My US Electronics in Germany

CBCB Ƹ̵̡Ӝ̵̨̄ƷDer Millionendorf- Icrontian

So, I'm going to Germany for a couple years, right? I'll need my PC at least, and I'm thinking, I can just get a nice power adapter (one that actually does a step-down of the voltage, I guess, right? and I can plug my UPS into that and my PC stuff into the UPS as usual, and that's golden. But then I notice that all the step down converters say stuff like "up to 200W" so, does that mean I can't use it with my PC since it has a 700W PSU? Or does that mean something else?

And what of my game consoles and other video devices, like my Rokus and FireTV sticks, will those work over there? I've seen some sites that say that anything that has its own power brick should be good to go with just a wall-plug converter. Is that right? That doesn't sound right.

You prolly know that a large portion of my life and time is centered around electronics and using them. I'm starting to worry that getting my electronics to work for me over there is going to be a heavy task. Has anyone done this sort of moving around and have any advice?


  • RyderRyder Kalamazoo, Mi Icrontian
    edited August 2015

    Every one of those items will say the rated input voltage on it.
    Your PC power supply especially will probably say 90 to 264V AC, which means all you need is an adapter for your US power lead to convert it to the German plug type. You can input 240V to it no problem.

    If your consoles and other electric items all show similar, then all you need is the adapter, no stepping down.
    Your UPS may be the exception, many of those work on 120 or 240 specifically.

  • ThraxThrax 🐌 Austin, TX Icrontian
    edited August 2015

    Look at all of your power bricks. Closely. The fine print. Check for 240V labeling. If this is present, it'll work with an adapter to EU pins.

    Almost all laptops will have this, ditto phone chargers. Some power supplies do it automatically, some you have to flip a switch. And so on.

    //edit: Almost everything with a power brick has a PFC circuit, which makes 110 vs. 240 irrelevant. It'd be a monumental waste of factory capacity to support two different AC mains, so they produce one unit with switching capabilities.

  • RyderRyder Kalamazoo, Mi Icrontian

    My laptop power brick and the chargers for my phone / tablet as well. 90 to 2xxV input, just needed the proper prongs to plug in when I was in the UK.

  • CBCB Ƹ̵̡Ӝ̵̨̄Ʒ Der Millionendorf- Icrontian

    What about lamps and photography light sources which are basically just a lightbulb with a cord sticking out of them? Like if I have a 600W video lighting set (I don't have it yet, but I was just about to buy one because I want to do some vlogging from Munich)?

  • ThraxThrax 🐌 Austin, TX Icrontian

    Buy it local.

  • CBCB Ƹ̵̡Ӝ̵̨̄Ʒ Der Millionendorf- Icrontian

    I was thinking that, but then I'd have to buy them again when I get home, or get a converter for here. You think 'buy them twice' is the best option for video production lamps?

  • primesuspectprimesuspect Beepin n' Boopin Detroit, MI Icrontian

    Or keep your American ones here with a friend until you get back

  • SignalSignal Icrontian

    Buy German, then sell them on the German equivalent of craigslist before you leave.

  • SnarkasmSnarkasm Madison, WI Icrontian

    Yeah, there's a pretty active secondhand market in the EU. I would hold off on purchasing it until over there, though it will, naturally, be more expensive.

  • drasnordrasnor Starship Operator Hawthorne, CA Icrontian
    edited August 2015

    Tripp Lite makes 240 VAC-input ISOBAR surge strips with US-style plugs on them which were super handy when my family was living overseas. We had a few of those with plug adapters on the inputs to plug in multiple US devices on the outputs without needing piles of bulky adapters. As a bonus, ISOBAR is just awesome for power in general and does an excellent job at filtering if the local mains power is especially dirty.

    Speaking of dirty power, do NOT plug anything other than lamps or curling irons into passive step-down converters. They use the same circuit as a triac lamp dimmer and will annihilate anything with a step-down power supply (all modern electronics).

    The only step-down converter worth using is a passive step-down isolation transformer. These are easy to tell because they're the size of a shoebox and weigh 20-60 lb from the enormous slug of iron wrapped in copper that's inside. As @Snarkasm said though; the best solution is to just have 240 VAC-capable power supplies for your stuff. Like @ryder said, the UPS is the only one that probably won't work. I'm not real clear on what's entailed in a video lighting system but I'll say that my parents found that each different region had their own favorite light bulb standard and that buying replacement light bulbs was an issue while they lived there (living in Serbia with German light fixtures).

