Heading To Europe With Your Laptop? Do This First
Are you getting ready to travel to Europe for business? If you're taking your laptop with you, you could run into serious issues if the country you're visiting has a different electrical system. Fortunately, you don't have to be an electrical expert or really even understand that much about it in order to be safe—just make sure that you do a little research ahead of time and pack a few important accessories along for the ride. Here's what you do.
1.) Check out your host country's electrical system.
There are some basic things about your host country's electrical system that differ from that of the United States: plug type and voltage. There are 15 different types of electrical outlet plugs in use, worldwide, each assigned a letter of the alphabet. Type A (with two holes) and Type B (which has a third hole for the "grounding" pin) are used in the United States.
In simple terms, voltage (volts) is a measurement of the electrical power that's reaching your device. What's in use in your host country's outlets may be significantly different than what's used in the U.S., which usually has 120 volts in its outlets. Most of Europe (and the rest of the world) uses a higher voltage, ranging from 220-240, which can destroy your sensitive electronic devices unless you take the right precautions.
2. Buy the right kind of accessories to carry with you.
You need to buy the plug adapters that will allow you to connect your laptop to the electrical outlets in your host country. Don't wait until you get to your host country to go searching for one, because they may not be in ready supply. If you're going to be in several different European countries during your visit, consider buying a universal plug adapter that will allow you to connect your devices to any type of outlet.
You also need to buy a voltage converter from a company like Explore Electric that will allow you to exert control over the amount of electricity that's reaching your laptop. Ordinary converters are generally not rated for what's called "Class 1" electronics, which includes laptops, so you'll need to look for a converter that is properly rated. The voltage converter will be a small box that goes between the power outlet and your laptop. Since you likely intend to use your laptop for long periods of time, make sure that the converter that you buy is high-powered.
Finally, consider buying a surge protector designed to operate on 220-240 volt power systems. This will protect your computer from damage if the hotel you are staying in experiences a surge of electricity.