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French light circuit wiring

Discussion in 'Electrics Outside of the UK' started by Krolroger, 23 Sep 2004.

  1. Krolroger

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    Hello, I've just had a house rewired in France by a competent (so they said) local electrician, and I'm surprised to find that he's wired the lighting circuits by switching the neutral so that one side of the light fittings remains live at all times. This is apparently illegal (even in France) but seems to be the accepted practice.

    I could probably live with this, but the low energy compact fluorescent bulbs I was planning to use flicker under these conditions, which is unacceptable at night. (Incandescent bulbs work normally, of course).

    Is there a fix for this that anybody with experience of French wiring can suggest? Or should I just send out a search party for the guy who did it?

    Thanks.
     
  2. IanDB

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    I'm no expert but I have heard that it is quite common to find live and neutral mixed up all over the place in France e.g. on sockets as well. If you can trace it back you may be able to rewire it so that you take the live to the switch - depends on what type of layout and junction box/rose is used.

    However if you've paid good money and it's not legal and your command of french runs to giving someone hell then I'd get the bloke back in.

    This http://www.diynot.com/forums/viewtopic.php?t=7553 shows you how it should be done in case you hadn't found it.

    Salut.
     
  3. Krolroger

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    Thanks for that. Unfortunately French wiring doesn't extend to sensible things like loop-in ceiling roses, so the wiring would have to be reversed at the consumer unit. I don't understand the colour coding either, it seems entirely random.

    Any ideas on the suitability of low energy compact fluorescent bulbs on a switched neutral circuit? I should have said they flickered when the switch is in the off position.

    All help gratefully received.
     
  4. breezer

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    the lamps are being "back fed" by something, only suggestion i have is get electrician back / another one
     
  5. oldtimer

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    Hi
    I am an electrician who is in the process of looking for a house in France.

    With regards to your question it does not matter what country you live in
    you must always switch the live side of the circuit through the switch.

    My understanding of French wiring is that they have double pole circuit breakers ie both live & neutral are switched.
    could be your electrician may have got the polarity the wrong way round and before you deecry French sparks let me tell you that this proble is just
    as common in the UK

    If you need more info look at www.leroymerlin.fr (conseils)
     
  6. Krolroger

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    Thanks for your reply.

    If the switching was double pole, I would have zero voltage at the light fitting when the switch was off.

    I have no wish to denigrate french electricians in general; just wish I understood why this one chose to do things as he did. It's neat enough, though.
     
  7. oldtimer

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    Just got back from france and read your reply to my last posting.

    To clarify the main circuit breaker supplying the lights is double pole but the individual (room) light switch is single pole.

    Also look out when try to test the light as some mains testers draw more than 30mA (thats the trip signal for the main boards RCD).
     
  8. Tony6

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    Hi this may help?

    Lighting circuits in france are loop from switch to switch ?

    The loop/power ,colours are red ,blue and green/yellow

    The switch wire colour is purple ,blue ,green/yellow

    from what i understand the purple is the live when switched however im only at first fix stage .Working with a french electrican in france.

    Tony.
     
  9. Krolroger

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    Thanks for that. Anybody feel able to do a schematic diagram? Cheers.
     
  10. AdamW

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    Just a thought, but surely they should be using harmonised colours now? :confused:
     
  11. breezer

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    leave it out, they're french
     
  12. loublou

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    while searching for goods one day I actually found an advice board at one of the DIY stores that actually advised switching neutral, not live. I assumed this was their standard way of doing things as it means no live wires at any switch, less risk.
    They also always suggest iscolating the whole circuit trip if doing any work (including changing bulbs) and from my experience of most things french it is always advisable to take few risks.
    Post how you solve this one, I'm interested to know the outcome.
     
  13. Paul_C

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    Less risk? I don't see how. With the neutral switched the bulbholder will always be live, which increases the risk to somebody changing the bulb. That's why the wiring codes in just about every country require that single-pole switches open the phase.

    Besides, the wires at the switch may be at zero potential (or very nearly so) when the light is on, but as soon as you open the switch the line going to light will rise to 220V as it will be connected to the phase via the lightbulb.

    As I understand it double-pole breakers are required on new installations under French wiring rules, but I'm not sure since when. There's no requirement for double-pole switches, as far as I'm aware.
     
  14. loublou

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    Less risk? I think the idea must revolve around less live wires around the walls, whatever possible reason would they have for doing this?

    I was amazed until I saw the advice board telling people how to do it this way, the chain is now owned by B&Q so I may see what it says now.
     

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