Beware using too many adapters with South African plugs

The South African Bureau of Standards (SABS) has introduced several changes to South Africa’s plug and socket standards to make it even safer for consumers, the organisation has said.

According to the SABS, the increased use of devices and appliances has resulted in the increased use of adapters, as well as adapters being plugged into other adapters in South Africa.

This creates a risk of fires, short-circuiting, and damage or malfunction of appliances, the SABS stated.

Such risk was among the reasons for the changes introduced to South African National Standard 164 Part 0 (SANS 164-0).

“SANS 164-0 covers the general requirements for plugs and socket-outlets and is considered the base document for all the plugs and socket-outlets systems in South Africa,” said Gianfranco Campetti, chair of the technical committee responsible for the development of the SANS 164 series of standards.

“South Africa has been lagging with the implementation of these global changes and the continued use of adapters onto adapters will just lead to more dangerous electricity usage and malfunctioning of appliances,” Campetti warned.

New socket installations

While SANS 164-0 deals with general requirements, SANS 164-1 is the standard for South Africa’s big, triangular-shaped plugs and sockets.

South Africa has adopted a new standard which conforms to the hexagonal diamond-shaped profile of the widely used Europlug.

It is officially designated SANS 164-2, but is also referred to as the compact three-pin ZA Plug. It is closely based on the global standard developed by the International Electrotechnical Commission.

It is currently mandatory for new buildings in South Africa to install wall sockets that contain at least one compact three-pin socket.

The SABS noted that over the past few years, several versions of the new design have been available on the market which accommodate the following features:

  • Old large-type three-pin plugs
  • Compact three-pin ZA Plugs
  • USB outlets
  • Switches

Examples of the variations are shown in the following image:

In addition, electrical manufacturers have started introducing rewireable compact three-pin ZA plugs.

The SABS has said that some sockets will indicate whether it can accommodate such a rewireable plug or not. This will be indicated as shown in the image below:

In addition, from June 2021 manufacturers will need to start placing warning signs on adapters to prevent the use of multiple adapters plugged into one another.

This will avoid the risk of electricity hazards due to overloading and poor connections, the SABS stated. The warning sign will look as follows:

SANS 164-0 symbol of adaptors not permitted to be plugged in one another

“The construction industry, electrical contractors, and households need to be aware of the amended requirements for South Africa,” the SABS stated.

Now read: South Africa’s new plugs and adapters – Here is what they look like

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Beware using too many adapters with South African plugs