted

Okay, here goes...I know there are some TTers who will slam me for asking this "dumb question" -

The questions are not dumb per se, only that they get asked and answered over and over and over.

For example,

Using U.S. electrical appliances in Germany

Bringing American electrical appliances to Germany

People put a fair bit of effort into providing answers. For example...

Some general rules:
  • Low current (power) devices that are not permanently on (hifi, etc) then use a transformer with the correct rating, so long as they can tolerate the 50 cycle supply here. Some people lay 110v power line across a room for imported devices, but keep it separate from the local 220v service.
  • High current devices (washing machine, dryer, iron) then don't even think about bringing them - the transformers you need to run them are bulky and VERY expensive
  • Permanently-on devices (clock, phone, answering machine) should really not be used with a transformer. Those with their own power supply can often get a european replacement
  • High-end consumer items (PC, projectors) are often (but not always!) multi-voltage or voltage switchable)
  • Don't confuse transformers (big, heavy, often expensive) with "clippers" (electronic voltage reducers - small, light tourist devices) - the latter are useless for general use
  • TVs won't work here to receive local domestic or European satellite services unless they are multi-standard (PAL compatible)
  • Other video devices such as VCR, DVD or games console will only work with a matching US TV. If you are coming as a family consider bringing TV, VC, games console etc., but understand you can only use them as a set, maybe in a cellar room, powered from a transformer, and then only with tapes, games, DVDs etc., you have brought with you, or get sent across)
  • Before you plug ANYTHING in cross-check it will work and does not exceed any power ratings. Explosions or fire can result if you make mistakes!

YL6

And then you come along not bothering your arse to use the Search function or at least acknowledging the effort that others have previously put in. I'm sure you're not stupid, so that just leaves laziness. Not a good start really. Search, read and then if your specific questions are not answered, post.

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Posted

Ironically, PCs and laptops, which go obsolete first, are about all that are international standard and dual-voltage-ready :)

That said, household appliances just aren't built to last the way they used to. They're all become expense rather than capital items, most of which will break or blow up within 3-5 years.

Using lots of voltage transformers for everything will put a vampire drag on your home grid that may end up paying for a few appliances. If a 110v 60Hz US vacuum cleaner breaks, where are you going to get it serviced? Plus, if your house burns down your insurance may determine that stuff was not up to code and contributed to the problem.

You should give your US stuff to parents and friends or donate to charity and buy new stuff here. Exceptions include stereo equipment and kitchentop appliances. Worst case scenario you'll have to sell a vacuum cleaner and/or washer/dryer.

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Posted

It's to work out how much the all the electricity these voltage converters consume is costing.

then buy a currency converter and plug adapter for each one;

A currency converter for "each one" ?

Thinking about it again, I think she means "current converter".

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Posted

Using lots of voltage transformers for everything will put a vampire drag on your home grid that may end up paying for a few appliances. If a 110v 60Hz US vacuum cleaner breaks, where are you going to get it serviced? Plus, if your house burns down your insurance may determine that stuff was not up to code and contributed to the problem.

If a cofffee maker has 700W it will draw a current of 6A with 120V and 3A with 230V. So no problem in Germany. At least in my apartment the fuses are of the 16A type.

The problem with a transformer is that it draws a high switch-on current. Even a transformer with 700W (3A) can blow a 16A fuse (which should withstand 3600W).

If the transformer has a switch-on current limiter it should work.

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Posted

I bought adapters to use with my appliances that were compatible with the german electrical system and convertors for my small appliances. I bought these at a travel store the adapters were around 3 bucks each and convertors around 16 dollars.

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Posted

Thinking about it again, I think she means "current converter".

D'y think?

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Posted

household appliances just aren't built to last the way they used to. They're all become expense rather than capital items

D'y think?

Not sure...

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Posted

How efficient are the current/voltage converters? The money you save by buying in US may be offset in electricity bills after 6 months use in Germany.

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Posted

A transformer convers voltage not current. However, you might need a currency converter for the electricity bill.

The efficiency of a converter depends on the size. Small transformers, let's say smaller the 250W 30%, larger ones let's say 2500W up to 90%.

So unplug them if you don't need them.

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Posted

Hello, all, and thanks so much for your replies. I think I will just essentially "start over", except for maybe a few lamps that are my favorites. I don't think my TVs are new enough to have any capacity other than to use 110; in fact pretty soon they will be obsolete in the US too for reasons that are a bit over my head.

I did search before I asked the question, Keydeck, but never found the right combo of words to access the past threads. Thanks for passing them on. I guess it's a little better to be called lazy rather than dumb : )

Thanks again for the nice welcome to TT. I'm sure I'll have other questions as I make my way to Germany. See you there!

