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  • #728990
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    previous_webmaster
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    Joined: 23 Nov 2002
    Location: Bristol, UK
    Total posts: 15

    I am not a qualified electrician so what follows is just a list of observations made whilst rewiring a house in France. If I have made any mistakes in the following then please correct me. If you are unsure about re-wiring anything then get a proper electrician to do it for you.

    – Elsewhere in this forum I saw a reference to the book ‘l’installation electrique’. I think this book is terrific. I found my copy in the local Castorama. I have ‘electricite pas a pas’ too, but LE is SO much more detailed

    – I have been involved in several re-wiring jobs in Britain and so based my French work schedule on those. This was a mistake. The French system is so time-consuming and labour-intensive, particularly if you are making up your own cables through flexible ‘gaines’ conduit, that I would now allow an extra 60% on the time.

    – I was wondering why the French regulations were so strict about where conduit channels could be chased in walls (e.g. not above doorways etc) until I discovered that the main supporting walls in our house are only 2inches thick! Any disturbance above a doorway could cause it to collapse.

    – I would opt for a fuse box for plenty of spare capacity. Radial wiring, particularly with a maximum capacity of 8 sockets or 8 light-fittings per circuit, results in lots of circuits. I ended up with 23 for a four-bedroom house. Because of the modest number of sockets per circuit, and because we want to use convector radiators as backup heating, I opted to run a separate socket circuit to every room, including the attic. Separate circuits for 3 floors of lights, washing machine, dishwasher, freezer, dryer, chauffe-eau(x), etc, accounted for the rest.

    – Our modem got fried by a lightening strike whilst the computer wasn’t even switched on! There most have been a power surge along the telephone lines. To stop this happening again I installed a telephone parafoudre (at approximately £50 this isn’t cheap, but IS considerably cheaper than a tri-phase mains parafoudre which I think was on sale for about £400! Of course, it only protects the telephone equipment, but then this is really the only delicate equipment we have that is connected more or less permanently.)

    – If you are wiring heating circuits for convectors with, say, 6mm cable inside gaines, it will be worthwhile including a black 1.5 mm ‘pilot wire’ for later use to turn the convectors on and off from a downstairs timer.

    – The price of electrical fittings, wire and conduit in DIY sheds is phenomenal! Try to get them from a wholesaler. They are cheaper to begin with and a discount is usually available. I used Rexel in Tulle (near the station) and Limoges (Exit 36 of A20, not far from Castorama). Full branch list can be found at: http://www.rexel.com/distributeur_mater … rique.html . On the right hand side of the page is a drop down list that will display all the branches in France. (NB. The rexel site is not that well designed. To find that drop down list, make sure you are on the ‘Accueil’ or Welcome page. To access that page from any other, find the ‘ <span style=”color: green”>< Accueil </span>’ link on the top left of most pages. Once on the Welcome page, check out the right-hand-side drop down list entitled: ‘Agences dans le monde’. Select ‘France’ and a pop up box will give you all the Rexel branches there.)

    – I prepared colour-coded schematics of the wiring runs for every floor whilst I was still in Britain, in order to speed up the work France. Very useful. Especially when you are tired, have a headache, and it’s 39 degrees outside!

    – Try to schedule work on your uninsulated attic for either early morning or late evening, or someone may come and find you dehydrated and with your tongue stuck to the floor.

    – Generally speaking I find French fittings to be of flimsy quality. Instead of buying electrical fittings with hooks (griffs?) to hold them together I always opt for recessed pattress boxes that allow for attachment by screws. Either that, or I us surface-mounted fittings.

    – All connections (and there are a lot on radial circuits) need to be made within connection boxes or in moulure (rectangular conduit) if there is room, rather than at the fittings themselves. The exception to this is sockets, which can be daisychained up to a maximum of eight.

