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French light circuit wiring


 
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Krolroger

from United Kingdom

Joined: 22 Sep 2004
Posts: 7
Location: United Kingdom

PostPosted: Wed Sep 22, 2004 11:26 pm Reply with quote

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.
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IanDB

from United Kingdom

Joined: 26 Nov 2003
Posts: 754
Location: Dorset,
United Kingdom

PostPosted: Thu Sep 23, 2004 7:51 am Reply with quote

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.
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Krolroger

from United Kingdom

Joined: 22 Sep 2004
Posts: 7
Location: United Kingdom

PostPosted: Thu Sep 23, 2004 11:20 pm Reply with quote

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.
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breezer

from United Kingdom

Joined: 03 Jan 2003
Posts: 23328
Location: Sussex,
United Kingdom
Thanked: 27 times

PostPosted: Fri Sep 24, 2004 5:25 am Reply with quote

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

from United Kingdom

Joined: 26 May 2004
Posts: 3
Location: United Kingdom

PostPosted: Mon Oct 11, 2004 9:39 am Reply with quote

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)
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Krolroger

from United Kingdom

Joined: 22 Sep 2004
Posts: 7
Location: United Kingdom

PostPosted: Sat Oct 16, 2004 10:08 am Reply with quote

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.
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oldtimer

from United Kingdom

Joined: 26 May 2004
Posts: 3
Location: United Kingdom

PostPosted: Mon Nov 01, 2004 8:36 pm Reply with quote

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).
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Tony6

from United Kingdom

Joined: 07 Feb 2004
Posts: 67
Location: United Kingdom

PostPosted: Wed Nov 03, 2004 9:23 pm Reply with quote

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.
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Krolroger

from United Kingdom

Joined: 22 Sep 2004
Posts: 7
Location: United Kingdom

PostPosted: Wed Nov 03, 2004 10:53 pm Reply with quote

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

from Vatican City State

Joined: 25 Jan 2004
Posts: 6317
Location: Vatican City State
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PostPosted: Mon Nov 08, 2004 10:44 pm Reply with quote

Just a thought, but surely they should be using harmonised colours now? icon_confused.gif
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breezer

from United Kingdom

Joined: 03 Jan 2003
Posts: 23328
Location: Sussex,
United Kingdom
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PostPosted: Mon Nov 08, 2004 11:10 pm Reply with quote

leave it out, they're french
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loublou

from United Kingdom

Joined: 09 Dec 2004
Posts: 132
Location: United Kingdom

PostPosted: Mon Dec 20, 2004 6:45 pm Reply with quote

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.
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Paul_C

from United Kingdom

Joined: 19 Nov 2004
Posts: 2137
Location: United Kingdom
Thanked: 139 times

PostPosted: Mon Dec 20, 2004 8:02 pm Reply with quote

loublou wrote:
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.

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.

Quote:
My understanding of French wiring is that they have double pole circuit breakers ie both live & neutral are switched.

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.
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loublou

from United Kingdom

Joined: 09 Dec 2004
Posts: 132
Location: United Kingdom

PostPosted: Tue Dec 21, 2004 8:53 am Reply with quote

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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