New South African plug and socket standard

Published: 27-Jul-2018

The SABS has confirmed that South Africa’s new plug and socket standard, SANS 164-2 or ZA Plug, has become mandatory for new installations.

This means that any new buildings erected must incorporate electrical sockets that conform to the new standard.

An amendment to the wiring code introduced in 2016 stated that the ZA Plug would become semi-mandatory for new installations in March 2018. Each new plug point must have at least one socket that can accommodate a ZA Plug, it said. The amendment came into effect two months early, said the SABS, and from January 2018 all new installations must incorporate the ZA Plug.

What is the ZA Plug?

The ZA Plug has the same hexagonal profile as the Europlug seen on cell phone chargers, but includes an earth pin. It is more compact than South Africa’s three-prong plug standard and has much thinner pins.

Adoption of the standard has been slow, however. Gianfranco Campetti, the chairman of the working group that looks after the standard, said industry has been slow to respond and use the standard in essential products. He said the appliance industry in particular, has been slow to provide goods with the new plug.

South Africa’s old, new plug standard

While the ZA Plug discussions are new, the standard itself is more than a decade old.

The current South African standard is based on the even older IEC 60906–1 standard, which was published by the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) in 1986. This international standard was originally developed in an effort to establish a global plug and socket standard, but according to the IEC many commercial and political interests caused the initiative to fail.

The ZA Plug will be safer and probably cheaper than existing. Another benefit of the ZA Plug is that you will no longer need an adapter for devices that use a double-insulated two-prong Europlug.

SANS 164-2 sockets, with the older three-pin socket visible on the right. The new sockets use up considerably
less space than the current three-pin sockets, and they’re safer

No rush … for now

Despite the benefits of the new standard, South Africans will not be rushed to replace the sockets in their homes or the plugs on their devices.

While the proposed amendment aims to make ZA Plug sockets semi-compulsory for new installations, it doesn’t say anything about existing socket outlets.

This means that even when the proposed changes become official regulation, they will not require you to change the sockets installed in your house.


If you want to find out more about the new SANS 164-2 South African plug, then contact Extra Mile Electrical.

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