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An Expensive Lesson Learnt: Be Careful When You Buy Electrical Appliances From The U.S. If You Are In Singapore

Fun Stuff
March 18, 2013
Composed by : Bun Bun


USD120 for a hair curling tong was, and still is, a great deal to me, but I thought of it as an investment, a good decision to replace my other hair irons that are of inferior quality. Never could I have imagined that I’d pay USD120 + necessary fees AND get nothing in return. Nothing tangible, at least.

Above the USD120 for the curling iron that was never meant to be, I paid USD30 for shipping from US to Singapore, and SGD 50+ for shipping from Singapore back to US. Not to mention the anguish and disappointment felt. @#$*&~!#@%^*!!

Before I break into my experience on this ordeal, let me just warn onset all my readers residing in countries other than the US that it is advisable not to buy any electrical appliance from US. There is nothing discriminatory about this statement, just pure desire to save anyone the trouble, disappointment and waste of money and time that I went through.

Wait, scrap that. Let me rephrase: It is advisable not to buy any electrical appliance from anywhere else than your own country.

The object of this matter would be the Sedu Revolution Clipless Curling Iron – 25MM (from amazon.com), a hair curling tong I had decided on after doing extensive research, or so I thought. I did research on everything, brands available in the market, thickness of the barrel, quality, price… well, EXCEPT the most important thing – power compatibility.

In my excitement and haste to own a good hair curling tong, I was blinded by a deluded belief that ‘everything will be fine’. Sometimes I can be too optimistic for my own good. =|

After a good many weeks, the Sedu Revolution Clipless Curling Iron finally arrived in my anticipating hands.




Tumultuous rain seemed to lash in the dark backgrounds of the night (dramatic, much? HAHAHA!) as I opened the sleek black box, looked at the power cord only to realize it was the American plug – DUH, right?! – and wouldn’t fit into the Singapore plug type. I forgot to take a picture of the Sedu Curling Tong’s power plug, but it’s the typical 2-pin American type.

I had it coming. It was a hasty decision and I would live to pay and regret it. And it’s so SILLY that this wasn’t the first time I did it. Previously I bought a weighing machine from amazon.com and the moment I forced placed the plug into a travel adaptor and turned it on, there was a sickening *PUCK!* sound and to my horror, smoke emerged from the sides of the machine. It sounds funny now, but I was terrified then. Money went up in smoke, literally.

You never learn, girl!! Tsk tsk!

This time I still tried to see if the travel adaptors at home would miraculously give me some hope, but to my expected dismay, none did. I didn’t turn the power on coz I didn’t want to relive the puck-poof-kaboomz incident again.

I thronged the Internet for some kind of solution and learnt about different plug types, voltage, frequency, dual voltage appliances and found many forums that help people understand the electrical profiles in different parts of the world.

I also sought help from my friend who sells appliances on whether anything could be done, like whether a transformer might help. He said unless the appliance comes with dual voltage, or is larger like a laptop or DVD player or rice cooker, it would pose a danger to the appliance and transformer since the heat would be unbearable. IT MIGHT CAUSE A FIRE BREAKOUT OR ELECTROCUTE ME. What did I get myself into?!! Omygoodnesssss…..!!! Luckily I didn’t turn on the power when I tried with the travel adaptors. Besides, a good transformer would easily set me back by SGD100. And they’re so bulky and ugly.

BAH! I blame my own electrical appliance compatibility myopia for all these.

With a heavy heart, I emailed the merchant to ask if I could have a refund. Note that I didn’t use it at all, didn’t even test it. If I were living in the US, I wouldn’t have to incur all the high international shipping charges. But if I were living in the US, I wouldn’t even have had to return it in the first place. =.=”

The only thing I got out of all these nonsense is an unforgettable lesson to check carefully the voltage, frequency and plug type for all electrical appliances bought overseas in the future. That is, if I even dare to buy any from overseas ever again. Even electrical appliances bought in Asian countries do not guarantee a sure-pass!

For example, Japan uses the American type of plug and runs on 100V 50/60 Hz, India uses CEE type of plug and runs on 230/240V 50 Hz, while Singapore uses the British type of plug and runs on 230V 50Hz.

Why can’t they all have just one type of plug?!?! One voltage?? One frequency?!? 🙁

*sits on the floor and kicks legs wildy into air

I found this very useful chart (found in my new Olympus EPL-5 camera kit!) that displays the different power supply plugs in different countries.



In Singapore, the B Type and BF Type are used.






North America, Central America, South America, Middle East, Africa



How troublesome! >.<”

As I sat to recall all the places I’ve been before – Malaysia, Indonesia, Taiwan, China, Hong Kong, Thailand, Japan, Korea, Sri Lanka – I realized I was always able to charge my phone, camera battery and use my hair dryer. All I needed was a compatible plug adaptor. But if I were to travel to the US someday, I probably wouldn’t be able to use ANY of my appliances! iPhone seems to have dual voltage though. https://discussions.apple.com/thread/1735041?start=0&tstart=0

Argh, this is too confusing! I’ll leave you with some links you might find helpful when buying appliances in other countries. Be careful when you buy!

