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For some reason, I now own a Sunbeam Radiant Control toaster, model T-20C. While I found it in The Netherlands, it's fitted with a US cord and plug.

On the bottom, it reads:

VOLTS 110-120 WATTS 1275
FOR AC ONLY

The bottom plate of a Sunbeam model T-20C, relevant text transcribed above

I'd like to use it in The Netherlands, where we get 230V AC from our outlets.

Using a power converter is not an option, since the toaster wants 1275 Watts. And while power converters that can handle that power do exist, it's a bit overkill to get a slice of toast.

So is there any other option? The mechanism is simple enough, no electronics, just heating coils.

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3 Answers 3

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It’s unlikely that you can internally convert it. That would require finding two series strings of heating coils of the same resistance, and moving them from series to parallel. Nothing but a teardown will tell you if something like that exists. Even so, the switch may not be rated for 230V, though that’s probably not a huge issue.

That is an absolutely exquisite toaster. They aren’t made anymore because of incompatibilities between their operating principle and a new UL White Book requirement. As such, they should not be trashed by risky behavior with cheap “power converters” found on the Internet or at junk shops. There’s a special hell for people who take such risks lol.

The good news is, AC frequency won’t be a problem, so you just need a reliable source of 115/120V. A proper transformer of sufficient ampacity is a fine answer.

You can overload a heavy transformer somewhat since your usage is momentary: Heat is why we care about overloading transformers; the iron and copper have significant thermal mass and take awhile to get warm enough to matter. Same way little car starter motors can start a big engine.

Do not use cheap “power converters” unless you very carefully watch their power output on a scope.

Proper AC voltage conversion requires a transformer. If it’s done electronically, there are a variety of ways to do it, in a wide spectrum of accuracy <-> cheapness. At extremes, cheap “triac dimmers” for lights make a very ugly AC waveform, that works for incandescent lights intended for that same voltage, but is a mess for anything else.

You really have to watch out first for the spec of the converter, and second for “cheap overseas trash” overstating its capabilities.

Diodes won’t work.

That’s another example of way too far on the “cheap” spectrum.

Without a diode, running a 115V resistive load on 230V means you are doubling the voltage, and Ohm’s Law means you are doubling the current. Watt’s Law says if you double both voltage and current, you get four times the power/heat. Needless to say this will instantly fry the toaster.

Now, somebody gets the bright idea “use a diode; block half the AC waveform”. Now, what did I just say? Applying 4x the survivable heat, 1/2* of the time, let’s see... do the math...

4 x 1/2 =

Anyone, anyone, Bueller? (Hint: 2x2=4)

That’s right... 4x the heat 1/2 the time is still double the survivable heat, and will again fry the beautiful toaster.

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  • Thanks. Seems like I got some work to do.
    – SQB
    Jul 14, 2020 at 18:19
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    Pst! Wanna buy a toaster?
    – SQB
    Jul 14, 2020 at 18:20
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    "moving them from series to parallel" That's backwards, for converting a resistance heater intended for 120V to 240V. You'd actually want to find two elements (or pairs, etc) that are currently wired in parallel and put them in series. Then each will still be seeing 120V when the new (series) arrangement is connected to a 240V supply.
    – nobody
    Jul 14, 2020 at 19:23
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    Mind filling me in at some point (chat is fine) about the UL requirement (I presume in UL 1026 since the GuideInfo entry for the category toasters fall under doesn't provide any hints) that the Radiant Control toasters can't meet? Jul 14, 2020 at 20:29
  • How about running the power through a 1500 W or larger dimmer, set as low as necessary to keep the power dissipation within bounds? Feb 3, 2021 at 19:57
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I got one Sunbeam Radiant Control in eBay for the exact same reason. I'm from Spain and the AC voltage is 230V RMS, so while I wait for it to be delivered I'm also looking for solutions to this.

I happened to have one cheap AC dimmer supposedly rated to 4000W. I don't believe it, but even if is just 2000W for a resistive load is more than enough for the Sunbeam, which uses less than 1500W.

These dimmers just chop a % of the AC signal so I'm still getting the same 230V RMS AC (325V peak) but chopped (reduced RMS, but same peak). As the previous answer says, it's not enough to put this dimmer at 50% because that is NOT 50% RMS and definitely NOT 50% peak (it's the same peak voltage).

