Tip: Moving Abroad With Your TV May Be Easier Than You Think

One big piece of personal news that I’ve yet to share here on the site is that my family and I – and We Got Served too, I guess – will be emigrating from the United Kingdom to Canada in March. We’ve been handed a fabulous opportunity to try out the next chapter of our lives in Southern Ontario and while it’s a huge leap, it’s one we’re really excited about.

Of course, moving abroad takes a lot of planning (and I mean a lot). It’s a project that’s preoccupied the family throughout the last twelve months, and while I’ll spare you much of the details that are out of scope of this particular blog, working through the changes required to our home tech is also taking up much of my headspace.

What to ship out? What to leave behind? What new stuff do we need? Cable Broadband speeds are how fast? It’s going to be great fun and a huge learning experience. So over the coming months, I’ll share any tips and discoveries along the way which may prove useful to others thinking about crossing the pond.

Firstly, let’s talk TVs. Now they’re some of the largest and most expensive pieces of technology in the home, so shipping them to another country is not an insignificant task. While modern-day TVs no longer suffer from the old PAL/NTSC broadcast differences that used to be a problem (when using an external tuner like a cable set-top box with HDMI), I’ve been concerned about power requirements.

For the uninitiated, here in the UK we’re on a (nominally) 240 V mains electricity system (actually, it’s declared as 230 V nowadays), whilst in North America, voltage is set at 120 V. So, I could switch the three-pin UK C7 figure-eight power cable that my Samsung TVs use for a North American equivalent, but there simply might not be enough juice to power the TV. That is, of course, unless my TVs support variable voltage like much of our computer kit in the home.

samsungd7000-1l

So, I checked the rear of one of the TVs to see the voltage requirements, hoping to see the magic numbers 110-240 V inscribed. Bah. 220-240 V only. So, if I wanted to ship the TVs out to Canada, we’d need a transformer to adjust the voltage – they’re available reasonably cheaply, but can be bulky, noisy and eat power like there’s no tomorrow. Maybe I’d have to swallow the expense of buying new sets after all.

There was one last hope. A good old dig around Google enabled me to find the part numbers for my TV’s internal power supply board. When I then researched the part numbers on various spare part retailer websites (not the most fun hour I’ve ever spent), it turns out those PSU boards are indeed multi-voltage.

For reasons best known to Samsung (but I’m guessing the words “import” “price” and “differential” may be relevant, maybe it’s to reduce international compliance testing and labelling costs), they label many of their TVs suggesting single voltage when, in fact, they support 110 – 240 V inputs. Hurrah!

So, this afternoon, I popped along to our local electronics store, purchased a step-down transformer to convert our 230 V power to 110 V and plugged in the TV. A risk, for sure, but a managed risk given what my research indicated.

maplin-230v-to-110v-300w-voltage-converter

The result? Success! The TV powered on just fine, proving it is indeed multi-voltage – no matter what the rear label indicated.

So, we’ll be shipping our TVs to Canada – the acid test, of course, will be plugging them into the Canadian mains and seeing what happens. Of course, there’s less risk plugging a 240 V rated device into a 110 v power supply than vice versa, and I would not officially recommend anyone does either of these things!

If you’re following a similar path, do make sure you thoroughly research your TV and its internal power supply – if you’re at all nervous, seek the advice of a qualified electrician before any experimentation!

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21 comments

  1. I moved from the UK to Upstate New York at the end of 2013 and sold my 50″ Panasonic PDP as it wouldn’t fit into the new living space and I had ideas to build a home cinema room. I did bring over a 19″ Samsung LED TV to use as a monitor for my vintage computers – BBC Micro, Atari STe to name a few which use a SCART connection which is unheard of over here, together with a transformer. After reading your article, I found the right power supply board on eBay.com which I was able to zoom in enough to read the input voltage as “100-240v 50-60Hz” . Plugged the TV into mains and it worked! Thanks Terry!! BTW, it’s a bit cold here at the moment, -18C

    1. Upstate New York is a beautiful part of the world – I was lucky enough to to travel there a few years ago with work. Had a great time. -18C doesn’t sound fun, though! With the money you saved on removing the transformer, you could buy yourself a warmer pair of socks 🙂

      I’m really pleased this worked out for you – eBay is a great place to research power supply boards. ShopJimmy (http://www.shopjimmy.com) is another place to check out. Just like you, I found a photo of the power supply board and zoomed in to see the input voltage. I did then take the back off the TV just to double check the part directly 🙂

      If anyone else has success with this tip, do let us know.

