My fiancÃƒÂ© and I are going to visit my son in February and I remember that on past visits, we needed some sort of special adaptor in order to use our US appliances (shaver, hair dryer, etc.) I also remember that the electricity in Australia is different from Europe, thus the Ã¢â‚¬Å“regularÃ¢â‚¬Â adaptors donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t work. Do you know what we might need and where we could get it? — Jo, USA
What you don’t want to do is what an American visitor of mine once did — just come over with your hair-dryer, plug it in and discover it doesn’t work. Thankfully on that occasion it didn’t explode or melt or short out the whole neighbourhood, but if she’d only asked first, she’d have avoided carrying it all that way.
So anyway, the quick facts on Australian electricity are these: It’s 230 volts at 50 hertz*, which is broadly the same as the European standard. But it uses a different plug.
Thus people from Europe, most of Asia and Africa and any others who use appliances taking 220-240 volts can bring their appliances to Australia, and all they’ll need is a plug adapter, which is available widely in Australia at electronics or travel shops for about A$10.
Those people in 110-120 volt countries, which includes most of North and South America, will need to either make sure their appliance can accept the higher 230 volts (which is common in devices such as laptop computers, shavers and cameras), or spend up big on a transformer to convert the mains voltage down. Such a transformer can be quite pricey, even a low-capacity one costing around A$60 (for a measley 25 watts), so it’s not normally cost-efficient for visitors. I mean, you’d have to really like your hairdryer to go and spent a bunch of money on a transformer to be able to use it for a few weeks’ visit.
The exception is hotels, many of which will have 110 volt power points specifically designed for our American friends to plug their favourite gear into. If most or all of your stay is in such establishments, it’s worth asking if they have such points.
- *Traditionally it was 240 volts, but this standard was changed in 2000 to be 230 volts with an allowed variance of +10% and -6%.
- Wikipedia’s list of countries and their voltages, frequencies and plug types