Many of us travel abroad for our holidays or on business trips and take advantage of the sometimes vastly reduced prices when it comes to electrical and electronic equipment. When we do so however we buy these items fitted with the plugs used to conduct electricity in the country of origin.
When this happens we must then replace the plug upon return to the United Kingdom or find a way of converting the relevant electrical current to that of our own plug sockets so these items can be used.
Changing the Plug
For the most part many items purchased abroad can be fitted with a normal thirteen amp fused plug in the same way you would change a plug on a United Kingdom electrical appliance.
For this you need to be aware of the coloured wires contained within the plugs. These coloured wires are as follows:
- Green/Yellow: Earth
- Blue: Blue
- Brown: To fuse
It is important when changing the plug that you attach the wires to the right points on the plug otherwise the plug will (a) not conduct any electricity or (b) may send too much electricity through the fuse thus blowing it.
You will know a fuse has blown if it sparks – although sometimes they do not – and there appears to be a patch of copper-brown dust on the plug covering.
You should also check that the fuse you are using is the correct number of amps for the electrical equipment you wish to use. Too many amps can cause a short circuit in the item rendering it useless.
One of the easiest ways to use such an item either at home or abroad is to purchase a travel adapter. These adapters are already fitted with the correct fuses and are designed to fit in the electrical sockets of most European countries. A travel adapter acts as a transformer and reduces or increases the number of amps required whilst still continuing to receive the electrical current being sent through the wall socket.
A transformer is a device which regulates the current coming from the wall socket through to the item of electrical equipment that requires power to function. These transformers are often fitted with adjustable settings that allow you to alter the power depending on the country you are in at the time. They are also fitted with an interchangeable set of plugs which will fit a variety of different sockets.
It is important before using a transformer to check the required voltage for the item you wish to power and to ensure that the same voltage will come from the transformer after it has left the wall socket.
A transformer as the name suggests allows for the changing of one current of electricity into another either reducing it or increasing it as is needed.
As always when it comes to working with electricity it is important to have an understanding of what you are doing. Electricity can be extremely dangerous especially if in unfamiliar hands so if you are unsure as to what to do it is best to seek advice from someone with either substantial DIY experience or a qualified electrician.
It is also recommended that before testing such equipment you have additional fuses – both those which can be replaced in the plugs and also those which may need replacing at your main fuse box. Investing in a circuit breaker is also a good idea as this can reduce the risk of electric shock.