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Get Switched On

Electricity is one of the most important aspects of modern living. It literally powers our lives giving us access to a wide range of appliances, information, entertainment and light. Without it life in the modern world would be dim, but what are the implications of installing electricity into your home in Bulgaria.

Surely power here is available at a simple flick of a switch? Well, ultimately yes it is, but there are a few points to consider before you get to that stage!





The Voltage

Bulgaria's electricity voltage is 230 Volts, which alternate at 50 cycles (50 Hertz) per second. Plugs here are of the round two-pin continental type and the electricity board generally provide for around 5 kw for each home – this is an incredibly small amount of electricity per household by western standards and anyone wishing to run a multitude of appliances and a swish lighting system needs to inform the electricity board that they require more power – something in the region of 15 kw. If your home is not already hooked up to mains electricity the electricity board will come out and connect you to the nearest power point. They charge a fee for this service dependent on how far away you are from the nearest source.


The Truth about Bulgarian Electricians

It doesn’t matter whether you are building your home from scratch, renovating an old house or simply moving straight in to a new place, you will need to call in electricians to either fit the whole system for you or make improvements to the existing system.

If you are lucky enough to find a qualified electrician from the west to do all of the electrics in your home, then all you need to do is mark out where you want each light, switch and socket. Either use a drawing or mark the walls and ceiling as a guide. A western electrician will charge far more than a Bulgarian, but will be well worth the additional fee.

Unfortunately foreign electricians are like gold dust here and most people have to rely on Bulgarian electricians, who do not hail from Planet Electrics as we know it. No matter how detailed a plan you give them showing where each switch, light and socket is to go in your house, they somehow fail to understand this and the only way to combat this problem is to physically be there on the day that your electricians come to do their job. It really is no joke and there are hundreds of stories of excited new home owners stepping into their new property only to find that all of the kitchen sockets have been placed somewhere near the floor!

One expat who had learned a lot about the shortcomings of Bulgarian electricians specifically stated that their kitchen sockets should be above the work surface but somehow this was lost in translation and the sockets appeared close to the ceiling! (see photo above)

There is also another issue with installing sockets into your home; there never seem to be enough! Bulgarians do not own the vast number of electrical appliances that people from the West do and consequently have difficulty understanding the need for such large volumes of sockets, they also think economically and installing lots of lights and plug sockets can only lead to high energy bills – something the average Bulgarian tries to avoid.

When installing sockets in your home you need to tell your electrician that you are going to need a socket and shaver adapter in the bathroom, you should purchase this yourself and show him exactly where it should go then watch as he does this.

If you are planning an office in your new home you will need sockets for a computer, monitor, speakers and printer, you may also want to plug in a scanner, mobile phone charger and DVD burner as well as a desk light – make sure that you purchase enough sockets to accommodate this and again, show your electrician exactly where you want them to go. In your lounge you will no doubt have a TV and DVD player and possibly a games machine like an X-Box as well as some form of lighting.

You will also need sockets scattered around the room to plug in your hoover and again you will need to physically show your electrician where all of these should go.

The kitchen is the place where Bulgarians seem to economise most. You will need sockets for a toaster, kettle, microwave, fridge and oven as well as other possible appliances like deep fat fryers, electric bug zappers, food processors and a radio. All of these will need sockets and it’s no use relying on adapter plugs as those which fit neatly into the wall cater for one round plug and two slim oval plugs – in a kitchen for example you will find that all of your appliances use the round plug making it impossible to use the adapter. DIY stores in Bulgaria do sell the long rectangular multiple extension sockets, which do solve this problem but are unwieldy and unattractive.


The key to success when sorting out electrical issues in your home is to first make a plan of what you need, then purchase the equipment and follow your electrician round showing him exactly where you want everything to go. Do not let him deter you from doing this, it is your home and you are paying the bill.

Paying for your Electricity

Talking of bills, paying for electricity in Bulgaria sometimes requires psychic powers! Electricity is billed according to the amount used and a recent study by the Bulgarian Economy and Energy Ministry ranked Bulgaria at the top of all EU states in terms of its low cost electricity prices. Monthly bills cost around 70 lv. for a family of four rising to 150 lv. during the winter months. Each summer, electricity is usually discounted and bills drop to around 40 lv. although this figure may be higher if you run a swimming pool.

If you live in a town or city, your bill, possibly, will arrive monthly by post and payment can be made by standing order from a Bulgarian bank account or at your local post office or electricity office. However, if you live in one of the villages you will not receive a bill. In some villages, a clerk from the local post office will visit the mayor’s office once a month to collect electricity payments – you need to ask your mayor or neighbour on which day this occurs, otherwise you can pay at your local post office – again ask what day the records arrive.

It is also possible to pay your bills online with if you have a credit card for your Bulgarian bank account. If you miss the local payment deadline you need to find your nearest electricity office, which will be located in the nearest town. You can pay your bill here at any time in the month and some of the regional electricity boards like Varna’s EON have facilities whereby they will text your bill to your mobile phone or allow you to look it up online. If you simply sit and wait for a bill to arrive, you may be cut off after two months!