Electrical installations

There are some factors you should consider when you buy an old property. See PLANNING AN ELECTRICAL LAYOUT (elsewhere in this electricity category) for some suggestions about how to approach the planning of your electrical system. See below for general information.

Old Installations

First thing, if your property has an old electrical installation, your priority is to get a qualified electrician to verify that it is still safe to use at all. Ancient ceramic sockets, dangling wiring, wooden conduits and plugs that fizzle when you unplug them are all often encountered. You will almost certainly want to replace your electrics if you have any or all of these.


DIY Tips

Want to add a personal touch to your home? Then get creative to add style that’s one of a kind to your home. Patchwork, knitting and crochet can all be used to add chic soft furnishings and accessories to your home, from cushions to throws and more. If you are new to crafting there’s lots of advice available online including helpful craft tutorials. Also take a make do and mend approach to upcycling existing pieces in your home with paint, decoupage or fabric.


 

I suggest getting this done at an early stage in the renovation process. Apart from the ‘physical danger’ aspects of an old wiring system, the channelling of walls to add new electrical wiring can be very disruptive to the entire house.


Electrical Tip

“Although at first glance lighting, sockets and off-peak heating in France may all appear familiar, closer investigation will reveal that the installation methods are different to those employed in the UK”

Excerpt From: Thomas Malcolm. “Electricity in your French house.” iBooks. https://itunes.apple.com/gb/book/electricity-in-your-french-house/id413215097?mt=11


 

Restricted Power Supply

Every property in France has a pre-agreed level of supply of electricity. Usually this will be one of 9, 12, 15 or 18kw, although it can also be higher or lower than these standard ratings. Increasing the power supply to your property is usually a straightforward exercise – you can simply ask EDF to increase it – but you will need to pay a bit extra standing charge for a higher power supply.

Old houses are sometimes on very low supplies, possibly as low as 3kw. You will soon discover if your property is one of them – the first time you turn the kettle and the microwave on at the same time! For the majority of properties 18kw is sufficient, unless there will be a lot of electric heaters turned on at the same time.

Tariffs

You can see all the current electricity tariffs on the EDF website, and select the one that is best suited to your needs. In particular, look at the TEMPO tariff if you will have no electrical heating at all, and avoid it if you will. With this Tempo tariff you only pay roughly half price for your electricity for ten months of the year, then pay ‘normal’ price for 40 days and an astronomical ten times the normal price for 21 days of the year. This is good news if you can avoid electricity consumption on those 21 days (broadly speaking, the coldest days of winter) but not so good if you rely on electricity for heating.

Earth

In France the ‘earth’ lead does not arrive at your house with the electricity, in the way it does in the UK for example. So your property needs to have its own independent earth connection – this is usually connected to an earthing rod buried in the garden.

You need to find this earth connection (you can follow the earth cable from the electricity distribution box to help find it) and then check that it is clean and protected from the elements around the connection to the earth rod, and that the connection itself is solid. Best practice is to also get it tested by a professional electrician.

It is easy to inspect the wiring inside the property, and decide it is adequate, but forget to check this connection to earth. If the connection to earth is not made correctly the earth connections in the house – in the sockets etc – won’t work properly either, even if they look fine. And your life is at risk.

Wiring System

In some countries, such as the UK, electrical wiring is based on a ‘ring’ system, with cabling for sockets and lights running in a ring from the distribution box, through the sockets, and back to the distribution box.

This ring system doesn’t exist in France. Rather, the sockets and lighting are all on ‘spurs’ from the distribution box, each of which supports several plug sockets or several light fittings – regulations fix maximums on the numbers of electrical outlets that can be supplied by each of these spurs, typically 7 or 8.

Certain appliances – especially those that work with water or gas in some way – need to have their own separate spur from the distribution box. This includes washing machines and dishwashers etc

Thunderbolts and Lightning

In the southern part of France dramatic thunderstorms are common, and the electrical regulations take this into account. There is a map of France in the regulations that defines the risk for each department in France, starting from low risk in the north and north-west of the country and progressing through medium and high risk to certain areas of south-east France that are classified as ‘very high risk’ or even ‘exceptional risk’.

In certain regions, electrical protection against potential damage caused by lightning is obligatory, in some others it is highly recommended, depending on the risk category. This protection comes primarily in the form of an additional device in your distribution box – a ‘parafoudre’. Additional protection is also required in the regions of high risk. Your electrician will know and implement the requirements for your region.


DIY Tips

Want to add a personal touch to your home? Then get creative to add style that’s one of a kind to your home. Patchwork, knitting and crochet can all be used to add chic soft furnishings and accessories to your home, from cushions to throws and more. If you are new to crafting there’s lots of advice available online including helpful craft tutorials. Also take a make do and mend approach to upcycling existing pieces in your home with paint, decoupage or fabric.


 

Give is your thoughts by email ….

or join our Forum and discuss your tips or experiences Visit the forum


Off-peak

“If you elect to have off-peak (heures creuses) electricity, then EDF will provide you with wiring controlled by their equipment to switch your off-peak system on and off. The EDF off-peak equipment is usually a relay located beside their meter and fusegear. This relay is meant for the control circuit functions of your contactor (contacteur) or off-peak relay (jour/nuit) only. It must not be used to directly control equipment. The EDF relay is timed to operate in the usual manner at the predetermined off-peak times”

Excerpt From: Thomas Malcolm. “Electricity in your French house.” iBooks. https://itunes.apple.com/gb/book/electricity-in-your-french-house/id413215097?mt=11


 

We are a new website, we are still growing our content, we want everyone that is renovating in France to help us feature what we all wanted to know when we all started, contact us with all your experience and tips, we live just south of Celles Sur Belle, in Deux Servre, 79, and are just about to start out on our next renovation, every job we start on, every problem, product or skill we need to learn about i will try and find some useful information on the internet and share it with you, yes I could do this by sharing it on facebook, but the problem is it just helps facebook and disappears down the timeline, here links and articles will be searchable and here permanently for you to book mark and refer to, so watch this space … and if you have links and articles that have helped you let us know !!1

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

%d bloggers like this: