Electricity in Your Home
Electricity in Indonesia is 220 volts AC and 50 Hz cycle power. While your 110 volt appliances from your home country will work with a transformer and plug adapter, you may not be able to service them or get spare parts in Indonesia. Most western-type kitchen appliances are readily available in large cities in Indonesia, though the brands are mostly Japanese or Korean. While it is unlikely that the house you rent will be equipped with small appliances, larger items such as an oven, refrigerator, water heater, air conditioners and stove should be negotiated for and supplied by your landlord.
The holes in most of the electrical plugs/outlets in Indonesia look like this and this . For more information on Indonesian electrical outlets and their needed plugs, see What Plug?
Looking at the Electricity in a Home before you move in
Electrical concerns should be high on your list as you're looking at potential residences. In order to run the many electrical appliances a typical expat house has, as well as air conditioning for most rooms, you will need a high electrical capacity. Look at the number of electrical appliances and electrical outlets already in the house when you view it. Turn on every light, all the air conditioners, the water pump and other electrical appliances in the house. See if the circuits become overloaded and switch off/trip. An expatriate house with abundant appliances typically needs at least 6,600 watts (R3). This should be confirmed by inspecting the electric meter or asking an electrician.
R1 = 2,200 watts or less
R2 = 2,200-6,600 watts
R3 = 6,600 watts or more
If the electricity is inadequate, ask your landlord to increase the current capacity in the house before you move in. Higher capacity means that you will pay a higher rate for electrical usage, so be sure the new capacity is adequate for your living and entertaining needs, without being excessive. Your landlord may resist this request as it means higher rates for electricity consumption for future tenants as well. But a landlord that is sensitive to the electrical needs of expatriates should be willing to comply. Ensure that your contract clearly states that the landlord must install adequate electrical capacity to meet your needs. After you move in, test the capacity by plugging in all your appliances and using them for a period to see if your capacity is adequate.
Once you occupy your new home, you may find that the electrical phases need to be balanced. There may be too many appliances on one circuit, while another circuit has unused capacity. If the phases are properly balanced, it will help ensure adequate current where you need it. Include in your contract the stipulation that after your move in and an initial period of residence (so you've had a chance to obtain and use your appliances), the landlord will balance the phases if necessary.
If the landlord will be purchasing new appliances or air conditioners for the house, insist on energy efficient appliances. New appliances, as a rule, consume less electricity than old run-down appliances, so the new energy efficiency features will help you save money on your electric bill. Although appliances purchased in Singapore do not need transformers (and the adapter plugs are very easy to find in Indonesia), you may want to check the power consumption rating on the box. Singapore dwellings are wired with far more electrical capacity than Indonesian homes, so even the same model of clothes iron will have a higher watts rating if purchased in Singapore. Non-CCF refrigerators are also available in Indonesia.
Ambient charge can cause very mild electric shocks if sockets are not properly grounded. Please ask a qualified electrician to test all electrical sockets to make sure they are properly grounded! If necessary the electrician can run a ground wire from the metal frame of your computer in order to draw away the ambient charge.
Due to widespread non-payment of electric bills by individuals, factories, and even city governments, PLN requires that new residential construction utilize prepaid electric meters, through PLN Paybar. Payment into your account can be made via purchasing vouchers which range in price from Rp 20,000 to Rp 1,000,000.
You can purchase these vouchers at PLN's website, banks, PLN Paybars, ATM, Alfamart, Indomaret, etc. Your monthly bill is deducted from the purchased vouchers. If a customer's prepaid credit becomes near to exhaustion, a warning beeping will sound alerting you to the situation. If the account does become exhausted, the electricity is automatically cut off. Watch your electrical usage closely for a few months and then you'll be able to estimate how much you need to pre-pay going forward. Just reference the 12 digit number on your meter and designate the amount that you want to apply to the pre-payment voucher. You then get the 20 digit number on the receipt of your payment which you can enter into the keypad on your Prepaid Meter (MPB) on your meter. The MPB's screen also provides you access to a lot of information on your electrical consumption.
Advantages of pre-paid electricity:
- If you go on a long vacation, you don't pay a monthly minimum charge - you just let the prepaid meter run down to zero and replenish when you return home.
- With the electronic prepaid meter, you can monitor the electricity consumption every day and throughout the day. You can easily see the remaining kWh on the meter display.
- You can see how much electricity various appliances are using by watching the meter when they are turned on.
- You also no longer have to provide physical access to meter reading officers from the electric company.
Paying your Electric Bill (Post-Pay)
PLN (the national electric company) will bill you for the exact amount of electricity you consumed in the previous month.
To make the payment you will need the name and customer number of the person the accounts are registered to, which is usually the home owner. So, when you move into a new house, ask the landlord for a copy of the last bill he has paid, as well as the location where you must make payment. Your neighbors will also know the closest place that you can pay the electric bill. You can also pay your bill by auto debit from your bank account or cell phone credit.
You can pay your bill at most major banks, ATM, or other locations. Each will provide a receipt, but they won't all show the complete information as paying at a PLN office would. You just enter that you want to pay your electric bill, enter your meter number and pay the amount due.
You can check the website of the State Electricity Company to determine the amount of your bill ahead of time - Perusahaan Listrik Negara (PLN). It's in Indonesian but it is relatively simple to enter your customer ID in the section “Cek Tagihan Rekening” in the "Layanan Online" tab on the home page to find out the amount of your monthly electricity bill. Enter the Subscriber Number (ID Pelanggan) and then click on the "Cek" button to see the amount you have to pay.
You can also set up pre-payment of your electric, water and other bills through your bank. Check with them to see what automatic payment services they offer.
You can actually calculate the approximate amount of each bill by reading your meter and dividing your total (jumlah rupiah tagihan) by the kilowat usage (pemakaian kwh). This gives you your rate per kilowatt hour. Check the card hung by your meter for the last reading and multiple that usage by your rate to get an approximate total for your next bill. After a few months residence, you'll have a good idea of the approximate amount of the bill and can send the driver with the correct amount of money.
Poor workmanship and/or poor quality materials often used in Indonesian houses, as well as the rigors of the tropical climate can lead to problems with electrical wiring and breakdown of electrical appliances.
Check regularly to ensure that electrical outlets are clean and not broken, and that plugs of appliances are not damaged or the cables frayed. Your household staff may not understand the serious dangers involved in faulty cords and may not inform you of any problems they discover.
If you have electrical problems in your home, you can call a tukang listrik (electrician). However the quality of workmen varies widely and it may be best to hire a company whose work has been recommended by other expatriates who are accustomed to international standards of workmanship and safety. Another option is to contact a housing management agency that can assist you in inspecting the house for maintenance safety concerns, as well as handle your repairs.
Disruption of Service
Disruption of electrical service is common in Indonesia, particularly when it rains as the tropical storms can cause broken connections, broken cables or debris falling onto the power lines. Rolling brownouts or outages are becoming more common as well as the power grids production capabilities no longer meet demands from consumers.
The reason for most power outages are not obvious and are almost always unannounced. The State Electricity Company (Perusahaan Listrik Negara, PLN) has a 24-hour service line where you can report outages anywhere in Jakarta. Call 123 for a pre-recorded message in Bahasa Indonesia and press 1 to leave your message. You may need to have a staff member or Indonesian-speaking friend leave the message for you. If you can ever manage to get a PLN staff member on the phone, they are usually not of much assistance and are unable to tell you how much longer the power outage will be. However, it is still suggested that you call PLN as they may not be aware of the problem and could then send someone to the affected area to investigate the cause.
For Electricity Complaints - Dial 123