Below is an summary of the most common questions & answers regarding our step-down transformers. If your question isn’t answered after reading the following you can see our specific Q&A page here.
Michael Larkin, our qualified electrical engineer responds to common questions with some answers:
Will your stepdowns run 24 hours Continuously? Why is this such an important difference between your units & others on the market?
Tortech stepdown transformers are rated at a continuous rating. This means the transformers are designed to run at full rating for 24 hours continuously not just for one hour! Unlike others we do not deceive customers by offering a short time rated rating, where the transformer can not operate for periods longer then an hour at maximum rating.
For Example: A 2000w stepdown that runs for 1 hour at 2000w and then drops to 1400w rating continuous after. This is a very important difference between Tortech units and others and we believe it is false advertising to offer otherwise.
What is the quality difference between your stepdowns and others and why is this so important?
- The majority of our stepdown transformers use toroidal (round / donut shaped) transformers.
- These offer numerous benefits over the EI square transformers including improved energy efficiency, reduced interference, less noise and minimal hum and reduced idle current
- Tortech units use a thermal cutout (a safety feature which shuts down the transformer if it gets over temperature) and a safety fuse, not simply circuit breaker switch like others, which by itself offers no thermal protection.
- The enamel wire on our transformers is double coated and 180 degree C rated to ensure thermal protection
- All internal connections are soldered (not crimped) to improve reliability
- LED switch – The Led light switch on Tortech stepdown transformers is indicative that the fuse has blown and is a helpful disagnostic feature, other competitior models often do not have this feature.
- The toroidal magnetic cores can not be accessed and are much safer to reduce chance of shock.
- For smaller then 150VA where EI transformers configuration is used, the core is earthed for safety purposes. Earthing reduces the chance of electric shock
- All units are thermally tested to Australian standard AS/NZS61558. See here
Note: Click here to see a closer look at a look inside a generic stepdown transformer with inadequate manufacturing standards.
- We use two methods of protection with our transformers:
- Our Step Down Transformers use a fuse for short circuit protection and overload current conditions.
This is to handle a very large increase in overload current.
- Thermal over load (Over heating) protection is the second method of protection with every Tortech enclosed transformer.
- Our Step Down Transformers use a fuse for short circuit protection and overload current conditions.
Technical low down: The transformer has incorporated into the primary circuit, a thermal overload switch which monitors the internal temperature of the toroidal transformer. It is in the primary circuit. If the temperature reaches 1300c ± 50c the switch will open. If the temperature cools down to 800c ± 50c the internal switch will remake the circuit and allow the supply of current to the 240v input circuit of the transformer. This switch will cycle on/off as long as the transformer is too hot due to the overload condition. The overload condition means the transformer is being used at a higher output load than what the transformer is rated for (eg 600VA instead of 500VA)
Why do your transformers have much more energy efficient idle power (power draw when not in use) rating then others?
Our toroidal based transformers (donut/round shaped) are much more energy efficient over the EI (square transformers.
The reason the Tortech range(>100va ratings) has such low idle current and idle watts loss is due to the core construction of the toroidal transformer magnetic core. The toroidal transformer uses better quality core steel (grain orientated silicon steel) that has lower losses than conventional EI transformers and the toroid transformer has no air gaps in the magnetic path of the core further reducing the losses due to an unimpeded path for the magnetic flux to circulate.
Click here see the energy efficiency ratings calculations of our transformer Idle/no load currents
In Australia our power runs at 240v and the USA 110-120v
Some USA equipment will work in both countries (if the specs on the unit or power supply say INPUT 240v/110v or 240/120v)
Usually these are small items that are travelled with, like shavers, laptops & phones for which you can use a travel adapter .
However most other American equipment is not designed to run in Australia.
You can confirm this by checking the INPUT power specs on the unit or power supply.
If it says INPUT 120v or 110v (with no mention of 240v) you will require a stepdown transformer as it will be damaged if you just use a travel adapter (see below).
If it says INPUT 120v/220v we still recommend a stepdown transformer due safety reasons – explained here
If its says INPUT 100v then you need a Japanse stepdown transformer here
If it says INPUT 220v then you need a european stepdown transformer here
This is a common problem . There is a high chance the high aussie voltage has passed through and damaged your device.
The Higher Australian voltage is vey damaging to lover voltage USA/Japanese equipment.
We do not recommend buying a step-down transformer unless you talk to us first in this case or if you come into our office to test your device.
If your device has safety fuse it may have been protected by it and the fuse needs replacing
Whats the difference between Isolated and your Economy stepdown transformers & is there earthing on a isolated stepdown?
