Museum of Plugs and Sockets logo, small IEC 60906-1
standard household plug
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In the early 1930s the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) started working on international standardization of electrical plugs and sockets for domestic use (source).
In 1986 the IEC 60906 standard was published, aiming that it would become the universal household plug and socket system. IEC 60906-1 applies to 250V, 60906-2 to 125V.
15A-125V plugs and sockets are similar to NEMA 5-15.

South Africa and Brazil have adopted IEC 60906-1 in respectively 2013 and 2002. Both countries allow multiple standards for domestic plugs. The wish for more uniformity and/or safety have been decisive factors to adopt the IEC standard.  South African plugs and sockets fully comply with IEC 60906-1. Brazil has adjusted some of the regulations.
See footnote for the opinion of the European Union regarding domestic plug harmonization.
Type N

South Africa   SANS 164-2 standard; complies with IEC 60906-1
South African IEC 60905-1 socket (SANS 164-2)

South African IEC 60906-1 plug (SANS 164-2)     IEC 60906-1 plug scheme
South African SANS 164-2 socket with switch, rated at 16A - 250V. Recess has a depth of 10 mm. Line and neutral contacts have safety shutters. Both are compulsory.   {PC}
SANS 164-2  16A plug. Line and neutral pins have compulsory sleeves.   {PC}
Scheme right shows shape and sizes of IEC 60906-1 plugs.
Note that IEC 60906-1 applies to 16A - 250V sockets and plugs only.

Manufacturer of outlet, switch and plug: Crabtree, Wadeville, South Africa.
Grey cover plate: Cabstrut, Johannesburg, South Africa.



NBR 14136 standard
based on IEC 60906-1
IEC 60906-1 / NBR 14136_socket_10A IEC 60906-1 / NBR 14136_socket_20A NBR 14136 220V / 127V socket labels

NBR 14139 10A 3-pin plug NBR 14139 20A plug

3, 6 Brazilian NBR 13146 socket and plug rated at 10A - 250V. The Brazilian standard deviates from IEC 60906 with respect to rating, pin diameter and pin insulation. Details are given below.
Manufacturers: PIAL-Legrand (socket) and Alumbra Produtos Eletricos e Eletronicos, Brazil (plug).
4, 7
NBR 14136 20A plug. Pins are thicker compared to 10A plugs (4.8 versus 4.0 mm).
Manufacturer of socket and plug: PIAL-Legrand, Brazil.
5 Brazil uses identical NBR 13146  sockets for both 220V and 127V. A label can be inserted to mark the voltage of the local network.   {LG}
NBR 14136 standard.
In 2002 INMETRO (Brazilian National Institute of Metrology, Standardization and Industrial Quality) has introduced a new, country-wide standard for plugs and sockets. The NBR 14136 specifications are based on the IEC 60906-1 standard. Differences are:

1. IEC 60906-1 plugs are rated at 16A. NBR 14136 plugs and sockets are rated for either 10A or 20A.
2. Pin diameter of IEC plugs = 4.5 mm, whereas Brazilian plugs have 4.0 mm (10A) or 4.8 mm (20A) pins.
3. NBR 14136 sockets are used for both 220V and 127V, whereas the IEC has defined a separate 125V standard (60906-2).
    North American straight blade plugs and sockets (NEMA 5-15) are compatible with IEC 60906--2.
4. An insulating sleeve around line and neutral pins is not compulsory.


Table summarizing data of SANS 164-2 (IEC 60906-1), NBR 14136 and Swiss plugs, and Europlugs.
Similarities between Swiss 10A plugs and IEC 60906-1 (see SANS 164-2) are obvious.

SANS 264-2 (IEC 60906-1) plug
NBR 14136 10A 3-pin plug, small Swiss 10A plug, small Europlug, small
SANS 164-2
(South Africa)
NBR 14136
SN 441011
CEE 7/16
 Current rating
16 A
10 A 1
10 A 2
2.5 A
 Distance between line and neutral pin
19 mm
19 mm
19 mm
19 mm
 Diameter of pins
4.5 mm 3
4.0 (4.8 mm 4)
4.0 mm
4.0 mm
 Length of pins
18.9 mm
19.5 mm
19.5 mm
19.5 mm
 Insulating sleeve around base of L and N pins
yes 5
 Offset of earth pin (distance from center line)
3 mm
3 mm
5 mm
 Width of plug
35.7 mm
35.4 mm
35.0 mm
35.0 mm
 Thickness of plug
17.0 mm
17.6 mm
20.0 mm
13.8 mm
 Ambiguity between line and neutral
1 A 20A variant exists also (see image no. 7).
2 Swiss 16A plug has rectangular pins.
3 South African SANS 164-2 plug does not fit in Brazilian NBR 14136 10A socket.
4 4.8 mm applies to the 20A variant.
5 From 2013 insulating sleeves are compulsory.

European Commission REFIT* Platform recommendations - Internal Market: XII.24.a - "Plugs and sockets" (21 September 2017)

The REFIT Platform does not recommend harmonising the plugs and socket-outlet systems in Europe, considering that:

(1)  introducing changes in national wiring legislations with important transitional periods
      (above 75 years),

(2)  implementing an important investment plan to support both citizens and firms to replace the
      old socket-outlets (and the corresponding plugs of the appliances being used), estimated to
     100 billion Euro cost for society,

(3)  introducing investments in the production lines of manufacturers of plugs, socket- outlets and

(4)  generating a huge environmental impact, producing some 700 000 tons of electrical waste.

* Regulatory Fitness and Performance programme


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