Museum of Plugs and Sockets logo, small IEC 60906-1
standard household plug
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The International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) has developed an international standard 230V household plug system, to be used one day everywhere in Europe and other countries with 230V mains. The standard was published in 1986 as ICE 60906-1. South Africa and Brazil are the first countries in the world that have introduced the standard. Details are given below.
Type N profile
The IEC has published a brief history about the international standardization of electrical plugs and sockets for domestic use,
which is worthwhile reading. Attempts to standardize European electrical power distribution started already in the early 1930s !


SANS 264-2 (IEC 60906-1) socket
IEC 60906-1 / NBR 14136_socket_10A IEC 60906-1 / NBR 14136_socket_20A NBR 14136 220V / 127V socket labels
SANS 264-2 (IEC 60906-1) plug
NBR 14139 10A 3-pin plug NBR 14139 20A plug Comparison of NBR 14136 and SEV 1011 plugs

1, 5
South African SANS 164-2 socket and plug rated at 16A - 250V. They fully comply with the IEC 60906-1 standard.
Sockets have a 10 mm deep recess, which eliminates the possibility of touching pins under tension with fingers or any object.
Plugs have partially insulated live and neutral pins. Details about plugs dimensions are given in the table below.
Image no. 1 shows a part of a dual socket with SANS 164-2 and SANS 164-1 (16A BS 546) outlets. The page that gives an overview of South African plugs shows the full socket.
Brand names: CBi Electric (socket) and Crabtree, South Africa (plug).   {PC}
2, 6 Brazilian IEC 60906-1 socket and plug rated at 10A - 250V according to the NBR 14136 standard, which partly differs from IEC specifications (see below). Sockets have a 10 mm deep recess. Details about plug dimensions are given in the table below.
Brand names: PIAL-Legrand (socket) and Alumbra Produtos Eletricos e Eletronicos, Brazil (plug).
3, 7
Brazilian IEC 60906-1 / NBR 14136 20A plug. Pins are thicker compared to 10A plugs (4.8 versus 4.0 mm).
Brand name of socket and plug: PIAL-Legrand, Brazil.
4 In Brazil identical IEC sockets are used for 220V and 127V. A label can be inserted to mark the voltage of the local network.   {LG}
8 Comparison of IEC 60906-1 (Brazilian type) and Swiss 10A SEV 1011 plugs. The two types share several characteristics, but Swiss plugs do not fit in IEC 609096-1 sockets v.v. because of a 2 mm difference in offset of the middle (earth) pin.


South Africa: SANS 164-2 standard.
The South African National Standard SANS 164-2 deals with plugs and sockets identical to IEC 60906-1.
In 2014 South African National Standard for the Wiring of Premises has recommended and encouraged that SANS 146-2 will be the preferred choice in new buildings and upgradings. Although the use of SANS 164-2 is not mandatory, it is proposed that over 10 year from now (2014), SANS 164-2 will be the foremost domestic plug standard in South Africa.

Brazil: 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.

In some respects NBR 14136 does not exactly follow the IEC 60906 specifications:
1. IEC 60906-1 plugs are rated up to 16A. NBR 14136 defines plugs and sockets for either 10A or 20A.
2. Related to (1), pin diameter of IEC plugs = 4.5 mm, whereas Brazilian plugs have 4.0 mm (10A) or 4.8 mm (20A) pins.
3. An insulating sleeve around the base of the live and neutral pin (similar to Europlugs) is not compulsory.
4. NBR 14136 sockets are used for both 220V and 127V, whereas the IEC has defined a 115V standard (60906-2) which is compatible with the flat blade plugs and sockets used in North America and Japan.

Practical consequences of the introduction of the new standard are among others:
Beginning January 1st, 2007 new residential, commercial and industrial wall outlet installations must comply with this new standard, and
beginning August 1st, 2007 imported electrical devices must comply with NBR 14136 regulations. It is the aim to gradually phase out 
NEMA flat blade and Schuko devices in Brazil.

The table below summarizes similarities and differences between SANS 164-2 and NBR 14136 plugs, Swiss plugs, Europlugs.

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
SEV 1011
CEE 7/16
 Current rating
16 A
10 A 1
10 A 2
2.5 A
 Distance between live 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
 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
17.5 mm
17.6 mm
19.5 mm
13.8 mm
 Ambiguity between live and neutral
1 In Brazil also a 20A variant exists (see image no. 7).
2 There is also a Swiss 16A model, that 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 Brazilian 20A variant,


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