# Can I step down 220 V to 110 V for my whole apartment?

Our country's voltage setting is 220 V, but I have a bunch of devices that are rated 110V (surplus coffeemakers from Japan to the awesome Philips Hue smart bulbs).

So I was thinking of adding a 110 V source throughout my apartment. Would this be easy? Would it be costly?

I read somewhere that all I had to do to step down "cheaply" is ground one of the 2 LIVE wires, instead of hooking up a massive transformer for the lot.

Is this safe, logical, recommended?

What if I'm on the higher floors, and the building doesn't have "grounds" (our country doesn't use grounding, so 3 prong plugs need to be converted to 2 prong)?

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Why is this downvoted I wonder? – sharptooth Jun 6 '13 at 6:11
If you were to ground one of the two live wires you'd create a short circuit. Since there are no breakers on your mains, you'd either melt the conductor or blow the transformer. – Steven Jun 6 '13 at 14:24

You can't step down 220 volts by using two live wires - that voltage is between phase and neutral and the voltage between phases will be 380 volts, so no cheap 220 volts is there.

Note that besides different voltages there's 50 Hz versus 60 Hz issue - your country likely has 50 Hz mains and if you use an ordinary (not switching power supply) transformer it can't get 60 Hz out. If any of your devices are for 60 Hz the problem gets worse.

You certainly can use the transformer and separate set of wires scenario, but...

1. that's a separate set of wires and breakers and junctions and everything - you need to find place for all that, install it and maintain
2. if the transformer happens to be too small you'll have to either replace it (quite costly) or set another one and another set of wires in parallel (quite complicated)
3. you now have two sets of outlets with different voltages across the house and if you plug a 110 volts device into 220 volts outlet it likely breaks and maybe starts a fire. Even if you have two sets of outlets such that they require distinct receptacles one can always use an adapter and plug into the wrong one. In general this is why two sets of outlets with different voltages is quite a bad idea in real life. Every time there's an outlet with voltage different from country mains this problem arises, the only real solution is to have the same voltage everywhere.
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Our country's voltage setting is 220 V, but I have a bunch of devices that are rated 110V (surplus coffeemakers from Japan to the awesome Philips Hue smart bulbs).

220V versions of coffemakers and smart-bulbs are available. They are likely to be cheaper than the measures you are considering.

So I was thinking of adding a 110 V source throughout my apartment. Would this be easy? Would it be costly?

It would not be easy, it would be expensive. In particular, you'd probably need to replace all the wiring as lower voltage requires higher current to provide the same power and higher currents need thicker wires.

I read somewhere that all I had to do to step down "cheaply" is ground one of the 2 LIVE wires, instead of hooking up a massive transformer for the lot.

Apart from cats, the Intertubes are also full of bad advice. That may have been advice from a redneck in a country with split-phase supply.

Is this safe, logical, recommended?

No, No and definitely no.

What if I'm on the higher floors, and the building doesn't have "grounds" (our country doesn't use grounding, so 3 prong plugs need to be converted to 2 prong)?

In my experience, combining two unsafe things rarely produces a safe thing.

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And I've seen combining two unsafe things produce a deadly thing. Electricity and the Sea are both very unforgiving mistresses... – Fiasco Labs Jun 6 '15 at 5:29