What happens if i just use a US powerboard with surge protection? how does this differ from using an Isolated stepdown transformer?
An isolated stepdown transformer has 2 windings – input and output. The test voltage between input and output windows is 3700 volts AC. An economy auto transformer has only 1 winding and has no insulation or test voltage between input and output hence the isolated transformer provides superior protection against power surges.
However if you are using a RCD or safety switch (earth leakage protection) at distribution board and a surge protection board on the auto transformer this does offer some protection however the isolation transformer still rates superior for overall surge protection.
Stepdown Transformers convert the voltage but not frequency. No Transformer can change the Frequency (Hertz or Cycles)
Australia = 50Hz Frequency
America = 60Hz Frequency
Frequency difference may effect some appliances but only those that are frequency sensitive:
USA Microwaves, Hair Trimmers , Turntables, Dog clippers Analogue clocks and Fluorescent lights are frequency sensitive and may have issues .
You will need to see our frequency page here for more information.
Yes, all Tortech stepdowns accept the thicker 3 prong USA Plugs. All output sockets in all the USA and Japanese transformers are a polarised type – this means it is not possible to invert the active and neutral terminals. This is important in that the active circuit is the switched circuit. The active current is the “hot” wire. The sockets are polarised as the active and neutral slot are different sizes. Our units work with USA equipment with both 2 parallel prongs or the 2 prong and round Earth.
Note: The polarised pins will only fit one way into the transformer so you may need to flip them over or try one way around when you plug in.
Polarised Plug (One thicker then the other)
We often get asked about the combo multi stepdowns which both stepdown to 110v and also step-up up to 220v and why not only we do sell them but why we don’t recommend them to our customers
They could possible damage your equipment due to under voltage read about this here.
Devices with Motors will have a slightly difference performance with the frequency difference in Australia.
Note: USA Devices with a DC motor machine won’t be effected greatly by the frequency hertz difference.
However if your device has an AC Motor it will be effected. The motor may run a fraction slower and thus warmer using a stepdown transformer, However in most cases your USA device wil still run correctly without much noticeable performance difference.
A device with a motor Increases Power usage from the stepdown upon startup.
Therefore a 25% addition to the watts usage of the device must be added as buffer must be added when deciding to choose stepdown.
To alleviate the frequency impact on the motor affect it helpful to reduce the voltage from 120v to 110v, to reduce the induction level in the motor. This is why we run our stepdowns at 110v. The magnetics of the motor will then not run as hot as it would if it was run at 120v.
KITCHENAID mixers frequency difference and impact on the motor & why Tortech stepdowns?
Kitchenaid mixers often come with either the 325w or 575 or 700w motor models.
The frequency will make the mixer motor run slightly slower but this does not effect the performance of your mixer.
Unlike others, our stepdowns have been designed to ensure your mixers motor is not damaged over time.
From our experience and in house testing, Tortech stepdowns and Kitchenaid mixers run perfectly even with the frequency difference (50hz in Australia) and this does not degrade or damage a USA kitchenaid mixer overtime.
Our transformers compensate for the load on the motor caused from the frequency difference.
Due to the frequency shift from 60 to 50hz this effects the heating in the motor due to the larger field in the magnetic circuit of the motor, however this has been compensated in our stepdowns by setting the input voltage at 110v not 120v to guarantee the longevity of the insulation structure of the motor by reducing the induction in the magnetic circuit of the motor. We offer a 1 year warranty on all our transformer range.
The output power will be reduced only at maximum setting to a degree. However it is our experience that tortech stepdown transformers still function satisfactory and this is our experience from over a number of years of selling our transformers for kitchenaid mixers.
An Amplifier is a device that amplifies audio signals. Audio signals consist of treble (high frequency sound) and base (low frequency sound) response.
Running a US amplifier from our 100w stepdown transformer
The base response is affected by the current delivery capability of the AC Supply. If the supply is soft the AC supply will Sag and hence this will mean the DC supply voltage will sag.
Hence this will compromise the sound quality of the base response. The solution is to by a larger transformer to stiffen up the AC supply to stop the voltage from sagging.
Always add 20% extra power usage on top of the input watts to ensure quality audio performance. Eg Amplifier rated at 200watts input may need 240watts for optimal.
I have a Fast Drill Chargers like Dewalt and Makita why should i chose a higher rated stepdown?
Although these drill chargers say they only need 100w transformer this may not be so.
If they are a “fast charger” (ie less than 1 hour charging rate) they infact draw extra power (>25% extra watts) due to the current being very high during the initial stages of charging a flat battery.
