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November 2018    Download the Entire Issue (PDF) Vol. 33, No. 11   RSS Feed for Undercurrent Issues
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Read This Before Plugging In Your Dive Camera

from the November, 2018 issue of Undercurrent   Subscribe Now

Remember the woman who set her hotel on fire? As we wrote in our May 2018 issue, she decided to accompany her husband, representative of a wellknown American liveaboard franchise, to the London International Dive Show a few years ago. After arriving at the Customs House Hotel, she plugged her curling iron in before dozing off, jet-lagged. She and her husband were woken up by hot embers falling on them, culminating in the top floor of the Customs House being totally destroyed by fire. (Everybody was evacuated safely.)

You see, the UK uses 240-volt electricity. Most countries use 220 volts. America, as always, has to be different in its measurements by using a 110-volt electrical supply. It's not simply a question of plugging in with the right adapter. Plug a 110-volt device into a 240-volt supply and you'll get fireworks.

Thankfully, most photo equipment we divers charge nowadays uses a smart charger that automatically adapts from 110-volt to 250-volt supply. Those with a USB2 port, which includes most laptop chargers, adapt that to a useful six volts.

But don't forget about the plugs. American ones are also very different to those used in other countries. European two- and three-pin plug sockets are most common, but the UK uses a square three-pin plug (also found throughout Asia) and Australia has its own different take.

So while I recommend taking your own universal electrical adapter (the HP Travel Power Adapter costs $69), I also strongly suggest you check that the input voltage on the device you plug in matches that of the supply. It's one of the reasons most liveaboards don't like you charging things out of sight in your cabin. As for hair dryers, electric razors and the like, either take a transformer to 110 volts or use what's supplied with your accommodation. A fire aboard a boat is a thousand times worse than in a building from which you can safely evacuate.

Don't just plug in and hope for the best.

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