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  #21  
Old 10.09.2013, 10:59
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Re: US appliances vs Swiss voltage- a tutorial with pictures!

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It's not a problem if you are talking about a gadget that has a transformer.

Hertz is a measure of how many times the alternating current (AC) alternates polarity each second. Standard is 50hz in europe but 60hz in the US. Direct Current (DC) doesn't alternate (kinda obvious from the name, right?).

Transformers convert voltage, but they also convert AC to DC (direct current). Take a look at the transformer for your computer or whatever. If it accepts 100-240-ish volts, 99.99% sure it will also accept 50-60 hertz. The output side of the transformer won't say how many hertz, because when the AC gets changed to DC, the hertz rate becomes zero.

I guess in theory the hertz difference might cause an issue in an old AC current electric motor.

I probably wouldn't want my life support machine run this way, but something like a food processor isn't exactly running at max efficiency in the first place, and it doesn't seem to notice the difference in hertz.

We have a blender, food processor, mixer, etc. that came over from the States and even though they all say 60hz on the label (I just looked), they all run fine just being plugged into a Step down converter.
It's a bit more complex than that.

The frequency affects the transformer. The fewer cyces per second, the slower the magnetic field in the transformer is growing or shrinking at any moment in time. Therefore the higher the frequency, the smaller the transformer and the lower the minimum required iron content in the core. In engineering we call this core saturation. Once the core is saturated, ie, has so much magnetic field that it can't any more, the magnetism expands into the surrounding air and the loses of the transformer increase rapidly and it gets very hot.

The converter transformer is designed to handle that of course and will never saturate. You'll blow the fuse before you get it anywhere near to saturation. But what about the transformer in your electrical device? If a European device is designed for 50 hz only and you take it to the us and connect it to a converter transformer it gets 220 volts at 60 hz. The device is happy about the 220 volts and the 60 hz don't hurt because a 50 hz transformer is effectively good for 50 hz or more. But now you take a us device to Europe and attach it to a converter transformer and it gets 110 volts at 50 hz. It is happy about the 110 volts but a 60 hz transformer is good for 60 hz or more, remember. So possibly you're doing something dangerous. Okay, most devices these days are designed with sufficient margin and nothing will happen, but in freak situations it can. So in case of doubt, if your device has no transformer or similar there is not much to worry about. But if there is a transformer, it may be wise to check it's ratings.
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  #22  
Old 10.09.2013, 11:04
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Re: US appliances vs Swiss voltage- a tutorial with pictures!

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I thought the frequency of input electricity would affect the frequency at which the quartz crystal (which keeps the time, as a function of vibrations per second) vibrates? Am I off here? What time is it anyway?
Not normally. Some clocks exist that use the grid frequency as a time source, and obviously those will run slow here. But most modern electric clocks have their own time quartz, and the internal workings are all dc anyway so grid frequency should have zero affect.
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  #23  
Old 10.09.2013, 11:10
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Re: US appliances vs Swiss voltage- a tutorial with pictures!

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Not normally. Some clocks exist that use the grid frequency as a time source, and obviously those will run slow here. But most modern electric clocks have their own time quartz, and the internal workings are all dc anyway so grid frequency should have zero affect.
Mains frequency isnt close to being accurate or regular enough to run a clock, even here, no?
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  #24  
Old 10.09.2013, 11:18
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Re: US appliances vs Swiss voltage- a tutorial with pictures!

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Mains frequency isnt close to being accurate or regular enough to run a clock, even here, no?
There certainly used to be 50hz AC frequency-operated clocks. I recall we had one in the UK when I was a kid, and it was the most accurate one in the house. We were certainly told at the time that the ~100% reliable frequency was responsible for this accuracy.

Now someone may have been telling porkies, or perhaps that reliability isn't maintained any more, but that's what we were told (I'm talking early 1970s here).
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Old 10.09.2013, 11:21
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Re: US appliances vs Swiss voltage- a tutorial with pictures!

