The new national standard in plug adaptor and socket installation could impact you directly! Here's everything you need to know about how the new standards affect you, whether for common household plugs or industrial plugs.

What Are the New Plugs and Sockets Standards in South Africa?

All future buildings in South Africa must incorporate new plugs and sockets. These must conform to South Africa’s new plug and socket standard. The new mandatory SABS standard for sockets came into effect in January 2018.

New plugs must feature three large pins. The configured triangular shape gives way to the hexagonal three-pin design. We dub this the SANS 164-2, and it is the new standard plug.

All new structures are required to include the new SANS 164-2 sockets. These sockets can also include the old three-pin plugs, but they must also include the new SANS 164-2 plugs.

How the New Plugs and Sockets Standard of South Africa Affect You

All new buildings in South Africa should have the new SANS 164-2 sockets. All electrical equipment should also have the new plug types fitted. Although this is the preferred option, it is not mandatory yet.

It will only affect you if you are constructing a new building. You would need to install the new type of plug. There is no regulation about power plug adapter use or wall plug adapter use, only sockets and plugs that form part of the new building.

The newly recommended system uses the “Europlug”. The new plug is diamond shaped. We see them on our cellphone chargers. The difference is an offset earth pin near the middle.

South Africa is slow in implementing the new global changes. Using old-type plugs could lead to an increase in unsafe electricity usage. It could also lead to electrical appliances malfunctioning.

Plug & socket devices used in South Africa should align with standard plugs. They have introduced a new symbol which is stamped on all plug adaptors. Plug in devices will no longer need an adapter when using Euro plugs.

Why Are the Plugs and Sockets Standards Important?

The new standards increase the safety of use and also protect sensitive electronics from electrical damage due to plug in mishaps.

The new SANS 164-2 is safer and cheaper, but there is still a low uptake on the new socket in South Africa. The reason is that manufactures are not using the new standard on their devices. Switching from the South African plug standard to the European standard is a slow process.

The South African hospitality industry is standardising and adapting their electrical plug outlets in line with international travellers. The reason is that the Europlug fits into the SANS 164-2 socket outlets.

It will not make a difference right now for the average South African household to switch over. It will become more relevant once more manufacturers align with the updated standards for their devices.

How Plugs and Sockets Work.

We connect the plugs and sockets of electrical equipment to the mains power. This is known as AC power or alternating current. Typical uses of plugs are in residential properties, business, and commercial applications.

There is a wide range of plugs and sockets throughout the world. The idea behind the upgrade of South Africa's plugs is to standardise all systems.

A vast array of specifications exists. These include currents, standard voltage levels, different configurations, and different uses (for example, travel adaptors and multi-plug adaptors). Plugs can be used for office appliances, domestic appliances, factories, industrial buildings, malls, and everything from a hair dryer to a Wi-Fi router.

There is no one standardisation across the globe when it comes to what format plugs should take. We find a wide range of sockets and plugs used in various countries. What's important is that the plugs and sockets you have for your home and devices match up and conform to regulations (we suggest avoiding non conforming products for your safety).

What Are Plugs and Sockets Made of?

In South Africa, most plugs and plug housing are made out of compression moulded polymers such as urea formaldehyde. Our products are manufactured from high grade anodised aluminium which provides the power sets with a robust durability. We design them with an emphasis on aesthetics, compactness, and longevity.

Types of Outlets and Plugs Used in South Africa.

What do the different electrical plugs and outlets in South Africa look like? South Africa's official preferred configuration is the Type N plug.

We still accept Type C plugs, although we don't have Type C electrical plug sockets and multi plug extension sockets, typically. The older Type M plugs are slowly being phased out, but they are the earlier type first adopted in the country.

Type N Plugs

We typically use the Type N plug in South Africa and Brazil to power devices. South Africa and Brazil standardized their Type N socket and plug system in 2001 and 2013, respectively.

South Africa introduced these plugs as a preferred standard to replace the Type M plugs and sockets gradually. Since 2018, it is mandatory for all new buildings in South Africa to incorporate at least one Type N plug socket outlet.

Type C Plugs

Type C is the most common type of plug used internationally. It is a two-wire plug which does not have an earth. It is also unpolarised and has 2 round prongs. We refer to this plug as the Europlug. A Type C plug comprises 2 round mm pins and is 19mm long. The pins are 18.6 mm apart, and at the tip they are 17.5 mm apart.

Type M Plugs

We almost only use the old-style Type M plugs in South Africa, Lesotho, and Swaziland. Israel and the UAE also uses Type M plugs, but only for heavy appliances. South Africans call it a three-point plug.

The Type M plug is not that different from the Type D plug used in India. The Type M plug is a 15-amp plug. It has 3 round prongs. These create a triangle. The earth pin is 28.6 mm long. They use type M plugs in India and Nepal for large appliances.

The South African Type M plug usually has insulated sleeves on the pins. These prevent accidents when they come into contact with bare connectors. This will happen if you insert the plug into the socket only partially.

In the UK, they also often use the Type M plug for theatre installations, despite efforts to move to the international blue and red coloured industrial CEE plugs.

Where to Get Quality Power Plugs and Outlets in SA.

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