Government Decides on a Single Standard for Plugs and Socket Outlets in Sri Lanka
Architects, Engineers, Technicians and Electricians to use only 13 ampere Standard Sockets in all new buildings with immediate effect.
Type G plug and socket outlet, widely known as the 13 A or the “square pin” plug and socket was approved as the single standard for plugs and socket outlets in Sri Lanka, at the cabinet meeting held on 16th August 2016. Following the cabinet approval, the Public Utilities Commission of Sri Lanka (PUCSL), as the regulator for the electricity industry, formally announced the implementation of the single national standard for plugs and socket outlets.
Presently, Sri Lankans use numerous types of plugs, socket outlets, substandard electrical accessories, substandard adaptors (“multi-plugs”) and extension cords. Demand for adaptors and extension cords never decrease, because plugs attached to appliances we purchase, rarely fit into the wall socket, because there is no single standard. Several accidental deaths and fires are reported every year owing to the use of these substandard accessories and ad-hoc connections. The PUCSL, after several discussions with professionals and stakeholders in the electricity industry, and through a wide public consultation process, recommended to the Government, that the Type G plug and socket outlet, commonly referred to as the 13 A plug and socket, should be the only national standard to be used in Sri Lanka.
The standard is effective from the date of the cabinet approval i.e. 16th August 2016 and the time line for the transition, is given below.
- The single national standard for plugs and socket outlets is now effective from 16th August 2016.
- The transition period will be for 2 years from 16th August 2016 to 16th August 2018.
- Manufacture and import of non-standard plugs, socket outlets, adaptors and extension cords with universal sockets will be allowed for one year until 16th August 2017, and will be prohibited thereafter.
- Sale of non-standard socket outlets, adaptors, extension cords with universal sockets and appliances carrying non-standard plugs will be allowed for two years, and will be prohibited from 16th August 2018.
- A special Type G socket outlet with an embossed marking of “6A Max” will be introduced to the market as replacements for 5A socket outlets already in use.
- Standards for one-to-one adaptors and extension cords will be introduced by the Sri Lanka Standards Institution (SLSI).
- The expiry period will be for 20 years from 16th August 2018 to 16th August 2038. During this period,
- Plugs and socket outlets available in the market for purchase will only be of Type G.
- Standard one-to-one adaptors and standard extension cords will be available for purchase.
- The special 6A MAX type G socket will be available in the market (see below).
- Operational period: from 16th August 2038 onwards
- Through the above systematic transition process, the country will totally transform to the use of “Type G” plugs and socket outlets by 2038.
It is not required to re-wire existing households and buildings with the new standard 13 A socket outlets. Existing wiring and sockets can remain until the end of their useful life. However, wiring of new buildings and re-wiring of existing buildings, should adhere to the new single standard socket outlets and wiring regulations, with immediate effect.
If a 5 A (round pin) socket now existing on a wall is damaged, to replace that, a special Type G socket with a label “6A Max” will be available in the market for a period of 20 years.
Although until August 2018, 5 A and 15 A (both round pin) socket outlets will be available in the market for purchase, it would be unwise to use them in new buildings, because they will be gradually phased-out of the market. So from now on, designers, architects, engineers and technicians should use only 13 A sockets wired with appropriate sizes of wire, and protected with correctly rated miniature circuit breakers (MCBs) in the distribution board. There is no need to wait until 2018. Cost of wiring of 13 A sockets is comparatively lower than the wiring of 5 A socket outlets for low income households, as proven by a comprehensive study carried out by a panel of Chartered Engineers.
Substandard adaptors now available in the market, commonly referred to as “multi-plugs” will be prohibited for sale from August 2018. As a replacement, standard one-to-one adaptors (to convert 5A plug to 13A socket and 13A plug to 5A socket) would be introduced to the market in early 2017. Presently, there are no standards for one-to-one adaptors in Sri Lanka, but Sri Lanka Standards Institution (SLSI) would soon issue a standard, and the adaptors are expected to be available by early 2017.
SLSI is currently in the process of preparing a standard for extension cords, and very soon, fused extension cords with properly rated wires will be available in the market. Appliances with two pin plugs will be available in the market with Type G plug; the third pin will be a dummy earth pin. These are already available inforeign countries.
So, after August 2018, whatever appliance you buy from the market, will carry the 13 A plug which may or may not fit into the wall socket. If it does not fit, a standard one-to-one adaptor will be available for purchase, to safely connect your plug to the wall socket. From August 2038 onwards, surely the appliance you buy from the market will easily fit into the wall socket because, there will be only one national standard in the country: 13 A plug and 13 A socket.
Designers, architects, engineers and technicians: With immediate effect, specify your client requirements only in terms of 13 ampere sockets, and educate your clients about the new single standard of 13 ampere plugs and sockets. The single standard is already approved and operational. In fact, the 13 A socket is nothing new; it is already widely used in households, offices and commercial buildings. The difference is that from August 2018, only the 13 ampere standards will be available for sale.
