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US/European Power Converter Question

  1. Sep 22, 2010 #1
    Hello all!

    I just moved to Ireland with my U.S. music equipment in tow, and after doing a little googling I'm still having trouble getting the answers I'm looking for. So here goes:

    I bought a converter which has a transformer in it that is capable of handling 50W, as well as a "solid state power converter for non-electronic devices" that can handle 2000W.

    Here is my question: what about the solid state power converter makes it incapable of being used for electronics? Is it the waveform shape? Power is power, right, so if it can output a certain current at the standard U.S. 120VAC, why is it unusable with electronics? It seems to me the only thing that could possibly distinguish a 1500 watt load from a ceramic heater and a 1500 watt load from 10 guitar amps is changes in power factor due to capacitive/inductive effects...what am I missing? Could I possibly hurt anything besides the converter by trying to drive my equipment with it?

    Also, can anyone explain to me or point me to a schematic of this mysterious 'solid state power converter'? Is it just some sort of switching supply topology?

    Thanks for the insight.
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 22, 2010 #2


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    Gold Member

    The converter is likely designed in such a way that it outputs some horrible locking waveform; i.e. something that probably looks more like a square wave than a sine. It would probably be a very bad idea to hook it up to your hifi.
    And yes, it is most likely using some form of switching topology; this is what makes is so efficient (but it is also the reason why it is not generating a pure sine).
  4. Sep 22, 2010 #3
    Power is not power. You need to convert voltage, and maybe frequency also.

    Does your electronics have 115V, 60 Hz transformers? Are they rated for 50 Hz operation? Will you be using 230V 50 Hz power? If so, you can use a step-down autotransformer.Cost ~$160, weight ~ 20 pounds.

    Some 60 Hz transformers are not rated for 50 Hz operation, because 50 Hz power will exceed the volt-seconds limit on the transformer primary.

    If you need to convert 50 Hz to 60 Hz, you need a rotary converter (motor-alternator) or a AC-DC-AC solid state inverter with a filtered sine-wave output.

    I hope this helps.

    Bob S
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