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converting US voltage to European and vice versa? Please HELP!

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by silverthread, Jan 14, 2001.

  1. silverthread


    Jul 12, 2000
    Does anyone have any idea/experience how easy it is to convert the voltage an amp takes from US to European? I'm asking because if you guys didnt realise, we have different mains electricity and apparently they DO need to be changed. So has anyone from europe had to do this? Is it something an electricien can do/you can do cheaply? Or is it a specialist music-store thing? Or has anyone from the US had to convert a European amp to your US mains supply electricity?
    Please help!
    Thanks :)
  2. Us 240V suckers have it hard, I know!

    For converting a US (110V) amp to Euro/NZ/whereever, you've got 2 options:

    - replace the transformers (seriously, and seriously expensive)
    - use an external step-down transformer (cheap, a transformer about the size of a couple of cans that sits on the floor, taking 240V input with a 110V outlet)

    Converting a 240V amp to 110V involves using a step-up transformer, which are a little less common and generally fairly expensive.

    I bought a used Ampeg B2R in the US a few months back to bring back to NZ - spent $100 here on a 240v-110v step-down transformer and it's been working fine.

    There is one (VERY important) thing to consider - current draw. Look on the back of the amp (Ampegs and Mesas are pretty good at having this info) - there's usually a sticker showing the input voltage (and cycle) and current draw (in VA - volt amperes). You MUST (MUST MUST MUST!) use a step-down transformer that can supply AT LEAST the current draw of the amp, preferably more. If you don't, the step-down with either fry, explode, fry the amp, or electrocute you after a short period of time (moreso when you turn an amp on; that's where the greatest current draw occurs).

    For example, my B2R sucks 200VA, so my transformer supplies 250VA (more doesn't hurt and is preferable). The Mesa M2000 draws around 1200VA - you'd need a LARGE (both price and size) step-down to supply it. Don't try and run an amp with an undersized transformer, even if it's only by a little bit.

    Rant over! :D
  3. I'm glad this thread is here because I was just about to start one just like it!

    I need to supply some step-up transformers for a band that's coming to the US from Europe for a show, but I don't know what to get or where to get it from. It would be best to be able to rent them as we'll have no need for them after the show.

    Can anyone recommend a supplier for these, or direct me to a place in/near Chicago where they might be rented?

    Thanks in advance.

  4. MJB


    Mar 17, 2000
    Brian, as you are probably aware, although 110-120v is the standard "outlet" voltage here in the states, many devices are 220-240volt such as electric stoves. It is just 2 different phases of 120 power. You may be best off having an electrician run you a temporary 220-240v circuit for the gig.
  5. you might even find hiring a backline to be cheaper than running a 240v circuit or buying/hiring step-ups...

    a stupid thought, i know! :)
  6. when it says 9v and 300mA, is it ok to use an adapter that has a 9v output and 500 mA??

    for those who don´t know, v = volt.. mA = milliamper(sp?)

    my brother thought that maybe the 500mA was just the maximum that adapter could give away.. so if I needed 300 it wouldn´t matter... but he just guessed... so.. was he right? :) (probably not)

    the reason I´m asking is because I don´t wanna destroy my Zoom pedal.. :)
  7. pkr2


    Apr 28, 2000
    coastal N.C.
    Your brother is right.

  8. WOOHOOO!!! so i can use it?! YIPPIE(sp?)!!!!
  9. F**K!!!!!!!!!!

    Just as I was getting SO happy about being able to use that adaptor then of course I had to find out.... IT DOESN´T WORK!!!! IT´S BROKEN!!!!! damn :mad:!!!

    btw... I´m not really THAT mad... but still.. pretty mad... ;)
  10. Thanks for the replys!!!

    Running a temporary 220 line is something I had not thought of, so thanks for that suggestion.

    We'll already have a complete backline in place but the band in question would like to use their effects and keyboards.

    I'll look into the logistics of running a temporary 220 line. I guess that would be limited by the current draw we expect to be using. Also, the band that will need it is just one of several playing that day, although they are the headliner.

    I'll look into it further. As a backup plan, I still want to find out where I could rent the transformers, so if you've got a clue, send it my way.

    BTW, in case you're interested, the gig is ProgPower USA. See http://www.progpower.com for info.

  11. Brian,
    you should be able to rent these transformers from any PA rental company. If you're just running backline they only have to be small and the rental price should be pretty low. British gear also has different plugs on it, so you have to have the right sockets. I think renting them would cause you the least grief. Oh... You can't run a temporary 220 line because Britsh stuff runs at 50Hz and North American stuff runs at 60. You need to have the right transformers. hope this helps.
  12. MJB


    Mar 17, 2000
    Most american products are rated for 50-60Hz. And, a transformer will NOT change the frequency.
  13. Yeah, I don't think that the cycle will affect anything (hell, should I say that? :D ). You'll have to make sure the current supply is sufficient for the equipment, although keyboards and FX use stuff-all current anyways.

    The_Bass: you can get away with a power pack that is rated any degree higher (and in some cases lower, depending on the FX unit - I use a 500mA supply to run 4 pedals with no problems). Even a large current supply (like 1A, 10A) will be fine - the device will only draw the current it requires to work.

    What normally happens for smaller bands gigging in the US? We've been thinking of visiting sometime but don't really want to have to deal with rented backlines everywhere, etc.
  14. SCREW YOU GUYS FOR POINTING OUT MY ERROR!!:D:D:D Just kidding, of course. Engineering school is destroying my brain. I know a transformer doesn't change frequencies. D'uh. I don't know what I was thinking. You still need the right connectors though.
  15. A transformer made for 50 Hz will definitely work at 60 Hz. A transformer made for 60 Hz may not work at 50 Hz if it was designed right at the threshold of its limit, which most industrial trannies are. Just so you all know. You have to derate a US tranny on 50Hz, like 50% on voltage is safe. In other words, its cheaper/quicker in America to buy a standard industrial 60Hz 240:480 whatever VA tranny and use the 240 winding to supply 120 and the 480 winding to connect to 240. VA's are like Watts, and they rate the tranny's power ability. Volts x Amps = VA. So if you need 10A at 240V, you'll need a 2400 VA, or 2.4 KVA rated tranny. Dig? And in the above scenario of sending an American tranny to Europe, I had to get a 480V:240V 4.8 KVA rated tranny to actually supply 120V at 20Amps, 2.4 KVA.

    Science F#@$-ing rocks, baby!

    Get the Euro's to bring outlets/extension cords with them that fit their equipment, and when they get here, wire them to an American 220V Plug of appropriate size, or the output of those step-up trannies you want to rent. Now that I think about it more, rent the trannies for the safety isolation they provide. The Euro's ground one side of their 220, and US has both legs of 240 hot. (Each leg is 120V hot in reference to ground/neutral.) This probably would not be a big deal, but it might.

  16. nearly all 240v stuff here is 50/60Hz indifferent...
  17. MikeyD


    Sep 9, 2000
    That I'd have to see. Besides, geology is really what you're referring to. ;)

    - Mike

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