A little about AC powered chargers and adapters.

Mitch King


This is a small tutorial I have made for those not familiar with the difference between the AC power here in the US and the AC power in the UK. The standard power here in the US is 110 to 120 Volts AC. 

The AC part being 60 hertz, which means the polarity of the voltage changes 60 times a second. In the UK the voltage is 220-240 volts AC at 50 hertz.

Standard AC socket and plug in the US looks like this……


Standard AC socket and plug in the UK looks like this……


Now most new chargers for cell phones, cameras and laptops are made to work almost anywhere in the world.

They have what is called a “wide range” input. Meaning the unit will work on any AC power system from 100 to 240 volts AC, 50 or 60 hertz. 

I’m sure if you look at the specifications on your current cell phone or laptop charger you will see what I mean. It will look something like this….

             Or This         


To use one of these chargers in the UK, you can buy a new AC cord for your laptop with the proper UK plug on the end. Or you buy a plug adapter such as these. 

Some are single conversion where others like the picture on the right are universal and selectable on the input and output configurations.

4Lg.jpg  12345.jpg

But if you are using a heavy transformer type charger, this is where there can be problems. One is they are NOT wide input. They are made for a very narrow input range such as 110 to 120 VAC.

9VDCWallTransformerMedium2.jpg  power_supply_02.jpg


 Now there are some of these type chargers that have a switch on them to select the input voltage range they can operate on but these are rare.

The only option to be able to use one of these heavy "wall wart" type chargers is to buy the “step down” converters that are offered for sale. 

These “step down” the voltage of 220v on the input plug side, to a 120V output on the socket side. But these are also heavy.


The big problem with these step down converters come from the inefficiency of the transformers and their inability to cope with the change in frequency from 60 to 50 Hz. 

They are also easily overloaded. If there is a high load on the transformer, such as charging a completely dead rechargeable battery pack, it can over heat and short out.

DO NOT use a step down converter on a wide input power supply it. Sometimes the power supply can get confused and self destruct.

The best thing is to make sure all your chargers are wide input and buy a plug adapter. You can get the plug adapter at any store in the travel/luggage section.

Batteries are expensive in the UK, around $1 per AA battery for the cheap stuff. Duracell and Energizer batteries are much more. 

So if you want to have AA alkaline batteries for your camera or metal detector back up battery pack, bring them with you.



Have any questions?, you can email me directly at......



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