The Nuts and Bolts About Volts, A No-Nonsense Guide To 110v and 220v Adaptors

Author xlxmarketing 3.4.2009. | 14:20

Where in the world are you?

When I was on holiday in Japan I saw an electric back shaver and was tempted to buy it but two things held me back.

  1. I didn’t want to face the embarrassment going through customs
  2. I didn’t know if it would work when I plugged it into the wall when I got home

For those who don’t know there are two types of voltage adapter: 110V and 220V.

So what is a voltage adapter and what does it have to do with your gadgets and electrical devices?

At the risk of oversimplification, the voltage which pushes the power out of the wall outlet into your refrigerator, computer, TV and other electronic devices.

To make life complicated it is different from country to country.

stunt RC carstunt RC car 110v


One of these stunt RC cars is 220v, the other is 110v can you tell which one is which?


Like the NTSC/PAL and ATSC/DVB debate differences in standards are largely down to tradition and regional pride ( but that doesn’t mean electricity production and climate conditions don’t come into play.

So while there are two types of adapters, 110V and 220V there are four voltage ‘settings’, for wont of a better word.

  • 220-240v at 50hz
  • 220-240v at 60hz
  • 110-127v at 50hz
  • 110-127v at 60hz

Use the wrong adapter and the adapter itself might overheat and melt, potentially causing an electrical fire or the product itself might be irreversibly damaged.

But how can you avoid disaster?

Simply locate your country on the map and then you’ll know what your voltage requirements are. For more specific information visit the the Mains Power Systems Wikipedia page ( for a country by country list.

And the next time you’re shopping on Chinavasion check out the voltage on the electronic items. If you’re not sure, or it looks like we don’t have it just send us an email and if we don’t have it we’ll probably be able to get one for you.

Author xlxmarketing 3.4.2009. | 14:20
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  1. Daniel December 15, 02:54

    Thanks – this is a nice simple explanation of voltages around the world – Chinavasion needs to supply the right plugs too – without using adaptors – which can only be sold separately in the EU. All plugs have to be moulded or encased by 3-pin adaptors for the UK

    Some quotes:

    If the live and neutral pins of a charger
    are under 9.5mm from the outer
    flange of the product (see left photo)
    they will fail to comply with the
    Electrical Equipment (Safety)
    Regulations 1994, and must not be
    sold. Pin distances below this limit increase the risk of electrocution as the plug
    is withdrawn from a socket

    Any standard UK plug fitted must be approved by a notified body and either conforms to BS 1363 or
    offers an equivalent level of safety. The standard requires that the live and neutral pins on plugs are
    part insulated so as to prevent shocks when removing plugs from sockets. As an alternative to fitting a
    standard plug, it is permissible, if the appliance is correctly fitted with a non-UK plug which complies
    with the provisions of international standard IEC 884-1, to be fitted with a “conversion plug” that has
    been approved for use in conjunction with the non-UK plug. The “conversion plug” must enclose the
    non-UK plug, and must only be removable by the use of a tool. The “conversion plug” must be
    approved by a notified body.

    An importer needs to know much more than this about compliance laws before selling online or to the trade.

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