Power Conversion Guide
Voltage & Frequency
Current Capacity
Wattage Ratings
UL Listing
Transformer Class
Transformer vs. Solid-state
Types of Conversion
Safety Warnings
Abbreviations & Glossary
Conversion FAQ's
AC to AC Converters
AC to DC Adapters
DC to AC Inverters
DC to DC Adapters

 RadioShack Guide to Understanding Power Conversion

Types of Power Converters and When to Use Them

As mentioned in the overview, there are four basic types of power conversion. Once you have determined the type of converter that you need, you will need to consider the other options: specifically, filtered vs. unfiltered, and regulated vs. unregulated.

Filtered indicates that the converter is designed to prevent line noise from being carried into the connected device. This is important for audio and video equipment, as line noise can cause interference issues, such as static or a poor picture.

Regulated means that the converter is designed to provide a specific level of unvarying power. This is required for devices which are not tolerant of minor power changes and/or which state that they require a regulated power supply.

The chart below lists the various situations in which you would need a power converter and which converter should be used.

Note: United States voltage is 110/120V AC.

To convert.. into... in order to power... requires a...
110/120V AC DC voltage small electronics AC to DC Adapter
110/120V AC 12V DC mobile electronics at home 12V Power Supply
110/120V AC 100V AC Japanese electronics Step-down Voltage Converter
110/120V AC 220/240V AC European electronics Step-up Voltage Converter
100V AC 110/120V AC US electronics in Japan Step-up Voltage Converter
220/240V AC 110/120V AC US electronics in Europe Step-down Voltage Converter
12V DC 110/120V AC AC devices from a car battery Inverter
12V DC DC voltage small electronics DC Adapter

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