Aliyah (Electrical) FAQ


The electric current in the US is 110 volts, and Israel (along with most of Europe) uses 220 volts. Naturally, if you plug an American 110-volt appliance into an Israeli socket, it will probably burn out. Therefore, a transformer, or another type of converting device, is needed to convert the 220 volts to 110 volts. Many appliances cannot be used with a transformer, but this we will discuss later.

The difference in current doesn’t stop with the voltage. The Hertz is different as well. Hertz (Hz) are the cycles per second that the current runs. In the US the current runs at 60Hz, but in Israel we have 50Hz. Anything working with a motor (clocks, tape machines, fans, …etc.) will run 18% slower. A transformer does not change the Hertz, only the voltage. This means that using most of these appliances with a transformer will cause the appliance to heat up more, thus shortening its life span considerably.

Should you decide to use a transformer for any of your appliances, you should choose one that is rated 20% above the maximum wattage you intend to use.

Note: Some appliances get power through a powerpack of some sort (meaning the appliance is actually working off DC power). These powerpacks are sometimes rated for any input power between 110V and 250V 50/60 Hz.  Therefore it's important to ask the sales people and examine the specs. If the appliance has a powerpack that is rated only for an input of 110/120V, they can sometimes be swapped out for a similar powerpack that is rated for an input of 230V.  Again, this should always be checked before purchasing.

It is not recommended. Besides the problem with the Hertz (see question #1), a fridge using a transformer will consume more electricity, which naturally will translate into higher costs of running it. Another possible problem may be finding parts for the fridge. Parts for a 110v/60Hz fridge would be close to impossible to find, as service centers in Israel usually carry parts for 220V/50Hz products.

Not recommended. Again, the major reason would be the Hertz problem explained in question #1. Because of the difference in cycles, the timer will not keep proper time limits, causing poor operation and unsatisfactory results.

It depends on the appliance. Small appliances that do not depend on speed control of any type, can be used with a transformer. It may be slighting awkward dragging around a transformer together with the appliance everywhere, but in most cases it will work fine. Once again keep in mind that anything with a motor will run hotter and use more electricity. This, in turn, will shorten the life span of the appliance. The smaller appliances are usually not used for an extended period of time, so this shouldn’t be a major problem. For convenience sake, it’s usually better to simply buy a 220V appliance and not have to bother with transformers and the likes. For a heating appliance (hair dryer, toaster, kettle, etc), the transformer will be big and bulky, usually costing much more than the appliance itself. Having a transformer plugged in and not actually being used, consumes electricity and wears out the transformer more quickly.

A Transformer is an electrical device by which alternating current of one voltage is changed to another voltage using coils. There are several different types, but they all basically do the same thing – change the voltage. They are usually heavy for their size due to the weight of the coils (size and weight depends on their rating).

A Converter is an electronic device that is used in some cases instead of a transformer. The converter doesn’t actually lower the voltage, but rather delays each electrical cycle making the device think it is working with the proper voltage (does not produce an output of full sine wave electricity). If you were to measure with a voltmeter the output of the converter, it would actually measure 220V (in Israel). These converters are not to be used with any electronic devices, and I personally do not recommend using them with ANY device. Although they are sold for use with hair dryers, bottle warmers, irons, etc., I’ve seen too many of these appliances ruined when used with a converter.

In actual fact, anything that supplies power is a Power Supply. But usually when people talk about power supplies, they are talking about a device that not only lowers the voltage, but also converts AC (alternating current) to DC (direct current). These are what you find on many small electronic devices (Walkman, cordless telephones, desk clocks …etc.), looking like a small black box that gets plugged in the receptacle, and having a cord that plugs into whatever device you’re using. If you come from the US with a device using a power supply of this type rated for 110V, simply buy the 220V equivalent here in Israel. They are relatively inexpensive and work exactly like their 110V cousin. Make sure to bring the 110V power pack with you so you can be sure of buying exactly what you need.

Computers have built-in power supplies located in the back of the computer. Some computers coming from the US have a power supply with a switch on the back that can convert it for use on a 220V system. You can usually see this switch yourself, but if you are not sure, ask your technician. If the power supply in your computer can’t be converted with a “flick of a switch”, it can usually be replaced here in Israel fairly easily. The hertz isn’t an issue with the computer, because everything is converted to DC.

