Home Improvement Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for contractors and serious DIYers. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

For a European-style city power supply (240 V AC 50 Hz) attempting to accommodate appliances from another country (USA, 110 V AC 60 Hz), how should a "Nippon" ungrounded transformer be wired up?

The supply voltage for the neighborhood is 240 V AC. The ungrounded 1500 W Nippon transformer steps that down to 110V but leaves the frequency unchanged. Most 110V appliances (heaters, etc) plugged into the 110V side work fine. However, the voltage on each leg of the 110 side ("hot" and "return") are both 55V AC relative to Earth ground. And when I try to connect "active" power regulating loads to the 110V outlet, my the GFIC breaker on my 220V power source eventually trips, whether I've grounded the power supply and/or transformer case to earth ground or not. The troublesome appliance is a 110VAC to 12V DC power supply, battery charger and solar charger system. A lower power transformer from Australia (500 W) does not cause this problem.

Any ideas on what I'm doing wrong with the wiring of the new transformer?

share|improve this question
up vote 3 down vote accepted

The output appears to be ungrounded or center grounded. It could be a transformer intended for outdoor tools in UK. If there is also a safety ground 3 wire plug, it could be coupling some of the harmonic current from the switch mode active power supply (which should be flowing equally on hot and neutral) on the safety ground. That would be unbalanced current and trip the GFCI. The smaller transformer could be wired with normal grounding or it may have a plastic case. Adding filtering to the mains input could fix the GFCI issue.

share|improve this answer
The transformer output plug is indeed 2-prong (ungrounded). Seller suggested I connect the earth ground separately myself. Yes, the active power supply is likely grounded. The smaller transformer has a metal case and 3-prong output but is labeled as an "isolation transformer." Will research filtering options and try them. – hobs Dec 22 '11 at 13:40
For reasons of safety, an added ground should involve replacing the cord and plug with a 3 conductor cord and the proper grounded plug (fused for those in UK). If there becomes a power fault to ground (transformer case for example), a ground wire separated from the power wires will have a higher loop inductance, and slow down the response of the circuit breaker. – Skaperen Dec 23 '11 at 22:29
thanks. I'll use a 3-prong to 2-prong adapter and bridge the gap between the input and output grounds with as short a wire as possible or use the case itself. – hobs Dec 24 '11 at 5:52

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.