Power converters for China - Do you need a power converter in China?

What does a power converter for China do?

A power converter allows travellers to use a 100-120 volt electrical appliance with a 220 volt Chinese power outlet.

Also known as: electrical converter, electrical transformer, voltage converter, power transformer or voltage transformer.

What is the difference between a plug adapter and a power converter?

A heavy and expensive power converter [3] will transform the voltage of 220 volts from a Chinese power outlet to work with a non-220 volt appliance, however a smaller and more lightweight power adapter (or plug adapter) will change the shape of the plug on your appliance to slot into a power outlet found in China.

Do I need a power converter for China?

If travelling to China from a different country ensure the device will accept a 220 volt power supply.

  • You will need a step down power converter [4] if you are travelling to China from a country that uses 100-120 volts and your appliance or device isn't compatible with 220 volts. See the WikiConnections list of world power outlets guide to find out the voltage is used in your country.
  • You won't need a power converter if you already use either a 220 volt single voltage device or one that supports dual voltage.
  • Normally electrical devices designed to use a lower voltage such as 110 volts and then used in a 220 volt outlet run the risk of an electrical fire hazard, a blown fuse or damage to your device.
  • You won't need a power converter if you are attempting to power a smaller electrical device such as a mobile phone or laptop as these are typically designed for international use and dual voltage, however always always check the device for dual voltage support prior to your journey.
  • For powering high wattage appliances or generate heat (for example hair straighteners and clothes irons) then you will need to use a more expensive higher wattage heavy duty power converter [5].
  • It will be more cost effective to bring a smaller lightweight dual voltage travel appliance than trying to bring a heavier high wattage power converter to China just to use your existing domestic appliance.
  • For more information read our travel guides on how to use clothes irons, curling wands, blow dryers and flat irons in Chinese power outlets , along with guides for some affordable dual voltage alternatives.

Will I need a power converter if I'm visiting China from the US?

The 220 volts used in a electric outlet in China is different to an 110 volt American outlet, therefore you will need to use a step down power converter if your appliance or charger doesn't support dual voltage.

What kind of converter do I need for China?

You need to buy a step down power converter [4] in order to use any 100, 110 or 120 volt appliance in China.

What voltage does China use?

China uses 220 volts in their power outlets.

How to convert 220 volts to 110 volts

  1. Use a step down power converter [4] to allow you to use a 110 or 120 volt appliance with a 220 volt Chinese power outlet.
  2. If the power converter doesn't include the correct shaped plug then it will also be necessary to plug in the power cord from the power converter into a power adapter for China before plugging that into a Chinese power outlet.
  3. Some power converters include the ability to perform both step up and step down voltage conversions, therefore it may be necessary to manually switch the converter to output the voltage to the 110-120 volt range.
  4. Plug your appliance into the converter and turn the power on, your 110-120 volt appliance can now be used with a 220 volt Chinese power outlet.
What is the difference between a power transformer and a power converter?

Voltage converter

What is the difference between a power transformer and a power converter?

Converters and transformers are both used to change one voltage to another, but this ambiguity can cause confusion as their purposes are different:

  • Power converters are designed for simple electrical appliances which typically generate heat or use motors such as clothes irons, shavers or hair dryers. Transformers are designed for more complex electronic items such as televisions or games consoles.
  • Buying a power converter is cheaper than buying a power transformer.
  • Power transformers are larger and heavier making them more suited for permanent residential use; for example an expat wishing to use an imported television would need to use a transformer for this purpose.
  • Power converters are more suitable for travellers wishing to bring domestic appliances abroad such as hair dryers or flat irons. However, it is more practical and cost effective to purchase a dual voltage appliance designed for travel rather than a heavier power converter.
  • Power converters are suitable for 2 pin ungrounded appliances, it could be harder to find a converter if you want to use a grounded 3 pin appliance.
  • Transformers can be used constantly however it is recommended that converters are used for no longer than a couple of hours at a time.
  • Shops may sell transformers under the name of converters, for the purposes this guide we will be referring to both converters and transformers as converters.
Is my device single voltage or dual voltage?

Single voltage hair straighteners

Is my device single voltage or dual voltage?

The way to see if a device is either single voltage or dual voltage is to look for a sticker on the supplied power plug, or on the appliance itself, typically on the rear of the unit or near to where the power cord sits. The location might depend on the make or model of your unit, it should also state on the box.

  • Single voltage devices could have a specific number - such as 110V.
  • Single voltage devices might also have a small voltage range (20 volts difference) with a dash to accomodate small voltage fluctuations - such as 100-120V.
  • Dual voltage devices will typically say a larger range separated with a slash - such as 110/240V.

  1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/China - wikipedia.org entry about China.
  2. http://www.iec.ch/worldplugs/ - International Electrotechnical Commission World Plugs
  3. Power converter - A step up step down power converter converts 110-120 volts up to 220-240 volts and 220-240 volts down to 110-120 Volts, between $90 to $100.
  4. Step down power converter - A step down power converter allows a 100-120 volt appliance to be used in a 220-240 volt power outlet, priced between $110 to $120.
  5. Heavy duty power converter - A 5000 watt heavy duty step up and step down power converter used to convert voltages for domestic appliances, power tools, televisions, heating appliances and motors, estimated price between $140 to $150.