Advise on Using US Electrical Goods in United Kingdom

Updated on October 20, 2009
L.S. asks from Spring, TX
11 answers

I'm reaching out to any of you that have had experience or knowledge of relocating to the United Kingdom from USA. My QUESTION is has anyone used their American washing machines.dryers, vacuum's (expensive electrics) etc in the UK ? I'm aware the voltage is different and currently use a "travel converter" for items like hairdryers, laptops etc when we visit Europe but for our larger items that we can't sell we would love to take home with us. We would like to know what our options are. In the past we have blown fuses just by using a converter when the wattage hasn't been acceptable. It is hard to contemplate the thought of selling/giving away all our electrical equipment for our house ..... can you imagine !!! Any help is really appreciated.

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So What Happened?

Wow this webside/resource is fantastic !!!! I really appreciate everyone taking the time to reply and give their advice. We have decided to sell our large appliances and take some of our smaller items...... which leads me to my next question about Woodlands Online which I'll post. Thanks again everyone. I now don't feel so alone in making these decisions about our move. With a 5 month baby trying to organize a relocation is a little overwhelming.

Featured Answers



answers from Beaumont on

sell them before you leave. if there are elecrical issues, a converter won't solve them. shipping plus electrical woes would easily offset the apparent savings of keeping what you have. IMHO
anyway, good luck

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answers from Sherman on

Our best friends moved to Vienna two years ago. The sold or stored all of their big electronics and bought new ones over there. They use the converters for small electronics like hair dryers and curling irons. They did buy new computers when they got there but I think that was just because it was time to do so. Before we visited them last May, she advised me to make sure any electronics we brought had dual voltage capabilities. She'd be shocked several times and also ruined a few small electronics by not checking that first. They bought a new TV and new washer/dryer set when they got there and they actually like them a lot better than anything they had in the US.



answers from Houston on

I came the other way - from the UK to here, it cost us around $8000 to ship over around 20 large boxes 2 cats and a dog.
We gave away or sold all of our electrical stuff, its just not worth shipping it - the voltage is double what it is in the usa, which means your equipment will run much faster, and wont be safe.

your laptop would be fine, you can buy a new power lead for that, and some itmes have a switch you can switch from 110 to 240.
you will find it will be MUCH MUCH cheaper to buy electrical items new rather than ship them and possibly cause an electrical fire in your home.
where are you moving to?



answers from San Antonio on

I wouldn't reccomend it. When we lived in Germany we had transformers for things like vaccum and kitchen appliances. I can't imagine the size needed for large applainces, also I have never seen the funky outlet you would need for a dryer. Not to mention transformers cause appliances to wear out faster, some even recoomed not using them-kitchenaide for one. The other thing to know is at least in Germany your washer hookup was cold water only, the washers themselves had heaters to heat the water. So if you took you washer and that was the case, only cold water washes. If you are only going for a couple of years you might want to consider storage, but I wouldn't do it for more than 2 or 3 years.
Good luck and have a blast!



answers from Houston on

Sounds like you have already gotten some good advice, but wanted to lend my support as well. When we were relocating overseas (just over a year ago now), we were told by a professional that anything with a motor was not a good idea to transform because it would never be the same after using a converter. So, we brought alarm clocks but not my mixer, etc.

Also, often the space in UK houses is much smaller than we are used to the in US and may not have room for a full washer and dryer. I know that it seems overwhelming to think of selling everything but is there a place to store your items if this is a temporary (couple of years) move or is there a family member in the US who could use the items while you are away?

Good luck with the move and your new location - my daughter was 3 months old when we moved to the Middle East and we are having a ball.



answers from Austin on

hello, we actually live in the UK right now ( military) and we use transformers. They are big and bulky but they automatically convert US spec appliances to UK. The transformer plugs into the UK socket and your appliances plug into the transformer. Hope this helps!



answers from Houston on

We have just moved to the UK and we didn't bring our large electrical items. We did buy several transformers to power some of our smaller items. I do know however of someone who did bring their US items but they were building their house and built several 10,000 watt transformers into the walls to handle the load and as these transformers are several 100 dollars not really cost effective if you ask me... Vacuum's definitely won't work and they pull so much power on start up they could really blow up your electrics! Also as an FYI - you can bring all your US lamps. An electrician can just cut off the american plug and wire a UK one. I didn't realize this at the time and so didn't bring ours.. Good luck!