  • Using Japan appliances in US: http://www.japan-guide.com/forum/quereadisplay.html?0+13241
  • Mains electricity by country: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_with_mains_power_plugs,_voltages_%26_frequencies
  • What is dual voltage: http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20100602142901AALOKvU

Helpful advice I got from doing research on using eletrical appliances in other countries:

‘Most of the appliance stated are very high wattage equipment. Even if you could find a transformer that met your requirements, the transformer itself would generate as much heat and sound as the equipment itself, if not more. And you’ll be using way more electricity which cost more money anyway so I would go ahead just buy local compatible appliances.’

‘The blender will work with approximately 15 percent slower speed… and might be subject to premature failure depending upon the nature of the motor in it… the current an electric motor draws is dependent upon a number of things including load and speed.’ ‘Unless you are talking about a $2000 expresso/latte machine, buy them here. A sufficiently decent transformer will be well north of S$100, will hum, be heavy, take up space, and will reduce your electrical efficiency.’ ‘If it’s got an electrical plug on it, and it doesn’t have dual voltage built into it, don’t bring it.’

‘Just because it can be done, doesn’t mean that it should.’

‘In Singapore the hz is 50 hz/60 hz hence it is switchable on AC . The Voltage is AC 230V. In layman term, if the machinery is on 50 hz only and you are set up for 60 hz, it will slow the equipment dramatically vice versa. Hence in SG it is 50/60 hz. You need to go for a step down VOLTAGE REGULATOR NOT STEP DOWN transformer AC 230 to AC 100>120 V. Rating should be at least 2000 W with voltage regulator if you are needing to use you a few simultaneously. Make sure the amps is 13 Amps on the stepdown and has several Two Flat Pin Output that is similar to US .’
(I have no idea what is being written here! LOL! But I reckon it should make sense to some of you.)

‘I am an electrical engineer. My expert opinion is I would stay away from using any appliance that generates heat…such as a hairdryer (as previously mentioned) or a kotatsu or a boiler for tea water…unless you know what you are doing!!
Japan’s electrical system is roughly the same as the US’s. However, the US’s voltage is 120Vac RMS (60Hz)while Japan’s is 100Vac RMS (50 or 60Hz depending on region).

So, any heat generating device from Japan that is used in the US will get 20% hotter than it’s design intended. The risk is damage to the device and/or fire…or injury of a person. Please be careful!!
That being said, you could use a transformer for such devices if you really must have them. But, heat generating devices are usually pretty high wattage…meaning you’d need some pretty hefty transformers to do the job.

As for electronics such as PCs, VCRs, TVs, etc…check the back side of the device or its external power supply (usually near where the power cord enters). Read what it says there. Laptop PCs, digital camera chargers and the like tend to accept a wide range of voltages because they are designed for export to many countries. My IBM laptop will accept 100-240V. The power supply takes care of converting the input voltage (whatever it may be) to the appropriate voltage used by the device.

As for TV’s from Japan…they will work if the voltage range indicated on the back side includes 120V (if not, I wouldn’t use it or even plug it in in the US). However, the channel frequencies for Japanese TV are different than American TV. So, it might work okay with a VCR or a satellite reciever (or cable). But, it will not accpet American over-the-air broadcasts. Your Japanese DVD player will not play discs made for use in the US (and vice-versa).’



My heart still aches from paying so much for a hair curling iron. USD120 is about SGD160, not including crazy international shipping fees and taxes, and then failing to get anything at the end of the day. I thought I would be able to finally curl my own hair and not get it burnt and fried from using a lousy curling iron, but alas, fate had to have its way.

Anyway, I really think the Sedu Curling Iron is a very good hair curling appliance – I would not have purchased it otherwise, right? You might want to try it and if you do, please let me whether it works for you! 🙂

You can get the Sedu Revolution Clipless Curling Iron from amazon.com.

Have you had problems using electrical appliances in other countries? Like using appliances bought in Asia in the US? And vice versa? Did anything explode??


7 thoughts on “An Expensive Lesson Learnt: Be Careful When You Buy Electrical Appliances From The U.S. If You Are In Singapore”

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greenhouses says:

They really shouldn’t allow certain countries to buy their products if they know there is an incompatibility with power voltages!

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Thảo Lưu says:

I usually buy online from US. that was some good products. thank you for your experience sharing

Midimagic says:

It was not available to be shipped to your country because they knew the voltage was wrong.

Note also that some computing devices cannot be exported from the US under Homeland Security rules.

Midimagic says:

This was not bought from a manufacturer, but from Amazon, a reseller.

Midimagic says:

Purely heating devices (with no electronics) made for 120 V can be used with 240V power with a half wave rectifier that cuts off half the power. Be sure to get one sized for your device.

If you take your 240 V appliances to America and own the dwelling, you can have 240 V outlets installed, as most power in the US supplies 120 and 240 V in the same house. I have a 240 V window air conditioner. You will have to have 240 V outlets put in (the prongs are different) and have the plugs on your appliances changed or adapted.

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