If you are travelling or you bought a cheap Google Mini from abroad, you might be wondering whether you are safe to use your Google Home device in another country.
Yes, the Google Mini is dual voltage – it supports input electricity from 100V/120V (depending on model) up to 240V. Therefore you should be fine to use a simple adaptor when abroad, but it’s worth knowing the full facts before you do.
Exact Google Mini Specs
The Google Home Mini 1st generation’s power specifications are listed on the Google help page as: “120–240V-1.1A 50 Hz to 60 Hz” for the power adaptor, meaning that it can take electricity in from 120-240V. It will then deliver this as 5V output (at 1.8A).
The Google Nest Mini 2nd generation’s power specifications are only listed as “15W power adaptor” on that same page, so I quickly checked (and photographed) the power adaptor for my Nest Mini:
The important gray writing says the following:
- AC adapter
- Model G1030
- Input: 100-240V-0.4A
- Output: 14V=1.1A
So the only real difference with the Nest Mini (i.e. the 2nd generation of the Google Mini) is that it supports input voltage down to 100V, whilst the 1st gen model was only from 120V.
Of course. this is actually quite an important difference. If you have an original 1st generation model, 100-119V input is not supported. This is only supported in the 2nd generation model. You therefore need to be careful using a 1st generation model in the following countries:
- Anguilla – 110V
- Barbados – 115V
- Parts of Belize which is 100V (other parts are 220V)
- Parts of Brazil which is 100V (other parts are 220V)
- Colombia – 110V
- Parts of Cuba which is 100V (other parts are 220V)
- Dominican Republic – 110V
- El Salvador – 115V
- Guam – 110V
- Parts of Guyana which is 110V (other parts are 220V)
- Haiti – 110V
- Honduras – 110V
- Jamaica – 110V
- Japan – 100V
- Okinawa – 100V
- Panama – 110V
- Philippines which is 100V (other parts are 220V)
- Parts of Tahiti which is 100V (other parts are 220V)
- Taiwan – 100V
- Trinidad & Tobago – 115V
- Virgin Islands – 110V
This is why Google changed the 2nd generation Mini to be 100-240V – otherwise large parts of the world (including Japan) couldn’t (as easily) use the device.
Thankfully both devices supported 50-60Hz, and every country operates on either 50Hz or 60Hz so the electrical frequency is not a barrier to using the Google Mini.
Adaptor/Converter to use when abroad
When going abroad, as long as you are conscious of the caveats above (i.e. that the Mini 1st generation is only rated above 120V input, whilst some countries – including Japan – are less than this), you can simply use a plug adapter for your Google Mini – due to the fact that it’s dual voltage.
You can pick up a pack of 3 US to UK/Ireland/Hong Kong adapters on Amazon for $9.99, so they won’t break the bank.
There is however an important point on that page, which doesn’t matter in the Mini’s case (as the Google Mini is dual voltage) but it’s worth quickly mentioning:
“Note: This travel adapter plug is compatible with only Dual Voltage products & Electronics. It is NOT a voltage converter and it will not convert voltage from 220V to 110V or vice versa.”
A voltage converter is a more powerful (and also heavy/expensive) electrical transformer device. This is what you would use if you (for example) had a high single-voltage appliance and were going to Japan, or you bought a 100V Japanese appliance and were aiming to use it in Europe/most of the world (which are 200V+).
You won’t need an electrical converter for the Google Mini, unless you had a 1st generation and were dead-set on using it in a low voltage country (as per the list I posted earlier). This wouldn’t really make much sense though – just buy the 2nd generation model; it’d be far cheaper!
How dual-voltage works
The idea that an electrical device can receive different ‘strengths’ (voltage) of electric and work without issue is quite interesting, and this works through a range of tiny power-related devices which each perform a key role.
Essentially the power supply within the device operates a wide-range switch. This decides how long the duty cycle should be, with the duty cycle being a ratio of time that a load/circuit should be ON compared to it being OFF.
This is possible by the power supply unit having a step-down transformer, a voltage regulator and a rectifier. The regulator is the ‘switch’, which can handle the wide range of electrical voltage and output the appropriate design voltage.
Another benefit of dual-voltage devices
Electrical supplies can vary, causing fluctuations in the supplied voltage. For example a country’s “to the wall socket” supply might be 220V, but this might vary by +/- 5% as part of standard voltage fluctuation.
Equally voltage within your house might vary for a range of reasons:
- There are some loose connections in your house’s electrical circuits, anywhere between the consumer unit (circuit breakers) and the wall sockets.
- A large device might be temporarily drawing a very large amount of power.
- A nearby factory might be consuming large amounts of power, leading to lower voltage supply in your area/house.
- Equally, peak times in the evening (such as when everyone arrives home from school and work) will lead to higher demand for electric, which can cause lower voltage – especially if the local distribution lines are undersized.
If a device rigidly said that it supported only a single voltage ever, it would frequently cut-out, malfunction… and possibly become damaged.
In reality even ‘single voltage’ electrical devices will support some level of voltage fluctuation, but dual voltage devices are always preferred due to how much extra flexibility they offer both within your country and when traveling outside of your country.
Types of power cables for the Google Mini
The power cord for the Google Mini changes depending on which generation you have. The 1st generation accepts a simple micro USB connection (with 5V, 1.8A) – the same as most mobile phone chargers.
It does however require a curved end (to fit the curved design of the Mini), which is still fine for ‘slimline’ micro USB cables but a bulky one might not work.
If you do use an old phone cable (to power your Mini 1st gen) and the device is cutting out or sometimes malfunctioning, double check that the cable is of sufficient quality and it does deliver 5V/1.8A – some budget cables can skimp on this and actually be underpowering your device.
The Google Nest Mini (2nd generation) is simpler, in the sense that it has its own charging cable supplied. However it’s not micro USB, meaning that you can’t use an old phone charger if you lose yours:
If your Nest Mini power cable goes missing or is damaged, you have two options:
- Contact Google Home support, explaining the problem and ask whether you can buy a replacement cable. Who knows, they might be able to send one for free. Worst case, they’ll quote a price and you can decide if it’s worth buying direct from them.
- Buy an unofficial replacement cable on Amazon. There’s one currently listed for $9.97.
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