Confusion has surrounded the new compulsory regulations for socket outlets, with feedback from Electrical Contractors’ Association South Africa (ECA) members revealing that there are still electrical contractors who are not sure how to interpret the new SANS 164-2 regulations for socket-outlets.

SANS 164 2Sparks Electrical News has received queries following an article published in the May 2018 edition on the regulations, which came into effect in January this year, and which state that all socket outlet points for new electrical installations must now include at least one socket outlet complying with the dimensions of SANS 164-2.

We approached the ECA for clarification of the regulations.

Cecil Lancaster, ECA Regional Director, Bosveld, says there is some confusion as to what would constitute a “new installation”. He explains that this must be interpreted as “a totally new building” and clarifies that “maintenance – such as the replacement of failed units and extensions to existing buildings – would be excluded.”

For decades, the most common plug and socket used in South Africa has been the SANS 164-1 and this familiar triangular electrical plug/socket standard may still be used in existing installations, but, over the next 10 to 50 years, it will gradually be replaced with the more effective and safer hexagonal plug, according to the South African Bureau of Standards (SABS). While the transition takes place, the new plug (SANS 164-2) may be connected by way of an adaptor to a SANS 164-1 socket-outlet so homeowners will have some time to adapt to the new regulations.

SANS 10142-1 Edition 2 states: 6.15 Socket-outlets Except where otherwise specified in this part of SANS 10142, single phase socket outlets for general use (see also shall

  1. a) Be of the two-pole earthing contact type,
  2. b) Comply with SANS 164-0
  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 SANS 164-2. Socket outlet points may also include socket outlets complying with the dimensions of SANS 164-1.

Cecil Lancaster, regional director at the ECA(SA)’s Bosveld region says the wording in clause (c) above could have been stated more clearly, such as: “In new installations, all socket outlets for general use shall be SANS 164-2, but socket outlet points may be combined with other types of sockets.”


Lancaster explains: “Possibly it would be easier to understand the intent by considering the wording used many years ago when the use of ‘NOVA’ and ‘DIN’ sockets was phased-out from new installations. The wording of the second sentence of the clause as applicable to industrial sockets below, would possibly clarify this better if 'NOVA' and 'DIN' were to be substituted with 'SANS 164-1'. Socket outlets intended for the connection of industrial type equipment such as welding machines, shall conform to the dimensions given in SANS 60309-1 and SANS 60309-2. NOVA and DIN socket outlets may only be fitted as replacement of, and in extension to, an installation where such socket outlets exist.

It would then read: “SANS 164-1 socket outlets may only be fitted as replacement of, and in extension to, an installation where such socket outlets exist.”

Implementation date

He reminds electrical contractors that in instances where a contract has been signed before the implementation date of the current code, i.e. before March 2017, this need not apply according to the note on page three of the code: The applicable version of this part of SANS 10142 is the one with the latest implementation date before the contract date. So contracts signed before the approval of an amendment shall be carried out in accordance with the provisions of the unamended standard.


The ECA has compiled a list of electrical contractors’ frequently asked questions regarding the new regulations:

Q: Do you need pins that could carry 40 A on a 16A system with a 2.5 mm wire and a 20 A circuit breaker in the board?

A: Simply put: No.

Q: Is this new socket outlet safer than the old type?

A: Yes. When a plug is inserted it goes into a 12 mm well, so when the pins touch the live terminals they cannot be seen and interfered with.

Q: Are the plug tops available?

A: Yes, they have been on the market for eight years but not everyone stocked them. Most of the large wholesalers now have stock

Q: What about appliance manufacturers, are they changing to the new plug?

A: Appliance manufacturers have been aware of the new regulations for a while but some have been slow to react, however, now that it’s law, they will have to change.

By Erika van Zyl, National Communications Manager, ECA(SA)

Enquiries: +27 (0) 11 271 0686

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