The South African Bureau of Standards recently, after much deliberation, amended the standard wiring code for the installation of new plug sockets in new buildings. These amendments have been formalised in the amended SANS 10142/1 – 2017 wiring of premises standards.

In terms of the amended wiring standards, which came into effect in January 2018, the old South African plug with the three prongs, known as the SANS164-1(the old plug), will gradually be phased out and replaced with the SANS164-2 (new plug) in all new installations for low voltage usage. This means that each plug point installed in a new building must have at least one socket that can accommodate the new plug.

The new plug has the same hexagonal profile as the Euro plugs on cell phone chargers, but it will include a third earth pin. The illustration below indicates how the new plug must look, setting out the old plug, Euro plug and new plug.

The reason for the change is the fact that the new plug is much safer than the old plug and it was intended to comply with a universal, international standard.  However, only South Africa and Brazil has opted to accept the new plug standard. South Africa will therefore again have a plug standard different to that of the rest of the world. However, the euro plug will be compatible with the new South African plug.

The SANS10142-1- 2017 amendment relating to the new SABS wiring standards states as follows:

“16.5 Outlets

Except where otherwise specified in this part of SANS10142-1 single phase socket outlets for general use (also 14.1.4) shall :

  1. a) be of the two- pole earthing contact type
  2. b) comply with SANS164-0
  3. c) effective from January 2018, all socket outlet points for new electrical installations must include at least one socket outlet complying with the dimensions of SANS164-2 (new plug).  Socket outlet points may also include socket outlets complying with the dimensions of SANS164-1 (old plug).

It is accordingly suggested that the socket as set out below, or a socket similar thereto be installed in new buildings:

Non-compliance with the new wiring code

We are of the opinion that non-compliance with the new wiring code constitutes a direct non-compliance with the Occupational Health and Safety Act (Act No. 85 of 1993) hereinafter referred to as the ÓHS Act. The OHS Act is administered by the Chief inspector of Occupational Health and Safety of Department of Labour, which requires that electrical installations comply with the requirements of SANS10142-1. It also requires that a registered person, as defined (master installation electrician, installation electrician or electrical tester for single phases), will issue a certificate of compliance (known as an electrical compliance certificate) together with a test report.  The certificate shall be in the form of the certificate of compliance published in the electrical installation regulations, 2012, and the test report shall be in the form of the test report in that part of SANS10142.

It is our view that new buildings erected after January 2018, as well as renovations and upgrades to buildings, must comply with the new standard and that the minimum requirements of the SANS10142 as set out above relating to the new plug must be adhered to.

Should the new standard not be adhered to an electrical compliance certificate cannot be issued. Non- compliance may also cause the local building inspector not to issue an occupation certificate for new buildings. By not being in possession of the aforesaid certificates the effect shall be that a new building can possibly not be sold or transferred into a new owners’ name unless compliance is reached.

For old building and existing sockets the new norm need not be complied with retrospectively and the new wiring code is only applicable with regards to new plugs and installations for new buildings and renovations from January 2018.

Non-compliance may have dire consequences on especially residential property developers.

This article is a general information sheet and should not be used or relied on as legal or other professional advice. No liability can be accepted for any errors or omissions nor for any loss or damage arising from reliance upon any information herein.  Always contact your legal adviser for specific and detailed advice. Errors and omissions excepted (E&OE)

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