US-HK Power Converters

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  1. #1

    US-HK Power Converters

    Hi All, I am moving to Hong Kong as soon as my visa is approved until the end of the year (3-4 mths). I am bringing only my laptop and mobile devices (blackberry, phone, etc.). What are your thoughts on converters? I was thinking get a couple of the little attachment plugs, but I called some company and they sent me a US$40, 15 pound box that looks like a transformer. They said I need this for my laptop, but not to plug in a US power strip for the little things. I did search the forum, and saw a recommendation to buy a new cord for my laptop to go from the power box to the outlet, but what about my mobile devices? The guy all but laughed at me when I mentioned a power strip. I don't want to be a stupid American.... sigh...

    Thanks!


  2. #2

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    Look at the 'wall wart' for all your devices. The black box that is on the cord. It should clearly state what it can and cannot support.

    Most laptops are 110-220. I'd be suprised if yours was not. Many wall warts for mobile phones are 110-220. Those would just need a 'plug' converter ($1US anywhere in HK).

    If the cord has no wall wart, look on the back of the device or in the manual to see what sort of input it can accept. If it just says 110, then you will need the 'brick' of a power convertor that looks like a transformer.

    Laptop, blackberry, phone--I'd be shocked if any of those were just 110. I think all you will need is a plug convertor, not the power convertor.

    But please check. You only get one chance if you mistakenly plug something in to something it should not be plugged into, along with a nice sizzle pop and occasionally a spark.


  3. #3

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    Your laptop should be world-wide as other poster mentioned. For anything that's not (it only says 110V on the back) you need to look at POWER usage of the device (Watt's or W). The power usage will define how big a converter you need to buy. A 50W converter is pretty cheap and will be OK for a lamp, say. A 200W converter is a "brick" and it more expensive, and could drive a CD-player & stereo system, for example.


  4. #4

    Join Date
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    a little simplification...

    let me try and spell it out clearly so there's less confusion....

    There are two basic options:

    1) plug adapter

    2) power converter

    The question is when do you need one and when do you need the other?

    Its not that difficult to answer- basically if your US device has a power supply rated at 110-220 V (or around there, some go lower), then all you need is a plug adapter (to get from the US shaped plug to the gigantor 3 prong British legacy thing they use here). If its 110-220V, it means that your device was made to work almost anywhere in the world no matter what the voltage is.

    You can find this information on either the power supply (that black brick thing you plug in, also known by some as a 'wall wart') or on the back of the device. It should say something about Watts(W), Amps(A) and Volts (V), in this case you're most concerned w/ V's.

    As mentioned, HK adapters can be bought at many places in HK for ~HK$1-2, so if you can wait a day or two, don't even try to find them in the US, cause they'll cost a lot more there.

    Every laptop I have ever seen can handle ~110-220, you'll probably just need a plug adaptor for that. Many cell phone chargers are too.

    IF your device doesn't handle 220, then you'll need to either change the power supply with one that does or buy the voltage converter(ok, I guess that means there's really 3 options). As mentioned these voltage converters can be large, heavy and expensive. You can buy small, cheaper travel ones that can be used for shavers, etc, but they are NOT good for long term use of electronics that draw a lot of power. (fire hazards, possible damage to the devices, etc).

    In the case of your phone charger for example, it may be easy to just get a replacement here. There are tons of stores selling replacement chargers (either original manufacturer or generic brand ones) for reasonable prices (less than US$5 probably).


    As far as the power strip goes: I'm not sure what the guy meant, but what you can do (and I have done in my house), is bring a US power strip with you, and use ONE adaptor to plug that directly into the wall in HK.

    But the key to remember is that this turns the power strip into a 220V power strip, so you can only plug in 220V-safe devices (since we're not doing any conversion). This simply saves me from having to juggle 5-6 adapters to plug in all my 220V-safe computer equipment, which is all stuff I brought from the US.

    (Several years back, I once was staying with a guy here who did something similar but he thought 'US shaped plugs means you can plug anything from the US', and he ruined my CD player by plugging it in. So be sure to check before you plug-in!)

    Last edited by krf; 07-09-2006 at 11:44 AM.

  5. #5

    Exclamation The trouble with Yanks / Canacks....

    ... is that they seem to think that there's nothing beyond their own back yard. <Grin>.

    i.e. they accept - without question - power supplies that are limited to 100/100 Volt input - and which will ONLY run successfully in N.America, their colonies & Japan and a few other countries.

    Thankfully - the rest of the world has Higher Voltages and Lower Current consumption - and - generally - auto-switchable or manually switched equipment for BOTH voltage ranges.... Now don't ask me to go into explaining the different FREQUENCIES of the two mains system. <Wry Smile>.

    As for BRINGING electronics from America - I'd suggest that, for the most part - it is like "Carrying Coals to Newcastle" !

    Sell them off before you come - and recover at least part of your outlay in the taxes you've paid - stuff is generally much cheaper here - you don't have to carry the bits here, you can IMMEDIATELY get DUAL VOLTAGE equipment with no hassles - and anyway, your phone - unless it is QUAD-BAND will be useless here - and you'd better check on your B-Berry being Quad-Band too.

