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kristleifur 19th May 2012 01:26 PM

Japanese 100V/60Hz soldering iron w/ transformer in 230V/50Hz country?

I was in Japan recently and was doing some soldering work there. Picked up two really nice soldering irons for cheap - there's lots of good soldering gear in standard DIY stores over there.

The irons are designed for use in West Japan, and so take 100V, 60Hz. Where I now live, the electricity is 230V, 50Hz. Ignoring the cost-benefit ratio, could I use them over here with a transformer?

Would it then be an 230-to-100V transformer, to adjust the voltage without consideration to the frequency, or should I take a 230-to-120V to keep the voltage-to-frequency ratio the same as out East? (I understand this is appropriate when there\'s a transformer inside the equipment - link.)

Thank you!

Simon B 20th May 2012 08:10 PM

Voltage to frequency ratio is relevant in consideration of the possibility of the transformer core saturating - it's the reason that hifi and bass guitar valve amp output transformers need to be much bigger than similarly rated guitar amp output transformers - lower frequencies involved.

You don't say where you're now living, or what the supply frequency is, but presumably locally available transformers will be designed for the local supply frequency.

Use a 230 to 100v transformer.

Brian Oshman 20th May 2012 09:26 PM

Frequency is irrelevent to a soldering iron. As long as you get the voltage close it will work fine. Too much voltage will make it run hotter and also possibly burn out but if you can get 230-110 or 115 volt step down you will be fine. It is just a resistive load.

Simon B 20th May 2012 11:53 PM


Originally Posted by Simon B (
...You don't say......what the supply frequency is...

My mistake, you do say it's 50 Hz, and 230v. As Brian says, frequency is not a concern for a soldering iron.

Voltage however is, and in Europe there is monkey business afoot that has wider bearing than just the likely lifespan of your nice Japanese soldering irons.

The UK's supply was traditionally 240v, much of the rest of Europe, 220v. The UK still has a 240v supply, but officially, it's "230v +10%, -6%". Other European countries have "230v +6%, -10%" in reality 220v! But now, on a politician's desk, we all have "230v supply" Hooray! (It gets better...)

Some countries within the EEA (European Economic Area) are choosing to shift to the +10% tolerance, and with it, 240v supply. Why? Because by shifting to a higher voltage, quite surreptitiously, the increasing demand for power can be met whilst delaying upgrading infrastructure, thus saving the power companies some money.

So possibly worth exercising some care with a "230v to 115v" transformer.

On the plus side the situation is still better than it was in the UK 100 years ago. I once had a list of domestic supply standards here. There were about 400 of them. Including 600v DC.

kristleifur 21st May 2012 09:58 AM

Huh!, Interesting.

THANK YOU for the information! I'll dig up something :)

phaselag 21st May 2012 02:44 PM

Frequency is an issue. Although the soldering iron itself does not care, the transformer (I assume that the soldering iron assembly has a transformer in it) can have a problem on 50 Hz. As mentioned earlier, if the transformer is designed "close to the edge", it could magnetically saturate at 50 Hz. This could cause excess heating and possible failure. If you lower the voltage to 5/6 of 100 volts, or 83 volts, you are 100% safe, but then you will be low on voltage to the iron itself. Most transformers have enough iron to tolerate 50 Hz operation, but may run a bit warmer. But this assumes that you will feed it 100 volts. So make sure that the output of your 220/240 stepdown transformer is rated for 100 volts out.


Simon B 21st May 2012 08:33 PM

Given that East Japan, including Tokyo & Yokohama run on 50Hz, I'd be very surprised if irons on sale in West Japan (60Hz) were incompatible. The OP's question implies, but doesn't state that there might be a transformer in the irons, or rather, presumably, their base stations?

Wrt a step-down transformer for using them on 230v supply, virtually all the world's 230v supplies run at 50Hz. Antigua and Montserrat being the main exceptions at 60Hz.

A few countries, Brazil, Peru, The Philipines and North Korea do use a 220v 60Hz supply, so your worst option would be a 220v to 115v transformer from one of these countries, plugged into a British socket - :eek:

Happy soldering!

balja 19th July 2012 03:48 PM

Sorry for OT. I need help.
Please advise how I should rewire the transformer terminals Accuphase P-3000 from supply 100V to 230V. It isnīt a chart or a table near the transformer. Any photo?

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