Help with US retro consoles in UK/IE

I’m in the process of moving from the US to Ireland. I am seeing a lot of conflicting information about what it takes to run my electronics over there and so I decided to start a thread to ask if I’ve got it right. I know @Dark1x is an American in Europe. Maybe there are a few others here too?

It seems to me that the main concerns are:

1. Voltage

The US uses 120V power, the UK uses 220V, Ireland uses 230V. I need to check to see if the power supply says “100-240V”. If it does, I’m fine. If it doesn’t, I need to either buy an UK/Ireland/EU power supply for the console, or buy a universal power supply for the console. This seems pretty easy to check on a per-console basis.

Anyone have experience with third party power supply replacements for old consoles? They seem to be readily available but are they cheap junk? I don’t know.

2. Power plug

The power plug differs between countries. It is generally considered safe to use a small plug adapter as long as the voltage is fine, but if I want to avoid plug adapters, I will need to buy an EU power supply for the console. It seems like the right move here is to buy a handful of plug adapters and if I’m sticking around for a while gradually buy EU power supplies.

Additionally, for stuff like my PC, PS3, NAS, etc. that use the “standard AC cable” – I think this is called C13 – do I just need to buy a Type G (UK/IE) equivalent, or are there specific wire gauge concerns that I might need to pay attention to? As long as it’s got a ground prong on the other end, it’s fine, right?

3. Video output

Theoretically TVs in Ireland are PAL TVs (576i50) and TVs in the US are NTSC (480i60). These are said to be incompatible. But I’m seeing mixed results online about whether or not modern HDTVs can take legacy outputs, and also whether US consoles can take hookups for Europe-only plugs like SCART. I do not have an OSSC or scanline box or anything, so we’re talking about hooking up US hardware using RF, RCA, or S-Video to a UK/Irish/European HDTV. Is that possible?

Is there a general rule about what works and doesn’t work? In specific I’m looking at NES, a cheap clone NES/SNES (retro duo), and an N64, but maybe I’ll ship some more stuff later.

Congrats on the move. Europe is my favorite place to visit but I never lived there before. What display are you planning on using exactly? It’s not clear from your post.

SCART is not Euro-only. It’s just more common there. It can carry signals from any RGB-compatible North American consoles just fine. The question is how your display will play with 480i/60fps. And I imagine that would vary tremendously if you’re looking for a crt.

I imagine HD displays will take those signals just fine these days though. But that’s just a guess.

I live in New Zealand (PAL like UK/Europe and 220V too) and use almost all NTSC retro consoles.

Although I believe it’s seldom true the other way around, almost all TVs here take an NTSC signal.

If you list your consoles I could let you know what I do with mine. It’s annoying but they all have their own little quirks!

PAL TV started accepting 60Hz signals in the mid 90s. Actually most earlier TVs can handle 60Hz too via the ‘vertical hold’ adjustment, so really there’s only a bracket of ~1983-1995ish which couldn’t handle 60Hz signals. You may end up with a squashed picture on the older sets, but that too can be adjusted usually.

Colour is another story, if using RF or composite. Mid 2000s TVs started accepting NTSC over composite. Almost no older than 1995 sets will manage NTSC colour really.

If using RGB, only the Hz matters as it bypasses the colour issue.

Power wise, if there’s an external power supply, just ditch the old one and get a local one. I’ve been running a Super famicom with a local Mega Drive power supply for 25 years!

Oh yeh geez, I been using RGB so long I almost forgot that little wrinkle.

For NES, SNES etc I’d just pick up the Triad power supplies that FBX suggests. That said if you have clone consoles you’ll need to look at the requirements and try to source something that matches.

You can pick up a step-down converter - but as someone who plays primarily on NTSC hardware in Australia I either replaced the internal power supplies (PSX, Saturn) or got the triad power supplies. It complicates the setup too much for my tastes.

I also skipped the step down. But if I was moving from the US and bringing a bunch of beloved appliances I’d probably consider it…

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I live in the UK and use mostly NTSC consoles. Though I am all-VGA rather than SCART and don’t use the systems you have.

Anyway, I think you are right on all your points. It should come together easy enough if your display is suitable.

Thanks everyone for the feedback. (especially @D.Lo – honestly your historical exegesis there was the best I’ve seen, I wish Google had produced something so clear before I posted the thread; thanks also @Listai for the power supply link)

It’s going to be a fun move. I’ve lived in a few different places in North America and I’m sad to be leaving where I am now, but I’d be crazy to turn down an opportunity to bum around Europe for a few years.

I haven’t really thought of what kind of TV I’ll use once I’m there, I’m still at the stage where I’m selling stuff here in the US (Solatorobo is worth $250 now oh my god in heaven I’m rich) and wanted to have solutions for my consoles before I move. But I’d like it so that if I arrive and grab a cheap, but new, HDTV online while I’m getting set up, I can still hook up a few things.

Main consoles are: NES, Retro Duo clone, Analogue Super NT, SNES, N64, PSP Go, Playstation TV, Xbox 360, PS3, Wii U, Switch, and then a desktop PC. I have more but the rest are all in storage and I’ll just do without while I’m living there. I think the ones I actively use most are Analogue Super NT, and the N64 so if I can resolve those in advance I’m good.

Since Analogue is HDMI and powered by USB I’m not very worried there, so really the N64 is the most important. It seems to have a 110V only power supply and it’s also a pain in terms of video out options. Bummer.

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Little bit of follow up on why that timeline of 60Hz/NTSC support existed:

Firstly, older sets (60s-early 80s) had manual vertical hold adjustment, and as such could be manually set to change the frequency. Just like you had to manually tune in TV stations with a knob (like you still do with radio). With this, I’ve managed to get 60Hz stable on TVs from at least the early 70s. It’s not what they were designed for, but it works.

Starting in the mid 80s, the hold knob went away and was replaced with more fixed transistor auto-hold, so 60Hz will show a rolling picture and there’s likely no easy way to fix it.

60Hz (via PAL60) started being supported in the mid 90s due to demand for VCRs supporting NTSC VHS tape playback. These VCRs would be able to take a NTSC tape and play it back in 60Hz, but with PAL colour (since they were creating the colour signal themselves). As such the quasi-standard PAL60 was born.

This has a side effect of being a great setting for 60Hz modded PAL consoles, which would still output PAL colour, but with the frequency adjusted to 60Hz.

When using composite or RF, TVs from this era can support PAL consoles which have PAL 60Hz modes (like Dreamcast or GameCube stock, or 60Hz modded Saturn/SNES/Mega Drive etc) but can’t handle games which output in actual NTSC (NTSC consoles, or most PAL PS2 games with a 60Hz mode are actually just the NTSC output), you end up getting a stable picture, but in black and white because the colour signal isn’t readable by the screen.

Finally, most likely due to imported DVDs and multi-region players, TVs finally just started supporting full NTSC around 2000.


N64 you can just get a local power supply - I use a US console with my NZ power supply.

Video output is a pain yes… probably one of the worst even in terms of getting a good image out of it, but if you really love the 64 it might be worth an upgrade.