    – My understanding is that renovation rewiring is usually completed using a combination of methods – e.g. hidden ‘gaine’ conduit and surface-mounted ‘moulure’ conduit. Certainly that’s how I did ours, particularly in areas where I didn’t want to chase cables into solid rock lying just a half-inch below the plaster. I took the precaution of taking a nail gun with me in order to secure the moulure with a combination of adhesive (in pump cartridge format) and 15 mm tacks. Rapesco does a cheap electric nail gun (for about £35 I think) that works well and saves HOURS!

    – I took British pendant light fittings with me as they are cheap and cheerful as a first light source for a newly wired room

    – To save money I took British light switches and ‘single’ plaster board pattress boxes because 90% of our light switches are recessed in plasterboard. In the other rooms I used French fittings, which are less obtrusive than British surface-mounted fittings.

    – Although the ‘gaine’ comes equipped with an internal wire-puller (to pull cables through the gaine) sod’s law says that ocacasionally it will slip inside where you can’t retrieve it. Arm yourself with a 10 metre nylon wire puller (any DIY shed) for these occasions. Cable lubricant (any DYI shed) will also help on any cable run where the gaine is bent. It won’t be necessary if you are pre-making all your cables in your downstairs hallway prior to fitting them.

    – Connecting all the wires together, and then to the wire-puller, in order to begin the pulling process, is tedious and time-consuming. It’s faster to use one of the red plastic flexible pullers (sold in DIY sheds) with holes in through which the cable ends are quickly threaded

    – We have no need of the tri-phase 380v supply that was already at the house, but rather than have EDF convert our supply to 240v single-phase outside the house, we found it was far more economical (in terms of monthly cost) to keep it as tri-phase into the house, and then convert it to single-phase at the fuse box, as in the following diagram:

    – When I installed the earth spike I hadn’t counted on the cellar earth being rock solid, nor on the spike needing 120 sledge-hammer blows in a cramped space! Be prepared for an early pastis and bed …


    • This topic was modified 02 Sep 2014 15:23 by  Char.
    #778067
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    mandrake
    Member
    Joined: 17 Jul 2003
    Location: Now Hereford previously 33 & 87
    Total posts: 2393

    Very useful posting odd points :

    I believe that the earthing point should be outside the house. Not a problem with updating an old instalation but I think the consuel will fail unless it is outside.

    Any idea what if anything the price premium for precabled gaine is ? Not much use for two way light switches for but otherwise should be OK.

    Digiboxes, TV and HiFi are also very vulnerable to lightening. We unplug and disconnect dish feed when we leave.

    Upside of French pantrass boxes is that cutting the cicular hole in plasterboard is very fast. Downside is they only take two gang light switches.


    #778068
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    previous_webmaster
    Member
    Joined: 23 Nov 2002
    Location: Bristol, UK
    Total posts: 15

    @mandrake wrote:

    Upside of French pantrass boxes is that cutting the cicular hole in plasterboard is very fast.

    That must be the only thing in the french wiring system that is fast :D:D:D:D:D

    I looked at the pre-cabled gaine, but i seem to remember it was quite a bit more. However, whilst it’s OK for a small job it’s just too inflexible (metaphorically speaking) for a big re-wire. For example, all circuits needed an earth wire, in the re-wire I did, which usually ran in with the others. However, on the feeds to the ground floor, which run via the cellar, I took the earth direct from the spike and not from the fuse box. This allowed me to run several circuits within some gaines leaving the fuse box and thereby save very valuable space.


    #778072
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    vienne
    Participant
    Joined: 15 Oct 2005
    Location: Depth 16
    Total posts: 660