During this time the current will exceed the nominal current. Hence You will blow the fuse on the normal rated stepdown – Solution is to use the 300w stepdown
A common question "we notice your transformers say 110v and our equipment is rated at 120v will it still work?"
Yes all our transformers support USA equipment with voltages 110v,115v and 120v
Our stepdowns run at 110v because of the numerous safety advantages for your USA equipment:
- The supply voltage in Australia is 240v +/-6%
So it can legally go to 255v at 50Hz.
The transformer is a linear device so the output voltage responds to the change in the input voltage.
This a means the output voltage (110v) will go to 116.8v if the transformer is loaded .
If it lightly loaded this voltage will go even higher to 124V If we used 120v as the transformer output voltage, the appliance could be overvoltaged to 134v This is may not good be for the longevity of the appliance.
- If the appliance is a motor, the matter is it subject to the affect of frequency change from 60Hz (USA frequency) to 50Hz (Australian frequency).
To alleviate the frequency affect it is helpful to reduce the voltage from 120v to 110v, to reduce the induction level in the motor.
The magnetics of the motor will then not run as hot as it would if it was run at 120v
Further information on The Frequency difference:
United states is 60hz frequency where as Australia 50hz frequency.
Our stepdowns don’t change the Frequency so check if your device is frequency sensitive or has a timer or analogue clock please ask us before you purchase a stepdown.
If it has a frequency switch on your appliance then flick it to 50hz. Clocks may run slower or out of time.
USA Turntables and Frequency concerns:
To check – see the little motor of the spindle of your turn table –
If AC motor a stepdown transformer will not work with it due to frequency conflict (60hz USA) ,
If DC it will work with it (50hz AUS).
Most televisions will automatically adapt to either frequency, but there are some that don’t. The scan speed and picture quality may be affected if the system does not automatically adapt to the different frequency. Check with the manufacturer to see if the 60Hz will cause any problems.
Hair and Dog Clippers from the USA are effected by the Frequency (Hertz) difference (Australia is 50Hz – USA 60Hz)
Many Clippers may tend to be overloaded running on 50Hz Here, so you may need a custom unit made for this. Some will work OK, but many types will be affected.
It may go crazy when turned on and vibrate or shake too violently. Andis Clippers are a common brand of USA clippers that will need our special stepdown.
Please check if you have speed adjustment (screw on the side) this may solve the problem.
No USA Microwave ovens if designed for 60hz will not work with our stepdowns
Lights with Electronic ballasts may work.
Please check this on your equipment. If no mention of electronic ballast your US Fluro lights won’t work due the the frequency difference.
Electronic ballast is solid state electronic circuitry to provide proper starting and operating
Electrical conditions to power one or more fluorescent lamps. Electronic ballast are often based on SMPS (switch mode power supply) topology, first rectifying
the AC power to DC and then chopping it at a high frequency. These types of electronic devices should not be affected by input AC frequency.
Convectional ballast which are magnetic inductors are affected by the input frequency.
If your sewing machine has a DC motor your machine (which most do) it won’t be effected by the frequency
hertz difference – most have a DC motor these days. However if it has an AC Motor it will be effected.
Why ? If it is a DC motor the power is feed from a transformer then a rectifier . There will be limited Ac frequency effect because of the rectifier.
Most Brother sewing machines need our 100w stepdown transformer
Always check the safety fuse (see video and instructions on how to do this here) . Replacement fuses can be bought here
In your order you Must Specify in your order in the comments section of your order which Stepdown Part Number you have . (Look at the part number on your unit)
Please also advise if your current Fuse Size if it is 20mm or 30mm long
If your stepdown has a red LED switch , if light does not come on when turned on this often means the fuse is blown.
Note: If you have previously plugged your device into the wall using a travel adapter its likely you damaged it before using the stepdown transformer, replacing the fuse will not fix this.
WHY DO I NEED JAPANESE STEPDOWN NOT A USA STEPDOWN TRANSFORMER?
Many people online say you can use American stepdown transformers with Japanese equipment but this is not correct and dangerous!
Most Japanese equipment runs at 100v and by using on a 110v stepdown over time it will over volt and ultimately damage Japanese appliances.
The normal voltage in Australia is 240v (+or -) 6% as supplied by the utilties.
So the maximum voltage legally that can be supplied can be 254.4v
Now 254.4v into a 240/110v transformer will give 116.6v or even higher.(if the transformer is not fully loaded)
This is 16.6% increase over the norminal voltage of 100v,. This voltage will damage the 100v equipment.
THE INPUT VOLTAGE WILL BE TOO HIGH FOR THE JAPANESE EQUIPMENT.