Electrical Outlet and Voltage Information for Zambia
Zambia is a country located in Southern Africa. A person who wants to visit this country must know the standard voltage and types of electrical outlet and plug commonly used here in order to maximize the usage of electronic gadgets and appliances. In Zambia, the standard voltage used by the electronic gadgets and appliances is 220-240 volts with a frequency of 50Hz. There are also three primary types of electrical outlet and plug used in most households in Zambia. These types of electrical outlet and plug are the Type A NEMA 1-15 / JIS C 8303 North American, Type D Indian BS-546, and Type G British BS-1363.
In addition to that, a tourist who will visit Zambia must also bring along adapters and voltage converters. Adapters are ideal when the shape of the plug is not compatible with the shape of electrical outlet in Zambia while voltage converters are important when the voltage used by the electronic gadget or appliance is different with the voltage used by electrical outlet. As mentioned, the standard voltage in Zambia is 220-240 volts, so directly using electronic gadgets and appliances that uses 110-120 volts (like most American and Canadian-made products) together with an electrical outlet in Zambia might cause damage on the electronic gadget and appliance. This might even cause fire in worst cases.
Type A NEMA 1-15 / JIS C 8303 North American (Non-grounded and Non-polarized) Plug, Electrical Outlet, and Adapter
The NEMA 1-15 is mostly found in North America and in the east coast of South America as well as in other countries like Zambia. This is used for smaller devices that do not really need a ground connection. Also, the NEMA 1-15 is a flat blade attachment plug that uses two flat parallel pins or blades. Older designs allow the blades to be inserted either way; however, contemporary NEMA 1-15 plugs in Zambia are designed with the neutral blade wider than the live blade allowing just one way of plugging and ensuring that the polarized plug is inserted appropriately into the electrical outlet in Zambia. The NEMA 1-15 is also known as the Type A North American/Japanese 2-blade Electrical adapter plug and electrical outlet. It also has the technical name North American 15 A/125 V ungrounded.
The new design of NEMA 1-15 changed so much that it will not fit in the old type of NEMA 1-15 electrical outlet in Zambia. With the NEMA 1-15 adapter, the receptacle end will accept any standard household plug in Zambia, aside from the Type M South African SABS1661 plug, which is also known as the Old British BS-546 Large plug. The blades of this adapter are 6.4mm long, 1.5mm thick, and are spaced 12.7mm apart. The NEMA 1-15 plug is also non-polarized and non-grounded which is very important.
Although the NEMA 1-15 looks similar to the plugs of the U.S. and Canada and the appliance and electronic gadgets might be manufactured in the said countries, an adapter might still be needed because of the grounding and polarization requirements in Zambia. In the NEMA 1-15 plug and electrical outlet, grounding is done by the third, round pin located beneath the two vertical blades on the plug. On the other hand, polarization is done by the left vertical blade being taller than the right one. If the plug does have grounding or polarization and the electrical socket does not have one, it would be physically impossible to insert the plug into the electrical socket in Zambia.
If this happens to a tourist in Zambia and there is also no adapter present, that person might not be able to use his or her electronic gadgets and appliances. There is also another electrical outlet that is commonly used in Japan, the JIS X 8303 Class II (Japanese 15 A/100 V ungrounded) which is similar to the NEMA 1-15, the only difference from Zambia is the stricter dimensional requirements for the plug housing, marking, and mandatory testing and approval.
Type D Indian BS-546 Adapter Plug and Electrical Outlet
The Type D Old British Plug Adapter is most compatible with the Type D Indian BS-546 electrical outlet that is sometimes used in Zambia. In this Type D Old British Plug Adapter, the live and neutral pins are 5mm in diameter, spaced 22mm apart, and the grounding pin is 7mm in diameter with the plug being polarized and grounded. The receptacle end of this Type D Indian BS-546 plug is also compatible with common household plugs except the Type M South African SABS1661 (Old British BS-546 Large) plug.
Although the Type D Indian BS-546 electrical outlet and plug is not the standard in Zambia and other countries, it is still used in various households of Zambia. In terms of design and appearance, the Type D Indian BS-546 electrical outlet and plug is often confused with the Type M South African electrical outlet and plug. However, as similar as these two may seem, they are not compatible and must not be used together in Zambia or even in other countries. Also, the Type D Indian BS-546, especially its smaller version, the 2 Ampere plug, is used in United Kingdom for centrally switched domestic lighting circuits so that they can be differentiated from the normal power circuits.
