(13-09-2016) – Public Utilities Commission of Sri Lanka (PUCSL), the electricity sector regulator, today announced the implementation of a single national standard for plugs and socket outlets in Sri Lanka for non-industrial applications, with the aim of uplifting the safety of electricity customers.
On16th August 2016, the Government decided that the Type G plug and socket outlet, widely known as the 13 ampere plug and socket outlet, and commonly referred to as the “square pin” plug and socket, would be the only national standard in Sri Lanka. However, the transition to the type G standard plug and socket would not require any premises to be re-wired purely for the purpose of compliance with the new standard, and the existing wiring, according to one of the three standard sockets now in use, may remain until the end of its useful life or 16th August 2038, whichever is earlier.
Similarly, adaptors with multiple sockets, universal sockets, as well as extension cords with universal sockets will not be allowed to be imported and manufactured beyond 16th August 2017. Sale of such devices will be prohibited from 16th August 2018.
Effective from 16th August 2016, wiring of new buildings, addition of circuits to existing electrical installations or complete re-wiring of existing buildings, should be done with wiring compatible with the requirements of type G socket outlets, as approved for Sri Lanka.
Sri Lanka, prior to this decision on standardisation, used numerous types of plugs and sockets. The plug on an appliance does not often fit the wall socket. Thus, electricity users adopt a variety of methods and devices such as universal wall sockets, adaptors with multiple sockets, and extension cords with universal sockets, many of which are unsafe, and cause the connection to be unreliable.
Sri Lanka reported about 95 electrocutions in 2015, up from 76 in 2013 and 73 in 2014. Use of various substandard plugs, sockets, electrical accessories, adapters, and extension cords, are one of the many causes of electrocution and fire.
This single standard, proposed by Hon. Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe in his capacity as the Minister of National Policies and Economic Affairs, received the Cabinet approval on 16 August 2016. It specifies that the Type G would henceforth, be the sole standard for plugs and sockets to be used in Sri Lanka, and to allow the use of non-standard plugs and socket outlets which are sold and installed within the next two years, to the be used until the end of their lifetime, but not beyond 16th August 2038.
The standard was finalised through a wide public consultation process conducted over a period of one year, through which the general public, industrialists, manufacturers, appliance retailers, energy sector experts, state regulatory and standards institutions, and other stakeholders significantly contributed to the decision making process.
The Commission has issued the following time table for the standardisation of a single plug and socket outlet in Sri Lanka:
- The National Standard for plugs and socket outlets is effective from 16th August 2016.
- The grace period for manufacture, import and sale of non-standard plugs and socket outlets will be as follows:
- Manufacture and import of non-standard plugs, socket outlets, adaptors, and extension cords with universal sockets, may continue, but will be banned from 16th August 2017.
- The sale of appliances carrying non-standard plugs may continue, but will be prohibited from August 16, 2018. Any remaining stocks thereafter, may be sold after being replaced with a Type G plug.
- The sale of non-standard sockets, adaptors with multiple sockets, and extension cords with universal sockets will be banned from August 16, 2018.
- Through this systematic transition process, the Government expects the country will totally transform to the use of “Type G” plugs and socket outlets by year 2038.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) -NATIONAL STANDARD FOR PLUGS AND SOCKET OUTLETS FOR NON-INDUSTRIAL APPLICATIONS
- Why did Sri Lanka decide to use the 13 ampere plug and socket as the standard, and not anything else?
Answer: 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.
- Do we need to replace the wall sockets at our houses with the introduction of the new standard?
Answer: 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, an adaptor is required, because new appliances bought will come with a 13 ampere plug top.
- Do we need to replace the wiring system, with the introduction of the new standard?
Answer: 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.
- Do we need to replace the plugs of existing electrical equipment with the introduction of the new standard?
Answer: No. However, an adaptor will be required to connect an existing 5 ampere plug (round pin) to a 13 ampere socket.
- With the introduction of the new standard, what should I look for, when purchasing new electrical equipment?
Answer: 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 adaptor 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.
- How will the new standard impact building new houses, offices and builders?
Answer: 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 marginally less costly when a house is wired for the 13 ampere system.
- 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?
Answer: 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.
- 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?
Answer: 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.
- 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?
Answer: 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. Remember there have been many electrocutions mainly among children due to these unsafe unprotected socket outlets, adaptors and multi sockets.
- 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?
Answer: Sri Lanka Standards Institution (SLSI) will shortly finalize the SLS for extension cords and trailer sockets. All extension cords imported or manufactured after 16th August 2017 should conform to the new SLS.
- 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?
Answer: Travel adaptors may be a necessity for travelers. Travelers should bring with them, one-to-one travel adaptors that will fit to type G sockets. Travel adaptor sockets which have universal sockets will not be allowed. Hotels too, are expected to provide one-to-one adaptors to their guests.
- Would universal sockets be discontinued?
Answer: Yes. 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 due to loose connections, 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.
Comparison of Costs between Type D (5 A) and Type G (13 A) Switched Socket Outlets