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There certainly used to be 50hz AC frequency-operated clocks. I recall we had one in the UK when I was a kid, and it was the most accurate one in the house. We were certainly told at the time that the ~100% reliable frequency was responsible for this accuracy.

Now someone may have been telling porkies, or perhaps that reliability isn't maintained any more, but that's what we were told (I'm talking early 1970s here).
Mains frequency is usually only accurate to plus/minus 0.3% so 5 minutes out per day. Anyway....the comment above about clocks not working coz the mains frequency is different is maybe 50 years out of date
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  #26  
Old 10.09.2013, 11:24
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Re: US appliances vs Swiss voltage- a tutorial with pictures!

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For A/C induction motors- They will run slightly slower, but probably not enough to notice. Okay, maybe in a vacuum cleaner, but definitely not a blender or whatever.
You certainly notice it in record players.
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  #27  
Old 10.09.2013, 11:42
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Re: US appliances vs Swiss voltage- a tutorial with pictures!

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Mains frequency is usually only accurate to plus/minus 0.3% so 5 minutes out per day.
No.

While they are short term +/- 0.02%, they are long-term stable, so close to 0 sec/day.

"In the synchronous grid of Continental Europe, the deviation between network phase time and UTC (based on International Atomic Time) is calculated at 08:00 each day in a control center in Switzerland. The target frequency is then adjusted by up to 0.01 Hz (0.02%) from 50 Hz as needed, to ensure a long-term frequency average of exactly 50 Hz 60 sec 60 min 24 hours = 4,320,000 cycles per day."

Tom

Last edited by st2lemans; 10.09.2013 at 14:50. Reason: corrected
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  #28  
Old 10.09.2013, 11:43
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Re: US appliances vs Swiss voltage- a tutorial with pictures!

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You certainly notice it in record players.
Though you can normally tweak the speed.

My Grandpa had callibration disks. they had the shape and size of a record but rather than being for playing, they had black and white lines on them and if you viewed them in stroboscopic light, the patterns would be stationary when the speed was precisely right. He used them to callibrate the turntable. I think one side of the record was for 50Hz and the other for 60Hz light, or maybe one side was for 33rpm and the other 45rpm, I can't remember. He also told me that the human brain interprets music differently when its from a recording than when you actually see the orchestra or band playing, and that music is actually speeded up by about 2%. He told me he adjusted his records to play about 2 % slower if he wanted to pay along with the orchestra (he played various musical instruments and would sometimes play along with the record). I never found any independent corroboration of his theory so don't know if its fully true.
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  #29  
Old 10.09.2013, 11:44
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Re: US appliances vs Swiss voltage- a tutorial with pictures!

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No.

While they are short term +/- 0.3%, they are long-term stable, so close to 0 sec/day.

Tom
hahahahaha

OK.

Its ok to be 5 minutes late one day because you'll be 5 minutes fast the next? Clocks don't use mains frequency.
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  #30  
Old 10.09.2013, 11:45
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Re: US appliances vs Swiss voltage- a tutorial with pictures!

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You certainly notice it in record players.
Synchronous AC motors will run 17% slower, and produce 30% less power.

Tom
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  #31  
Old 10.09.2013, 13:26
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Re: US appliances vs Swiss voltage- a tutorial with pictures!

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hahahahaha

OK.

Its ok to be 5 minutes late one day because you'll be 5 minutes fast the next? Clocks don't use mains frequency.

They might not anymore and more's the pity. They were much more accurate than these new fangled things. Here's an article about frequency regulation and clocks (admittedly from Wiki).

My Mondaine supposedly Swiss Railway quartz battery thing looks the part but has an irritating 'tick' and loses at least a minute a month.
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  #32  
Old 10.09.2013, 13:41
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Re: US appliances vs Swiss voltage- a tutorial with pictures!