The Type D Indian BS-546 also have an unearthed variant but this kind of plug is not compatible with the 3-prong version present in Zambia because of the distance between the pins. On the other hand, a larger version of the Type D Indian BS-546 is the 15 Ampere has larger live and neutral pins. This type of the Type D Indian BS-546 is also commonly used for non-dimmed but centrally controlled sockets within installations like indoor dimmable theatre and architectural lighting installations in Zambia. It is an old British standard electrical outlet which is still the primary household electrical outlet in countries like Zambia, Sri Lanka, Iraq, Nepal, Namibia, and Hong Kong
Type G British BS-1363 Plug, Electrical Outlet, and Adapter
The Type G British BS-1363 plug also has a receptacle end that is compatible with most household plug types in Zambia, except the Type M South African SABS1661 (Old British BS-546 Large) plug. The plug end is a British BS-1363 13-amp type. For the adapter, the live and neutral pins are 4 x 6 x 18 mm apart, with the grounding pin measuring 4 x 8 x 23mm. The Type G electrical outlet and plug is a Type G British BS-1363 rectangular blade used widely in Zambia that has a protective fuse inside to protect cords from high-current circuits and, most of the time, the Type G British BS-1363 electrical outlet includes a safety switch. Also, through the Type G British BS-1363 adapter, a tourist could use his or her appliance or electronic gadget in Zambia. The plug of this Type G British BS-1363 is polarized and grounded but not fused.
Another name for the Type G British BS-1363 plug is the 13-amp plug and for safety reasons the Zambia requires electrical outlets in households that use the Type G British BS-1363 to have shutters over the live and neutral connections of the electrical outlet. In the insertion of the longer earth pin from the plug, the safety shutters of the Type G British BS-1363 are opened. The shutters are also present to prevent the use of incompatible plugs made to other standards in Zambia. However, there are cases wherein the safety shutters of this electrical outlet could be opened through a screwdriver in order to insert Type C plugs. The usage of the Type G British BS-1363 outlet along with another kind of plug is not recommended because these plugs do not have a fuse. The regulation about the safety shutters and fuse is then followed in Zambia and all the other countries that use the Type G British BS-1363 electrical outlet and plug like the United Kingdom, Oman, Ghana, Grenada, Macau, Malta, Malaysia, Qatar, Saint Vincent, Saudi Arabia, Scotland, Maldives and Kuwait. In terms of compatibility, the Type G British 3-pin electrical outlet will work together with the Type G British BS-1363 plug and adapter in Zambia.
With all the safety measures and features of this plug and outlet, it is considered as one of the safest in Zambia, even the world. However, with all its features, this type of plug is bulky and cumbersome. Some people claim that the Type G British BS-1363 plug is mostly bigger than the appliances they are connected to but if tourists would want to use their electronic gadget or appliance in Zambia, then they must have a Type G British BS-1363 adapter. Although the adapter would not change the voltage used, it will enable the plug of the appliance or electronic gadget to be inserted to the electrical outlet used in Zambia. For the electrical outlet, the Type G British BS-1363 sockets are not compatible with other types of electrical outlet in Zambia.
Voltage Converters and Adapters
Most appliances and electronic gadgets made in the United States of America (USA) have a voltage of 110-120 and using it directly on a 220-240 electrical outlet in Zambia would cause damage to the appliance or electronic gadget, to the extent that it might be totally fried out or might even cause a fire. If a tourist wants to use his or her gadget in Zambia, the best way is by using voltage converters such as resistor-network converters, transformers, and in some cases the combination of both. The resistor-network converters to be used in Zambia are usually advertised to support as much as 50-1600 Watts and are just ideal to use for short periods of time. The resistor-network converter is also not recommended for digital devices like laptop computers however it is great for lightweight electronics like hair dryers and irons.
If a tourist would want to use a laptop computer or charge batteries for camera, mp3 players, camcorders, and radios in Zambia, the ideal voltage converter is a transformer which lowers maximum watt rating. It could be used for long periods of time but is a little bit heavy because of the large iron rods and copper wires. The last kind of voltage converter in order to use electronics in Zambia that are not compatible with the electrical outlet present in Zambia is the combination of resistor-network converters and transformer. Most of the time, there is a switch that enables the changing of modes from resistor-network converter to transformer, depending on the tourist’s needs in Zambia.