Electrical wiring in Hong Kong
Due to its proximity to mainland China, electrical products from there are quite common in Hong Kong. Many Hong Kongers and mainland Chinese immigrants purchase electrical products in mainland China and use them in Hong Kong. Even if an item of equipment meets the safety requirements inside mainland China, there are plug and socket compatibility problems when using them in Hong Kong.
Before the enforcement of the Electrical Products (Safety) Regulation, many types of plugs could be found in Hong Kong. Using this old equipment sometimes leads to plug and socket mating problems. Nowadays, virtually all plugs fitted in equipment sold in Hong Kong are BS 1363 compatible.
Many overseas citizens who bring equipment in from their home countries do not use the British wiring system. Citizens from the United Kingdom and countries that use British wiring systems normally do not encounter plug-and-socket issues in Hong Kong.
Case specific analysis
Mainland China two-pin plugs
The 2-pin plugs (with round or flat pins) in mainland China are compatible with the British converter plugs sold in Hong Kong. For shavers and electric toothbrushes that take less than 1A of current, British shaver adaptors can be also used.
Mainland China three-pin plugs
Mainland China three-pin plugs cannot be converted with a British standard adaptors, which are commonly sold in Hong Kong. One can replace the plug or the power cord as appropriate. This is also the case for Australian three-pin plugs.
Special attention is to be paid to the earthing of Schuko plugs. Though British converter plugs for Schuko are occasionally found; they are not common. Plug replacement is often necessary. This problem is common for special equipment in optical shops and among the residents of European origin.
There are old electrical plugs that can be inserted into the British sockets BS 1363 or BS 546 without any trouble. However they do not meet the British Standards in force. Standards "BS 1363" or "BS546" are not marked on such old quasi-UK plugs. Note that some of them are missing the BS1362 plug fuse and/or the pins are lacking insulating sleeves, among other problems. Plug replacement is the only option to resolve this problem.
Sockets of BS546 are incompatible with the mainstream plugs BS 1363 in town. Compliant adaptors are not available to convert a BS546 5Amp socket to a BS 1363 13Amp one. In this case, it is necessary to get the wiring updated to BS 1363 by a "registered electrical contractor" (see below).
See the page Common electrical adaptors in Hong Kong and the United Kingdom for information about how to use them safely. Some kinds of adaptors widely available in the United Kingdom are not available in Hong Kong. Moreover, the Electrical and Mechanical Services Department discourages the use of some adaptors in Hong Kong.
It is common for users in the United Kingdom and Hong Kong to wire plugs themselves. In fact, the methodology is included in the physics syllabuses of the Hong Kong Certificate of Education Examination and GCSE.
Plugs and extension cables (BS 1363) sold in the UK and Hong Kong come with instructions on how to wire them safely. They are marked on the extension unit, or in form of a separate sheet.
British standard adaptors are not always available for many kinds of non-UK plugs, including the 3-pin plugs from the mainland China. It is the only option to resolve the plug-and-socket compatibility problem in many cases.
Many books and websites provide information about wiring a UK plug correctly.
In Hong Kong, registered electrical contractors are required to carry out any electrical work (e.g. addition to, alteration of, inspection, testing and repair of an electrical installation), including those in connection with a renovation work. See also Electrical wiring (UK).
- BS 1363
- Common electrical adaptors in Hong Kong and the United Kingdom
- Domestic AC power plugs and sockets
- Double insulated
- Extension cable
- Ground and neutral
- Electrical wiring (UK)
- Technical standards in colonial Hong Kong
- "Protecting Public Safety : Electricity : Publications : General : Electrical Installations : Household Electrical Safety Handbook". Emsd.gov.hk. Retrieved 2009-06-20.