7.18.2011

Croissant Craic Travel Tip - #2 Don't be a Burn Out.



No, this Croissant Craic travel tip is not about smoking pot as the title might suggest.  Sorry to disappoint, but this is Ireland, not Amsterdam. Rather travel tip #2 is about
Electricity!



If you arrive in Ireland from the US and try to plug in your hairdryer, laptop, mobile phone, etc. you will no doubt encounter this:



You will quickly realise (realize, get used to it that's how they spell it here) that a standard US plug isn't going to fit into that socket. So what are you supposed to do? 

I'm not going to pretend to understand all the ins and outs of electrical current.  The long and short of it is the voltage and frequency here in Ireland and the UK is much higher than in the states.  What does that mean you ask? If you connect things to a socket with a different power supply you may just cause your equipment to burn out. Assuming you don't want to destroy your electronics, you will be needing either an adaptor or a converter.  I always thought they were one in the same, but as it turns out that is not the case.


Some electronics, most laptops and battery chargers for example, support dual voltage and dual frequency.  They should be marked with something like "120/240, 50/60Hz, or 120-240V".  This means all you need is a plug adaptor to allow you to plug into an Irish socket. This will not change the electricity supplied to the appliance, only allows it to be plugged into the different type of wall socket.  






However, not all electronics support dual voltage and in that case you will need a power converter which helps to step down the voltage and frequency. Typically used for hairdryers, irons, etc. It is important to note that converters are not designed for continuous use, 1-2 hours at a time is typically the maximum, any longer and you may risk a burnout.  


Personally, I think it is kind silly to bring a hairdryer over in your luggage. Save that space to pack  an umbrella or extra sweater, you're gonna need it! Or use that space to bring back a bottle of Irish whiskey! Most hotels provide an iron and a hairdryer. In smaller B&B's if there is not one in the room they typically have one available at the front desk. 


Another thing to note is that there is very rarely an outlet inside the bathroom. You may however find a place to plug in an electric shaver which will accept an American plug, but it is not suggested to utilize this outlet for anything other than a shaver.
  


Finally, it is also worth noting that the light switch for the restroom toilet or water closet, is on the outside. When we first arrived here I kept walking into the toilet and feeling around on the inside wall for the switch with no luck. It is just one of those weird quirks you have to retrain your brain to know!



Here are a couple plug adaptor options with pros and cons:
Specific country plugs - these tend to be higher quality plugs. For instance, this plug is all metal construction whereas multi-country plugs use plastic for the 3rd prong (the ground). Obviously, they only work in one region but are fairly inexpensive.
The push out pin adaptors are more compact but can sometimes be a pain to push into the socket as the pin lock can wear out. However, this type is more compact and can fit into the sockets better. Remember, much of Europe was retrofitted with electricity so the sockets aren't always in the most convenient places like new American construction.
The flip adaptors usually connect better; you don't have to worry as much about the plug slipping and not connecting as well. They can run a bit heavier and more bulky but only a difference of a couple ounces (grams for the metric folks).
These are a bit lesser quality compared to the country specific plug above but still work well. Problem is they are small and you have to keep track of them. They are also US specific. If you only travel from the US then it shouldn't be an issue. If you are moving abroad you are better off buying an adapter that will transfer back to the states with you when your ex-pat time is up so you can use the electronics you bought overseas.









No comments:

Post a Comment

Post a Comment