The ACUPWR Papers

ACUPWR Explains Basic Electrical Principles (And Our Voltage Transformers), Part 2.

This blog is the second of two-part series about understanding very basic electrical concepts and using them toward understanding how to choose the ACUPWR voltage transformer/converter and selecting the model that meets your needs. 

In Part 1 of this article we threw around some basic electrical terminology and tried to attach some meaning to it by comparing electricity to water. Electricity and water both flow and exist within parameters that control force or pressure (voltage), amount of actual electricity flowing used (amperage), and the amount of electricity being consumed by an appliance every second (wattage). To refresh, we visualized a water tank with a pipe attached leading to a water wheel. Squeezing the tank causes pressure that makes the water move faster and stronger; the size of the pipe accounts for the sheer amount of water that pours onto the wheel; the amount of water that passes through the end of the pipe every second must be great enough to make the wheel move.

It therefore takes the right combination of force and quantity to make the wheel move, just as the right combination of voltage and current flow (amps) to power an electrical device. You’re likely aware that line (or mains) voltages vary throughout the world. The most common standard is 220-240 volts—used throughout two-thirds of the world’s countries. The next most common voltage standard is 110-120 volts, used throughout the United States, Canada, Taiwan, Columbia, Belize, Cuba, Haiti, Honduras, Jamaica, many countries/territories in Central and South America. Japan uses 100 volts while Mexico and Brazil (as well as Curacao, Bonaire, Surinam, and a few other countries) run on 127-130 volts. 

Along with knowing the voltage requirement of your appliances and the voltage standard in the country you’re visiting or relocating to, it’s vital to know the electrical wattage required for your electrical appliances to work.  If you’ve ever seen a picture of an electrical outlet with way more plugs attached to it than usual (think extension cords attached to extension cords, and plugs piled on top of plugs), and sparks, smoke, and fire surround the the wall outlet, it’s because the combined wattage of all the attached appliances exceeds the wattage available at the outlet, which is typically around 1,800 watts and 15 amps at 110-120 volts. With 220-240 volts and a 13-amp breaker, the wattage is around 3,000.

With that in mind, your ACUPWR voltage transformer should be the equivalent model for your wattage requirements, whether it’s using it to convert power for only one appliance or whether it’s for delivering power to several appliances using a global surge protector/power strip like ACUPWR’s AS6WWK. Our article on finding the right wattage transformer for your needs will help steer you right. You should know that an ACUPWR transformer rated for, say, 1000 watts will actually work 120-percent beyond that number. But remember that this additional wattage should be treated as a “cushion” or a safety net for situations when you might go slightly over the stated wattage.

Here’s where we get to plug (no pun intended) what we sell.

As you might expect, as appliances become larger in size and power they draw more current. Most large appliances such as air conditioners over 10,000 BTUs and appliances with large motors (such as washers and dryers and dishwashers) actually need 220-240 volts to operate, whether it's in the US, China, London, or wherever. Large motor appliances operate more efficiently at 220-240 volts and their motors start faster, turn easier, and ultimately last longer when powered at the larger voltage.

Toward that end, for using a larger, 220-240-volt appliance in countries with 110-120 volt standards (and also 100-volt and 127-130-volt standards), homeowners can call in an electrician to convert a wall outlet from 110-120 volts up to 220-240 volts. Still, many don’t have that option, particularly apartment or home renters with landlords who won’t allow modifications to their property. An end-around in this case is ACUPWR’s AU models, which are step-up voltage transformers that convert 110-120 volts up to 220-240 volts and allow large-motor appliances to work effectively.

There’s an important caveat regarding 220-240-volt, large-motor appliances; models designed to operate in the USA, Canada and other 110-120-volt countries operate at an AC line frequency of 60 Hz. Models designed to operate in Europe, Asia, and other regions at 220-240 volts require the line frequency to be 50 Hz. FYI, the line frequency pertains to cycles per second—as measured in Hz—that the electricity alternates polarity. Along with proper voltage and wattage, large motors have to work at the line frequency they were designed for otherwise they will turn slower (or faster) and perform much less efficiently. Over a few month’s time they will stop working completely.

For large-motor appliances such as refrigerators, coolers, freezers, et al., ACUPWR’s ADC and AUC models convert voltages and line frequency from 110-120 volts/60 Hz to 220-240 volts/50 Hz and vice-versa. However, if  you have a 220-240-volt outlet in an otherwise 110-120-volt home and you want to use an overseas-market 220-240-volt/50-Hz large-motor appliance, you also can plug said appliance into the 220-240-volt outlet and use ACUPWR’s AUCB power booster/frequency converter. This product converts power from 60 Hz to 50 Hz and also adds 10-volts additional power to ensure safe motor operation.

Often, appliances such as ranges, stove tops, grills, and steam machines do not have conventional wall plugs but, instead, are wired directly to a junction box. Our ADUW line is a knock-out box design that allows 220-240-volt, plug-less appliances to work in 110-120-volt regions.

Another option is to install a voltage transformer that will convert power for the entire home. Our AUDH models are knock-out box, hard-wire models that attach to the building’s circuit breaker. Available in 3000-, 4000-, 5000-, and 6000-watt models, the AUDH line converts from 110-120 volts up to 220-240 volts and vice-versa, allowing people moving internationally to move with their appliances rather than purchasing new models in their new country—something that can be quite expensive when relocating outside of the USA and Canada. (Another option for people moving to 220-240-volt countries is to buy new 220-240 appliances here in the USA through one of our retail partners, Video Overseas, and then have it shipped overseas. That too can save money in the end).

Even with all of the voltage transformers and converters that we offer, you still may not see what you’re looking for. In that case, ACUPWR can make make a customized voltage transformer specifically for your needs. Call us at 888-600-9770 (within Continental USA, 9am-11pm Eastern Standard Time) or 414-255-8462 (International, 9am to 5pm Central Standard Time), Live chat with us on this website 24/7, or email us at

Remember, we’re always here to answer your questions!

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