BUT, as the toaster's electronics are so simple and they are mainly resistive heating elements, we just need to get a 50% RMS and don't care much about the peak voltage. So I'm going to put it around 25% duty cycle, which leads to an approximate 50% RMS value -> 115V RMS more or less. I'll check it with a scope able to calculate RMS values before continuous use, of course.

But if this works, is the smallest footprint and cheapest solution I could think off. I didn't want a bulky transformer next to the toaster. This way I can fix the dimmer to a toaster's side and get a reasonable 230V-converted Sunbeam Radiant Control.

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    Hello, and welcome to Home Improvement. This would scare me a bit; the chance of setting the control wrong and starting a fire seem pretty high. And, you should probably take our tour so you'll know how best to contribute here. Sep 8, 2020 at 11:16
  • Thanks. I will try to make more "direct answer" style answers, and less "forum-like". Sorry for that. BTW, yes, my approach can be dangerous, my plan is to start from zero and carefully check the output, and later fix the dimmer in that position.
    – qvarker
    Sep 8, 2020 at 11:32
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    Even if you mechanically fix the dimmer in place, things can electrically change. What if a part failure caused the dimmer to go full on? Wouldn't be a big problem for 99.9% of the dimmer's users; would be a big problem for you. (And thanks for taking the tour.) Sep 8, 2020 at 12:45
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I know this is an old question and maybe most of you have already found some good solution, including 10 Kg 1500 Watts transformers, any case I'll share my experience and the solution I've used to run it on 220v.

My experience: A cheap chinese, rated 4000 Watts speed controller works fine and seems reliable (at least for me and the toaster, 1300W is less than half of the regulator limits and manufacturer optimism) These also include a 10A fuse that will cut power if something goes as Murphy's law predicts.

The regulator introduces conmutation noise (hum), but it's not high, and for me it's even an advantage, if you're close, you can hear it humming, so if it does not stop on expectad time you'll be advised.

The only caution to have is adjust regulator to deliver 110 real volts (RMS) not the voltage shown by a typical multimeter, you can check explanation below, but I advance, 75 volts measured with a common multimeter match 110 volt real energy. (RMS)

I checked delivered voltage many times along many weeks ant it seems to be quite stable, always between 74-76 volts)

Other option if not having a multimeter on hand, may be the suggested test from zero to reasonable toast.

I also checked it, void and on duty.

Without a bread slice, the toaster will cut power in 10 seconds average (first time a little more until it heats up. try to not go below 10 seconds, you''l be throwing more power than toaster expects.

Once toasting a real piece of bread, it requires around 1 min 52 secs to toast at medium grade.

I tested it up to 160 volts RMS (120 measured) and it runs faster but didn't appreciated anything more than heating wire brighter ant toast time shorter, no damage appears to happen, but I do not reccomend such experiments, start on zero and go in little increments to 10 seconds, then test bread. I've been using it for a while and it seems very reliable

Once adjusted fix the regulator knob so it doesn't move by accident, once fixed check time again and correct if required. (I used a bulky rubber washer that do not allow to turn the knob, anything tha fixes it)

More on the toaster, As it is a simple resistive load, there is no too much danger if you apply a bit less or more voltage while adjusting, I tested it up to 120 measured volts (160 real) and below 50V, only change is heat produced and so, the time required to toast. Nichrom wire seems heavy duty enough to bear higher voltage pretty well for such little time, although they're not the designed tension, and may be not fine to conmutator wear, but my toaster didn't exploded.

P.S I find the following explanation the most close to a toaster and is well explained, it's in Spanish, but you'll understand almost everything or may use subtitles.

For first explanation search on YT videos: Valor RMS sobre carga con triac 2021 it's a 30 min video from "Hugo Grazzini"

For the second, concerning RMS search True RMS (TRMS) vs Averaging Multimeters it's a 7 min short video from " MultiMeter Channel"

A grounded 16A new power cable is a must, a simple and cheap improvement for your safety

A final note, if something smells og goes bad unplug the toaster, there's no other way to switch it off

I hope some find this info useful to convert their magnificent toaster, I love the intelligence on it.

This info is provided as my mileage, security must prevail so don't touch anything if you don't know what you're doing. 220 volts shocks could be fatal on first event and never are fun.

(Sorry for being anonimous, I was unable to log in...) Ricardoch

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