  2. Good to know these things! We have clients who come from America. It is good to tell them these stuff! Thanks for the post! Greets, Man With Van Belsize Park Ltd. website

      1. Thanx Terry for confirming. I have a NA Sasmung LED tv which I have brought to UK. TV back panel says its 110-120 V 60 Hz. However upon opening the back panel, power supply board mentions input as 100-240V 50/60 Hz.

        I want to be very sure about this before plugging it in the 240V socket.

        1. Agreed – it *looks* as if it will be OK. If you’re nervous, pick up a voltage converter from Maplin – it’ll let you run the TV at 110-120V with a 240V source. They cost around £35 from memory.

          1. I got a step down converter (to be on the safe side) & it works perfectly fine.

            However I am confused about the input signals. This being a NA TV, it works with NTSC signal. I plugged in the composite cables (red, white, yellow) from my STB & it works perfectly fine. I was under the impression that I would need some sort of NTSC to PAL converter before my TV would work. Seems like I was wrong.

            Any thoughts on this ?

            Does this mean that Samsung TV’s actually support dual voltage and dual signals (NTSC + PAL) ? And they dont seem to mention it ?

  3. Hi Terry, I’ve just stumbled across your site as we are in a similar situation. We move from England to the USA in little over a month and have a TV we purchased just under a year ago. Am loathed to sell it as we will only get half what we paid for it. I was able to find the power supply board online and the power supply shows two boxes one showing 200-240 and the one below 100-240 so am hoping that it is also dual voltage? Have you been able to run your TVs without converters? Have you used set top boxes to broadcast channels or just used them with a DVD player?

    1. Hi Emma – if the PSU or board is showing both voltages, it’s likely to be dual voltage. To be absolutely sure, I’d pop down to Maplins and grab a voltage converter so you can test. If it doesn’t work, you at least have a few weeks to sell the TV before you move.

      My TVs work fine with cable set top boxes, using HDMI. Any integrated TV tuners probably won’t work. But standard 720p/1080p HDMI from a cable box is absolutely fine.

  4. Great info! When buying a voltage converter, could you please advise how to determine the proper wattage? I’ve read to use 1.5 times the wattage but then I’ve also read that TV’s can require more wattage. Our Samsung TV from Hong Kong says 220-240, 50/60Hz, 265 W. Would 500W converter suffice do you think?

  5. Good Afternoon.

    I am in a similar situation. I have just bought a boat in Greece, but am from Canada, and the TV selection in Greece is somewhat appalling by comparison to NA. Particularly because I need a relatively small 37″ TV and possibly a 40″ with 2+USB and 2+HDMI, and would prefer Wifi enabled. Running cables on a boat is not an easy task.

    I would like to bring over a TV (110/60) and install it to replace the 10 year old Sony currently installed. I have three power options aboard, 12V, 24V and 220/50. Can you comment on the input requirements for a typical TV? There are a few options that I can think of:

    1. A 110V TV, with a simple change in the power cable (do they use the same power connector as we do in the US? If so, and assuming the transformer will handle the 220/50, I can just plug it in and voila!

    2. What is the actual operating voltage? Some are 12V and I can simply hardwire a 12V power supply to the TV if TV’s require 12V after the power supply circuits.

    3. Use an inverter, but this is my least favourite idea.

    FWIW, I have no plans to use the TV component, rather everything will be coming through HDMI or component connections.

    Your thoughts would be a great help.

  6. P.S. On the wattage front, most modern TV’s require less than 100W of power, and frequently just 40-50 with newer LED models. I can’t be sure, but that draw happens after the power supply circuit, so there is little chance that any converter/inverter will be too small to power the TV.

    If you are going to get a power supply to test, anything more than 100W should be sufficient.

  7. I am in the same position with my Samsung which has come from Glasgow to Toronto. And your post is very helpful. but I fear I am missing something. You say that upon learning that your TV was not dual-voltage (like so many computers are) you were disappointed: ‘Bah. 220-240 V only. So, if I wanted to ship the TVs out to Canada, we’d need a transformer to adjust the voltage – they’re available reasonably cheaply, but can be bulky, noisy and eat power like there’s no tomorrow.’ You then describe how you were able to find out that the PSU was dual and so you were able to use it with a step down transformer. I don’t quite follow (my fault I am sure) why the first transformer mentioned in your post was a bad thing (noisy, bulky and power-hungry) but the second was a great solution. I am sure it is me being dense, but can you please advise? Thanks.

    1. I used the step down transformer before I left the UK – simply to test that the TV *would* work with the lower voltage. Once I’d tested the TV and knew that it worked, I was happy to ship it to Canada (welcome to Toronto!).

      Here in Canada, the TV(s) are being used without a transformer – they’re plugged straight into the mains.

      Apols for the confusion!

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