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Thread: UK power conversion for US enlargers?

  1. #1

    UK power conversion for US enlargers?

    I am possibly relocating to London from the US, and would like to bring my enlager(s) along for a darkroom set-up. I have a Beseler mcmxl and a smaller Beseler with US plugs that are on 110v. Is it possible to convert and transform for use in the UK? I heard that items with motors (ie. the Beseler motorized chasis) make it difficult. I have found little info on the net relating to this, so perhaps someone out there has been in a similar situation.... Thanks! Regards, Steve

  2. #2

    UK power conversion for US enlargers?

    I moved from North America to Australia (similiar power situation). Power transformers of various voltage ranges are available as stock or custom built options. They aren't terribly expensive and once converted, the power can run anything within its range. Thus the motorized chassis will be fine. You may consider, however, the cost of shipping compared to what you can buy a used enlarger in the UK for in these digital days and decide what is the better value for your money.

  3. #3

    UK power conversion for US enlargers?

    Shipping costs are being taken care of, which is why I'd love to bring the big chasis over... Comparing the high pound to the low dollar a good 4x5 enlarger would still be an expense. Plus I have worked hard at acquiring all the accessories I really need for this particular vintage Beseler enlarger, and would hate to store it for a few years, only to have to start it all again with a whole different system. The Durst's are big in UK, so that's a whole new expensive ball... Is changing the Beseler so easy as to just a new plug converter and transformer? Is the Australian conversion similar to UK (beyond the 3 prong outlets)?. Thanks for the help David!

  4. #4

    Join Date
    Sep 2003
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    220

    UK power conversion for US enlargers?

    Apart from the voltage, the other factor, and this is where motors can have problems, is that the UK mains runs at 50 Hz (cycles per second), whereas I believe the US uses 60 Hz. I suspect that this only means the motor will run 1/6th slower, but I do not have any practical experience to offer....

    For used 4x5 enlargers, the UK made De-Vere is probably the most available, followed by Durst and LPL - Beseler are by far the least available. On the UK eBay you could expect to pay GBP300 - 450 for any of these - sometimes lower (my LPL cost GBP240) but there are never more than 1, 2 or 3 listed on eBay at any one time.

    Cheers,

  5. #5

    Join Date
    May 1999
    Posts
    340

    UK power conversion for US enlargers?

    Stephen, we arrived to Spain a lot of years ago... with all our american staff with us. Here we found also 220volts 50hz. Freezer, washing and dryer machines, toasters, HiFi, fans, toys, etc, etc. We have been using adecuate plug converters in each machine for years without problems. Most of them have been changed for new european ones, but I still remember the Sears "monster" washing machine (one room only for it and the dryer); my mother used to clean several carpets on it at a time... the new one is overloaded with five pants. Good old times...

  6. #6

    UK power conversion for US enlargers?

    You need a "step down transformer", with a power rating at least as much as the enlarger, probably 10 to 20% more for a safety margin. I think the only electrical device in your enlarger is the bulb, it doesn't care about 50Hz vs 60Hz. The transformer will have a 230VAC input and 110VAC output. The unit should have a CE rating for use in Europe, and you'll need a UK plug or an adapter for the input. The output should be a US type, it's about the only one used for 115VAC. There are two simple rules: bigger is better, and heavier is better! I wouldn't trust a "250 watt" converter that I could pick up with one hand. The other alternative is to re-wire the internals on the enlarger, but if you get killed, you didn't hear it from me ;-)

  7. #7

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    UK power conversion for US enlargers?

    There are several designs of motors used to drive fans. Some are sensitive to frequency, some are not. The motor quite likely has a data plate that will state the power requirement. If it says 50/60 Hertz, or says nothing about frequency at all, you should be all right. If it says only 60 Hertz, you had better ask Beseler for advice. If they can't help, one option might be to use an external fan, connected to the enlarger head by a lightweight hose, the internal fan motor being removed or at least disconnected. Using a fan that runs slowly might result in too frequent lamp failures.

  8. #8

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    UK power conversion for US enlargers?

    P.S. Be sure to use an actual "step down transformer", not a lightweight "power converter".

  9. #9

    UK power conversion for US enlargers?

    For most equipment stepping down to 120VAC from 250VAC is no problem. As several contributors have mentioned, however, the problem is in the frequency. US is 60 Hz and most of the world 50 HZ. Power transformers do not change frequency.

    Problem occurs when you plug in electronic equipment that is sensitive to frequency: clocks, computers, recorders/players, and maybe stepping motors. Clocks run, but will not keep time, they lose 10'/hour.

    Other equipment: lights, simple motors, vacuums, etc. are affected, but the effect is unnoticeable.

    Enlarger lamp output difference probably is insignificant, simply adjust by altering exposure or development.

    In Turkey we had the option of multiple transformers scattered around the house, or converting the power coming into the house. We chose the latter. More expensive, but also more convenient. Eliminated the problem of forgetting to use the transformer and plugging a 120 appliance directly into 220 socket (with adapter, of course). Naturally, appliance is toast.

    Good luck.

  10. #10

    Join Date
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    UK power conversion for US enlargers?

    Stephan,

    Why not contact Beseler and get it straight from the "horses mouth?" They might have conversion kits available for your enlarger.---Cheers!
    I steal time at 1/125th of a second, so I don't consider my photography to be Fine Art as much as it is petty larceny.

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