We at the Periogen Company continue to receive inquiries and stories about burned up oral irrigators related to travel or a move to a neighboring country. Many people have learned an expensive lesson that oral irrigators sold in the US and operated abroad quickly burn out if used with the wrong plug adapter. The picture below shows a US style (110/120 volt) oral irrigator plugged into the correct type of power converter known as a “Stepdown Voltage Converter”. Pictured to the left of it are the ubiquitous “Euro to US” wall plug adapters improperly marketed and sold as “Voltage Converters”.
As some background to this issue, in the United States 220/240 volt ac power is delivered to most households however we only use half of that (110/120 volt) in our wall plugs to provide general household electric power while we reserve 210/220 volt power for electric stoves, ranges and dryers. As a result most all US appliances are wired for 110/120 volt power. In Europe and many other countries however 220/240 volt ac power is delivered to homes and used exclusively throughout the household to power everything right down to the lights. US/Euro wall plug shapes are different to prevent us from plugging in a 110/120 volt appliance into a 210/220 outlet and vice versa.
As it so happens some household electric devices commonly used in travel such as electric shavers and hairdryers can run on either 110/120 volt or 210/220 volt power… as long as one can convert the US style plug unto the Euro style wall outlet. The problem with traditional plug converters such as the ones pictured above circled in red is that they do not reduce voltage! All they do is rearrange the Euro plug style to a US style and deliver a full 210/220 volts to your appliance. Anyone that has used a US hairdryer in Europe with one of these simple plug converters may have noticed their hair dryer is running really fast since it is being fed 210/220 volts!
If you use one of those simple plug converters on your oral irrigator, it will run frantically for a short time and then burnout. To that end it is necessary to use a Stepdown voltage converter with your US made irrigator such as the one pictured above. Stepdown converters cut voltage in half reducing 210/220 volts to 110/120 volts and are available for 10 to 30 bucks. When you purchase or order one make sure it has the words “Stepdown Converter” in the product description. One last thing, “step down converters” are often limited to only 50 watts of output power so they are not suitable for hairdryers that pull nearly 1000 watts. When I travel, I take both a simple “plug converter” and a “step down converter” and that pretty well covers everything.