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Every single instrument or appliance that uses electricity requires a certain voltage. Each type of appliance in the home requires a definite voltage to function properly. How do you know what type of appliance requires which voltage? Normally these things are left to the concern of a certified electrician, but it’s possible to at least take some of the mystery out.
It is easy to find the voltage needs of an appliance when it is newly out of the box. Usually there is a tag or identification, sometimes even indelibly stamped onto the item, which will give you an indication of what voltage it requires. Also, the plugs on devices that use 110 volts are very different from those that use 220volts. This means that an appliance that requires 110 volts cannot be plugged into an outlet that provides 220 volts.
In the United States, both voltages are in use for different purposes, whereas in many other countries, it is more common for 220 volts to be used. Using a single system of voltage of electricity can actually simplify things. However, that is not always possible. Most of the electrical points inside a US home correspond to 110 volts. Almost every appliance, from the toaster to the television is plugged into an outlet that has one incoming wire and one ground wire. Air conditioning systems are commonly used on a 220 volts outlet, with two hot wires and one ground wire, as do washing machines, dryers, and various other very large electrical appliances.
When your home is being wired, or for an existing home that is already wired, it is most common to find that every single electrical outlet inside the house, has been wired for 110 volts but for the air conditioning system, stove, and refrigerator. This allows for a multitude of smaller items such as lamps, chargers, and coffee pots to be plugged in. US citizens more often than not use 110 volt appliances.
A certified electrician can be called in whenever there is an issue with an appliance that does not have the correct cord for an outlet. The electrician can tell you whether you need another type of outlet, or if it would be safe to modify an appliance to be plugged into either voltage of outlet. A word of caution; only certified electricians should do electrical work, as both voltages can be deadly! A single shock can be enough to stop your heart, so leave electrical work up to a professionals who knows their job!
Though we rarely think about voltages and how they affect us every day, we need to know what voltage an appliance requires before we bring it into our home. Do we have the proper outlet? Should an electrician be consulted? What voltage do I need? These are questions to ask yourself before you bring a new electrical appliance into your home.
You now know that when you switch on your lamp tonight to read, you are likely doing it with a lamp powered by 110 volts. When you get your snack, that refrigerator may very well be cooling tied into 220 volts. Always allow your electrician to do his job, and enjoy the fruits of his labor.
For more details on 110 Appliances versus 220