September 25, 2011

What is the difference between a transformer, a converter and a power supply?


A Transformer is an electrical device by which alternating current of one voltage is changed to another voltage using coils. There are several different types, but they all basically do the same thing - change the voltage. They are usually heavy for their size due to the weight of the coils (size and weight depends on their rating).


A Converter is an electronic device that is used in some cases instead of a transformer. The converter doesn’t actually lower the voltage, but rather delays each electrical cycle making the device think it is working with the proper voltage (does not produce an output of full sine wave electricity). If you were to measure with a voltmeter the output of the converter, it would actually measure 220V (in Israel). These converters are not to be used with any electronic devices, and I personally do not recommend using them with ANY device. Although they are sold for use with hair dryers, bottle warmers, irons, etc, I’ve seen too many of these appliances ruined when used with a converter.

Power Supply

In actual fact, anything that supplies power is a Power Supply. But usually when people talk about power supplies, they are talking about a device that not only lowers the voltage, but also converts AC (alternating current) to DC (direct current). These are what you find on many small electronic devices (walkman, cordless telephones, desk clocksetc), looking like a small black box that gets plugged in the receptacle, and having a cord that plugs into whatever device you're using. If you come from the US with a device using a power supply of this type rated for 110V, simply buy the 220V equivalent here in Israel. They are relatively inexpensive and work exactly like their 110V cousin. Make sure to bring the 110V power pack with you so you can be sure of buying exactly what you need.


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