Electronics and Voltage

Electricity in Ghana is 220V and 50 MHz but can fluctuate as high as 260V. The fluctuations present dangers to electrical equipment and can also start electrical fires. The best first step in dealing with electrical wiring is to get someone to recommend a qualified electrician to check your residence. Incorrectly wired outlets, a common occurrence, can destroy appliances almost immediately. Because fluctuations in, and availability of, electricity is such an issue here, there are many products you can buy to safeguard your equipment. Some items you should be familiar with are surge protectors, automatic voltage regulators (AVR), and uninterrupted power supplies (UPS).

Surge protectors will protect your small appliances and electronics from minor fluctuations in the electrical current, but unless your home or apartment has a stabilizer, the surge protector will not offer sufficient protection.

AVRs will safeguard your computers and other sensitive electrical equipment from the fluctuations in the current. AVRs are available in different strengths – you should discuss with the retailer your needs so that they recommend the best unit for you.

The UPS will provide you with battery power for about 30 minutes, depending on the model you purchase. A UPS is necessary for desktop computers – in the event of a power outage you have time to save your work and shut down the computer properly. A UPS is not necessary for laptop computers. It is possible to buy a single product that combines the AVR and the UPS.

Whenever you purchase your UPS, AVR or surge protector, be sure that it is intended for 50-60 MHz. This is particularly true if you plan to run your 110V desktop computer with the aid of a transformer. Transformers do not convert cycles, only voltage. Aside from the computer, your other 110V appliances may also be affected by the different electrical cycles in Ghana. You may notice, for instance, that motors "drag" and eventually burn out. Other appliances may operate fine.

If you bring 110V appliances and transformers, ensure that the transformers have adequate watt capacity. Any "heating" appliances, such as hair dryers, toasters, waffle irons, etc. require a lot of watts and a specific transformer should be used. If you happen to burn out any of your appliances, a local electrician will likely be able to repair it for you at a fraction of the cost of buying a new one.

We recommend that, if at all possible, you leave your 110V appliances at home and buy European or Ghanaian 220V appliances for both safety and convenience.

Electrical plugs in Ghana are British-style (i.e., the three-square-prong type) usually with a fuse. You will sometimes find European-style two-round-prong outlets, particularly in older buildings. An electrician can replace the two-prong-plug on 220V appliances with a three-prong-plug or you can use a simple plug adapter. Adapters are widely available from street hawkers.

The power and water may be off for days at a time, so a generator and large water tank are necessities. They can, fortunately, be purchased locally once you arrive.

Last modified on Monday, 13 May 2013 11:03