You know what makes appliances and other electric items work, right? It’s magic smoke that is put inside by the manufacturer. Have you ever had a small appliance that you plugged into the wall outlet and a puff of smoke came out? If so, did you notice that the item didn’t work after the smoke came out? Well, you see, the manufacturer puts that smoke in, and if it escapes, the item is trash! It’s the smoke that makes it work! If the smoke escapes, you might as well trash the appliance!
Well, that’s an old joke. Of course, the smoke is not put inside by the manufacturer, the smoke is produced when there is a short circuit, or when too high of a voltage is fed to the appliance. Dave Starr has an interesting article about this on his blog from a few days ago. When I read that article that Dave wrote, it reminded me of my experience with bringing American appliances to the Philippines when we moved here.
You see, when Feyma and I moved to the Philippines in 2000, we brought almost all of our worldly goods with us from the States. A few things we left behind – either by selling it or giving it away – but most items were loaded into a container and shipped to the Philippines, to our new home. Of course, this included a lot of 110 Volt appliances from the United States. The voltage for almost everything in the States is 110V. Here in the Philippines the voltage at your house is 220V, or roughly double of the nominal voltage in the States. It’s OK, there are also step-down transformers readily available here. You simply plug the transformer into the wall outlet, and it converts the voltage to 110V, so that your American appliances can be used here. It’s that simple!
Well, let me change that…. it’s actually not simple at all. Over the course of time, you will invariably find that the item will accidently get plugged into the wrong voltage. Suddenly you plug in that toaster and a puff of magic smoke escapes, rendering your toaster useless! Believe me, no matter how hard you try, it happens. If you don’t do it, your maid will! And believe me, the maid will do it all the time!
What can you do? Well, items that get “fried” from the wrong voltage can be taken for repair – the transformer inside the item will be rewound, and the item will work again. You can even have the transformer rewound in a way that the item will work on 220V instead of 110!
Over the years, pretty much all of my electronic items around the house have been fried… some have been fried multiple times! We are almost completely converted to 220V appliances now, having had things rewound for 220V, or simply replacing them with new appliances purchased here in the Philippines over the years.
I do have one tip for you, though. If you bring 110V appliances with you when you move to the Philippines, go to the hardware store and purchase a can of red spray paint. That red spray paint will fix the problem. How? Spray the plug red on the end of the cord of every 110V item that you own. That way, it’s a reminder to the person who goes to plug the item in. Red = Danger. So, the message is: “Hey, danger. Think before you plug this cord into the wall!”
Personally, if I were moving here again, I probably would not bring any 110V appliances with me, I’d just buy new stuff here. Because eventually, your stuff will get fried!