answers from Austin on

We lived in France which has the same 240 Volts and 50 Cycle power as England (and all of Europe). The first time we took our US refrigerator, dryer, washer and several other electronic appliances. The main point is the 50 cycles there instead of the 60 we use in the USA. That means that these motorized appliances can work, but won't run as fast or as efficiently. You will need an "autotransformer" for all of these which creates a clean 120 volts from the 240, but at 50 cycles not 60. Any appliances with clocks in them will not keep time correctly, running 5/6ths of the proper speed.

Our refrigerator worked, BUT by running slower, ran nearly all of the time instead of cycling on and off. Therefore I don't recommend taking the fridge. Our "4 Star" American fridge worked like a 3 Star French one. Over there refrigerators are rated from one to four stars. Four star refrigerators are the same as those in USA, meaning they are good for freezing meat quickly, keeping ice cream and food frozen, making ice, keeping food at the desired cool temperature. Three stars, drop off the "freezing meat quickly". Two stars and food won't stay solidly frozen if at all and ice cream is REAL soft. One star is like an icebox with ice to keep things cool.

Our washer and dryer worked fine on an autotransformer. Both required 120V for their timers and motors with the dryer also needing 240V for the heating elements. These were Kenmore's, so we were able to buy alternate 50 cycle timers and pulley for 50 cycles. They still worked for 10 more years after returning to the US. Hooking everything up will require someone knowledgeable electrically so there won't be a shock hazard.

If you buy appliances there, be sure to buy a good brand. My second time over there we didn't take our appliances, but bought them there. The Spanish brand washer broke (drum supports rusted through) in less than a year. We bought a German Bosch replacement which was still working great 3 years later when we came back. We sold all appliances for 1/2 what we paid for them to others in the company for which I worked.

FYI: American TVs of any kind won't work there.

Many Americans move back to the US in May or June at the end of the school year as we did. If you will have a child in an American Schools overseas you would probably be able to find some used appliances to buy during that time too.

If you do take the washer, dryer and other 120 VAC appliances/stereos, you will definitely need a transformer to create the proper 120V power (sine wave) for them to run correctly. The cheap convertors for hair dryers, shavers etc don't do this as they just clip the 240 volts so that the average power is 120V.
I brought back to the states the heavy duty one we used for the 3 kitchen appliances, as well as a smaller one for the living room stereo. They are quite expensive to buy new. Since I'm now retired, I won't be going back to work there to live. I could sell you these two for a reasonable price if you're interested as they're just sitting in our attic.

Again, you will need an electrician or someone knowledgeable electically to wire everything up with proper connections, plugs etc, as you could have a serious shock hazard if not correctly done.

Good Luck,
Tom (C.'s husband, an Electrical Engineer)


answers from Sherman on

Wow, sweeetie, i hate to be pesimistic, but i'd really try to sell your big electric items. not only are they going to be very expencive to ship,(have you checked on shipping yet?) but i'm afraid they would be a constant headache when you get them there. and might even do damage to your home, are you renting or buying?
If you are renting your landlord might not even let you use them.
I've traveled for years with converters for small electrics and those still have shorts all the time, i'd hate to be mucking about with larger amounts of electricity.
My best advice is to contact each items manufacturer, but chances are it will void any warrenty.
I have a friend who has lived in Uk for a few years, i'll ask if she used any large electrics sucessfully and if so, i'll check back with you.
good luck!



answers from Houston on

we lived in germany and folks brought thei huge american fridges. just need a transformer. you can probably get them here. make sure it is big enough.



answers from Houston on

I agree with the other posts. we moved from US to Netherlands and we bought converters for our small kitchen appliances (not a trevel converter but a bigger one). I would definitely not bring larger ones like a washer dryer or fridge. First, the converters would be very large and heavy and will ruin your appliances sooooo fast that you will have to buy a new one. Better to buy the big stuff there. Have you tried to sell your old ones on craiglist or post at colleges, etc. I am sure someone will take them! or maybe donate them? good luck with the move

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