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Posted

Hello, all, and thanks so much for your replies. I think I will just essentially "start over", except for maybe a few lamps that are my favorites.

One more thing ... if the lamps are incandescent, you'll have to bring over three years worth of light bulbs, too. If they're flourescent, then you'll need extra tubes, a back-up starter and definately a high-qualty true sine wave converter. Short version: I'd leave the lamps at home, too.

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Posted

... buy a currency converter ...

You´ll find lots of free currency converters here ...

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Posted

A transformer convers voltage not current. However, you might need a currency converter for the electricity bill.

The efficiency of a converter depends on the size. Small transformers, let's say smaller the 250W 30%, larger ones let's say 2500W up to 90%.

So unplug them if you don't need them.

What does 90% efficiency mean? Does that mean that if a german appliance draws x amount of electricity (sorry don't know the units) in an hour, using the transformer you'll use the same amount of energy in 9/10's of an hour? Or 1/10 of an hour? And if the transformer is turned off, is it still drawing power? Do I really need to unplug it when not in use?

Sorry for the basic questions. I understand very little about electricity, and we only get our electric bill once a year, so I'm really terrified to find out what it's going to be.

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Posted

What does 90% efficiency mean? Does that mean that if an American appliance draws x amount of electricity (sorry don't know the units) in an hour, using the transformer you'll use the same amount of energy in 9/10's of an hour? Or 1/10 of an hour? And if the transformer is turned off, is it still drawing power? Do I really need to unplug it when not in use?

Sorry for the basic questions. I understand very little about electricity, and we only get our electric bill once a year, so I'm really terrified to find out what it's going to be.

If your coffee-maker has 700W the transformer needs another 70W (a normal light bulb). You pay 770W. These 70W are heat. Whether the idle transformer draws power depends where the switch is. If it is on 230V side, everything is ok. The transformer is off. If not, you waste some energy. Just touch it. If it's warm you use it to heat your apartment. Disconnect it.

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Posted

Ok we just moved from the States this past year.

My advice: Do not bring electrical items, well maybe one or two but not everything, just plan on buying it here. Look on TT-good place to start for basics. It is much more of a hassle to try to get 110 V appliances to work with our blowing them up. However, my husband did bring over his tools which they need an adapter to charge.

If you can buy a 220V TV and/or high end electrical equipment via the net and have the items ship via your container than so that, it will be cheaper. Meaning TV's and stereo equipment. There is a place out of Chicago.

If you already have high-end stereo equipment the manufacturer will adapted the unist to a 220V for a small fee.

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Posted

What does 90% efficiency mean? Does that mean that if a german appliance draws x amount of electricity (sorry don't know the units) in an hour, using the transformer you'll use the same amount of energy in 9/10's of an hour? Or 1/10 of an hour? And if the transformer is turned off, is it still drawing power? Do I really need to unplug it when not in use?

Sorry for the basic questions. I understand very little about electricity, and we only get our electric bill once a year, so I'm really terrified to find out what it's going to be.

If you plug a standard alternating current electrical appliance into a socket, the plug and cord delivering the electricity should be effectively 100% efficient ... i.e. if it's a 100 Watt light bulb, you can figure that it will draw 100 Watts of power. This can easily be converted into kiloWatt hours (100 Watts is 1/10th of a kiloWatt, so leaving it burning for 10 hours consumes one Kilowatt hour), and then you can figure out the operating cost by taking this times the rate your electric company charges you. Add up the consumption of all the appliances in the house, and you should come up with a ballpark figure that should be close to your electric bill.

Ever notice how the charger for your cellphone or laptop gets a bit warm when in use? That's because it's transforming the power from what the wall socket provides to what the applaince is designed to run (let's ignore the fact that electronics converters go from A/C to D/C for simplicity's sake ... it's the same basic principle), and in doing so (just as simultaneous language translation is less efficient than everyone speaking the same language), it produces some level of waste heat in doing so because the electrons have to jog around a bit to be realigned into the stream usable by the device.

Now, if you move to Germany and want to use that same lamp here, you'll need a converter to drop the 230Volt/50Hertz A/C power to 110Volt power so you don't blow the thing up (if it involved a motor, then you'd also need to worry about converting to 60Hertz, but forget that for now because we're talking about a lamp). Think of voltage as pressure in a water pipe, and current as the amount of water (electrons) that flows through. If you drop the voltage, it's like pinching a garden hose to reduce the pressure, and you can feel the friction as you do so. But the appliance still needs enough electrons to make it run, so it's trying to suck electrons through the pinched pipe, which is clearly less efficient than just letting it flow. But you can't do that or the appliance will blow up. Therefore, a converter has a certain level of reduced efficiency.

