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The Single Standard for Plugs and Socket Outlets in Sri Lanka: Approved
The Single Standard for Plugs and Socket Outlets in Sri Lanka

At the Cabinet meeting held on 16th August 2016, the Government approved the implementation of a single standard for plugs and socket outlets. This standard will be the Type G socket and plug, already widely used in the country. Type G socket is rated at 13 A, and it is widely known among electricians as the “square pin” socket. The pins are actually rectangular. Owing to the use of numerous types of plugs and sockets, substandard electrical equipment, unsafe adaptors (“multi-plugs”) and extension cords, several accidental deaths and fires are reported every year.To reduce these hazards, the Public Utilities Commission of Sri Lanka (PUCSL) decided that the Type G plug and socket outlet, commonly referred to as the 13 A plug and socket, to be the only national standard to be used in Sri Lanka. It is covered by a Sri Lanka Standard.


What does this Cabinet decision mean to households and similar buildings? Households or similar buildings will not be required to be re-wired with the new standard 13 A sockets. The existing wiring and sockets, whatever they are, can remain in place until the end of their useful life. When a 5 A socket outlet needs to be replaced, a special Type G socket with a label “6A Max” will be made available in the market, for a period of 20 years.This product is expected to be available in the market, soon.


New households and other similar buildings will be required to be wired only with Type G 13 A socket outlets. Technically, the Cabinet decision allows a new wiring or a re-wiring to use other standards, 5 A and 15 A, until 2018. Now that the Cabinet decision has been announced, it would be unwise for design engineers and electricians to continue to specify and wire-up with 5 A and 15 A socket outlets in their new designs and installations. They are expected to immediately commence using ONLY the 13 A socket and the appropriate wire sizes and circuit arrangement, without waiting until 2018.


An important concern raised at the public hearing conducted by PUCSL in October 2015, was the possible increase in cost of wiring when the Type G 13 A socket becomes Sri Lanka’s single standard. A comprehensive study conducted by a panel of Chartered Engineers has proven that the cost of wiring for Type G 13 A socket outlets is comparatively lower than that of wiring 5 A socket outlets. Therefore, there will not be any additional burden on the general public owing to this standardization.


From August 2017 onwards, manufacture and import of plugs and sockets, and appliances carrying plugs other than Type G, will be prohibited. However, all the stocks of 5 A and 15 A plugs and sockets, as well as appliances with such plugs, will be allowed to be sold out over a period of 2 years (until August 2018). Thus by August 2018, the transition to the new standard would be complete. Existing 5 A and 15 A plugs and sockets will be allowed to remain in use for the next 20 years, until August 2036. After this expiry period, only the standardized Type G 13 A plugs and socket outlets will be used in the country.


Over the transition period and the expiry period, appliance users would require reliable converters. Standardized one to one adaptors (5 A plug to 13 A socket, and 13 A plug to 5 A socket) and standard, fused extension cords will soon be available in the market, to manage this transition.


So, when you buy an appliance and take it home, from August 2018 onwards, it will surely have a 13 A plug, which may fit into the socket you have on the wall. If not, a safe adaptor has to be used. From 2036 onwards, one would be sure, that the appliance bought will surely fit the socket on the wall, because there will be only one national standard: 13 A plug and the 13 A socket.

Role of IESL

This is the culmination of an IESL initiative in year 2012, of the Electrical Engineering Sectional Committee. The EESC appointed three sub groups to study and recommend initiatives on electrical appliance safety, licensing of electricians. and training and accrediting electricians. IESL is grateful to PUCSL who played a major role in arranging the public hearing, meeting all stakeholders namely the experts in the field, socket and appliance importers and manufacturers, etc., and finally drafted the necessary documents and facilitated the passage of these documents through the cabinet.


Very soon the procedure for licensing of electricians will also be released by the IESL.


IESL is pleased not only as the initiator of this endeavour but to be a partner in this process with PUCSL from the early stages of the concept of a single standard, and will continue to support PUCSL in the future to duly implement the action plan, and to manage the transition. This would be appropriate moment to thank all those who helped to plan this transition, and would request support of all IESL members to assist in making the transition to be smooth and systematic.


By Electrical Engineering Sectional Committee

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