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Using 110V 60Hz sewing machine in France

SewingEngineer | Posted in Equipment and Supplies on

I apologize if this is a 2nd posting.  I’m very new at this and don’t see my previous post.

I’m moving from the US to France for 2-3 years.  Of course, I want to bring my sewing machine.  US has 110V 60hz power and France has 220V 50Hz power.  Does anybody have experience running a sewing machine that was designed for US power by connecting through a step-down transformer connected to 220V ?   Have you had any problems?  Should I get a transformer with a voltage regulator?  I’m worried about frying my beloved Bernina.




  1. Palady | | #1

    This may read as a strange suggestion in a sense.  Would you consider posing your question to the French Embassy?

    My thought is you'd be getting the information from a most relaible source.  You can consider opening the following for whatever it's worth.



    1. SewingEngineer | | #4

      Dear Palady,

      Thank you for the suggestion.  I went to the embassy website and posed the question to them.  I'll let you know what I learn.



  2. jatman | | #2

    Hi Sewing Engineer!  You may want to contact Bernina to ask them this question.   I will have the opposite problem when I take my Bernina purchased in Europe home to the US later this year.  I'm hoping I can purchase a different electrical plug for it and be fine but I won't know until I ask them about it.


    1. SewingEngineer | | #5

      Dear Jatman, Thanks for the response. I've e-mailed Bernina USA with the question.  I'll post the answer. 

      I don't think a plug adapter will not be sufficient to use your European machine in the US.  I know that if I do that going from US to Europe, I will risk damaging my sewing machine. 

      The plug adapter doesn't change the voltage of the electricity coming from your wall.  Your motor needs 220/240 VAC and US electricity is 110/120 VAC .  V stands for Volts and AC stands for Alternating Current.  Plug adapters can be used for items that accept both 110 and 220 VAC.  Many AC to DC converters used for charging phones, mp3 players, and computer batteries work with a simple plug adapter.  Lamps also work with a plug adapter if you put the correct light bulbs in the lamp.  Check the information on your converter or electrical appliance.  It should list whether it accepts 110V or 220V electricity.  When in doubt, use caution.  I know many people who have ruined their TVs, DVD players etc by plugging into the wrong power.

      I'm glad to hear from NY2NZ that I can use my machine with a step-up transformer.  I was concerned that there might be a problem with the different frequency because transformers do not convert the frequency of the electricity.  US electricity is 60Hz and France's electricity is 50Hz.  I was also concerned that the initial power surge required when you first start sewing an item might be a problem for the transformer.  This is great news.

      For people looking for transformers and adapters, there are quite a few businesses on the web that sell these.  Their prices can be better than what you might find locally.

      Thanks everybody.

      1. jatman | | #6

        Hi Sewing Engineer! 

        Yes, you are right!  I'm just hoping that the machines (since they are made and sold all over the world) are dual voltage.  If they are, the change in the electric plug will do it.  If not, then I'll have to get a step down transformer in order to use it at home.  

        A word of caution for you - the step up transformers that we brought with us have blown fuses on several occasions and one ended up being unusable.  We bought them before leaving the US because they cost less and so that we could have them shipped with all of our stuff but we obviously couldn't really try them until we got here.  If we had it to do over again, we'd bite the bullet and buy them here (and not via a website).  They are extremely heavy and it's not something you want to have to return in the mail!

        Good luck with your move!  I hope you enjoy your new home!




      2. NY2NZ | | #7

        Hi Again,

        The hertz thing, with the US being 60 and here (and France) being 50Hz....the only thing that I was told was that I have to be sure that the machine doesn't overheat, as it will run hotter and that might shorten the lifespan of my serger (which is the machine I use the most).

        Sorry about not remembering the name of the thing "step up transformer".  Doh.   When you do get one, get one with higher capacity than what you need....cos of spikes and surges.

        Good luck


        1. SewingEngineer | | #8

          Bernina replied to my e-mail and confirmed that a 110V 60Hz sewing machine will operate correctly in France if I use a step-down transformer. 


  3. NY2NZ | | #3

    Hi Mary,

    I moved from the US to NZ and I have my US machines hooked up to a transformer as the system is completely different here.  The transformer was $100.00NZ but its the best way to use anything expensive thats electronic on another system.  Those converters that you can buy that merely change the plugs and have a small converter on them, are fine only for hair dryers, curling irons, shavers, but not much beyond that.

    Good luck


    p.s.  Go to best buy or circuit city or someplace where they have GOOD heavy duty transformers, and get at least two to bring with.  They will cost more outside the US.

