The Difference Between Adapters and Converters

What is the difference between an adapter and a converter? Going In Style gets this question a lot. An adapter changes the plug configuration so your US power plugs fit into the wall socket in the foreign country you are visiting. A converter changes the electricity so you can use your NON-DUAL-VOLTAGE appliances when visiting a foreign country.


Chances are, if you are traveling to a foreign country, you WILL need an adapter plug to plug your smartphone, tablet, laptop computer, hair dryer and other appliances into the wall outlet to charge. United States power plugs have two flat pins, while another country, such as the United Kingdom, power plug's will have three large square pins. The pin configuration on your US power plug will not fit into the wall socket in the United Kingdom unless you bring along an adapter plug.

Many devices, such as your Samsung phone will use a USB cord to charge your phone. Going In Style also carries USB adapters that also include an AC outlets Input to plug in your laptop


Now that you have your adapter plug, do you still need a converter? The United States operates on 110-120 volt electricity while many foreign countries, such as Australia, operate on  240 volt electricity. If your appliances are NOT dual voltage, this difference in electricity can damage and blow out appliances such as your hair dryer.

Most electronics on the market today ARE dual voltage and do not require a converter. Smartphones, kindles, tablets and many laptops are dual voltage. ALWAYS CHECK TO MAKE SURE YOUR ELECTRONICS AND APPLIANCES ARE DUAL VOLTAGE before leaving for your trip.

Do check to see if your hair dryer or other appliance is dual voltage, there should be a label on your hair dryer that either says 110 - 120 volts (which would not be dual voltage) or 110 volts - 240 volts (which would be dual voltage). If your hair dryer says the later, then it IS DUAL VOLTAGE and will work in foreign countries such as Australia. 

If you hair dryer is NOT DUAL VOLTAGE then you will either need to purchase a travel hair dryer that is dual voltage or purchase a converter. Going In Style usually recommends purchasing a hair dryer made specifically for travel in this case. Converters can be heavy and bulky and take up unnecessary room in your luggage when you are trying to pack light. A travel hair dryer will usually be compact, lightweight and sometimes foldable, and quite easy to pack in your suitcase. 

In summary, if you are traveling to a foreign country, you will most likely need to bring along an adapter. However, you only need a converter if your appliances are not dual voltage and not compatible with the electricity in your destination country. You can avoid packing a converter by making sure all your appliances are dual voltage before you leave for your trip. 

For a step by step tutorial on How To Tell If My Appliance Is Dual Voltage? Watch the video on dual voltage appliances.