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Clocks don't use mains frequency.
http://www.electric-clocks.co.uk/index.html More than you'll ever want to know.
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  #33  
Old 10.09.2013, 14:49
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Re: US appliances vs Swiss voltage- a tutorial with pictures!

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hahahahaha

OK.

Its ok to be 5 minutes late one day because you'll be 5 minutes fast the next? Clocks don't use mains frequency.
"The target frequency is then adjusted by up to 0.01 Hz (0.02%) from 50 Hz as needed"

So, hardly the 0.3% you claimed, i.e. 17 seconds off rather than 5 minutes.

Tom

Last edited by st2lemans; 10.09.2013 at 15:16.
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  #34  
Old 10.09.2013, 15:09
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Re: US appliances vs Swiss voltage- a tutorial with pictures!

There was an American clock maker that used the main frequency as a clock source. The company is better known for its latter products: electric organs. If you have an American Hammond you will need a frequency convert to get the right tune out of it in Europe.
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  #35  
Old 10.09.2013, 19:08
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Re: US appliances vs Swiss voltage- a tutorial with pictures!

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Hi, does anyone know where you can buy a Step-Down Transformer here in CH for use with appliances from the US?
Thanks, Greg.
I got mine from Amazon
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  #36  
Old 21.02.2015, 16:45
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Re: US appliances vs Swiss voltage- a tutorial with pictures!

Thanks for the guidance so far...some I understand, some goes straight over my head.

Quick question - I guess that plugging my hand held blender - 120v 50Hz 200w max - directly into the wall, i.e. without a transformer, would not be a good idea, right?
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  #37  
Old 21.02.2015, 17:13
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Re: US appliances vs Swiss voltage- a tutorial with pictures!

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T...I guess that plugging my hand held blender - 120v 50Hz 200w max - directly into the wall, i.e. without a transformer, would not be a good idea, right?
Right. But you can buy small converters that aren't overly expensive. We use one in the kitchen. It's about the size of 2 decks of cards stacked on top of each other. Not like some of the massive transformers you see for sale. I wouldn't use it all night long on a heated blanket or anything, but for a quick, 2-minute blend it works a treat!
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  #38  
Old 21.02.2015, 17:34
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Re: US appliances vs Swiss voltage- a tutorial with pictures!

Or just buy one locally for a few francs and sell it when you leave.

Here are some
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  #39  
Old 16.07.2015, 16:52
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Re: US appliances vs Swiss voltage- a tutorial with pictures!

Hi Desert Rat and everyone

After reading your wonderful forum post about the ins-outs of US appliance running under Swiss voltage and also browsing all the relate posts still I have a big hesitation to select a right transformer / converter for an appliance bought in the US.

I recently bought an appliance from the US and it is having a motor. The technical data in the Instruction manual is :

Motor : 149w Single phase
1100RPM
Voltage: 110V Ac 60Hz

There is no technical information regarding voltage under the appliance but on the plug it is written as follows:
________________
Just connect
JC-11
10 A 125V ~
________________

I called the guys who sold the machine in the US but it seems they are not interested to help.

I would be glad if you could help me to find the right transformer or converter with the link from where I can buy one..

I went to all the shops from Media markt, Inter-discount, OBI, Jumbo and some electrical specialized shops but I did not find anything and no one knows where one can buy it. With the technical info which i wrote above, even they were not able to tell me which transformer will be right.

Someone told me that even if I buy a transformer the appliance will surely burn due to the difference in Hz(US 60Hz and Suisse 50Hz).

I really searched a lot but still not deciding for the right one as I do not wish to spend more by just buying a wrong one.

Hope to receive some help on this.

Thank you in advance.

Best regards
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  #40  
Old 16.07.2015, 18:01
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Re: US appliances vs Swiss voltage- a tutorial with pictures!

Nothing will burn due to the difference in line frequency, but it will run slower, 917 RPM rather than 1100.

You need a transformer with a rating of 150W or higher.

Tom
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