Can You Use US Electrical Appliances In The UK? (Problems+Solutions)

Shifting from the US to the UK must be exciting. But if you are confused between taking your electrical appliances to the UK or leaving them behind, you are in the right place. Let’s find the best choice for you.

If you are planning to use your US electric appliances in the UK, you will need step-down transformers and UK adaptors to use them. The standard voltage in the US electrical system is 110 v, but in the UK, it’s 210 v. So, you will need step-down transformers to use the US appliances in the UK.

You will also need an adaptor to plug in the US electric socket in the UK. You don’t need the voltage converters if you have a dual voltage appliance.

I will help you understand the standard electrical difference between the US and the UK in this article. You will also know what steps you can take to use US electrical appliances in the UK. So, keep reading. 

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Can you use the US electrical appliances in the UK? 

Once you decide to shift from the US to the UK, one of the main concerns might be what to do with electric appliances.

I had a friend who shifted from the US to the UK and struggled with all these.

But now she’s happily settled.

And since I had hour-long conversations with her regarding this, why not share this with you all here?

I know many of you are looking for this information, so I hope this helps.

It would help if you considered some important facts about shifting electrical appliances from the US to the UK.

US electric appliances are designed to work with a 110 v.

Still, they won’t work in the UK as the voltage of electrical appliances there is 220-240 V.

But electrical appliances with a dual voltage of 110v to 210v will be suitable for US and UK use.

If your electric appliances don’t have dual voltage, they will not work in the UK.

Differences Between the US and UK Electrical Systems

Before deciding to take your electric appliances from the US to the UK, you must understand the difference in electrical systems between these two countries.

By equipping yourself with the knowledge of electrical systems, you can avoid facing troubles, and it will help you make better decisions.

Every country decides on its electrical system and rules as there is no standard law internationally.

Here are the three major differences between the US and the UK electrical systems.

The difference in the voltage

The power source of the electric circuit that creates pressure to push charged electrons through a conducting loop is what we call a voltage.

Every country has different voltage standards, as do the US and UK.

As I mentioned earlier, the standard voltage of an electrical system in the US is 120v, while in the UK, the standard voltage is as high as 240v.

As you can see, there is a huge voltage difference in the voltage of both countries, using electrical appliances from the US in the UK will not be a wise choice.

But we can use it by connecting it to the voltage transformer.

If you have purchased dual voltage appliances, then you are safe to use just by using the adaptor to fit in the UK electrical boards.

The difference in the frequency

To give you a basic understanding, the rate at which the current changes its direction per second is called frequency.

Hertz is the unit used to measure frequency.

How many times a sine wave passes through positive and negative terminals in one second is measured as hertz. 

One hertz is equal to one cycle per second. 

Even though you have dual voltage appliances, you must ensure the frequencies align between the electric systems of both countries.

You must know that the frequency of the electric current in US electric appliances is 60 Hz.

In comparison, the frequency standard in the UK is 50 Hz.

If you wonder why frequency matters, it is an important factor to consider because it affects the speed of the motor in electrical appliances.

50Hz is 20% lower than 60Hz frequency.

And also, you must know that the speed of the motor for 50 Hz is 1500 RPM, but for 60 Hz, it is 1800 RPM.

RPM is the speed of rotation of a machine in revolutions per minute.

With that said, consider this important factor while shifting your electric appliances from the US to the UK.

The difference in an electric plug

As voltage and frequencies differ between the US and the UK, the electrical socket also differs.

In the UK, type G outlets are used.

It has three rectangular holes, and it will have a switch above them, which you can switch ON and OFF for the electric supply.

While in the US, you use two sockets: type A and type B.

In this case, you can use an adaptor to fit the electrical appliance you brought to the UK from the US.

But if the voltage and the frequency differ, your electric appliances won’t function.

These are the major differences between the US and UK electrical appliances.

Not only does the socket differ between the US and the UK, but the ON and OFF methods also differ.

In the US, you will push the switch up to turn it ON and down to turn it off, but in the UK, you will find the exact opposite.

They will push the switch up to turn it OFF and off to turn it ON.

You must be aware of this functionality to avoid confusion after shifting to the UK.

Do you need a voltage converter? 

As discussed earlier, the voltage between US and UK electrical systems is widely different.

The voltage of an electrical system in the US is 120v, whereas, in the UK, it ranges from 220v to 240v.

You can use a voltage converter to alter the voltage supply.

In your case, you must choose a step-down voltage converter.

This step-down voltage converter will reduce the voltage of the UK electrical systems to the level of the US electrical appliances.

Voltage converters are generally of two types, step-up voltage converters and step-down voltage converters.

As I said earlier, you must use a step-down voltage converter since you are moving from the US to the UK.

If someone is moving from the UK to the US, they must use a step-up converter to increase the voltage to match the UK electrical appliances.

Remember, using electric appliances in the UK without a voltage converter will put you in a dangerous situation or damage the appliances.

Be careful in this part of choosing the best voltage convertor to avoid any further trouble.

Why is a voltage converter important when shifting electrical appliances from the US to the UK?

