How To Safely Charge A Power Wheelchair Abroad - Warnings

Traveling abroad with a power wheelchair requires awareness of the differences in power voltage and frequency used in the country you are visiting.  Wall outlets in the United States provide power at 120 volts (60 Hz) and accept type A and B cables/plugs.

What is visible abroad are the differences in the cables/plugs -- they look different from those used in America.  Plug adapters are readily available and the vast majority of hotels loan them to their hotel guests.  These plug adapters allow you to connect a device to a wall outlet, but do not correct the underlying differences of voltage and frequency.

Plugging a 120V American appliance such as a hair dryer or power wheelchair into a 240V power source can be dangerous.  Smoke, fire and explosion could all result from this contact.  For the power wheelchair user, any of these reactions would leave the wheelchair or its off-board charging unit inoperable.

While many U.S. hotel chains provide a 120V outlet in their foreign hotel rooms, this is never a guarantee.  You can check with your hotel in advance, but you should ask to speak to the hotel's technician.

If traveling with a power wheelchair or scooter, it is wise to plan for a 120V outlet to not be available.  There are two options for safely connecting your 120V wheelchair to a 220V-250V outlet:  converters and transformers.

Goldource Voltage Transformer

This voltage transformer safely steps-down the voltage of a foreign power outlet.

A voltage converter is an affordable tool which splits the current.  These are small devices, usually no larger than a standard power surge protector.  In purchasing a converter, be sure to verify that its wattage range supports the rating of your wheelchair or device.

The second and more expensive option is the transformer.  Transformers can either step-up or step-down the power current, making it safe to use for your devices.  For an American traveling to the United Kingdom, the transformer will serve the purpose of stepping down the U.K's higher power voltage.  Transformers are significantly larger than voltage converters, but are safer and more reliable.  A typical transformer weighs at least 10 pounds.

Purchase equipment
Consider supporting by purchasing one of our recommended pieces of equipment from Amazon.  We will receive a small commission from your purchase.  This money is used toward the cost of operating this website.

Wall adapter:  Mudder All-in-One International Travel Adapter with AC & USB Ports

Voltage converter:  Bestek Portable Voltage Converter 220V to 110V with AC & USB Ports

Transformer:  Goldsource 1000 Watt Step-Up/Step-Down Voltage Transformer with AC & USB Ports

  • Craig Macbride

    This is all way more effort than you need. Just get a decent 110-250V charger for your wheelchair that will take a standard kettle/computer cord and then all you need is a local power cord. (Or take your cord and a plug adapter.)

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