One of the legacies of having spent so much time off grid in my RV is that electricity is at the forefront of my mind. When I was preparing my packing list for my European adventure, I looked at the ridiculous amount of things plugged into my uninterrupted power supply and knew I had to reduce my electrical needs dramatically because I wouldn’t have the luxury of access to lots of outlets in Europe. In fact, I would have just one, into which I would plug an adapter to go from my North American style plug to a European style plug.
It was easier than I expected, but not cheap, to reduce my electrical needs. I replaced my large external hard drives requiring AC power with slim credit card sized drives that only power through USB. I bought a 1TB Western Digital My Passport Air external hard drive for my backups and a slightly thicker 3TB Toshiba Canvio external hard drive for media. In this way, I also went from four external drives to just two. I’d been “collecting” drives for years, starting with a 500GB one in 2009 and then getting increasing capacity every year as prices began to drop, so it was nice to consolidate everything into two drives. The reason I put my media on an external drive is that I have a Macbook Air, which has a solid state drive. When I replaced my computer in 2015, I went with the smallest drive possible because a SSD is crazy expensive. So I have to store my media on another hard drive or else I’d run out of capacity.
Next, I had to find a better way to power my iOS devices. At home, I plug them into the USB AC adapter that I then plug into a wall socket. You can, in theory, charge iOS devices through their USB cable plugged into your computer, but I didn’t want to have to rely on that. My computer only has two USB outlets and they are always in use, with one dedicated to the backup drive and one powering a USB hub into which I plug a mouse, the media drive, the keyboard (which I didn’t bring with me), and, of course, my transcription foot pedal. Little did I know that the solution for that would present itself.
iOS devices notwithstanding, I had reduced my power needs to just my computer. The computer charger has a built-in voltage adapter, so I just had to find an adapter that would let me plug into a European socket. After doing some research, I decided to go with a much larger unit than I had hope for, but that would let me plug into just about any socket in the world, the FosPower FUSE worldwide universal AC international adapter with dual USB charging ports. Notice that last part! The two USB sockets are well powered and charge my iOS devices perfectly.
I’ve now used my adapter in two modes. First was in the UK, which has enormous sockets! I had a hard time getting the adapter to work (didn’t help that it was the middle of the night and I was still half dead with jet lag) until I remembered reading a review by someone who had the same problem, where I’d learned to push down on the plastic part in the middle to get it to pop up.
Now, I’ve been using it in European mode and it is still working great! I was a bit (lot) nervous when I saw the Schuko outlets, but the prongs on my adapter fit it perfectly. The thinner Europlugs also fit in the Schuko outlets.
As long as I’m plugged directly into the wall, the adapter does not get hot. I once wanted to charge my iPad while I was in bed and tried to combine the adapter with an extension cord, but the adapter got really hot!
The FosPower FUSE worldwide universal AC international adapter with dual USB charging ports is proving to be very robust and reliable. It does take a lot of room in my luggage, but I’m sure it’s less than if I’d had to bring multiple adapters. The only negative thing I have to say about it is that I’m annoyed by the incredibly bright blue light it emits to show it’s working as it actually lights up a whole room! But I can cover it with a scarf or sock and it doesn’t overheat, so that’s what I do when I have to sleep in the same room where it’s working hard to charge my things.
Converting to European electric power has been really easy for me because I only have the computer to worry about and it has its own voltage converter. You’re on your own if you want advice on how to power things like a North American hair dry or curling iron here!
My biggest complaint about power in Europe is that I can’t just blindly reach down and try to plug in something because I’m trying to align very slim prongs with tiny holes. I thought it would be easier with sockets that fill the whole outlet, but nope. Still, that’s just a minor inconvenience!