Power line conversion needs are many! Historically, it seemed that the solutions were few. The most popular solution over the years has been the “voltage converter” or transformer. Unfortunately, this is a sad and ineffective solution if frequency (50Hz or 60Hz) was the reason your prized device would not work in a geographic location outside of where it was purchased.
Since the inception of KCC Scientific’s product line, we have solved many customer problems that could not be solved any other way. Here are a few examples, which will shed light on why we are so committed to our product offering and more importantly, solving these difficult customer problems.
Audio Gear. Numerous times, we have had customers coming to us wishing to power vintage audio; eg, manufactured in the 1950’s or 1960’s. Some is relatively new, manufactured in the last 20 years. But the problem is the same: the owner wishes to power the amplifier or other device in a country where the power standard (either frequency, voltage, or both) are different than what the device was designed for. A common example is the need to power 115V AC 60Hz equipment in Europe where the mains power standard is 230V AC at 50Hz.
Often, customers purchase high-quality equipment overseas and assume they can use an import step-down transformers to power it. Unfortunately, many of these low-cost transformers are not professional quality nor safety-certified, and cause problems in their own right. That’s a topic for a separate blog. Importantly, one must remember that a transformer does NOT change frequency. And, some equipment is not universal; e. g., not designed for use on either 50Hz or 60Hz AC power, which leads customers to our doorstep.
By converting both voltage and frequency, KCC Scientific products solve the problem completely. And, because the output waveform is a precision, regulated sine wave, our customers are guaranteed that their prized audio equipment will function properly for them. Because all KCC Scientific products include an internal low-noise toroidal transformer to do the voltage conversion, their device is powered safely and silently.
If you own audio gear that is rated for 110-120V AC at 60Hz, and you live in a region where the mains power is 220-240V AC at 50Hz, consider Athena, Thor or Hercules to provide you with the proper 115V AC at 60Hz that your equipment was designed for.
Turntables and Tape Players. Devices with AC motors, such as turntables and tape players, are often designed to work only within the region where they were manufactured. Many US-based turntable manufacturers produce units equipped to operate with 115V AC at 60Hz. When operated outside the USA, even if the voltage is transformer stepped down from 230V AC to 115V AC, the lower frequency of 50Hz will result in turntable speed that is much too slow—and this speed difference is very, very noticeable!
We have provided customers with products for this application many times. In fact, if you wish to use a U-Turn turntable outside North America, the solution is Apollo. It will plug in anywhere in the world, and provide the 60Hz power that the U-Turn equipment requires. We’ve sold many Apollos to customers who wish to purchase U-Turn equipment and power it outside of North America.
The other very popular product with vintage turntable and tape players is Athena. Just as above, we had a customer come to us with no way to power his prized European audio turntable in North America. In this case, the turntable was designed with a motor to operate properly at 230V AC and 50Hz. When plugged into the North America mains power system at 115V AC at 60Hz (using a step-up transformer), the equipment was playing back at a speed 20% higher, and the pitch of the music was very noticeably off! With Athena, this customer was thrilled. The speed returned to normal since the unit converts the North American mains power of 115V AC at 60Hz to the required 230V AC at 50Hz to power the European equipment. Our customer didn’t think it was possible to find a device to solve this problem. But since Athena, the problem is easily and economically solved.
Thor has also turned out to be a favorite among audiophiles. When we were in the process of developing Thor, a young lady (Tina) contacted us after having purchased a CJ Walker turntable while visiting in Europe. The Swiss-made motors were no longer available for use in North America and she had no option for powering the unit here in the USA since she required 230V AC at 50Hz. We actually worked with her to provide her with a prototype of Thor. When she installed it, her comment was “…it works like a charm! I love it!” Since then, Tina has been very happy and the unit (albeit a prototype) continues to function beautifully.
We had a similar experience with a customer, Uwe, trying to power a Grundig vintage tape player in Canada. The Grundig tape player requires 230V AC at 50Hz in order to operate at the proper speed. Uwe was very frustrated because he could not power his player here in the USA, even with a step up transformer. Like Tina, we had a prototype Thor that we shipped to him. We waited anxiously for the results of his testing.
After Uwe tried his Thor, we received this comment from him: “Thanks for an excellent working piece of equipment!” His vintage European tape player was finally working in his new Canadian home.
Salon-grade Clippers. Athena is a favorite for powering salon-style professional clippers designed to operate on 115V AC, 60Hz. We have had several customers contact us after trying import-quality products, and after having bad experiences with them such as catastrophic failure and (frighteningly!) fire. Athena is now gently powering these devices safely and silently, and our customers are very happy with it.
Flip Clocks and Vintage Electric Clocks. Powering electric clocks and flip clocks is where it all started for us! Our Chronos is a favorite with countless customers worldwide. Recently we had a customer with a favorite flip clock move from the USA to Europe. After arriving in his new home, he was disappointed to learn that a transformer would not solve his problem. The transformer reduced the local mains 230V AC 50Hz voltage to 115V AC, but unfortunately transformers are not frequency changers. So, the clock ran 10 minutes slow every hour.
Our customer asked if Chronos would solve his problem. To this we responded with a resounding YES! He purchased Chronos and now his flip clock is keeping perfect time, not gaining or losing a single second in the month since he has owned it. This is typical of our Chronos customers, and has been since we first introduced Chronos as the Model 1930-115V back in 2011.
Special Table and Ceiling Fans. Several times over the years, customers have come to us wanting to power either vintage or otherwise unique fans. Thor seems to be the best product for this application, since it has the power output needed for most fans of this type. A few years ago, a UK-based customer bought a beautiful US-manufactured vintage fan (designed for 115V AC at 60Hz), but it would not work at 50Hz. Thor solved his problem.
More recently, a customer building a new house in Florida had purchased a gorgeous Italian-style ceiling fan (designed for 230V AC at 50Hz) and had it shipped to the USA. Since he is an electrician, he thought it would be no problem to power the fan from 230V AC at 60Hz (which is available if you are wiring a house for a particular device).
His assumption turned out to be wrong. The fan’s speed control would not function properly, and the fan seemed to become uncomfortably warm when powered at 60Hz. We described to him our previous success with powering fans, and he decided to give Thor a try.
Since then, his fan was tested and works perfectly on 230V AC at 50Hz produced by his Thor plugged into a standard US household outlet. Speed control is right on, and the overheating issue has vanished. He plans to mount the unit on a shelf in a closet adjacent to the room where his fan is installed, out of sight, to operate silently as a mini power plant for the special fan. No special wiring or voltages will be needed. We will follow up with him once everything is in place!
Industrial Applications. Many customers have found application for our Hercules in automated production test of equipment, powering specialized German electronic assembly equipment in Japan (multiple locations), functional test of universal worldwide equipment, and many others.
As we continue to grow and develop exciting new technology, our philosophy remains the same: We always put ourselves in our customer’s shoes. That’s easy, because we have been there. That’s how we started out! We strive to understand our customers’ issues, and find the right solution for them. Most times, we have the problem on our shelf ready to deliver to our customers. When we don’t, we strive to understand the problem fully, and then translate that understanding into a solution for them. Look forward to our upcoming product announcements!