  4. kiwisewer | | #9

    Transformers 110V - 220V for sewing machine

    Here is the answer for all who are in this dilemma. I did so much research on this, including purchasing a very expensive transformer, but there were definitely still issues, and after reading about those who had burnt out their motors etc.  I finally found an incredibly inexpensive and perfect travel transformer which has never let me down.  Even though there is a slight hum as with all transformers, this does no damage to the machine and it operates perfectly.  This company ships overseas from the U.S. also.  So here is the link:


  5. user-2810148 | | #10

    European versus North American Electrical Service

    Hello all,

    I lived in Europe twice and here's how you 'convert' your machine to work on  another continent (in priority order):

    1. Check with the manufacturer to see if the machine is dual voltage. If yes, it us ususally as simple as flipping a little switch located somewhere fairly hidden, sometimes beneath a sticker that reads 110/60 or 220/50. This prevents you, or your child, from accidentially changing the voltage of the machine. Once you flip this switch, put a converter plug over the prongs. These cost maybe a US $1.

    2. Buy a step up or step down transformer that will accomodate the number of watts the machine draws. Look at the label on the back or bottom to find out what the wattage is for each of your appliances. If it is a 600 watt machine, you'll probably have to buy a 750 watt transformer that will 'step down' from US to EU. To go from EU to US, you'll have to buy a 'step up' transformer, again with at least the same number of watts as the machine. Don't try and cheat on the watts or you will  burn out your machine.

    This works for all your electrical items (except lamps where you simply switch bulbs and plugs), including irons, microwaves, coffee pots, etc. I bought a set of used 300, 750, and 1200 for each floor of my German house. That way I didn't have to hoick these heavy puppies up and down stairs. However, the second time I moved to Germany, I just put most of my small applicances in storage or gave them away and bought new (toaster, coffee pot, iron, micowave, vacuum, etc) instead. The transformers are pretty expensive when new and can cost you more than the appliance they convert. Besides, most of my small applicances were pretty ancient.

  6. Rhodge1 | | #11

    The cycles are the issue 50/60Hz

    I know this is an old post but it is important.  I stumbled across this thread searching for a motor for a sewing machine that runs on 50 or 60 cycles for my Daughter-in law who lives overseas in Europe. Seems she bowered a sewing machine from another American couple living nearby them.  I get a call from my son wanting me to explain why the motor burn up on the sewing machine they had borrowed after working for over an hour.  A 60hz motor will try an work on 50 hz power but will over heat shortly. Even if you use it only for very short times you are doing damage to the motor.

    This is quoted from wiki.  And the information is correct.

     “Frequency is most likely to affect clocks and devices with motors (Like sewing Machines). They may run faster or slower than they should and may be damaged in the long run as a result. Again, though, some motorized devices may function correctly on either 50 or 60 Hz-- especially if they also operate on batteries. Just look on the label or plug.

    However, you still may need to be careful if you have a sensitive or expensive device that converts AC (power from the wall) into DC (battery-like current)--especially if you also need to convert the voltage. A device will convert AC to DC either to save battery power by allowing you to plug into the mains or charge a battery in the device. The design of power supplies where AC is converted into DC does take frequency into account.

    Even though 60 Hz converts a little more easily to DC than 50 Hz does, there's enough tolerance in most small appliances and electronic gadgets that you can ignore frequency. However, if you also need to change the voltage (because the voltage of your device is different from the mains power voltage), you cannot use a switching-type converter. You must use the heavier iron-core transformer. If in doubt, consult a reputable electrical goods dealer.

    If your device won't operate with a different frequency (powerful motors and non-quartz clocks), there is really nothing you can do to change it. Unlike voltage, frequency cannot easily be converted. Foreign embassies may have to use huge generators to provide current compatible with equipment from home.

    If you desperately need to have power at your home country's frequency, you might try using a 12V DC to AC converter intended for vehicle use. However, most of these (especially those commonly found in stores) output a "sawtooth" wave instead of a sine wave. (Check the manufacturer's website if you need a sine wave output. It may be special order.) Make sure the wattage of the converter is sufficient for whatever device you need to operate, and the 12V battery has enough amps for the job. For example, 12V times 15 amps gives 180 watts (or less after losses are included).“

    Hope  this saves someone from finding out the hard way.  Check your motor the nameplate on the motor will tell the frequency (Hz) the motor requires to correctly.

    1. manahitayo | | #12

      Planning to send my sewing machine from Canada to Philippines

      I am planning to send my Brother sewing machine and has been searching what is the best wattage for this model(80W). I have many smaller appliances that get destrotyed within a month to a year because of this. 

      I can't find any good online store for this but shows a lot in US side so I might order from there.

      I will send an Elna sewing machine , as well, if the transformer works.


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