Category:

# What is a 220 Voltage Converter?

Article Details
• Written By: Gregory Hanson
• Edited By: Susan Barwick
2003-2018
Conjecture Corporation
 In 1793, a French envoy bringing metric units to the US was captured by pirates; he never reached his destination.   more...

 March 22 ,  1765 :  The British passed the Stamp Act.  more...
wiseGEEK Slideshows

A 220 voltage converter converts electrical power to or from 220 volts. Converters are used to step down power that is transmitted along power lines at much higher voltages. They are frequently used to transform power from around 110 volts to around 220 volts or vice versa. Another type of 220 voltage converter is used to supply direct current (DC) electricity to devices that require it or to produce 220 volt alternating current (AC) from a DC power source.

The electromotive force in an electrical circuit is measured in volts. A higher voltage indicates that there is more electromotive force present. Conversion between voltages is carried out using the electrical property of induction, in which a transformer uses power from one AC circuit at one voltage to power a different circuit at a second, lower or higher, voltage.

Higher voltages are better at efficiently transferring power over long distances, so main electrical lines and long-distance transmission lines use very high voltages. This high-voltage power is not suitable for use in most electronic devices, however, and poses safety risks. A 220 voltage converter can be used to step down high-voltage power from main lines to 220 volts, one of two standards widely used in household devices.

Not all electrical grids operate at 220 volts, however. Many nations, most notably the United States, use AC power in the 110 volt range. A 220 voltage converter can transform power to or from 220 volts. This is especially useful for travelers moving between areas which use different electrical standards, who can use a converter to power small electrical devices.

220 voltage converters are all rated for how much power they can safely transform, and it is important not to exceed this threshold. The frequency of the electricity is not changed by a typical 220 voltage converter. As a result, some electrical devices, such as clocks, will not function correctly on converted power.

A third type of 220 voltage converter modifies 220 volt AC power into DC power. This type of device is used to power many sorts of electronic devices, such as computers and cellular phones. Power supply devices are usually designed to operate across a wide range of input voltages and frequencies, a range that usually includes both 220 and 110 volts and 50 and 60 hertz frequencies. A traveler should check carefully before assuming that a power supply can function as a converter, but most are designed to do so. They do, however, still require adapter plugs when used in countries that use different styles of electrical wiring.