The Thailand House Wiring Page

Plugs, Sockets, Adaptors, Extensions, Power Blocks and the like.

'Normal' Plugs and Sockets

The standard plug and socket used in Thailand is the flat pin 'US' style, either the two pin type or the safer three pin (grounded) version. Many sockets installed in domestic systems are also designed to accept the common two round pin plugs commonly found on TVs, DVD players and other low power devices that do not require a ground.

Your grounded outlet is going to look something like this:-

 

 


For International Travellers

Thai power is 220Volts 50Hertz, people from the US please be aware of this as the plug is very similar to the standard US plug.

You will find these adaptors invaluable, BUT, please remember to get the three pin (grounded) version like this one.

The socket is un-shuttered and the holes are larger than the regular outlets, don't leave them plugged in if there are small fingers around.

 

 

A NOTICE FOR BRITS.  If you insert a UK plug into one of these please note that Live and Neutral are transposed from the UK standard. This is not an issue with the 'block' type power supplies. However, if you use a standard UK plug the fuse will be in the neutral, this is not a good situation and you should really replace your plug with a local re-wirable plug.

 


The 'Schuko' Plug

Many domestic appliances are supplied with a European 'Schuko' plug, this plug is often mistaken for a 2 pin plug, it is in fact a 3 pin plug (2 poles + ground), the ground is carried by the two metal pieces on the side of the plug.

 

Since so many people think that this is a 2 pin plug it gets inserted like this.

WRONG!!!

Inserted like this there is no ground connection, shocking!

 

A simple adaptor is available from electrical stores.

When fitted it looks like this, correctly connects the ground of the plug to the socket ground pin.

CORRECT and Safe

Cost of life, 75 Baht!!

 

Important Note:

The correct round Schuko sockets are readily available (in Homepro for example), those performing new installations should consider installing these sockets in strategic locations in the kitchen and laundry areas. The use of the correct socket is preferable to an adaptor, which is, in turn, much preferable to the use of nothing.

 

Ok, for those who've been living on another planet, this is what a Schuko socket looks like. Unfortunately it is too big to allow a double socket to fit into the standard Thai wallbox size. There is room however for a Schuko and a two pin outlet in the same box.

This is what it looks like with the plug inserted.

UPDATE - July 2008

As of July 2008 domestic appliances are not permitted to be sold with a Schuko plug. The new Thai standard TIS166-2549 (2006) plug should be fitted instead. This plug will fit correctly into the grounded outlet shown at the top of this page, it looks like this :-

 


 

Power Boards

If you've lived in Thailand for more than a minute or two you're pretty much guaranteed to have come across the 'not enough outlets' scenario. Many Thai dwellings have a woefully inadequate number of power outlets, those that are provided are invariably in the wrong places.

The solution found in most homes is the dreaded trailing Power Board. Power boards are available in all shapes, sizes and prices. Power boards are a fine example of getting what you pay for.

This is one of THE cheapest and nastiest power boards I've found (it came with my rented apartment, there is no way I'd actually BUY this).

 

A better 2 pin power board, solid construction, illuminated switch and an over current trip device.

Note that there is absolutely nothing wrong with using two-pin power boards, provided only appliances that do not require a ground are connected to them.

The risk with cheap power boards is that the contacts tend to be cheap 'monkey metal' with very little spring, after a few uses the contact becomes loose encouraging arcing and overheating. Fires resulting from these cheapies are worryingly common.

 

General Safety Considerations.

All common sense really, but worth noting.

Extension Cords (leads) are often neglected when it comes to safety. Many people die as a result of improperly connected Extension Cord plugs & sockets. This is primarily due to the ‘Polarity’ of the Active & Neutral conductors being connected wrongly at the socket (female) & the plug (male) ends of the cord. The connection of such plugs & sockets to an extension cord must follow suit with the Power Point to which they are connected. That is, Active must connect with Active, Neutral with Neutral & earth is self explanatory, with regard to the outlet that the extension cord is plugged into.

Do not use cables normally used for fixed wiring as flexible extension cords. For example, you can’t use TPS (house wiring cables) as extension cords.

Do not locate flexible extension cords with plug socket connections in wet places or places where they are subject to damage by liquids.

Locate flexible extension cords above any work area or passageway so that clear access is provided, beneath them (trip hazard).

Ensure that fittings for flexible conductors and flexible extension cords are wired identically and that the identity of active, neutral and earth connections are preserved in a like manner.

Extension cords that are ‘rolled up’ on a spool or reel must be fully unrolled before using ‘high power’ appliances that are plugged into them. If the extension cord is not unrolled fully under these conditions, the wire may become hot & actually melt, which will cause an electrical fault. If in doubt…fully unroll. Extension cords are prone to physical damage.

Periodically check the extension cords by running your hand along the entire length of it, of course you must UNPLUG the cord before checking in this manner. If you feel any discrepancies, inspect the area. If the extension cord has a cut in it or an obviously compressed or distorted section, replace it immediately.

 


Multi Adapters

An alternative, and very cheap, solution to the 'not enough outlets' problem is the multi-way adapter. These allow up to 3 plugs to use a single outlet. They are invariably 2 pin only and thus not suitable for grounded appliances.

Used sensibly and for low power devices (lamps, fans, AV equipment etc.) these adapters are a more compact means of expanding the plugging ability of your sockets.

 

NOT an ideal solution, but OK for low power devices.

 

If at all possible avoid the use of adapters, if you must use an adapter use it only for low power devices (NO kettles, toasters, grills etc.).

NEVER, EVER, EVER stack adapters into one another, this is just too risky.

 


OK, how about a little competition.

The prize? -- Could be your life!!!

Question: What is the difference between these two Power Boards, marked A and B??

 

Power Board "A"

Power Board "B"

Time's up!!

A few observations:-

  • Power Board B is slightly cleaner :)

  • Both have illuminated switches

  • Both will accept 3 pole grounded plugs

  • Both have overload protection in the form of fuses

  • Both are from the same manufacturer

  • I bought both boards in Tesco

  • Power Board B cost almost twice as much as Power Board A.

 

So what could possibly cause Power Board B to cost almost twice as much as Power Board A?

 

THIS!!!

Power Board "A"

Power Board "B"

Although both boards appear identical at first glance, and both accept 3 pin grounded plugs, only Power Board B actually links the grounds from the plugs through to the socket ground. AMAZING.

Of course, Mr Average Joe will buy the cheapest option, and possibly expose his family to the dangers of un-grounded appliances.

I said before that 2 pole Power Boards are just fine, these FAKE 3 pole boards are most definitely NOT FINE!!!!!

In my humble opinion the manufacturer of these boards should be strung up by their thumbs and beaten with the flex of the two pin plug.

GRRRRRRRRR!!!!