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What is Dual Voltage?

By Keith Koons
Updated May 17, 2024
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Dual voltage is a term used to describe any type of electronic device that is manufactured to recognize and use both American and European currents without the need for an additional transformer. The conversion is completed internally within the item, so consumers with dual-voltage devices do not have to worry about where they will or will not work—however, a plug-in adaptor may be required to use the item outside the country of origin and ensure proper safety. This type of technology is especially popular in portable devices such as cellular phones, electric razors, and music players since it allows their manufacturers to market their products to a worldwide audience instead of just a specific region. Eventually, industry leaders say all electronic items will be created under the dual-voltage standard.

There are a number of ways to check if a certain item was constructed to meet dual-voltage standards. There is normally a stamp on the plug itself or a laminated piece of paper attached to the cord that will supply the accepted voltage rate. If the tag states only 110 or 240 volts, then the item is not dual voltage, but if it is specified as “110V-240V,” then it should work with the various power sources worldwide. This information should also be stamped somewhere on the electronic item itself, sometimes underneath the battery cover or alongside the bottom of the device. The phrase “Wide Range Input” also specifies that the unit supplies dual voltage and will function anywhere.

Some electronic items also come with a switch that will allow the device to function with either of the two voltages, while most of the more modern equipment makes the conversion automatically by implementing a built-in transformer. If the switch is set in the wrong position, it could cause permanent damage to the item or short-out the socket in use, so it is important to verify that these types of items are used correctly. Many of the more common items of dual voltage, like hair dryers, flat irons, and televisions, are available in both formats, so it is a good idea for individuals to verify the method before purchase.

There are dozens of different adapters and outlet types used worldwide as well, and each one of them requires a specific type of plug. Users should never try to force a plug into an outlet, regardless if the electronic item is dual-voltage or not, because it could lead to serious injury. Converters are generally inexpensive and can be purchased almost anywhere electronics are sold.

About Mechanics is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
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