Thursday, March 01, 2012

U.S. Military PCSing to Vicenza Italy: Power Supply

We left most of our 110V appliances in storage in the states and brought only our  computers, TVs, playstation (and all other gaming consoles) and a DVD player. We bought the rest of 220V appliances needs when we arrived here in Europe.

Believe me, as nice as your vacuum is... you won't want to be plugging it into a transformer and dragging it around the house as you vacuum. My advice: store it in the states.

When you get here you will get a Move In Housing Allowance (MIHA) that is pretty generous. It will cover buying a vacuum, microwave, food processor, hand blender, blow dryer, fans, transformers etc.

You can pick up used appliances, extension cords and transformers either at the base Thrift Shop or go to the Facebook Yard Sale pages to buy. Be warned though that these items are in high demand in the summer months and get cleaned out quickly. New transformers are available for purchase at the PX too.
Military are issued one transformer and an AFN Decoder from CFMO (the furniture borrowing warehouse) for the duration of your stay. You will also probably want to buy a transformer (or more) depending on how many electronics you want to plug in. For instance, if you plan on having a TV/DVD in each bedroom you will need a transformer for each room.

Confused about the difference between adapters and transformers?

Adapters "adapt" a US two or three prong plug so you can plug in your 110V item into a 220V plug in. Just because the adapter fits on your appliance plug does not mean that the appliance will work. Important: adapters do not change the current.  Adapters work mainly on laptops, electronics, lamps and some sewing machines that state acceptable voltage somewhere on them (110-230V). Never assume though. Look carefully - you don't want to ruin the item!

U.S. 110V lamps can be easily used without a transformer. Just change the light bulb (to a 220V) and use an adapter pushed on the plug in.

Transformers are large, heavy (some over 10 pounds), sometimes with multiple plug-ins. They transform the power supply from 220 to 110. You have to spend a little time figuring out how many watts you can plug into each transformer. The heavier and bigger the transformer, the more wattage you can plug into it.

Transformers suck power like crazy... even if it's not in use but still plugged into the wall it's drawing energy (you can hear it humming). If you're in a private rental you will be responsible for your electric bills and will want to conserve energy. Unplug when not in use!

Running items with a motor (such as a KitchenAid mixer or vacuum) on a transformer is not recommended and will eventually damage or ruin the appliance. Some items just won't work plugged into a transformer. For instance, you cannot run an electric clock on a transformer. It won't keep the time.

Transformers can be costly depending on the size. I think our large transformer cost us about $80 or more over here.

I'm going to stop my advice here and confess that I've ruined a paper shredder and blown up the power supply in a $1200 desktop computer. Do your own research about power supply, wattage and figure out what you will need over here.

In our house, we get by with two transformers: one behind our TV/gaming stuff and a smaller transformer for our desktop setup. We also keep a third smaller transformer for just in case stuff.

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