For arguments sake (and because my fingers are getting tired), let's say you use a voltage converter that's 50% efficient ... i.e. it wastes half of the electrons it's converting as heat (the pinched hose). As the previous poster said, the bigger the capacity (and invariably the higher the price) of the converter you use, the less losses it tends to have because its own internal "pipes" are bigger (and it may do neater things like true sine wave conversion and all sorts of neat stuff vs. that cheap-and-cheezy little Radio Shack travel converter) ... so the higher the efficiency. Compactness/lightness/cheapness is inversely proportional to efficiency.

My family pays c. EUR20 cents per kilowatt hour for electricity. So it costs EUR20 cents to run a 230Volt 100Watt lamp 10 hours. However, if your converter is only 50% efficient, it will cost EUR30 cents to do the same thing once it reaches your 110Volt lamp. Multiply that times all the lamps in your house, and it starts to add up. Add in motorized stuff plus the cost of all the converters plus the reduced safety and pain-in-the-ass-factor for all the extension cords you'll need, and you'll soon see why you're better off just buying new stuff.

It's late in the day, so I could have made errors ... someone please double-check.

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Posted

Thank you for the lesson! I now understand the efficiency numbers. 90% efficient means 10% of the power used is wasted, so it takes 1 1/9 as much electricity to run the appliance as it would in the states. 50% efficiency would mean 50% of the power is wasted, so it takes twice as much electricity as it "should."

Not sure I'm following the garden hose analogy though. If I pinch a garden hose, I would think that the pressure would *increase* (i.e. the water comes out harder when I pinch it), and that the amount of water coming out in any given time period would decrease. But I've never been good at physics, so probably I have it backwards. I'll have to go hunt out a garden hose to see it for myself.

We have one transformer that we're using to run our CD player / DVD player / VCR player / amplifier and my husband's electric piano (and maybe the speakers too?). They're off a lot, but when my husband iis home he listens to the CD / amplifier almost non-stop. I think buying new amplifiers and speakers and a CD player would be more expensive than the cost of the extra electricity. We have another transformer that we're not using, and I was wondering if it made sense to bring over my kitchen appliances that are still in the states. I left my kitchenaid food processor, my hand mixer, my crockpot and electric spice grinder in storage. I wonder if I should bring them over or ditch them? They all have motors, so I guess that's another issue. I'll have to go read up more on the hertz conversion issue.

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Posted

there is no mention of the shipping costs you are looking at and there is no list of exactly what you are trying bring...therefore it is hard to respond accurately to your question. We moved to Germany with a container based only on volume, weight didn't increase the cost so before we came we researched how much an item cost new in Germany, how much we could sell it for in the US and based my decision on that. Guess it depends on how much money you have also. Long story short,...we calculated that spending $250 on transformers and keeping our stuff was preferable to selling it. It all works fine after 4 months, even the TV which we use to watch our DVD's. Lamps work also with German lightbulbs. We are running our coffee pot and toaster oven off the same transformer we use for the refrigerator. Works great. Some of the alarm clocks work fine...1 does not. Clock on the coffe pot is accurate, clock on the toaster oven looses time so it is not accurate. Transformer sits on the floor behind the refrigerator out of sight with a heavy duty extension cord (kind you use outside ) We also run our brand new LG washer off of a transformer. It all works great and it is "our stuff" which we are familiar with and which would cost 2 times as much to buy here if you could find it. It is your decision however and you will decide what is important for you.

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Posted

Not sure I'm following the garden hose analogy though. If I pinch a garden hose, I would think that the pressure would *increase* (i.e. the water comes out harder when I pinch it), and that the amount of water coming out in any given time period would decrease. But I've never been good at physics, so probably I have it backwards. I'll have to go hunt out a garden hose to see it for myself.

We have one transformer that we're using to run our CD player / DVD player / VCR player / amplifier and my husband's electric piano (and maybe the speakers too?). They're off a lot, but when my husband iis home he listens to the CD / amplifier almost non-stop. I think buying new amplifiers and speakers and a CD player would be more expensive than the cost of the extra electricity. We have another transformer that we're not using, and I was wondering if it made sense to bring over my kitchen appliances that are still in the states. I left my kitchenaid food processor, my hand mixer, my crockpot and electric spice grinder in storage. I wonder if I should bring them over or ditch them? They all have motors, so I guess that's another issue. I'll have to go read up more on the hertz conversion issue.

1. Not at all ... if you squeeze a garden hose half flat, it feels like it has more power, but by definition only half the water molecules are making it through. Sure, the pressure is harder on the pionched side, but not the output side ... which is all that counts!

2. Let me be encouraging. Bring over all your music gear and your kitchen countertop gear and buy two separate big-ass transformers. Then go to your local Baumarkt in Germany and buy two inexpensive outlet switches. Then you have the best of both worlds ... converted power when you want it, but when you're finished turn it off. That's exactly the system I have at my house.

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