    Sorry to reply to a post that’s over two years old but have only just joined :D
    I had some unregistered English ripoff bloke start the wiring/plumbing in our house in Poitou Charente.
    I’m fairly familiar with UK regs but not with French but when I saw his attempt I thought “this cant be right!”
    He had five sockets per circuit (thats ok I think) but used a different circuit for every light. I read above that you can have 8 lights per circuit which seems more like it.
    I’ve taken it out and will do it myself but I do want it passed by EDF so may I ask a couple of questions?
    1) When connecting the socket circuit is it ok to run the cable and use the connection boxes under the floor at each socket and then continue on your way? ie three connections in the box – one in, one out and one up to the socket.
    2) Can you wire the lighting circuit like you would the old way in the UK ie run to the JB, pick up the light and switch from there and continue to the next – max 8?
    3) I can’t find anyone who can explain how the round (pattresses?) back boxes house the sockets, do the clips squeeze outwards to secure?
    4) Might sound silly but which is the correct way up to fit a socket, they seem to have them anyway round, is it earth pin to the top.
    5) Is it ok to chase wires directly into the wall and plaster over or must I use some form of channelling. I’m not a lover of the conduit and I dont want the cables surface fit.
    6) If number 5 above is ok can I chase singles in to wall or must I use double insulated.
    Sorry about the length of the post but I would really appreciate any help/advice.
    Thanks
    John


    #778073
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    etvoila
    Participant
    Joined: 10 Apr 2003
    Location: Mayenne (Department 53)
    Total posts: 66

    @vienne wrote:

    Sorry to reply to a post that’s over two years old but have only just joined :D
    I had some unregistered English ripoff bloke start the wiring/plumbing in our house in Poitou Charente.
    I’m fairly familiar with UK regs but not with French but when I saw his attempt I thought “this cant be right!”
    He had five sockets per circuit (thats ok I think) but used a different circuit for every light. I read above that you can have 8 lights per circuit which seems more like it.
    I’ve taken it out and will do it myself but I do want it passed by EDF so may I ask a couple of questions?
    1) When connecting the socket circuit is it ok to run the cable and use the connection boxes under the floor at each socket and then continue on your way? ie three connections in the box – one in, one out and one up to the socket.

    Yes but not usual practice. Any junction box must be easily accessible and properly fixed. Better to link between sockets.

    2) Can you wire the lighting circuit like you would the old way in the UK ie run to the JB, pick up the light and switch from there and continue to the next – max 8?

    Yes this is how you would do it normally in France. You cannot link lights together (repiquage) at the light fitting itself , but can through a junction box -. It is a requirement that each termination of a conduit must be in a box.

    3) I can’t find anyone who can explain how the round (pattresses?) back boxes house the sockets, do the clips squeeze outwards to secure?

    As you tighten the socket screws the “griffes” grip the box and supposedly hold the socket secure. This is never usually the case and griffes have been banned from new installations since June 2004. all sockets should be fixed back with screws. Having said that, the Consuel are not enforcing this regulation, and you can still buy sockets with griffes, but they are better not used.

    4) Might sound silly but which is the correct way up to fit a socket, they seem to have them anyway round, is it earth pin to the top.

    Polarity doesn’t really matter if you have a french fuseboard as the MCb’s are double pole. However most french registered electricians myself included, put the live or phase connection to the right hand pin (looking from the front) and the earth pin to the top centre.

    5) Is it ok to chase wires directly into the wall and plaster over or must I use some form of channelling. I’m not a lover of the conduit and I dont want the cables surface fit.
    All buried cables need to have an external conduit. Usual practice is singles cables in gaine

    6) If number 5 above is ok can I chase singles in to wall or must I use double insulated.
    Singles cables wether surface or flush must always be provided with mecahnical protection , gaine in walls and floors for flush installation and surface conduit or moulures for surface installations.
    Sorry about the length of the post but I would really appreciate any help/advice.
    Thanks
    John

    #778074
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    vienne
    Participant
    Joined: 15 Oct 2005
    Location: Depth 16
    Total posts: 660

    Thanks Etvoila, much obliged but may I pick a bit further – just want to get it right.
    Re No 2 you say each conduit must be terminated in a box. Can I assume that the light cables need to be protected by metal conduit when run under floors and in the roofs?
    Re No 3 I understand now but all the sockets and plastic back boxes I’ve seen in depots dont have the facility to attch by the screws – I am in the wrong aisle!?
    Re No 5 If I am burying the cables wouldn’t install the conduit internally into the wall?
    If you fitting the back box in to a pot wall would you cement/glue it in or not bother and fit surface?
    Thx very much for your help
    John