Most laptops manufactured after 1995 have a power supply that will work with both 110V and 220V, therefore no transformer is required. Check the power supply to be sure.

In most cases, fixtures using standard incandescent bulbs can be brought here and used with no problem, though the 110V bulbs should be taken out and left in the US. Those wanting to bring their chandeliers or other fixtures using the candelabra type bulbs, may have a hard time finding these bulbs in Israel (220V). In Israel we have the candelabra bulbs using a slightly different size thread (European) which will not fit the US sockets. If you decide that you must bring the fixture, then you may have to change all the bulb sockets to match the bulbs used here.
Fluorescent and other types of fixtures using ballasts or transformers can only be used in Israel if the ballasts/transformers are replaced with those working on 220V. As a general rule, unless the light fixture is an expensive one or has some sort of sentimental value, it’s probably more cost efficient to just leave it in the US.

Theoretically – yes. I have never tried doing this, nor do I know of anyone who has. If all the equipment matches, it could work, although I have my doubts about the quality and efficiency (both cost and electrical) that you would get. I can also see several potential problems.

First, inverters are not all the same. They come in basically 3 “flavors”.

1. The “square wave”, which is what the cheap inverters put out. These will not work on most devices due to uneven power delivery that is very inefficient. These are by far the cheapest.
2. The “Modified Square Wave”, which is a slight improvement over the regular square wave, but usually the price is higher than the improvement.
3. The “Pure Sine Wave”, is like regular AC voltage. These are the most expensive type.

If I am not mistaken, all these inverters put out 60Hz when bought in the US.

Similar to the problem explained above involving the cheaper inverters, most all AC to DC power packs do not give a true DC current. They are usually choppy, but good enough for most small appliances (some medical equipment need much better). What you are attempting to do is feed the inverter this choppy DC current while the inverter is relying on a clean DC source (battery). Doesn’t sound good to me, but may work.

Next, you must make sure that the wattages match your equipment’s ratings. The standard power pack is rated between 500mA – 1A. This doesn’t give you much in the way of power. You may have to order a more powerful one, which means more $$. You may find out that investing in a suitable inverter and power pack may not be cost efficient.

In conclusion, it MAY work with the right parts, but it seems to me more like an experiment rather than a reliable solution. In my humble opinion, if I had a stereo system that I valued, I wouldn’t be playing around with it so much, and if  it was a cheap system that I didn’t think much of,  I wouldn’t spend all this money to run it in Israel. I’d sell it and buy one that works on 220V. You may want to seek advice from someone who has more experience with inverters.

Naturally it would depend on the specific motor, but in most cases I doubt it would be worth it. For example, a client of mine brought to Israel a swimming pool pump (110V 60Hz) that cost him around $350 – $400 (big sale). When he installed it here with a transformer, it ran so hot that we thought it would burn out in an hour or so. It cost him over $260 (in 2004) to have it rewound for 220V 50Hz. He later realized that he should have just bought a 220V 50Hz pump and save time, aggravation, and when all was said and done – money.

Whether your monitor, printer, or any other piece of hardware will work in Israel depends on the way it was built. For instance, many new monitors will operate on both 110V and 220V, but not all of them. The best way of knowing is to read the specs that come with them, or contact the manufacturer. It would be very difficult for anyone to know every brand name of every piece of hardware, in order to give you accurate information. Usually printers and other computer items (speakers, hub, scanner, …) work off a separate power pack that converts the 110V AC to 3-24V DC. This power pack can usually be replaced relatively cheaply here in Israel with a 220V equivalent. There are those rare cases where you can’t find the equivalent power pack or you need a special one from the manufacturer, but those are the exceptions.

A “sheka briti”, as it is called in Israel, is an “M type” British plug. These sturdy looking plugs are rated for a maximum of 16A. Those who use them for large appliances that pull 25A or more, are doing sub-standard work that does not comply with any electrical standards ANYWHERE. What it really boils down to is common sense. If it says on the plug 16A then that’s the maximum that can be used. If you have an appliance that needs 30A, then you must have installed a plug that is rated for at least 30A (lets not forget the line and outlet). There is no two ways about it.
So to answer your question, I’d go with the electrician. (For more details see: Warning!)

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