220 vs. 110 voltage. Thanks to this critical difference and our own inattention/ineptitude, our expat wake is littered with electrical items.
We originally moved from “110 voltage” USA to “220 voltage” China. This voltage difference paired with highly adaptable Chinese wall sockets–which accept all kinds of plugs–meant that we fried a stereo, baby monitor, and blender in Zhuhai. (Heavy, scary looking, voltage converters only work when used…)
On our next move, we were saved by the wall outlets in the UK, which in their girth and seriousness could never be accidentally confused with relatively dainty American outlets/plugs. Frankly, the size of the UK plug makes me feel like I’m bringing Frankenstein to life every time I plug in the coffee maker.
Needing this and that while in England, we’ve ended up with plenty of massive UK-plug-style items. For awhile we were at least careful to not buy any appliances that didn’t switch from 110 to 220 and visa versa on their own (most computer-type things do), but then life moved on and we just bought what we needed when we needed it. So now we own a 220 voltage toaster, electric kettle, coffee maker, hair dryer, and bread maker.
Thankfully, all this UK stuff works seamlessly here in Hong Kong, where the sun hasn’t set on the British Empire’s colonial electrical legacy.
While simple plug design differences are easily surmounted with wall adapters, voltage differences will remain a headache into the distant future. One day when we move back to 110 voltage land, we’ll have to buy another big voltage converter that goes the other way, 110 to 220.
Right now, I’m happy we’ve made it three years without frying any of our remaining 110 voltage items. So, for now, good luck: American Kitchen Aid mixer, food processor and drill. May we always remember pull out the voltage converter to use you. Please let us not plug you into the 220V outlet on the back of our voltage converter in a state of haste or drunkenness. (You can see how easy it would be to do…)