Using USA TVs and Consoles in the UK - NTSC to PAL

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USA electrical equipment can often end up in the UK as people move here, ship it over or bring it back from holiday. Since the USA opereates on a different voltage and tv system than the UK it can cause some problems and if not careful some explosions!

Firstly the USA mains electricity is 110-120v the UK mains electricity is 220-240v so straight away you can see if you try and connect something designed for 110v to a 240v supply - boom....

So this is the first obstacle to overcome.

USA to UK power adapter

To run in the UK you will need what is called a step down transformer, this "steps down" the voltage from 220/240v to 110/120v so its safe for the USA electrical item. There are a few types - before you buy one you should check how many watts the USA items uses. It should tell you somewhere on the back like 85w or in the manual. This is important because some of the smaller step down transformers only work with smaller wattage items which would be ok for something like a games console but wouldnt power something like a LCD TV. Typically for a USA TV or laptop would need a 100w Step down transformer (shown below) as a typical LCD TV can draw around 80-90watts.


American TV's and games consoles output at a different signal rate than typical UK TV's and consoles. The USA standard is NTSC which runs at 60hz and the UK standard is PAL which runs at 50hz. What happens is if you connect an NTSC (lets say games console) to a UK TV the picture is normally black and white and fuzzy because it is on a different wave length. Luckily most new TV's support NTSC now as standard so it should work straight off - but always check before you buy a TV as it could hinder you if it doesnt. If you do get a black and white fuzzy picture there are a couple of steps to take.
  1. Connect via the SCART socket - you may have to buy a new lead for this but most UK TVs can take NTSC via the SCART socket so this will solve the problem
  2. Check your TV setting - you may be able to switch over to NTSC input through the menus
  3. Buy a NTSC to PAL converter - these are expensive and only recommended as a last resort as they dont always work.
If it still doesnt work you TV may be too old to support NTSC. So look for a TV that states it does as a feature before you buy!

Playstation 1 or 2

For the Playstation you can buy a specific NTSC to PAL convertor box called a SMART or SMART 2 PAL convertor its just a plug in box like below:

It changes the signal down to PAL so you can play your NTSC console on a PAL TV or NTSC games through a modified PAL console.
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