A new standard of plugs and sockets were created in order to unify all the systems available in Brazil. It is estimated that there were around 12 types of plugs available in the country. The new standard was based on international directives and also helps provide more safety for the user.
The new standard three pin plug is only used in Brazil and was developed by ABNT and then used by INMETRO to provide proper certification and product compliance to established regulation. Since July 2011, all plugs have had to be in compliance to this standard, in versions of 3 or 2 rounded pins only. Any other type of plug, usually found on older equipment can still be used with an INMETRO certified adapter.
All the sockets must have a built-in or semi built-in configuration, which was developed mainly to avoid accidents and better fitting of the plug. The presence of a ground wire is also a mandatory feature, which must come in both fixed and mobile sockets. However plugs using only two pins is allowed.
Since 2006, new houses must have a ground wire in the electrical system in order to provide full safety to the user. However it is acceptable that households built or renovated before the new regulation to use the old system without the ground connection.
INMETRO Certification Process
There are two distinct certifications for acquiring and maintaining the license for the Certification Identification Mark, both performed by an accredited product certification organisation, also known as OCP in Portuguese. The products certified by a foreign certification body are only valid in Brazil if the evaluation is made using similar standards used in Brazil and by an institution accredited by INMETRO. The certifications are mandatory for all plugs and sockets and the process should be simplified by the manufacturer of the parts.
The interested party must submit a formal request through a specific form provided by the OCP, containing the certification type chosen for the product. The condition of legal representative of the manufacturer whether Brazilian or foreign, must be clearly specified on the request form. The Quality Management System of the manufacturing process must also be included in the documentation.
Notice that although allowed to be used in Brazil, plugs with international standards are not automatically certificated by INMETRO. In order to do so, the importer must manufacture the plug and socket in compliance with Brazilian standards.
The collection of samples for the initial testing is performed by the OCP, the amount varies according to the product evaluated. As a rule of thumb, it is necessary for a minimum of 6 samples of outlets and 9 samples of sockets to be provided.
The certification follows the parameters established in the normative ABNT NBR NM 60884-1:2004 and NBR 14136:02, with the following configuration.
In case where findings have non-compliant features in the product during the certification process, the manufacturer must make the necessary changes and submit the process again with the OCP.
Every second year, new testings must be conducted by the OCP to evaluate the compliance of the product to regulations. In case they are not in compliance during testing, the product certificate is suspended and the manufacturer might lose it if the reported problem offers a risk to the consumer.
Routine testings also take place every 6 months or less, if proven there are any changes in the manufacturing process or at the request of the manufacturer.
The testing performed during the certification process is also defined by INMETRO and ABNT regulations, which must be applied by the OCP in the evaluation.
The features that are tested during the certification process are as follows:
- Resistance to twisting and pressure
- Operational condition
- Heating, including the material resistance to the condition
- Strength necessary to pull the plug out of the socket
- Insulating and resistance to voltage peaks
- Resistance of the insulating material to abnormal heating and fire
- Flexible cables and other connections attached to the equipment
For a set of plugs to be considered the same type they must comply to the following requirements:
- Similar basic project
- Similar contacts
- Similar materials
- Similar contact storaging
- Similar bornes and fixation methods of conductors, in case of mobile plugs
Every sample must be conducted with the following testing and verification:
- Marks and indicators
- Nominal features
- Flexible cables and dimensions
The 20 A plugs and sockets must be suitable for use with both 10 A and 20 A, and the sockets with ground contact must allow the insertion of plugs with and without the ground pin. Sockets of 10 A must not allow the insertion of 20 A plugs. The 20 A pins should be slightly thicker than the 10 A ones, which is the only difference in the standard. The new standards apply to both the 127 V and 220 V. The use of insulating components in the conducting pins is optional.