    #778075
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    previous_webmaster
    Member
    Joined: 23 Nov 2002
    Location: Bristol, UK
    Total posts: 15

    @vienne wrote:

    Re No 3 I understand now but all the sockets and plastic back boxes I’ve seen in depots don’t have the facility to attach by the screws – I am in the wrong aisle!?

    don’t want to interrupt etvoila’s flow, but thought I’d save him a bit of time as i can answer this one point.

    go to any electrical wholesaler / specialist (like REXEL) and you’ll find a range of fittings that are screw-connected.

    in the bricos, have a look for any packs of ‘complete’ sockets for sale, say in sets of 6 or 12. usually they will be screw connected.

    check the details of single self-assembly fittings again. often they are made ‘double-purpose’ (i.e. they’ll fit using griffs OR screws if you take the griffs off). The matching patresses will have countersunk screws that can be used for connecting non-griff fittings.

    Ditto with light fittings.


    #778076
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    mandrake
    Member
    Joined: 17 Jul 2003
    Location: Now Hereford previously 33 & 87
    Total posts: 2393

    I believe griefs/ aka claws for holding switches sockets ceased to be allowed in new instalation form the start of 2005. naturally being France thet are allowed for one for onereplacements and are still on sale.


    #778077
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    simonmotorbike
    Member
    Joined: 30 May 2005
    Location: Nantes
    Total posts: 41

    This would fall under Vienne’s number 1:

    I see above that, “All connections…need to be made within connection boxes or in moulure (rectangular conduit) if there is room, rather than at the fittings themselves.”

    So does this apply to lights under the same command?

    I am not talking here of “repiquage” to other lights operated by other switches. I want three lights all operated by one simple on-off switch. What the books call “le simple allumage”: phase to interrupteur, earth and neutral to the light, a “retour lampe” between light and interrupteur.

    I don’t want this switch to operate just one light, but three, or four.

    Can you connect up the next light from the previous, ie, at the ceiling? Thus putting a second phase, neutral and earth into the light connection, and taking these to the second light in the series. And then the same again to the third, etc.

    I see that this is a form of the daisychain we are forbidden to do, so I am guessing that the answer is no.

    This makes for a lot of -what appears to be – useless work, putting a boitier de derivation before each light to ‘split’ the retour lampe, one continuing to the first light, one to the second.

    And then, presumably, a second boitier de derivation is needed to split the retour lampe again in order to feed the third light in the series. And another to the fourth.

    So a supplementary question, assuming that I am on the right lines so far: do all these conection boxes have to be accessible? As in visible? I am in a one level apartment, so I have no access from above. It would make for a strange looking ceiling.

    Simon


    #778078
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    vienne
    Participant
    Joined: 15 Oct 2005
    Location: Depth 16
    Total posts: 660

    Thanks for all your help but do double insulated cables need to be mechanically protected when under floors, in lofts or chased into the plaster?
    What’s a “gaine” by the way?
    Thx
    John


    #778079
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    mandrake
    Member
    Joined: 17 Jul 2003
    Location: Now Hereford previously 33 & 87
    Total posts: 2393

    @vienne wrote:

    Thanks for all your help but do double insulated cables need to be mechanically protected when under floors, in lofts or chased into the plaster?
    What’s a “gaine” by the way?
    Thx
    John

    If they are exposed in a loft or cellar they do not need protection, but if they are covered (in particular in plaster) they do need protection.

    Gaine is the round cross section flexiable conduit that you run cable rigid through. Normally grey or blue and looks like minature vacume hose.


    #778080
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    r2eg
    Member
    Joined: 08 Sep 2006
    Location: N/A
    Total posts: 2

    A quick comment concerning : I’ve taken it out and will do it myself but I do want it passed by EDF so may I ask a couple of questions?

