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Forum > Sewing Machines > Plugging a 240V machine into a 120V socket ( Moderated by Sharon1952, EleanorSews)

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Plugging a 240V machine into a 120V socket
or can I take my machines from Australia to the US?
ClaireEmily
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ClaireEmily
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AUSTRALIA
Member since 9/28/08
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Date: 12/31/13 3:19 PM

So our family will be relocating from Australia to the US next year and I'm beginning to think that I will not be able to relocate my sewing machines because of the differences in domestic power provision - in Australia we have 240V and 50Hz and in the US it is 120V and 60Hz. Does anyone know if this is correct?

Apparently modern electronic devices like laptops and phones have gadgetry inside them that will cope/convert the power but things like our toaster/coffee grinder/washing machine etc that run straight off the power without any conversion will not cope with this. I have two sewing machines a vintage mechanical Elna TSP (I blogged about my machine here ) and a relatively recent non-computerized Janome MyLock 644D overlocker/serger. The Elna very helpfully has a metal plate on the side specifying 230-240V and 50 Hz but my husband seems to think that it would work in the US but not properly as it would not be getting enough power. The Janome has no information in the manual or on the machine as to what power it can be used with.

Does anyone understand how sewing machine power works? Would I blow up my machines if I took them with me and plugged them in (with a plug converter - different socket pins too)? Will I have to leave them behind? If I buy new machines in the US will I be able to bring them back to Australia and have them work here if they are computerised?

Thanks so much sewing machine gurus - this is a topic that I have had a hard time finding much information on.

------
Claire - Melbourne, Australia

PattiAnnJ
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PattiAnnJ
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Date: 12/31/13 3:26 PM

I do not understand any of the alternating or direct current, ohm, amp, volt speak no matter how many times my husband explains it to me!

There are converters and such, but I would check with an electrician in the US for the AU machines and visa versa for anything you purchase in the US and take back with you to AU.

The power source reliability coming into the home could also make a difference.

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I dont give them Hell, I just tell the truth about them and they think its Hell. Harry Truman

"Improvise, adapt and overcome." - Clint Eastwood/Heartbreak Ridge

GlButterfly

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Date: 12/31/13 3:51 PM

How long will your relocation last? If it's a few years, why not just buy a machine here, then sell it before you go back?

Quite recently there was a thread here on just this subject. A search might bring it up and possibly some other, older ones.

We can't have you not sew!

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That's Gl = for Gloria, not G. I.

LynnRowe
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LynnRowe  Friend of PR
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In reply to ClaireEmily <<
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Date: 12/31/13 4:03 PM

You would need to purchase a step down converter to use your 240V machines in the US.

------
I heart Panzy, Pfaff Creative Performance, the sewing machine love of my life!
And Baby (Enlighten serger), Victor (BLCS), Rupert (Pfaff 2023-knits expert) Ash (B350SE-Artwork), Kee (B750QEE-Panzy's BFF), Georgie (B560-Kee's baby sister) and the Feather-Flock!

Most of all, I heart Woo (HimmyCat). Until we meet again, my beautiful little boy. I love you.

minggiddylooloo
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minggiddylooloo  Friend of PR
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Date: 12/31/13 4:24 PM

I didn't have any problems going the other way with my machines, 120V in the US to 240V in Korea with a converter. We lived in a military town so finding converters on or off base was super easy.

Do you have a local sewing machine repair person who might be able to answer your questions? Or perhaps calling some shops in the area to which you will be moving (I think you're moving to Seattle, right?).

Most houses here have dryers running on 240V outlets, but you probably don't want o be sewing in the laundry room and taking up that outlet.

------
I'm finally a blogger!
sewming.blogspot.com

ClaireEmily
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ClaireEmily
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Date: 12/31/13 9:01 PM

Thanks so much everyone! I'll definitely look for previous threads on the topic. My experience with sewing machine shop staff leaves me to believe that their knowledge of different types of electricity is no better than mine.....

I'll definitely look into step up/down converters though I have to say that I'm not sure that I'll risk my sewing machine that was my late mothers and that I am very sentimentally attached to (my husband keeps confusing me with talk of AC and DC motors and cycles/hertz not just voltage etc - he's blown up stuff before using the incorrect power source). I guess I'm also worried that if I give my machine to one of my sisters for safekeeping/occasional hemming/mending (neither of them sew) then I may never get it back, and having used it heavily over the last six years it means a lot to me. That's a separate problem I guess. I also worry that finding the money to buy me a new machine and serger will not be a financial priority for us when we get there - but that is also another kettle of fish!

I'm very glad to hear that people have had success using converters. I might risk trying that for my serger, which really would not be that much of a disaster if I blew it up! (I have a bit of a love/hate relationship with that finickety beast).

------
Claire - Melbourne, Australia

ajoseph
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In reply to ClaireEmily <<


Date: 12/31/13 10:22 PM

i would contact the manufacturers of your machines directly. they should be able to tell you.

beauturbo
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Date: 1/1/14 0:41 AM

A lot of houses in the US have a 220 outlet in the laundry room or the garage, even though the rest of the rooms in the house most times have 110 outlets. So if you don't mind sewing standing up, with a machine on top of a washer or dryer, that might work

I think the overlocker would run and move on 110, but way slower. A slow overlocker kind of defeats the purpose of it though, as it's nice when they go fast, instead. I think the elna would run slow on 110 too, but since it has a old fashioned board in the side of it, that is all hand soldered, maybe better not to do that with it, I don't know.

If you plug something into much higher current by mistake, I think that most often fry's stuff and right away. If lower, it's not the same.

SandiMacD
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SandiMacD  Friend of PR
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Date: 1/1/14 6:28 AM

I went both ways from US to Japan and back without converters. Our US computers did fine in Japan on a power strip serge protector for 3 years. All the electronics we bought in Japan- local japan stores- massage chair, rice cooker, hot water maker, elec toilet seat, vacuum cleaner etc (so many various gadgets!) worked fine in US. But I did not bring, use or buy a sewing machine- wish I had because I would have loved the japanese fonts- had no time to sew with 18 hr military shifts with 2 days off a month.
Anyway, mechanical I would try but a computerized sewing machine would be a risk. If you are returning I also would consider buying used over here. I have so many right now I should rent them out!
-- Edited on 1/1/14 6:46 AM --

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sewing brings joy and meaning to my life...

jacqui583
jacqui583
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ON
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Date: 1/1/14 7:42 AM

The 240 outlets we have in North America will not likely use the same plug that you have. However, swapping out the plug on your sewing machine to work with an existing 240 outlet would not be difficult and could possibly be the easiest/most cost efficient fix. Alternatively, an electrician may be able to run a new 240 line with an appropriate outlet you bring with you from Australia. Or a sewing machine service tech could swap out the motor and plug for a 120 motor in the U.S.

None of these solutions seem very cost efficient, particularly for a mechanical machine. Also you didn't mention whether you have to pay for shipping the sewing machine over. Ultimately I think GlButterfly is on the right track with picking up a machine here for while you are here.

------
Jacqui

Phoebe (Pfaff Quilt Ambition 2.0)
Jenny (Janome Coverpro 1000cpx)
Sergio (Brother 1034D)
Betty (White 1505)

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