The Australian and New Zealand AS/NZS 3112 standard

This page is an overview of the various types of plugs used in Australasia and is intended as a technical reference.  For more information on the plugs and power cords we stock, please see our Australian page.  This also includes the full list of countries beyond Australia and New Zealand which use the plug type (Australia, New Zealand, and neighbouring and Pacific islands), and differences from the similar Chinese and Argentinian types.

The respective standards for Australia and New Zealand are AS3112 and NZS3112, usually combined to AS/NZS3112.  Mains cable and electrical flex is metric, with harmonised core colours, and must be to the AS/NZS3191 standards “Electric Flexible Cords.”  Approval is by SAA (Standards Association of Australia) in Australia and SANZ (Standards Association of New Zealand) in New Zealand’ or alternatively at federal government level.  The majority of Australian plugs must have insulated active and neutral pins since April 2005.

All plugs and sockets below are rated 250V unless specifically detailed, e.g. 110V.  Mains voltage is 230V or 240V depending on the state, and may vary in the Pacific Islands.
The live, line or (single) phase connection is called the ‘active’ in Australia.  Sockets accept equal and lower rated plugs, so a 32A outlet accepts 32A, 25A, 20A, 15A, 10A and 7.5A plugs, but a 10A outlet will only accept 10A and 7.5A plugs.

Whilst not specified in the Australian and New Zealand standards, common usage is to have sockets orientated with the earth bottom-most in order to have the earth disconnect last if the plug is pulled out downwards.

Though not a requirement in the standards, hospital grade Australian power cords may have a clear plug and possibly connector to visually check polarity, and may prefer orange cable to easily differentiate from standard power cables.

7.5A 2 pin Australian plug7.5A 2 pin Australian plug An unearthed 2 pin Australian plug used with double-insulated appliances; the configuration is the same as the three pin version but minus the earth pin; as such it is down rated to 7.5 amp current rating.  Line and neutral pins are in 120 degree V-alignment and are 6.35mm diameter, and it fits all 240V sockets; this makes all Australasian plugs polarised.  There is no corresponding socket: Australian power outlets and Australian extension leads must always be earthed.

10A Australian plug10A Australian plug The standard 10 amp Australian plug and socket used in most domestic and office applications: all other 10A versions are variations on this.  Line neutral and earth pins are all 6.35mm diameter (1/4 inch) and 1.6mm (1/16 inch) wide with a longer earth pin and plugs fit all 240V Australian outlets.  Electrical outlets in Australia and New Zealand have on/off switches.

10A special use Australian plug10A special use Australian plug Identical to the standard 10 amp Australian plug, but the flat earth pin has been replaced with a 4.75mm diameter round one (the dimensions for both flat and round pins originate from USA plugs).  This means the two types are not interchangeable.  The special use Australian plug is found in special power circuits to prevent normal plugs being used, including EPOS (electronic point of sale e.g. tills and cash registers), IT equipment, lighting, storage heaters, fans etc.

500V Australian plug500V Australian plug
Similar to the three phase four pin plug above, but the active and neutral pins are parallel rather than at an angle.  These are often used for dual-switched lighting, or emergency lighting with an unswitched Active phase.  Rated 500V 10A.

440V Australian plug440V Australian plug Similar to the three phase four pin plug, but the top pin, the second line or active, is round instead of flat.  Rated 250/440V and 10A.

15A Australian plug15A Australian plug The 15 amp Australian plug is the same as the 10A, but has a larger earth pin which is 9.08mm (3/8 inch) in diameter.  The bigger grounding pin prevents it being inserted into 10A socket outlets.  This is the highest-rated plug likely to be found in residential or commercial use.

20A Australian plug20A Australian plug The 20 amp plug used in Australia and New Zealand is the same as the 15A, but all three pins are 9.08mm in diameter.

25A Australian plug25A Australian plug The 25 amp plug for Australia and New Zealand uses the 20 amp design but makes the earth pin L-shaped.

32A Australian plug32A Australian plugn plug The 32 amp plugs and sockets in New Zealand and Australia are the same as the 25 amp, but instead of an L-shaped earth it is a symmetrical U-shape.

110V Australian plug110V Australian plug Technically rated 10A 250V, this plug has the same dimensions as the USA 2 pin plug, and as such is often used for 110V use with American equipment, power tools etc.  Interestingly, these do not require partially insulated pins.

110V Australian plug (earthed)110V Australian plug (earthed)An earthed Australian plug designed for 110V use.  The Active and Neutral pins are of the same round design as the special use plug or American plug; the earth pin is flat like on the normal plugs.

Australian ELV plugAustralian ELV plug A 2 pin plug using the standard 6.35mm pins but at right angles, rated at 15A 32V.  Extra Low Voltage plugs and sockets are used where there is no mains electrical supply, for example remote farms using only generators for power which is common in the Australian outback or New Zealand Highlands.  Outlets are normally marked ‘Extra Low Voltage’ and must not accept standard plugs.  The vertical pin should normally be Active, and the horizontal Neutral or Ground.  The design is based on the discontinued ‘T’ plug.

Australian multi phase plugs and socketsAustralian multi phase plugs and sockets Three phase power in Australia, New Zealand and other countries using the same plug system use AS/NZS3123 standard for three phase power; IEC60309 may also be found.  The plugs and sockets are round, with a central pin, with others positioned radially; there are 5 pin (with neutral) and 4 pin (without neutral) versions.  Pin configuration, pin size, overall size, and cutouts in the plugs and sockets limit interchangeability.  Voltages are 110V single phase, 250V single phase, and 415-500V three phase.  Current ratings include 10A, 20A, 32A, 40A, 50A, 63A, 80A, 100A, 160A, 200A.

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Morvan Trading Ltd has over 40 years experience in the powercord business.

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