Taking a US macbook to Europe

hyddan

macrumors member
Original poster
Dec 29, 2006
86
0
Hi, a simple question. I'm going to the US in a few days and plan on purchasing a macbook while I'm there, since they're about a third of the price without the taxes and all. Was wondering what to do with the transformer when I get back.

As you know Europe got 230V and US got 110V.
Plugging a 110 computer in a 230 system would blow it up (I've done it before) but usually they have some kind of export switch somewhere so you can make it work with either system. Or even more clever use the power cable as a transformer just changing the plug.

Does the macbooks have that sort of thing? Or could I just change to a european power adapter and it'll work anyway (if the transformer is in the cable that is).

Thanks,

/Fred.
 

bartelby

macrumors Core
Jun 16, 2004
19,797
4
The power adapter is universal voltage. All you need to change is the actual plug that goes into the wall.
 

Genghis Khan

macrumors 65816
Jun 3, 2007
1,202
0
Melbourne, Australia
yes, the transformer is the only problem...you'll have to buy a new power adapter for the US when u get back (or in europe)...but it'll be just like permanently being on holiday as far as the macbook is concerned:)

enjoy your holiday

EDIT: how can you have a universal transformer...from what i've learnt, a transformer has a constant ratio of power in/out....if the in is higher, the out will correspond
 

bartelby

macrumors Core
Jun 16, 2004
19,797
4
EDIT: how can you have a universal transformer...from what i've learnt, a transformer has a constant ratio of power in/out....if the in is higher, the out will correspond
Erm...
Apple.com said:
Electrical and environmental requirements
Meets ENERGY STAR requirements
Line voltage: 100-240V AC
Frequency: 50Hz to 60Hz

Operating temperature: 50° to 95° F (10° to 35° C)
Storage temperature: -13° to 113° F (-24° to 45° C)
Relative humidity: 0% to 90% noncondensing
Maximum operating altitude: 10,000 feet
Maximum storage altitude: 15,000 feet
Maximum shipping altitude: 35,000 feet
The power adapter will cope with all mains voltages.
 

awmazz

macrumors 65816
Jul 4, 2007
1,100
0
I believe all Macs since 1986/7 have auto-switchable power units. All you need is the correct plug for whichever country you're in.

The Apple II, III, IIe, Lisa 1 & 2, 1984 Mac and Mac 512K are not switchable. Maybe the Mac Plus too. The Lisa does technically have a switchable power unit, but it must be changed by physically switching the jumper cables on it into a crossover pattern instead of parallel. I think Apple took this crossover system and eventually made it automatic, thus actually inventing the auto-switching power unit (or paid someone else to invent it), but I could be wrong about that.

Edit: To actually answer the question, I think the Apple Store has an 'international plug pack' people can buy for their Macbook transformers for travelling, or you could just buy a Euro replacement one from the Euro Apple Store when you get back.
 

mpw

Guest
Jun 18, 2004
6,364
1
I believe all Macs since 1986/7 have auto-switchable power units. All you need is the correct plug for whichever country you're in.

The Apple II, III, IIe, Lisa 1 & 2, 1984 Mac and Mac 512K are not switchable. Maybe the Mac Plus too. The Lisa does technically have a switchable power unit, but it must be changed by physically switching the jumper cables on it into a crossover pattern instead of parallel. I think Apple took this crossover system and eventually made it automatic, thus actually inventing the auto-switching power unit (or paid someone else to invent it), but I could be wrong about that.
Nope. Some early US G5 iMacs went bang when brought to the UK.
 

awmazz

macrumors 65816
Jul 4, 2007
1,100
0
I was unaware of that. It's a strange thing to happen seeing as Macs much older than the first iMacs were all switchable, even the first Mac Portable. Interesting as to why they would revert for the first iMac then. it was Jobs' first major model on his return with Apple still on the precipice, so maybe a guess is he had no plans for it worldwide if it didn't sell well in the USA first and Apple went under. I can't remember if it was released worlwide simultaneously though, so I'm just wild guessing.
 

mpw

Guest
Jun 18, 2004
6,364
1
Does that % mean you meant to type G5? If so, then ignore my previous post as I assumed G3
Yeah I meant the G5, sorry.

...Macs much older than the first iMacs were all switchable, even the first Mac Portable...
I think portable Macs have always been switchable, and I think the UK/Euro G5s were too and it was just early US iMacs that weren't. I don't know if this was true across the desktop range though or just that one model??
 

hyddan

macrumors member
Original poster
Dec 29, 2006
86
0
Thanks guys! Now I can make the switch (and throw my moldy pc away) as soon as I step out of the plane.
 

gnasher729

macrumors P6
Nov 25, 2005
16,594
3,218
how can you have a universal transformer...from what i've learnt, a transformer has a constant ratio of power in/out....if the in is higher, the out will correspond
That was the case with old, purely electrical transformers. Like take 120 Volt, and a thin wire rolled in 120 loops on one side, a wire rolled in 12 loops on the other side, and voila! you get 12 Volt.

About 30 years ago computers started using "switching" power supplies. The power supply takes its input, then electronically extracts just the amount of voltage that it needs. For example, if you input 110 Volt, it might only extract power from that input for 5ms at a time, and at 220 Volt it would extract power for 2.5ms at a time. It is quite resistant against fluctuations in voltage (like if it is designed for 110 Volt input, then anything from 100 to 120 just works, and an occasional spike doesn't matter much). Apple II computers were among the first using them.

The only problem that remained to be solved is to design this in such a way that it can live with a wide range of input voltages. If you designed for 110 Volt, 220 might destroy it. If you designed for 220 Volt, it might not be able to extract enough power at 110 Volt. It is not really difficult, just a little bit more expensive to cover the whole range.

Very nice article at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Switched-mode_power_supply