In UK (this is island specific, unknown on the continent, by the way) you use the two hot wires and no neutral, so you get 110 V to run your tools without too much danger.
In North America you got 110 - 120 Volts between one hot and neutral (there called grounded conductor).
The effect is the same, namely 110 Volts. (55V is what you could feel when touching a hot wire in GB/IRL.)
The transformer in your link will need 230V input (+ island extra) to give 110 out, but watch the load limit, is probably not allowed on UK construction sites, and just would save the changing of the plug.
There might be differences with regard to devices with PE conductor as NA devices have a definite polarity (as English, but not European), but usually tools have double insulation anyway.
[This message has been edited by Wolfgang (edited 11-14-2005).]
The problems, even when you've got a piece of kit that works safely, within capacity, doesn't burn out your tools [i]and[/ complies with the HSE site regulations on 110v, are:- *HM Customs and Excise. Any imports valued at over about $20 will attract duty and VAT. *Shipping charges, taking some of the gilt off the gingerbread. I recently tried to buy some specialist SOSS hinges from Wisconsin. The price was brilliant. But the co. wanted $120 ship + packing. No Deal. Got them from UK in the end, at double the price, not nickel plated as I wanted, but pack & post only $7.00.
Company policy seems to vary very widely on charges for overseas shipping. Some are very reasonable and charge only the actual cost plus maybe a couple of bucks for the extra customs forms etc. while others seem to want exorbitant amounts.
the highest rating I saw on that page was 3 amps.
They go up to a 3kVA unit at the bottom of the page. The switch-on surge current would need to be taken into account on a 2 h.p. motor though.
The 110V CTE site transformers will work out a little cheaper. I can't see the split 2 x 55V supply being a problem in this application. (The older site xfmrs were accessible -- I have one about 35 years old to run some of my 120V gear in which I moved the ground from the center-tap to one end to provide "proper" 110V power. The new ones are all seem to be encapsulated in resin.)
I don't think you're going to find *any* US equipment with exposed metal surfaces that are wired to the neutral. European equipment (including all of that found in the uk produced in recent decades) is designed to be safe in either polarity. This is due to the fact that polarity is random in all 2-pin plug systems (ungrounded) and in Schuko system used in the majority of European countries for grounded appliances.
The plug system used in the UK and Ireland is always 3 pin (even for non grounded appliances) and the pins are arranged in a triangle so it only goes in one way giving you standard polarity on every appliance. However, with figure of 8 connectors and european plugs inside permanently fitted adaptor plugs in use in the UK and Ireland thesedays polarity's not always "correct".
As for your power tools. I would expect that they should be OK and quite safe on the centre tapped site transformers available for 110V 50Hz site powertools found in "these islands". You might get some weird performance problems associated with the frequency difference.
I would suggest that you remove the plugs and fit standard pin and sleeve yellow CEEform connectors (as these are standard for site work here)
Failing that, if it's for your workshop.. bring a few robust US trailing sockets (extension cords) suitable for the type of use that these tools get and fit CEEform plugs to the other end.
You will not find a single North American-market tool where this (55V to ground) will make a difference.
Historical curiosity: I have an old book (House Wiring, by Thomas W. Poppe, 1930), which describes two ways of grounding a 120V appliance through the cord. The first way is pretty similar to the way we do it now. The second is by bonding the cord neutral to the appliance frame. A special polarized plug needed to be used, which was incompatible with the standard USA parallel-blade plug (now known as NEMA 1-15). This would have been a field modification and could not possibly have been very common. You wouldn't see it at all nowadays, since anyone ignorant and crazy enough to do this is also ignorant and crazy enough to omit grounds altogether.
Our equipment grounding (protective earthing) is exactly the same inside the appliance as yours is.
In fact, we have the same 60/120V center ground transformers here. They are a recent development, permitted by Article 647 for sensitive electronic equipment. This article originated in the 2002 NEC.
Sorry I did not expect to find an internal bonding to the frame in any modern appliance. The only reason why I was hesitating about that issue is possible differences in capacitive bonding to ground against radio frequency disturbance. But this would only concern devices with a true ground (PE) conductor which are rare here as tools.
I've spent some time "overseas", and have dealt with this issue a little.
Many times, it will be possible to have your tools "re-wound" to fit the local system.
Probably a better arrangement is to a) rely upon cordless tools (buy new chargers) or b)get yourself a generator. Another, more cumbersome arrangement is to take an inverter with you, and once there set up a car battery / charger / inverter to convert the local power to something similar to US power.