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Choosing a good travel charger

Choosing a good travel charger

Travel charger

Whether traveling for work or pleasure, smartphones and laptops have become essentials for many. Just as important as having a working internet connection when overseas is the ability to recharge these devices. In this guide, we'll tell you what to pack and which travel charger you should buy to ensure your gadgets stay powered.

Know the voltage

First thing, you need to know what voltage the mains electricity uses. In the vast majority of cases, it will be the most common 220 – 240V. However, this could be 110V in some countries, for example, in the US. The good news is that most chargers we get here in Singapore support 100 – 240V, which means you can plug it in safely almost anywhere in the world. Regardless, if you are travelling to a 110V country, don't assume. It's dead simple to do a quick visual check of your phone or notebook's power adapter to make sure it says “Input: 100 – 240V”.

label on charger
Look at the tiny text on your charger to see if it supports 100 – 240V Credit: John Chan/Can Buy or Not

Bring the right plugs for your destination's sockets

AC wall sockets vary in shape all over the world, and you need to have the right adapter to plug your chargers into them. One of the most common ways to do this is using a universal travel adapter like the Anker PowerExtend range. Such adapters have pins that can be extended or retracted to fit the most common sockets including the EU, US, UK, China, Australia. However, this also causes it to be quite large. In some cases, it may not fit snugly into a wall socket after also attaching your heavy power adapter. That's the price to pay for the convenience of a universal travel adapter's multi-functionality.

Credit: Anker

A more compact solution is to use a travel adapter that does only one type of conversion. So if you are traveling from Singapore to China, get an adapter that only lets you plug in your 3-pin UK charger, converting it to a two (or three with ground) flat pin plug for China. These adapters will be lighter and smaller, and cost a lot less than a universal travel adapter. They tend to fit better as well, since they are designed for a specific type of wall socket.

If you have a charger that has removable plugs, another way is to buy a replacement adapter for that charger. Apple power adapters are a good example of this, and the company sells a set of five replacement adapters covering the most common destinations. This means you won't need a separate travel adapter, reducing the number of things you have to carry.

Apple World Travel Adapter Kit
Credit: Apple

Use a multi-port power adapter

If you travel with a notebook, smartphone, and smartwatch, does that mean you should bring three power adapters? Don't. There are many good power adapters with two, three, or even four USB ports that will charge all your devices simultaneously. You don't have to worry about compatibility, too, since modern notebooks, smartphones, and wearables will draw only the power they need when plugged in.

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An example is the Ugreen Nexode 140W Charger. WIth two USB-C and one USB-A ports, you can charge all your devices at once even with just one wall socket available. Just make sure you bring all your USB cables along too.

Buy GaN chargers which are smaller and lighter

Belkin BoostCharge Pro 65W
Credit: Aloysius Low/Can Buy or Not

Gallium nitride (GaN) is a material that's fast replacing the silicon used in transistors within chargers. Without going into the technical details, this advancement has resulted in chargers that are more efficient, and consequently, smaller and lighter. Take for instance the Belkin BoostCharge Pro 65W wall charger. You can probably hide it in a closed fist, but it will do the job of your laptop's included 65W brick that's easily twice the size and weight.

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