Should retirees bring 110 volt appliances to the Philippines?

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Should those moving from the USA to the Philippines bring their appliances with them?

We received advice that we should leave our 110v gadgets at home and buy new here.  I can’t tell you how frequently we rue this decision.  Good kitchen appliances such as Braun, Krups, KitchenAid are hard to find and very expensive in the Philippines — about 2X.  Oh how I wish for the 110v  treadmill I gave away in the US!  We gave away our appliances when we left the US and now we are having new 110v appliances such as Kitchen Aid food processor sent from the US via balikbayan box.  We’re not alone in this. I can’t tell you how many Philippine households and businesses I have seen using 110v equipment running off of step-down transformers.  If you go into the fitness center of one of Iloilo’s main hotels you’ll see rows of treadmills running off of transformers.  In a bakery they are using 110v KitchenAid mixers, and so on.

It is better to buy frequently-used, high-wattage appliances in the Philippines; toasters, coffee makers etc.  Also, step down transformers do waste electricity, so we don’t leave ours plugged in.  When we need to use (for example) the sewing machine, or recharge the cordless drill, we plug in the transformer only when we are using the appliance.  Otherwise the transformer sits on the kitchen counter unplugged.

There is the danger of somebody making a mistake and plugging a 110v appliance into a 220v outlet.  My wife did this with her sewing machine and wondered why it was running so fast!  Miraculously it was not damaged.  Much will depend on your household.  We have not destroyed appliances because there is just the two of us and a maid who is very careful.  If you have a more numerous or less cautious household, then forget 110v stuff.

Bringing computers and peripherals to the Philippines.

Almost all computers can operate in the Philippines without a special adapter.  Check the label on your equipment. The Philippines is 220v 60 cycles.  Most computers (but not equipment and peripherals)  will automatically adjust.

Almost always you can plug in your laptop.  You might need an adaptor for your plug so it will fit into two-prong Philippine style outlets.  The Philippine outlets are just like those in the USA or Canada except usually they do not have a ground lug.  If your computer has a ground lug bring an grounded to non-grounded two prong adapter. Adapters are available at all hardware stores in the Philippines.

Some desktop computers have a 220/110 volt switch on the power supply.  Be sure that this is set to 220v before plugging in.

WARNING:  Many computer accessories and peripherals are 110v only.  This includes many printers (I had to buy a new one when I got here), USB hubs, speakers, surge protectors, battery backup and so forth.  Be sure to check before you plug in.  My Brother printer was 110v only.  My Apple wireless router worked without a problem. My LaCie Fireware drive worked without a problem.  My powered Belkin USB hub was 110 only.  You can buy step down transformers to run your 110v computer equipment in the Philippines but remember that electricty is expensive in the Philippines and these transformers waste power.  Computer gear usually is plugged in 24/7.  It may be better to just buy new gear in the Philippines.  But, bring any laptop computer with you.  They all run fine on 220v and are much cheaper in the US — if that’s where you’re coming from,

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  1. I brought my big screen TV, fairly new PC/monitor, 3in1 printer, home theater/DVD player which I connected with large high wattage step down converters. After 17 months they are still working fine. My wife’s dust buster, blender, mixer etc. work fine using a small 50W converter. I also brought some tiffany lamps, antique bedroom lamps and a cool ’60s pendant lamp. I assumed I would have to rewire them for 220v circuit. But no! The wiring here on 220v appliances is not even as heavy gauge as American 110v wiring. All I did is take out the 110v bulbs and put in 220v bulbs. Plugged them into the wall and they work fine. After 17 months I feel if they were gonna burn up it would have happened by now. I agree that American appliances are much cheaper and higher quality than those found here but the cost of shipping is astronomical unless the items are small enough to send in a balikbayan box which is very cheap. Standard size box from Atlas Shippers costs $70 delivered to your home here. One pallet of our large stuff shipped here from Seattle cost $850 at the Seattle shipper and an additional $910 upon receipt here in Cebu. $1760 shipping cost on $1000 worth of household items! My advice is if you can live without it leave it, unless money is not important. Ha!


  2. I was hoping to figure out a way to split the current running into a Filipino home and run wiring from two separate breaker boxes. I’ve done a lot of electrical work in my life, but haven’t yet figured out how to do this. My ultimate goal is to have a home with outlets labeled 220 and 110 or Native and Foreign etc…

    The transformers on each appliance idea will work and I’ve done that. But I’d like to rid myself of the transformers altogether. Has anyone seen a breaker box or set of them, sold in the Phils, within which the input current can be divided into switches of different voltage…?

    The more I search and research, the less likely it seems I’ll be able to achieve this goal.


    • It really depends on where you live. Our area delivers 230v via one hot lead. Iloilo City (for example) delivers 230v via two 115v hot leads. If you have the former, step down transformers are the only way I knw f to get 115v. If you have the two lead system you should be able to use the same panel box and breakers as you would in the U.S. Maybe there are some oddball systems. My 220v generator has two hot leads, 156v and 64v which combine to deliver 220v. Good luck!


    • Scott,

      It really depends on where you are in the Philippines and what the utility company delivers to your house. We get 240v in one load (hot) lead so 110v is not possible without a transformer. Other utilities supply two hot leads of 110v each. This will allow you to wire your house more or like in the U.S. with a mix of 110v and 220v outlets.



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