The end of electrical adapters that block your switches in South Africa

The South African Bureau of Standards (SABS) has changed the country’s plug and socket standard to ensure that there is a gap between an electrical adapter and the switch on a wall socket or multiplug.

These changes were introduced with the recent amendments to the South Africa National Standard, 164 Part 0: General requirements (SANS 164-0).

“We’ve allowed an 8mm gap between the end of the pin and the surface of the adapter,” said Gianfranco Campetti, the the chair of the technical committee for the SANS 164 family of standards.

Campetti was speaking during a recent online media briefing held by the SABS.

“That way there will always be a gap between the socket and the switch, or any other device that the adapter might obscure.”

Initially the standard would have required a gap of 12mm, but Campetti said they found that it was too much and decided to change it to 8mm.

“That’s sufficient for all switches on the market to be cleared by any adapter,” he said.

One of the reasons this issue has existed in South Africa for so long, Campetti explained, is because there are manufacturers that don’t take into account the design of wall sockets.

“Some manufacturers of adapters don’t manufacture fixed installation products so they don’t really care about it,” Campetti stated, adding that this issue is more than just irritation.

“In certain instances… the switch can hover. That’s a dangerous situation. It can cause overheating and a fire,” said Campetti.

The SABS has given electrical manufacturers a year to comply with the amended standards. The changes to SANS 164-0 will go into effect in June 2021.

Now read: New South African plug standard – What it means for your old plugs

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The end of electrical adapters that block your switches in South Africa