Mixed Voltages – Watt to Do{15}

As most of you know, or will find out when you visit the first time, the electricity in the Philippines is 220v instead of the 120v that we are familiar with here in the States. What does that mean to you and me? Well maybe not much if we are just there on a visit, as many electronic things like my laptop and cell phone have adapters that are universal/variable as long as the plugs work. In the case of my laptop, I can get an adapter kit with six AC plugs that work in North America, UK, Continental Europe, Japan, Korea, China and Hong Kong, so even that isn’t an issue.

More common on regular household appliances in the US, both small and large, is a fixed voltage of 110-120v. Things like blenders, toasters, coffee machines, etc. are best left at home. It is advised just to buy a new one when you’ve decided to live or stay long term in the Philippines. At least that is the consensus of those that have experienced the fried appliance that was mistakenly plugged into the higher voltage outlet in the Philippines. I can state with some certainty that electric hair clippers will be useless within seconds – but I’m not saying how I might have come by that knowledge ;-)

So what do you do about those items that are simply not easily found or are no longer made? One of my prized possessions is a Fender Harvard amplifier that was made in 1958. It is not only a great sounding amp, it is considered highly collectable. Not many of them are still around, but they can be found if you know where to look and are willing to pay the price. If I decide to bring this with me to Samal Island, I will either need to use a step down transformer, or possibly not use the amp at all. Of course as many will attest to, things do get plugged in that never should, and the chance of ruining something like this is fairly high. Without going into the details, if this were fried it could be repaired but would never be the same.

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Another option that I could consider would be to have our house wired with both 220v and 120v outlets. Since we plan to have our house built from scratch, that seems like a potential answer. I have heard of a few people doing this. I don’t know how well it has worked for them, nor do I know the cost involved but I would think it should be minimum. Would this be reasonable to do if I only have one or two items that require 120v? I don’t know but as I get closer to the day that we can retire there, I should have a better idea of my needs for 120v.

It could also be pretty expensive to replace my home theater system, if that is what we decide to do. So that might offset the extra expense to have the house wired dual. Then again there is cost to send that stuff over.

Maybe the simplest solution would be to get rid of it all my electronics and just start over. Get a newer home theater system with the latest advances or maybe none at all. Sell the amp to someone that would enjoy it as much I have.

After all in the end, we don’t really own anything, do we?