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Old May 8th, 2007, 07:44 PM   #1
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Convert US to UK power for lighting

Hello! A year or so ago i purchased a Britek lighting kit from the US consisting of 2 x 1000W lights, and 1 x 650W Halogen light. I also ordered 3 x plug converters for use in the UK. I am now having to use these lights, and realise that the converters are not really doing the job too well! They get VERY hot, and cut out sporadically! What is my best way of making these usable here in the UK? They have a US 3 pin plug on them...i thought the US was all 2 pins?!



Im not great at electricity, so your help would be much appreciated! Please let m know the easiest way to sort this out! Thanks



Matthew

London, UK
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Old May 8th, 2007, 11:00 PM   #2
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I left this same message for you on another board:

When you say, "cutting out" can you be more clear.

Do you think that it's your house breakers or is it something on the light itself cutting it off (maybe because it gets too hot for instance) or your plug adapters? I bet its the plug adapters...

A plug converter is many times a totally mechanical device and its doubtful that that is your problem if its this "passive" kind unless the adapter has a short or is wired wrong. A more active type of plug converter has a transformer on it though and that may be what you have. If its something designed for a hairdryer or shaver it will never be adequate for a 1000w video light. If its a transformer unit, that is surely the problem. Getting a transformer to handle 1000w or even 650w is a bigger deal than just a small plug adapter. We're talking about a very large unit usually for that kind of wattage and you would need one for each light. Very expensive, very heavy.

You definitely want to replace the bulbs with 240vac ones and then all you need is a mechanical US to UK plug adapter and no tranformer at all. There is generally no other active component in a tungsten lamp and the country's voltage dictates what voltage lamp you use because those kind of bulbs are totally driven from line voltage with no other circuitry involved than perhaps a switch. Transformers aren't a great long term solution so it's better to lose that as soon as possible.

Our older plugs here in the USA are two prong, but all new construction and remodeling is 3 prong (ground is third one).
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Old May 9th, 2007, 05:00 AM   #3
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It is the convertors themselves that are cutting out...the small LED on them goes out during use (sometimes not much use!).

Excuse my ignorance, im not particulary "hot" (no pun!) on electiricy and lighting, as you can probebly already tell!

No bulbs have been changed, and i am not currently using any transformers. I could buy large heavy voltage converters, but don't really want MORE equipment and weight!

http://www.beststuff.co.uk/voltage_conversion.htm

The bulbs are a Halogen Photo Optic Lamp 120V 600W, and 2 lights with 120V 1kw halogen bulbs.

The one other possible factor is that the adapters I was using were only 2 pin, so the 3rd pin on the light plugs was not plugged into anything...it was just left exposed on the outside of the adapter casing.

So...does that help at all? Should i be changing the bulbs? What to? Am i being really dumb if i ask what 240vac bulbs are?

Ignornace isnt always bliss i guess!

Thanks for you help!
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Old May 9th, 2007, 08:31 AM   #4
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Mathew:

You don't need a voltage converter. All you have to do is use different bulbs.

In the US, our power is 120 volts AC (Alternating Current). In the UK, it is 220 volts AC. If you run a 120 volt bulb at 220 volts, it burns very bright and have a very short life span! All you have to do is get 220 volt bulbs of the proper wattage. They will have the same bases, and fit right into your fixtures.

There are three prongs on your cord. One prong connects to the "hot" lead in the receptacle, one prong conects to the "neutral" lead in the receptacle, and the third prong connects to "ground". The ground wire is an extra safety device. If there should be a fault in the fixture whereby the hot wire touches the outer part of the fixture, any current flows through the third wire and to ground, instead of your body to ground. It is not necessary to have the third prong connected (the light will still work just fine) but it is an extra safety precaution. All you need to hook up your lights is a mechanical adapter which will permit the US "Edison" style plug to plug into the UK style wall receptacle.
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Old May 9th, 2007, 08:50 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Matthew Stokes View Post
It is the convertors themselves that are cutting out...the small LED on them goes out during use (sometimes not much use!).

...
No bulbs have been changed, and i am not currently using any transformers.
You are using transformers (small ones), you just don't know it. The adapter with the led on it has a transformer inside that is stepping 220vac down to 120vac and possibly creating 60hz from 50hz using active devices. However, this device is likely not rated for the kind of power you are trying to pull through it and it cuts out when it senses an overload condition.

As has been stated, for something as simple as a tungsten lamp fixture, you need only change out the lamps to the same wattage but with 220v supply ratings. Then, as Mark stated above, you'll only need the direct adapter for the US style plug to the UK plug.

The 3 wire plug has HOT (120vac), Neutral (Ovac) and ground (what you guys refer to as 'earthed'). In the power distribution here, all outlet grounds are connected to the neutral line in the breaker panel. On the appliance side, the external metal surfaces are connected to ground. Should the hot wire inside fail and touch the external metal surface, the current will travel back to ground rather than through your body because the ground represents the path of least resistance. Some appliances have only a two wire plug, but it will be polarized with a wide blade and a narrower blade. This ensures that the hot mains wire is routed correctly inside the device.

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Old May 9th, 2007, 10:16 AM   #6
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Thanks for the clarification guys! I may as well just cut the plugs and replace with UK plugs? Saves having to worry about having convertors.

As for the bulbs...are you able to tell me what i need? I have tried to get hold of Britec but to no avail, i was hoping that could help me!
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