Home Bread-Bakers v006.n046.17

re: machines in Germany

Frank.Ritter@nottingham.ac.uk (Frank E. Ritter)
Wed, 1 Nov 1995 14:30:19 GMT
When I moved from the US to the UK I looked into moving appliances,
including my bread machine.  There are several factors to keep in mind (I
know the factors theoretically as a former Electrical Engineer, its their
practical importance I was never taught!).

There are three important things to voltage that comes out of the wall:
voltage, amperage, frequency and reliability.  If you use the water
analogy, voltage is pressure, amperage is amount of water, and frequency is
how fast the pulses are (or if there are pulses).  Power is how much energy
is used, and that is related to voltage times amperage (everything else
being equal).

If you have items with heating elements only (such as lights or heaters),
only need a powerful enough transformer and to get the voltage right.  I
have moved these things and they work.  Some of them, like lights, you can
buy the right bulb and not use a transformer.  (Using US bulbs is vaguely
interesting, but they just immediately blow, they don't explode or do
anything interesting.)

Items that immediately transform the voltage into a direct current (that
is, remove the pulses) only need a transformer with enough power to get the
voltage right.  Some stereo components (amplifiers, CD players, tape decks,
things with DC motors) and most computer equipment (particularly Macs, but
watch PCs with AC fans) are like this.  I have moved these things and they

Items that have AC motors in them rely on having the pulses at the right
frequency.  Most of Europe has a different frequency from the US.  In the
US is it 60 cycles per second, and in Europe it is 50 cycles per second
(you should check, and Japan has both!).  I have been told that this
difference is enough to really screw up the motors over the long term or if
they are heavy duty (like bread machines) and they may even catch fire,
which would be interesting if you were around to watch.  Short term motor
use, such as answering machines, is OK though, because they don't run long
enough to heat up.  So I did not move my bread machine or a vacuum cleaner.
The bother of setting up the answering machine with a transformer has lead
to it being in the loft.

I was told that frequency converters are too expensive and I have not even
heard of one.  I think you could make one for a couple of hundred bucks,
maybe less, but there does not appear to be a big market for what is
essentially a 1000 watt signal generator, or a stereo amplifier that only
produces the humm shifted a bit.  If you do find one, I can get my bread
machine back from my brother....

Appliances Overseas in New York City (directory information,
1-212-555-1212) was quite helpful in clarify the trade-offs in this area.
If you want to move appliances, you should find them, or someone like them
who can sell you transformers and plug adapters, and maybe even some
dual-voltage appliances (like a VCR to watch any US recorded videos).