We are almost fully moved into the flat now. Last night Stephen was putting the finishing touches on the living room set up. He’s a technology junkie, so we have the TV, stereo, PS3 and computer that all need to be plugged in. Since they are all from the US, they need a transformer to convert the UK’s 220V into usable US 110V. We’ve been using the transformers to charge various other electronics and they’ve worked great. In fact, we already had the TV and PS3 plugged into one and everything was swell. But since Stephen set up the surround sound system, he wanted to replace the US power strip we had plugged into the transformer with a better one so we could plug more stuff in. So he made me shut off the TV and unplug everything while he made the switch. We turned everything off and he plugged the new power strip into the transformer.
*SPARKS!* *LOUD POPPING SOUND!*
“Ahhh! What the crap just happened?” I screamed. Stephen looked puzzled. He shook the power strip. “This is definitely fried,” he said. We couldn’t figure out what had happened, the transformer had been working fine before. So instead of being the intelligent people we are and trying to detect the problem, we simply tried it again with another transformer and another outlet.
More blue sparks.
I screamed like a little girl.
220V could easily kill you and I was not about to rush Stephen to hospital (note the absence of “the”) or watch our building burn down with an electrical fire.
It was then we realized that none of the outlets in the entire flat were working. The refrigerator was no longer on and my computer stopped charging. Uh oh. It was then Stephen finally had his light bulb moment.
“I forgot to turn the transformer on,” he said. So both times 220V were rushing into the 110V power strips, frying them. We called Ted the building manager who told us where to find the circuit breaker and how to turn the power back on. Luckily the only casualties of the incident were the two US power strips.
Lesson of the day: always turn the transformer on. And think twice about moving all your US electronics overseas.