How JustAnswer Works:
  • Ask an Expert
    Experts are full of valuable knowledge and are ready to help with any question. Credentials confirmed by a Fortune 500 verification firm.
  • Get a Professional Answer
    Via email, text message, or notification as you wait on our site. Ask follow up questions if you need to.
  • 100% Satisfaction Guarantee
    Rate the answer you receive.
Ask AssuredElectrical Your Own Question
AssuredElectrical, Master Electrician
Category: Electrical
Satisfied Customers: 4241
Experience:  Contractor-42+ Years in the ElectricalTrade
Type Your Electrical Question Here...
AssuredElectrical is online now
A new question is answered every 9 seconds

American living in Italy. Prior to my move here a bought

Customer Question

American living in Italy. Prior to my move here a bought several step down transformers knowing I would need to use some 110 stuff, even though I planned to buy mostly new 220 appliances. Like most people I think, I use standard power strip surge protectors to both multiply my outlet space and to protect AV equipment. Apparently, surge protectors cause problems when used in tandem with a step down transformer, having to do both with 'inrush' voltage and something more esoteric about how a surge protector works. I don't have enough background to even understand the problem. Anyway, I'm looking for a solution that will allow me to plug in a surge protector to a step down transformer that won't trip the main breaker every time I do it. Related question that might solve my issue, at least partly; do they still sell power strips that don't have surge protection?
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Electrical
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Posted by JustAnswer at customer's request) Hello. I would like to request the following Expert Service(s) from you: Live Phone Call. Let me know if you need more information, or send me the service offer(s) so we can proceed.
Expert:  AssuredElectrical replied 2 years ago.

Welcome. My name is ***** ***** would be glad to assist.

We should be able to resolve the problem without any live consultation.

If you feel that that is not possible, I can put the question back to the open board for others,

but do not think anyone will have the necessary coverage for an overseas call, since we are mostly in the US.

The first thing that comes to mind on your situation is the polarity issue.

The Italian receptacles have 3 pins, center being the ground, but nothing else to orient the plug.

So, it is very possible to have the Live and neutral reversed either on the plug or a mis wire at the wall receptacle.

If you have a voltage tester with readout, you can determine which, but then you must know which one on the transformer side is neutral and which is hot.

Can be very difficult to do, but if oriented properly, the surge protector should work fine.

Most likely it is reversed which will cause may issues, which you have experienced.

It is recommended to surge protect on the primary side of the transformer at the main power and then use the standard

power strips on the output side.

Standard NON surge power strips are readily available everywhere in the US, not sure about your location.

CLICK HERE to see one

We use surge protection on transformers here as well in many applications stepping down the voltages.

The key is polarity proper wiring orientation.

Let me know anything further either direction,


Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Doesn't seem like that could be the case, as the problem persists with multiple different transformers, surge protectors and wall outlets. Doesn't matter the combination, always the same result.
Expert:  AssuredElectrical replied 2 years ago.


Without testing, it is impossible to make any determination or considerations, no matter how many converters are used..

AC Electricity is the same in all countries, only difference is voltage and those are extremely close.

It is all about polarity and how the transformers or in your case, "called converters" are wired internally and driving the phase voltage for the output to insure isolation of the neutral.

That is how the surge protectors work, to dissipate the surge through the ground and if the neutral is connected through or reversed, it is not going to operate.,

That is why it is always best to surge protect prior in any application or a dual function converter with its own built in surge



Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Ok, so is this the test? If I plug the 220, 3 prong outlet in and the breaker trips, it must be wrong. Is what you're saying that I just need to reverse the plug; i.e. unplug it, turn it around so that the prongs are reversed and plug it back in, to reverse the polarity?
Expert:  AssuredElectrical replied 2 years ago.

That is only part of the possibilities.

The way that the manufacturer wires the internal transformer on the converter can also be the issue, if the neutral is not isolated internally.

That requires not only voltage tests to check but possibly some continuity as well to see what the isolation is on the converter.

The manufacturer should be able to supply that information.

But between the two pieces of equipment, it can be either or both.

We have/do install transformers all the time and surge protectors on the line as well, with no issues.

So, it relates to the manufacturer of these converters and the polarity in the receptacles having them correct as well.