  • BetsyDBetsyD Cincinnati, OH Icrontian

    An extension question to this: I am considering if I should replace my laptop with a transformer. (My laptop is old! And the Surface looks super cool.) I really don't do much other than surf the internet and small photo edits and the occasional steam game (not the big ones, the little ones). Is there a reasonably good one that's less than $800 that will still be good in Munich?

    Hardware wise: It just needs to support an SD card (from my camera), and a wireless mouse.

  • GHoosdumGHoosdum Icrontian

    Based on all the physics discussion in this thread, when I read "transformer" in your post I first thought you were talking about an electrical transformer, not a computer.

  • ColgereColgere Cincinnati, OH Icrontian

    Funny, when I read "transformer", this popped into my head (would be a heck of an upgrade from a laptop):

    *Note: Lens flare sold separately.

  • CBCB Ƹ̵̡Ӝ̵̨̄Ʒ Der Millionendorf- Icrontian


    So, all my PC stuff is ready to move and be set up in Munich. There is nothing in my current set-up, other than the UPS (which is frankly on its last legs anyhow) which wont work over there. BUT! I still also want to be able to internet as if I'm in the US. For lots of reasons.

    I already have a subscription to and that works great for my PC, where I have the client installed, but I can't do that for my chromebook or myriad other devices.

    So, what I want to do is just put the entire network on the VPN, so thart every device can take advantage of it, even if it can't or doesn't have the PIA client.

    I guess this isn't really a Germany question, it's a general networking question: How do I put my whole network on a VPN service? Do I need special hardware?

  • From what I'm seeing out there, you can run on PIA's network at the router level through OpenVPN, but you might consider not running encrypted at the router level due to performance issues limiting your bandwidth. They recommend running the encrypted VPN session on the individual machine for the encrypted session.

  • CBCB Ƹ̵̡Ӝ̵̨̄Ʒ Der Millionendorf- Icrontian
    edited November 2015

    but that would not allow my chromebook and such to be on the VPN, right?. Would it perhaps be worthwhile to have a secondary network, just for my non-PC devices, which is on a network VPN?

  • SignalSignal Icrontian

    Couldn't you set a guest network to use the VPN? Or just set one AP up on the VPN so you could hop on that AP when you need to do US stuff.

  • Using OpenVPN on the router sans encryption, it just sets up the tunnel but doesn't encrypt the traffic. The devices would be on the VPN for IP location purposes, but the traffic wouldn't be encrypted with the 448-bit or whatever it is that PIA uses to encrypt its traffic. For those sessions whose contents you want truly private, you'd encrypt the session using PIA on the PC. Alternatively you could enable OpenVPN encryption on the router, but it reputedly gives a large performance hit in data throughput.

  • CBCB Ƹ̵̡Ӝ̵̨̄Ʒ Der Millionendorf- Icrontian

    Oh Okay. I see. Where should I go to read more about using OpenVPN on the router sans encryption?

  • Here's a primer on setup:

    I gather from the Google that setting it up to run without encryption is a matter of changing one setting.

  • CBCB Ƹ̵̡Ӝ̵̨̄Ʒ Der Millionendorf- Icrontian

    Neat. Thanks. :D

  • CBCB Ƹ̵̡Ӝ̵̨̄Ʒ Der Millionendorf- Icrontian

    Woo! So, I had to do some more research. That guide assumed I had a specific router, and I had to look up how to do it differently with my router, and then I had to look up how to get OpenVPN to specifically work with PIA servers, but I got it, and now I've got it set up with two routers in the apartment, one on a German IP and one on a US IP. Yay! Now I just have to hope that few of my US only apps have my VPN IPs blocked. (I already know that Hulu does).

  • mertesnmertesn I am Bobby Miller Yukon, OK Icrontian
  • doabarrellrolldoabarrellroll San Jose, CA Icrontian

    If you plan on bringing a wireless router to Europe from the USA, remember their N-band restrictions are different.

    Not sure how much they crack down on this but, it may interfere with other people's devices or products.

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