South Africa’s new ZA Plug standard – what you must know

Chairperson of the SA Bureau of Standards (SABS) SC23B mirror committee Gianfranco Campetti said South Africa’s new plug and socket standard, known as ZA Plug, is mandatory for all new buildings.

However, the full switch-over from South Africa’s old plug standard to the new standard can take years, or even decades.

Speaking to Radio 702, Campetti explained that an amendment to South Africa’s wiring code, which governs the electrical wiring of buildings, came into effect in the beginning of 2018.

This amendment makes it mandatory for all new buildings and installations to include the new plug and socket standard, SANS 164–2.

SANS 164–2, also known as ZA Plug, has the same hexagonal profile as the Europlug seen on cellphone chargers, but it includes an earth pin.

It is substantially more compact than South Africa’s three-prong plug standard, and has much thinner pins.

With the wiring code amendment taking effect in January 2018, each plug point in a new building must have at least one socket that can accommodate a ZA Plug.

South Africa has a unique standard again

Campetti said the SANS 164–2 standard was first unveiled in 1992, and that South Africa decided to adopt this new standard.

Instead of global adoption, South Africa was one of only two countries that opted for this international plug standard.

“Ultimately, only two countries adopted the standard, so unfortunately again, South Africa has got another unique standard,” he said.

Despite its poor adoption, Campetti said it is one of the safest plug and socket systems in the world.

Because the socket sits in a well, the pins are not exposed, which safeguards someone with small fingers from touching live pins.

South Africa's new plug standard

What you must do

Campetti explained that while all new buildings and installations must include at least one ZA Plug per socket, existing houses and buildings can still use the old standard without any concerns.

He said there is no strict deadline for the switch-over between the current and new plug standards. “It is an ongoing process,” said Campetti.

“Over the years, manufacturers and importers have brought in sockets which combine the new and the old standards on one socket plate,” he said.

This, Campetti said, has been going on for many years, and this will continue for the next 20 or 30 years or more.

Now read: South Africa’s new plug standard is mandatory – what you should know

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South Africa’s new ZA Plug standard – what you must know