Information about Tunisia

Electricity in Tunisia

Power Grid - Plugs and Sockets - Dangers

Power Grid in Tunisia

The Tunisian power grid is similar to that in many other countries that are using 220+ Volts and 50 Hertz specifications.

If you are using any device in Tunisia, make sure that it can operate in a 220V/50Hz environment (check the manual or the label on the device!) - when it cannot, then you will have to use a transformer device, or the device will be damaged!

The electricity grid consists largely of outdoor lines and the cabling can be, especially for house and garden fittings and connections within buildings, quite adventurous. So, for safety's sake, one should not come too close to these.

The network itself is fairly reliable and has, at least in large cities, only a few outages (eg. after a storm). Significant power fluctuations are also very rare, but sensitive devices should still have some appropriate safety device hedged (eg. an uninterruptable power supply).

Since 2012, however, power outages and power fluctuations have increased considerably.

Outside the major cities and tourist areas, there is now a definite risk of damage for electrical devices that can not deal with undervoltage (especially motor-powered appliances, such as refrigerators, hairdryers, etc.). In August 2014, a blackout of multiple hours throughout Tunisia took place.
This situation will most probably continue in the following years.

Electricity, although much cheaper than in most european countries, is, for Tunisians, quite expensive. For this reason, many Tunisians will abstain from using non-essential electrical appliances.

Using them anyway might result in a blackout, since not only the house lines, but also the backups are in most cases inappropriately dimensioned and the simultaneous operation of several pieces of major equipment (eg. washing machine and electric oven), and sometimes even the sole operation of a single large unit (air condition) is not possible or only briefly for a short period of time.

Plugs and Sockets in Tunisia

In Tunisia, the french/belgian plugs (Type E) are widely used. Although in principle, they are compatible with most other European plugs, there is a pitfall.

Plugs and Sockets in Tunisia
Tunisian plug and socket with grounding pin (Type E)

These plugs have a grounding hole in the middle, while in many other European plugs, there are two lateral grounding contacts:

German Plug and Socket
German plug and socket with lateral grounding (Type F)

There are lately numerous plugs in Europe, which have both - the hole and the lateral contacts, and those can be used without a problem.
However, in some cases, the geometry still does not match perfectly - and then you will need to buy an adapter and/or supply an extension/distribution outlet.

Adapters and extensions can be bought in Tunisia in many shops.

It can also happen that a Tunisian plug will not fit into an European socket, because it is round and has no cutouts on the sides. In this case, you will need an adapter as well.

The UK plugs (Type G) are non-compatible with the Tunisian plugs, a travel adapter is always needed:
UK Plug and Socket
UK plug and socket (type G)

The US plugs (Type A or B) are non-compatible with the Tunisian plugs, a travel adapter is always needed:
US plug and socket
US plug and socket (type A)

US plug and socket
US plug and socket (type B) 

Electricity dangers in Tunisia

As in the below article described, the chassis of a device that is not double-shielded (eg. computers or consumer electronics are usually not double-shielded!) can pose, for predisposed persons, a life threat!

Therefore, one should refrain from touching  metal parts of connections (including connectors/sockets, which are connected to to oher devices, for example two devices plugged together!) or keep greatest caution.

This generally applies to all private houses, but also in hotels, it is not certain that a proper protection (grounding) is available.

As safety requirements for installations in Tunisia are a lot lower than in many European countries, there are, even in new installations, grounded installations and ground fault circuit breakers (protection fuses, power interruptors) required only for the bathroom and the kitchen.

Since grounded installations require 3 cables (life, neutral and earth), you can assume for certain, that, if you see only 2 cables, there is no grounding (earth) available. Even when you see a socket with grounding hole/contacts, it does not mean that behind the socket, there are really 3 cables connected or even existing.

The widespread abandonment of grounding has another effect, namely that the usual "protection plugs", which, in the event of a lightning strike, immediately disconnect the device from the circuit and prevent from a power surge hitting the device, is in Tunisia only of limited use or even without function at all.

Since in most cases, a working lightning protection rod on buildings is missing, and almost all power cables between buildings run exposed, it is strongly recommended that, during a thunderstorm, all equipment is physically disconnected from the grid!

That also applies to phone/modem, because if the lightning strikes the phone line, not only the phone, but also all connected equipment will likely suffer a power surge.

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