    And don't even think about bringing a NTSC (Never the Same Color twice) TV - we use PAL here.


  6. #6

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    Dont listen to the previous poster. So full of jealousy of the American way of life and freedom. Must be British.

    All of your mobile devices purhcased in the last 5 years should be OK. As others pointed out they are dual voltage. Would be suprised if not. Heavy amp things like a printer are not dual voltage. Curling irons are not dual voltage. Buying a $50 to $100 transformer to run a $25 curling iron is not smart. Forget the sunk cost. It should not be part of your decision process. Dont buy those little plugs for your laptop. You can get a new cord cheaper here.

    http://www.adcouncil.org/video.asp?c...n=I%20Am%20An%

    Last edited by MotoHK; 07-09-2006 at 01:05 PM.

  7. #7

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    Actually many electronics are cheaper in the US, given the larger market for those items, but the important part that post is correct--don't bring stuff to HK unless it is made to be mobile. Laptops, ok. Mobile phones maybe (be sure to check a) that your phone is GSM and b) that your phone is unlocked), but even then they do have some nice phones in HK.

    Printers, alarm clocks, curling irons, shavers, vegimatics, tvs, vcrs, washers, dryers, fridges, bassomatics, etc. are generally not recommended. These bigger items should generally be left at home with a few very rare exceptions, and even then it is a risk to put it in a shipping container. Certain items can be sold in the US, like tvs, because they will lose value while you are away and because the US is doing away with analog tvs in 2009 anyway so you might as well plan ahead for the conversion.

    The power convertor / transformer option is hit or miss. Sometimes you get a good convertor that last for months, years even, and sometimes you have one that blows up in a few weeks.

    Hong Kong has what is known as 'dirty power'--there are frequent spikes up (and down) instead of a very steady stream. I strongly recommend buying a power strip in HK (about $5 US nearly anyplace) that has a fuse that will pop in extreme surge situations. You don't need the lightning proof models they sell in the midwest US, but I do recommend buying one once you arrive in HK. I also recommend buying a new cord for those items that can handle it (i.e. the laptop) instead of using a "plug adapter" as many plug adapters can go bad due to power spikes as well. The cords are like $3 US at any computer center (Wan Chai, Mong Kok) and are pretty standard. Take your old cord if you have a question.

    I brought over from the US: a laptop, my unlocked GSM mobile that had a 110/220 power supply, and a vonage phone adapter (which was also 110/220). That was it.


  8. #8

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    Quote Originally Posted by penguinsix:
    Actually many electronics are cheaper in the US, given the larger market for those items, but the important part that post is correct--don't bring stuff to HK unless it is made to be mobile. Laptops, ok. Mobile phones maybe (be sure to check a) that your phone is GSM and b) that your phone is unlocked), but even then they do have some nice phones in HK.

    Printers, alarm clocks, curling irons, shavers, vegimatics, tvs, vcrs, washers, dryers, fridges, bassomatics, etc. are generally not recommended. These bigger items should generally be left at home with a few very rare exceptions, and even then it is a risk to put it in a shipping container. Certain items can be sold in the US, like tvs, because they will lose value while you are away and because the US is doing away with analog tvs in 2009 anyway so you might as well plan ahead for the conversion.

    The power convertor / transformer option is hit or miss. Sometimes you get a good convertor that last for months, years even, and sometimes you have one that blows up in a few weeks.

    Hong Kong has what is known as 'dirty power'--there are frequent spikes up (and down) instead of a very steady stream. I strongly recommend buying a power strip in HK (about $5 US nearly anyplace) that has a fuse that will pop in extreme surge situations. You don't need the lightning proof models they sell in the midwest US, but I do recommend buying one once you arrive in HK. I also recommend buying a new cord for those items that can handle it (i.e. the laptop) instead of using a "plug adapter" as many plug adapters can go bad due to power spikes as well. The cords are like $3 US at any computer center (Wan Chai, Mong Kok) and are pretty standard. Take your old cord if you have a question.

    I brought over from the US: a laptop, my unlocked GSM mobile that had a 110/220 power supply, and a vonage phone adapter (which was also 110/220). That was it.
    A power strip or surge protector wont do you any good for dirty power. What you need is a line conditioner that will stabilize the current.

  9. #9

    Thank you all so much. This is super helpful!! I will buy a new cord for my laptop over there, and the only electronics I am bringing are mobile. My BB and cell phone are both GSM QUAD, and the cell is really only for home emergencies, so they don't have to call a Hong Kong number. I plan on buying one of those prepaid jobbers when I get there. I will bring the brick that I was clearly "tricked" into buying, but will probably abandon it there. Again, thank you all so much! I really feel this forum is a huge asset to relocaters.


  10. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by penguinsix:
    Hong Kong has what is known as 'dirty power'--there are frequent spikes up (and down) instead of a very steady stream.
    You have asserted this before, but can you provide any evidence? The Supply Rules of the HongKong Electric Company, here: http://www.heh.com/NR/rdonlyres/F98E...le_en_2005.pdf specify that under normal conditions the supply is 220V +/- 6% and 50Hz +/- 1%.

    The statutory limits in, for example, the UK are 230V +10%/-6%.

    I have never had any problems with any electrical equipment here at all.

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