Both E.U.(& rest of the world) and North/Central/South America share the same design of electrical
power - one hot lead and one neutral lead - and in some places, but not all places, an earth ground lead. The N/C/S American shove 120Volts down the hot wire while the others shove 220Volts down the hot wire. Both are single
phase AC but one is supplied at 60 Hertz (cycles) and the other at 50 Hertz.
- - Appliances that involve heating
elements could care less what the Hertz is but are very sensitive to the voltages. Appliances with "timing" dependent upon the supplied Hertz (cycles) are normally very "touchy" about what you feed them. Microwaves are notorious for "burning out"/failing if you feed them the wrong Hertz since the Magetron is dependent upon that Hertz to function properly. If you look at the "label" on the microwave where the model/serial number/power requirements are listed you will normally see the "frequency" block greatly enlarged and the number 60 or 50 prominently displayed. This is the dead giveaway that operating that device on the wrong Hertz power will most probably result in the failure of the appliance.
- - Other appliances like clocks, etc. will simply run about 16% faster or slower, and the same with motors in things like boat air conditioners and compressors.
- - However, as I said before the modern equipment
(probably all made in
China) is manufactured to accept either voltage and frequency - if it is possible - so that they do not have to manufacture two different models.
- - For cruising boats there are step up and step down transformers like the popular Charles series that can change 220VAC to 110VAC or the reverse. This takes care of most equipment
on cruising boats except those items with "frequency dependent" timing or motors. So you have to be very careful when stepping up or down voltages as some very expensive appliances or boat systems can get fried in seconds or in the case of air conditioning
in a longer period of time as the motor
"overheats" from trying to work at a too slow a rpm
or too fast a rpm
- - For minor equipment you can purchase
stores in most islands very cheap
step up/down transformers for use with individual equipment. But again remember, the frequency (Hertz) is very important and ignoring it can result in some very expensive stuff burning out.