an electrician using screwdriver to repair the ac power plugs and sockets
Photo by Ksenia Chernaya on

The SABS (South African Bureau of Standards) has changed South Africa’s plug and socket standard, ensuring there is a gap between an adapter and the switch on a wall socket or multiplug. These changes were recently introduced with the latest changes 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 chair of the technical committee for the SANS 164 family of standards, speaking during a recent media briefing held by the SABS in October. “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 required a gap of 12mm, but according to Campetti it was found to be too much and it was decided to change it to only 8mm. One of the main reasons this has been an issue in SA for so long, Campetti explained, is because certain manufacturers simply don’t take into account the design of wall sockets.

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 all electrical manufacturers a year to comply with the amended standards. The changes to SANS 164-0 will take effect in June 2021.

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