Thursday, 12 February 2009

Doing Electricity. Part 1 of many, no doubt.

I think I may have mentioned I am planning our electrics. (Yup, I have, here).

This has turned into a monster job, because I may have got carried away. Not for me one light bulb hanging in the middle of the ceiling and three power points in each room - this is going to be done right and proper.

After a week and a bit of thinking I have graduated from my piece of paper to using the computer, plotting everything on Photoshop. The results are scary, even when written out in my own invented code. I am going to have so many cables running around the house, it will be like living in a Faraday Cage: I have, at last, worked out what I want to go where.

The overall plan
So that was stage one. Stage two will be a challenge.

Part of the reason for this is the way french do wiring. It is a radial system, so all the electrics come directly from the "coffret" or distribution board, there is a strict limit on the number of power points/lights you can have on one circuit, all wires must be in conduits, and heavy use items have their own dedicated circuits which have to go all the way to their own dedicated circuit breaker on the fuse board. (This last one will be fun for us - the fuse board is in the old entry hall - the other side of a 1 metre thick stone wall. As we will be wiring for an oven, dishwasher, washing machine, fridge, and clothes dryer, that means that a 2" hole has to be drilled for each item. Yehaa!)

Power points and zones
I have two alternatives to this: one is bringing the supply into the house by taking the three phases through the wall and installing a new board, and the other is getting EDF to put in a new supply for us straight into the kitchen. This appeals on one level, but it does mean the house will be a new wiring job rather than a rewire, and in France that means having no less than the legal minimum of power points, lights and phone points in each room. Not that that SHOULD be a worry, but what if I don't want a telephone point in every bedroom?

Of course, being France, you can buy all the bits you need in any old hardware store - even down to pre-loaded conduit, so once you know your plan it should all sort of fit together. You can also buy many books which explain it all, because a true Frenchman likes to do these things himself.

Lights and switches
This, of course, assumes you're not getting too ambitious. Hands up everyone writing this blog who has got ambitious...

I mentioned previously about using LED spotlights in the kitchen, bathroom and over the stairs. I love the idea of never having to replace a lightbulb, but wiser heads have counselled me, and I am reconsidering. As for fittings, I really want to use Legrand switches and power points because they are so funky. You can get an idea of the sort of thing they do from the website here and here, but be warned, it's all a bit irritatingly French.

So there you go. I now have a plan. This will be discussed with the electrician and no doubt changed. I hope it doesn't have to be changed too much.

And while we are talking of electricity: some you may be aware it was a little blowy on Monday and quite a few places lost their electricity supply. Our local newspaper has a selection of photos from the tempete and its aftermath here. (link now working)



wcs said...

Shocking. Positively shocking.

Simon said...

What on earth could you mean? :¬)

Anonymous said...

Simon. " a 2" hole has to be drilled for each item." I assure you that you don´t need a 2" hole for each cable. Not even a 1" hole. And according to how many circuits you can connect on one cable to your distribution board -it all depends on what you are connecting -as you wrote. Use Ohms law and your on the right side.
Bon courage

Simon said...

Bengt: I need a hole for each of the 20A circuits in the kitchen if I don't move the fuseboard. The conduit is about 30mm and I will need some wriggle room.

You have to have a separate circuit for each fixed item - dishwasher, oven, etc. 5 items, 5 circuits - then 3 lighting circuits and 4 power circuits.

I have a translation of the French electricians bibnle - I'll wizz it over to you


wcs said...

I'm so cryptic...

Simon said...

Keep on being smug like that and you might find yourself IN a crypt :¬)

Which I suppose is, in it's own way, cryptic

Ken Broadhurst said...

What do the words crypt and cryptic have to do with anything. I'm in the dark.

And my word verification string is "torspine" -- what in the world?

Anonymous said...

Sorry but I don`t really follow you on the "each 20A circuit?" Why on earth ;-) do you need so high amperes for a dishwasher. 16A is more than sufficient for most fixed items except the cooker. And 3 lightning and 4 power circuits? What are you going to connect? 50 floodlights at the same time? And finally what kind of circuitboard would you need to provide all this? 250A?
My house has 20A 3-phase for 160 m2 with electric heater for hot water and heating plus the waterpump, oven, washingmachine, tumblerdryer, computers, 25 lights and outside 2 power circuits for the cars.
"I have a translation of the French electricians bible"
Who has translated that?

Simon said...

yes - unfortunately, if you want your electricity certified as safe, you have to have your dishwasher, oven, etc each on their own circuits of 2.5mm cable and each with its own 20A circuit breaker.

Lights you are allowed to have 8 lamps maximum on each circuit, 1.5mm cable and a 10A circuit breaker.

Powerpoints you're allowed a maximum of 8 on each circuit (although a double counts as only one), 2.5mm cable and a 16A or 20A circuit breaker.

If we were having an electric cooktop, that would have to be a 6mm cable on a 32A circuit breaker.

Anonymous said...

Hi again.
"If we were having an electric cooktop, that would have to be a 6mm cable on a 32A circuit breaker."

Thats about the same size as my incoming cable from the electricity company to our house.

And 8 lamps on one circuit! Thats 280W per lamp.
Glad that I took my electric certificat in Sweden.

This electric installation must cost you a fortune.
I suggest you connect 3-phase to yor house.
Take care.

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