110V vs. 220V Appliances
I make it a habit to spend a bit of time every once in a while surfing
the various Aliyah forums, groups and sites, listening to the electrical
questions that are being asked. I can't help noticing all the contradicting
information, especially concerning the topic of bringing 110v appliances to
Israel from North America. There are always some well meaning people who give
advice based on their own experiences that may or may not be the norm. Those
using 110V appliances under certain conditions may not be aware of possible long
term damage they are causing their appliance, yet they are advising others to do
the same. Since there are so many factors to consider, I will attempt to
separate fact from fiction, and from other personal considerations that each
person will have to decide for themselves.
There are three basic ways that the voltage is commonly changed for use with appliances in a home.
1. The transformer, which is made of coils, is quite hefty for
it's size. The coils increase or decrease the voltage according to it's
specifications. Transformers are rated in VA (volt-ampere). This is not the same
as a watt, which is normally what is used to rate your appliances. Therefore you
should always buy a transformer with a VA rating that is 30-40% more than the
wattage of the appliance that you will run off it.
Some Appliances Don't Need Any Help
Some appliances are built today to work within a range of voltage and cycles. Take a look at the specifications on the power pack or the back of the appliance itself and see what it says. If it has something like "INPUT: 110V-240V 60Hz/50Hz " then it will work here in Israel without any additional parts (well...possibly just a plug converter, to be able to plug it into an Israeli outlet).
How Each of The Converting Methods Affect Your Appliances
Lets start with the power pack first because that is the easiest to deal
with. If you have an appliance that uses a AC-DC power pack, then it is pretty
much certain that the appliance can be used in Israel one way or other. If after
reading the specifications on the power pack and deciding that it is for 110V
use ONLY (see section above), then bring the power pack with you when you come
to Israel, and use it as a sample when you go to buy a new power pack for 220V
use. Power packs can be bought relatively cheap here. When buying a new power
pack, make sure that the output specifications match the original (voltage, amp,
polarity, and the plug that attaches to the appliance). It is not worth running
a power pack off a transformer unless your power pack happens to be one that
supplies a weird voltage, and a 220V replacement cannot be found.
So What's All This About The Cycles?
Like we mentioned above, the electrical cycles in North America and in Israel
are different (N. America=60Hz Israel=50Hz). The change in cycles will affect
the speed of a motor and cause havoc with a few electronic devices (mainly those
that are NOT working through a AC-DC power pack or rectifier). It will cause
clocks to lose time rapidly and cause many appliances to run inefficiently. The
change in hertz causes motors to heat up and wear out prematurely. Having said
that, different appliances react differently to the change in cycles. It is
therefore very difficult to make a sweeping statment as to what appliance will
function properly with the change of cycles. Each appliance must be examined on
it own merit.
Decisions, Decisions, Decisions
Now that you have all the electrical facts, it's time for the difficult job
of deciding which 110V appliances are worth bringing with you to Israel, and
which are not. From this point on I can only give some pointers and advice, both
of which could change with time, depending on prices and many other variables.
Other small appliances such as mixers, food processors, etc will usually work fine on a transformer. Even though theoretically the change in cycles should cause ill affects on the motors, the change in speed will probably not be felt and the appliance will be used for such a short period of time, that the change in cycles will probably not have much of an affect on the life of the motor. You can always buy one of those special transformers described above.
Much of your solid state equipment may already be built to operate with both 110V/220V and 60Hz/50Hz. Read the specifications or look on the back panel of the appliance for this information. Otherwise, with the exception of those appliances that need to work at a certain speed (tape recorders, DVDs, record players...etc), most of the rest will work well with a transformer (because most have built into them power supplies that not only lower the voltage furthur, but also convert it to DC). Tape recorders, DVDs and other such devices that need to run at a specific speed, may still work with a transformer if there is a built-in rectifier that supplies the whole unit. Always check the specifications to be sure.
As you can see there are a lot of things to consider and decisions to make. Hopefully you are now in a better position to make the right ones.