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are vintage power converter safe to use?

blueagent

New Member
i have an old power converter which is around 20 years old.
it allows 110v electronics from japan to be used with the 220v voltage here.
it has no moving parts and is about the size of a fist, it was meant for use with my japanese playstation console.

since this power converter is so old, i'm wondering if its safe for use at home?
i'm concerned that the power converter will catch fire in my living room and burn my home down.
so generally do people need to buy a new power converter if its over 20 years old?
 

JimB

Super Moderator
Most Helpful Member
I guess a lot depends on the "power converter".

From your description I can only assume that it is a transformer.
Transformers, when built correctly normally last many years, in my electronics workshop here I have many pieces of equipment powered from the mains, all with transformers, some of them are more than 40 years old.
Of course when they were new, those equipments were top of the range and very expensive.

As for your "power converter", as I have no knowledge of it it is impossible to say with any certainty whether it is safe to use or not.
Whether a new one would be any safer, who knows?
There is a lot of cheap junk on sale these days.

The best advice I can give is:
If it does not over heat in normal use, it is probably OK.
To be sure that it will not burn the house down, unplug it from the mains when you are not using the playstation.
That way, if it does catch fire, you will be there to see it and deal with it.

JimB
 

Nigel Goodwin

Super Moderator
Most Helpful Member
i have an old power converter which is around 20 years old.
it allows 110v electronics from japan to be used with the 220v voltage here.
it has no moving parts and is about the size of a fist, it was meant for use with my japanese playstation console.

since this power converter is so old, i'm wondering if its safe for use at home?
i'm concerned that the power converter will catch fire in my living room and burn my home down.
so generally do people need to buy a new power converter if its over 20 years old?
Well 20 years is hardly 'vintage', it's pretty well 'new and shiny' :D

I would imagine it's simply a mains transformer, probably an auto-transformer, and offers no safety risk whatsoever, regardless of age.

I presume it's fairly heavy?, which would indicate a standard type 50/60Hz transformer.
 

blueagent

New Member
yes its a little heavy, and i think you're right about it being a standard type transformer because on the label it reads as follows:

input: 230v-50hz
output: AC110v, 75w

i stopped using the transformer back in 2007 and it's been sitting in storage since. i don't know anything about electronics so i kind of always thought that any kind of electronics will need replacing after a couple of decades. how silly of me. o_O

thank you so much for letting me know!
 

AnalogKid

Well-Known Member
Most Helpful Member
Not silly at all. Electrolytic capacitors dry out over time. This can cause a small catastrophic failure in a power supply circuit. Pop, smell, goop.

ak
 

sagor1

Active Member
yes its a little heavy, and i think you're right about it being a standard type transformer because on the label it reads as follows:

input: 230v-50hz
output: AC110v, 75w

i stopped using the transformer back in 2007 and it's been sitting in storage since. i don't know anything about electronics so i kind of always thought that any kind of electronics will need replacing after a couple of decades. how silly of me. o_O

thank you so much for letting me know!
If the output also says 50Hz, then for sure it sounds like a simple step down transformer, which will be safe to use. Sometimes they don't post the output frequency, assuming it is the same as input, if it is just a transformer.
The rating of 75W also suggests it is a simple transformer as that is a low power rating. Make sure you do not exceed that load, else the transformer will overheat and possibly "break".
 

gophert

Well-Known Member
Most Helpful Member
yes its a little heavy, and i think you're right about it being a standard type transformer because on the label it reads as follows:

input: 230v-50hz
output: AC110v, 75w

i stopped using the transformer back in 2007 and it's been sitting in storage since. i don't know anything about electronics so i kind of always thought that any kind of electronics will need replacing after a couple of decades. how silly of me. o_O

thank you so much for letting me know!

If it buzzes or vibrates loudly or if it gets hot to the touch when it is powering your device, stop using it. A slight buzz or hum is normal and hot that you can keep your hand on without pulling away is generally ok as well for a transformer.

Edit: Finally, if it smells like melting wires or arcing metal - Unplug and throw it away.

Edit2: finally again, if you see smoke, unplug it and throw it away.

Edit3: and finally, again, if the rest of the lights in the room dim when you plug it in, or it pops a fuse, you might want to throw it away.
 
Last edited:

dknguyen

Well-Known Member
Most Helpful Member
20 years is vintage? I thought the minimum for vintage was at least 50 years.
 

gary350

Well-Known Member
20 years is vintage? I thought the minimum for vintage was at least 50 years.
Most states and insurance companies consider antique vehicles to be 25 years old. Most vintage trailer groups consider any camper trailer 1970 or older to be vintage.

I have a 1967 DC to AC converter. In 1967 they were called converters but how days younger generation calls them inverters. Do they convert or invert 12v to 120v? They turn 12 VDC into 120 VAC. Voltage in the USA was standardized in the 1970s to 120 volts there is NO 110 volts in the USA.


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audioguru

Well-Known Member
Most Helpful Member
I would never use a voltage converter in my home because a guest might overload the little thing and burn down my home.
"While you were making room in the driveway for my car, I plugged my new 1000W Japanese cooker into your power converter. Hey, what is smoking?"
 

Nigel Goodwin

Super Moderator
Most Helpful Member
I have a 1967 DC to AC converter. In 1967 they were called converters but how days younger generation calls them inverters. Do they convert or invert 12v to 120v? They turn 12 VDC into 120 VAC.

They were called that because of the way they worked - historically 'converters' were either rotary converters (motor feeding a generator), or vibrator converters (an oscillating relay, that also optionally rectified the output).

It's only with the advent of electronic 'converters' that they became known as 'inverters'.

However, this is all about DC to AC, or DC to DC - the thread is about simple AC mains to AC mains, where a simple (and reliable) mains transformer is all that's required.
 

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