Rewiring American appliances to accommodate French electrical power supply

I know this is a long shot given the low number of persons who've moved power tools and appliances from the US, but ... have you seen a way to rewire motorized electrical devices for French voltage?

I know of two alternative options -- buying all new appliances and tools, and using a $20-30 power converter. I prefer not to buy all new. Are there shortcomings to using a number of power converters?

Thank you.

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Cannot see any reason why multiple converters would be a problem, a lot of equipment we use nowadays has them anyway, think phones, computers, flat screen tvs, battery chargers, routers, radios, the list goes on....

I would check the device's power consumption before buying a converter for it though, and buy accordingly, a 50w converter can be had for less than 5euros and will probably be fine for small appliances like radios, an oven however will probably call for a few thousand watts and be a bit more expensive

when it comes to your power tools, as you will only be using one at a time you could plug 1 converter into the wall and then use a multiplug to plug multiple tools into it saving buying one for every device

Site work power tools in the UK are 110v and plug into heavy transformers. You could chop off the USA plug and fit the UK 110v plugs or as I did get a friend from the US to send me a GFCI socket which I wired to the UK 110v lead to use the UK 110v supply. Motors run a tiny bit slower but not really by an amount you'd notice but at least you won't have to cut the US plug off. You can order 110v transformers from UK websites and get them delivered like Screwfix etc

Here's a 5kW one from Amazon @ 250€:

That might just about support a small collection of US power tools, e.g. up to a prized 1kW 110V SDS drill.

For fitted appliances, unless they have 110/220V options at the input, you're better off buying new.

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not sure why you would recomend that...

you can get coverters ranging from 50w all the way up to stupid, with power tools you will only be using one or two at a time and you can get ones to run the appliances at the right wattage

the question is about if there is a problem using lots of them on the mains supply, which there isn't, not about where one can obtain them from

eg... here is a 45w one, bit more than i quoted but i know they can be had cheaper

Biggest difference between the Amazon jobby and Screwfix + a couple of 16A plugs is the money aspect. ÂŁ63 for the transformer at 3KVA.

totaly agree they can be had cheaper but this only covers the power tools, and even then i think you would find cheaper, and again, rather than cut plugs off, buy an extension lead/multi socket, cut the plug off that and change it for the input plug

he was also asking about appliances, so unless you are going to have your fridge, oven, dishwasher, washing machine etc all plugged into the same place you are going to want multiples

again the question is about problems using lots of them and alternatives(rewinding motors etc) not where they can be had

Why did I recommend it?

It should handle the high start-up and inductive load of a 1kW SDS drill (some 3kW transformers would struggle). It's more portable than a site transformer, e.g. 18Kg vs 34Kg. It's ready to plug into a french socket. It has US sockets ready for domestic US tools (as opposed to UK 110V site tools).

For a fitted, 110V only, motorised appliance, such as a washing machine, its replacement cost (230V equiv) would have to be several times the cost of a suitable dedicated transformer to make it economic.

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Thank you all for your suggestions.

In some cases it's going to be effective to use multiple converters or one converter of a high enough voltage. Prices of applicances are lower in France than in the US, so might buy some there. Re-buying power tools can get expensive.

Yep, done/doing that with a yellow UK (50 Hz) 110V site box and US 110V (60 Hz) power tools, although the biggest load is 2Kw. That said it is an inconvenience carting the box around the house as it weighs a Ton.

If by Appliances you mean Domestic Appliances, I seem to think US Cookers are 240V and have a seperate power feed coming in from the supplying mains, although I might have dreamed/confused that bit.

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Hi John, I just found this discussion thread and I’m trying to determine whether one could chop off the USA plugs on, say, floor lamps and replace with a French plug… You mention UK plugs but wondered if you might have a thought on this, in regard to French electrical supply which I understand has a higher voltage. My thought is that if USA voltage is lower than either UK or France voltages, the wiring itself might not be good enough to support higher voltage once the plug is chopped and replaced.

For things like lamps, yes just change the plug and bulb. I would imagine that the existing cables are fine as lights are low power items, especially LEDs . Anything else, I think, needs a power converter.

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Er, bulb? Sorry. Change to which bulb, sorry I’m so dense.

Light bulbs…??? I’m able to buy exactly the same light bulbs in france as I bought in uk to fit my uk lamps…I admit I havent chopped off any plugs nor interfered with wiring…just plug my uk plugs into a travel adapter and voila…they work perfectly…I would imagine there is a USA equivalent travel adaptor…??? I bought one at the airport on my flight out to view and sign and to enable me to charge my uk mobile phone…cost a fortune compared to the 20 adaptors I bought later to suit my uk appliances before I moved here.,…half of them are still on standby…I don’t know why I thought I would need so many…!

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Travel adaptors are ok for short term use, but they can (and do) burn out with long term use with higher powered appliances. It is better to change the plug if you are competent, if not get someone -an electrician, to show you how its done. Try to use a reputable brand of plug, eg Legrand.

When we first came to France, I adapted a UK multiblock lead to use a French plug to avoid the use of adaptors, and changing a whole load of plugs immediately.

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The problem with many US electrical items is that many are made to use a different voltage, it’s not as simple as just changing a plug or using an adaptor.

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Frankly, why bring the stuff over here… half the fun is doing the rounds, finding out what is on offer…

And when you buy from a good appliance shop, you have their guarantee… Darty, Leroy Merlin… to name but 2…and there are many more.

When we moved full-time, we ordered stuff from Darty, to be available/delivered shortly after we arrived… worked like a charm.

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I hate shopping.

Much easier to bring stuff over.

We’ve been using those tiny converters for our lamps and American lightbulbs. So far, only one bulb burned out.


Le pessimiste voit la difficulté dans tous les opportunités . L’optimiste voit l’opportunité dans chaque difficulté.
– Lequel es-tu?

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I bought a 3kw transformer years ago to use with power tools I’d brought back to the UK from Canada. Built a splendid wooden box for it with a sturdy handle and stuck on a North American socket. I still have a bad back from lugging the thing around. It might be worth doing this for a table saw or other large, expensive tools but I wouldn’t consider it for portable tools. Prices have plumeted over the years and the likes of Aldi and Lidl sell surprisingly well-made kit for not a lot of money. I gave all my 110v power tools and the transformer to a friend and suspect they’re still gathering dust in his garage.

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If it is a 110 or 120v lamp it will need the lamp changing to a 220-240v lamp
Cable wise It will be fine, the lower voltage USA (some US is 220-240) means it will have a higher current rating. The higher voltage will mean a lower current draw.
I.E. 110v, 100watt lamp, current draw 0.9 amps
240v, 100watt lamp, current draw 0.4 amps

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