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You don’t need a voltage converter if your electric appliances are of double voltage.

You can directly use it when you shift to the UK.

If you have electrical appliances with single input voltages, you should use a voltage converter or transformer to reduce the voltage pressure.

If you do not use the voltage converter, your electric appliances won’t work properly.

It will work for a short period before it dies.

It will also destroy your electric appliances.

There are also chances of having fire accidents.

It would be best if you also used transformers for larger electronic appliances like the washer and the dryer.

The voltage converter and the transformer are two different things.

Voltage converters are used for small devices which require fewer watts.

Transformers convert the voltage of larger appliances that require more watts.

Choose a voltage converter that will also convert the electric supply’s frequency.

In the end, you should know about the watts required by all the appliances and the watts capacity of the transformer.

You can refer to the label of the transformer to gather the details of the watts capacity of the transformer you are going to install.

You can connect the electrical strip to the transformer to give power to all the electrical appliances.

Let’s assume that you will install 5 electrical appliances, each needing 50 watts, then you need to install a transformer of 250 watts.

Don’t connect more appliances than your transformer’s capacity of providing watts.

Doing this will damage the appliances and will cause hazards.

Suppose you are not using the voltage converter or the transformer before connecting the 120v appliance to the 240 v appliance.

In that case, the power will start to flow, causing the device to run overvoltage.

Doing this will result in the burning of wires and melting of the fuse, which will cause smoke and fire.

You cannot prevent your electrical appliances from being damaged.

How to deal with the frequency difference between the US and the UK electric appliances? 

As I said earlier, the frequency of the US electric system is 60 Hz. 

While in the UK, it is 50 Hz.

You will be in trouble if your transformer doesn’t convert the frequency difference.

It would be best if you were more careful about the frequency with appliances with motors with wheels and running fans.

With this frequency, these appliances will run inappropriately, overheating the appliances and eventually ruining the entire appliance.

On the other hand, the mismatching frequencies will not affect appliances with DC motors because it derives the current within themselves.

To find the solution for this, you can refer to your user manual or hire a professional for the best results. 

How to check the voltage of your appliances? 

You can check the voltage of your electric circuit using the digital multimeter or the voltmeter.

You can also refer to the manual of your appliances to find their voltage.

They will be mentioned with unit V. 

If you can’t find it, you can seek help from professionals. 

The best US to the UK voltage converters

It is always advisable to buy the best quality voltage converters for an efficient function.

I have 2 voltage converter recommendations to share with you:

Can you bring US kitchen appliances to the UK? 

When it comes to kitchen appliances, it will be worth shifting them from the US to the UK only if they have dual voltage to work both in the US and the UK.

It is not worth the effort if they are single-voltage machines designed to work only in the US.

Because the new refrigerator, washer, and dryer, the oven will cost less than the cost required to ship the appliances from the US to the UK.

You can buy new appliances instead of shipping them overseas.

If you ship, you will have to install a transformer.

A quality transformer will cost you much, and if you choose to buy cheap transformers, it will damage the appliances.

However, if you decide to ship your electric appliances from the US, make sure your appliances fit to pass through the doorways because electric appliances in the UK are designed in such a way to fit the small doorways. 

Final thoughts

Before shifting electrical appliances from the US to the UK, it is important to know their advantages and disadvantages. And make sure it is worth the effort.

As discussed in the article, use electric appliances in the US only after connecting to the voltage converter, or else you will face the consequences.

While installing transformers for your big kitchen appliances, ensure they are of good quality. Please don’t fall for cheap transformers. 

I hope this article helped you find the best option between leaving behind your electric appliances or taking them to the UK.

Reference: University of Florida, Electrical systems differ, IEC World Plugs.

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Jeniffer Smith

Hi, I am Jeniffer Smith, a housemaker and blogger, and I grew up in Shrewsbury, Massachusetts. I have been researching and fixing appliances and other things around the home and kitchen from a young age to help my single mother. Every time something went wrong, I couldn't rest until I fixed it. And ever since, I have enjoyed fixing things around my home, and I am always ready to help my friends and family with advice and hands-on help. Since we were always looking for affordable ways of fixing things, we rarely hired experts and tried to fix most things ourselves. That interest brought me to write for this blog, as I realized my knowledge could help many people trying to fix things around their homes on their own without spending hundreds of dollars.

2 thoughts on “Can You Use US Electrical Appliances In The UK? (Problems+Solutions)

  1. I have large collections of both CDs for music and DVDs (some very rare) here in the US. If I were to move to the UK (where I was born), can I take my players with me and use a converter/transformer to change the players to 240V/50Hz?

    1. Hey,
      I am glad you found something helpful on our site.

      Yes, you should be able to take your CD and DVD players with you to the UK and use a converter/transformer to change the voltage and frequency to 240V/50Hz. However, it’s important to note that the UK uses a different region code for DVDs (Region 2) than the US (Region 1), so you may need to check if your DVD player is compatible with Region 2 discs. Additionally, you may need to purchase a new power cord or adapter to fit the UK’s electrical outlets.

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