    In residential wiring, EDF is only responsable for everything to the entry of the 500mA main differential breaker (Disjoncteur de branchement =DB). The electrician who installs (or intervenes after installation) is responsable for everything from the exit of the DB to the terminiation point; which is inspected by the Consuel. The consuel is required for new construction and complete rewires. The Consuel certification is required by EDF to “perminately” connect the new construction and complete rewies to its network.

    Cheers,

    R2EG

    @vienne wrote:

    Sorry to reply to a post that’s over two years old but have only just joined :D
    I had some unregistered English ripoff bloke start the wiring/plumbing in our house in Poitou Charente.
    I’m fairly familiar with UK regs but not with French but when I saw his attempt I thought “this cant be right!”
    He had five sockets per circuit (thats ok I think) but used a different circuit for every light. I read above that you can have 8 lights per circuit which seems more like it.
    I’ve taken it out and will do it myself but I do want it passed by EDF so may I ask a couple of questions?
    1) When connecting the socket circuit is it ok to run the cable and use the connection boxes under the floor at each socket and then continue on your way? ie three connections in the box – one in, one out and one up to the socket.
    2) Can you wire the lighting circuit like you would the old way in the UK ie run to the JB, pick up the light and switch from there and continue to the next – max 8?
    3) I can’t find anyone who can explain how the round (pattresses?) back boxes house the sockets, do the clips squeeze outwards to secure?
    4) Might sound silly but which is the correct way up to fit a socket, they seem to have them anyway round, is it earth pin to the top.
    5) Is it ok to chase wires directly into the wall and plaster over or must I use some form of channelling. I’m not a lover of the conduit and I dont want the cables surface fit.
    6) If number 5 above is ok can I chase singles in to wall or must I use double insulated.
    Sorry about the length of the post but I would really appreciate any help/advice.
    Thanks
    John


    #778081
    Avatar
    marcraf
    Member
    Joined: 04 Nov 2006
    Location: Dordogne
    Total posts: 19

    Just joined the forum so apologies if this is a little too late but I hope this information may be helpful.
    For lighting wiring there is a much better way for all types of lighting & control. Use RF controlled products.
    As the name suggests these products use RF (Radio Frequency) control which in short means no wires to any of the switches. There are cheap on/off AM versions on the market but these are limited to the control available. The RF items I use (was involved with in the UK previously) meet all European standards & operate on the ISM (Industrial, Scientific & Medical bandwidths).
    Apart from on / off control they can provide full scene selection, one switch can operate numerous lights if desired, or up to 32 switches can operate one light (or more) if needed. All ON / OFF operation is simple & you can even have fingerprint recognition if you so wish.
    Of course more expensive than standard switches but almost no labour as no wires to the switches so you can stick them on to a 1 metre thick wall if you want. Overall much better than traditional wiring, much safer (no mains to the switches), & easily modified, moved or change of operation at any time.
    Hope that helps someone. Hope to post a web page at some time but if anyone needs any firther info please dont hesitate.
    Regards,
    Marc

    #778082
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    previous_webmaster
    Member
    Joined: 23 Nov 2002
    Location: Bristol, UK
    Total posts: 15

    Hi Marc

    Yes, that is an interesting alternative for some people.

    If you get time to post more info about it here, then great. If you’ve enough information to work up into a fact sheet, let me know and we’ll publish it in the fact-sheet section.


    #778083
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    marcraf
    Member
    Joined: 04 Nov 2006
    Location: Dordogne
    Total posts: 19

    Mant thanks.

    Unfortunately dont have further information to post yet.
    Also these products are not available to the general public (designed some years ago for the commercial market) but I will be providing data later as I have worked with the market leaders both in the UK & overseas so could supply when properly registered in France.
    More general information can be found via the following links:

    http://www.insta.de

    http://www.flg.co.uk

    Hope that helps & it really is the only way for lighting control.

    Kind regards

    Marc

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