Twelve Frequently Asked Questions:
1. Why did Sri Lanka decide to use the 13 ampere plug and socket as the standard, and not anything else?
Ans: Among the many reasons are that (i) it is already widely used in Sri Lanka, (ii) it is the single standard in more than 29 countries in the world including UK, Ireland, UAE, Singapore and Malaysia, (iii) the rectangular pins make a firm connection with the socket, and (iv) there is a fuse in the plug top, to protect the appliances and wires.
2. Do we need to replace the wall sockets at our houses with the introduction of the new standard?
Ans: Not necessarily. The 5 ampere (round pin) socket outlets, which are currently in use will not be banned but are allowed to be used until they are worn out or until August 2038, whichever is earlier. However, to fix a new appliance to an existing 5 ampere wall socket, a converter is required, because new appliances bought will come with a 13 ampere plug top.
3. Do we need to replace the wiring system, with the introduction of the new standard?
Ans: No. However, it is advisable that the existing wiring arrangement is assessed by a qualified electrician, to ensure that each circuit is protected with a correctly rated miniature circuit breaker (MCB) or a fuse. This has to be a regular practice.
4. Do we need to replace the plugs of existing electrical equipment with the introduction of the new standard?
Ans: No. However, a converter will be required to connect an existing 5 ampere plug (round pin) to a 13 ampere socket.
5. With the introduction of the new standard, what should I look for, when purchasing new electrical equipment?
Ans: When it comes to purchasing small electrical equipment such as mobile phone chargers, table fans, pedestal fans, electric irons, etc, no special consideration would generally be required after 16 August 2018, because they would come with mandatory factory-fitted 13 ampere plugs. However, if your premises has wiring other than for Type G, then a one-to-one converter would be required. Further, as even at present, if you require to use an equipment which consumes more than 13 ampere, such as a large air conditioner or an electric cooker, then a dedicated electrical circuit is required.
6. How will the new standard impact building new houses, offices and builders?
Ans: The new standard will not have any adverse effects on new house buildings and builders. Everyone will be using the solitary standard Type G. Hence purchasing socket outlets is not going to be an issue. The cost analysis conducted by PUCSL comparing the wiring requirements for 5 ampere and 13 ampere, has shown that it is more economical when a house is wired for the 13 ampere system.
7. What will happen to the plugs and sockets which are already manufactured, or already ordered by retail shops, or already imported and now selling in the market?
Ans: A grace period of one year is allowed for importing non-standard plugs and sockets, bearing in mind the consignments which have already been committed. Another one year until 16th August 2018 is allowed to sell any type of socket outlets and plugs, manufactured or brought to Sri Lanka before 16th August 2017.
8. If I want to replace an existing 5 ampere round pin socket on the wall, is it safe to fix a 13 ampere socket to the existing wiring ?
Ans: You are right. It is not safe. A special 6 ampere rated Type G socket outlet will be available in the market (similar to the 13 ampere socket outlet in external appearance and the shape of pins), and it will have an engraved or embossed marking of “6A Max” to distinguish between a regular 13 ampere socket and 6 ampere socket.
9. There are numerous adaptors in the market, each with multiple outlets, and we use them. They are of very poor quality. What happens to them ?
Ans: All the unsafe adaptors and “multi-sockets” will be prohibited from 16th August 2017 (import) and from 16th August 2018 (sale). Suppliers and manufacturers will soon introduce adaptors to connect a 5 ampere (round pin plug) to a 13 ampere (square pin) socket. Similarly, there will be adaptors to connect a 13 ampere (square pin) plug to a 5 ampere (round pin) socket. These will be one to one adaptors, and they have the safety shutter to protect users, especially children.
10. Equally bad, there are extension cords for sale with multiple sockets at the end, and we buy them and use. Some are of very poor quality. What about them?
Ans: Sri Lanka Standards Institution (SLSI) will shortly finalise the SLS for extension cords and trailer sockets. All extension cords imported or manufactured after 16th August 2017 should conform to the new SLS.
11. When we come to Sri Lanka on holiday, how can we connect our mobile phone chargers and other portable appliance to the new standard socket ?
Ans: Travel adaptors are a necessity for travelers. Travelers should bring with them, travel adaptors that will fit to type G sockets. Hotels too, are expected to provide such adaptors to their guests.
12. Would universal sockets be discontinued ?
Ans: A universal socket means a socket to which plugs of numerous shapes can be inserted. The connection is not firm, and most often, its pins get heated up and burn, and may cause a fire. Universal sockets, whether they are of wall-mounted type or sockets at the end of an extension cord, will be disallowed from August 2018.
Wiring for 13 ampere is indeed cheaper than for 5 ampere. You can download the report with the detailed calculations from the following link.