France Electricity notes

In France, I've found that light bulbs hanging by their
conductors from the ceiling to be somewhat common in
residences. I'm not talking about hanging from the cable,
but dangling from the individual two circuit conductors. I
don't think the NEC would permit this. Does anyone know if
France's code does?
Is there a color scheme for wires in France? I've noticed
that the conductor wires seem to be many different colors,
including green!
Also does France require ground fault circuit interruptors
in bathrooms and similar wet locations? I never noticed
any in new construction, but didn't inspect the circuit
interruptor panels to see if they were there.
France uses a male ground connector on wall sockets, instead
of female like the mains. Does anyone know why? This has
the effect of making it impossible for an appliance to not
plug into an outlet without the ground connector.
Another item with sockets: there is no plug polarization,
unless the ground connector (pin) is present in the outlet,
and is used. Do switches in lamps and appliances in France
shut off both connectors?
Smoke detectors do not appear to be a requirement either, or
if it is, not too much attention is paid.
Reply to
Erica Stanson
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Most of France uses 240 v. 50 Hz with one conductor hot and one conductor earthed (grounded) for distribution circuits. I don't know about the codes in France, but having lived there for over a year, I was not too impressed with the overall safety or quality of many installations that I observed.
Of course the French might say that everything in the US is overbuilt, wasteful in expense, and not really needed to make the device work. I am thinking specifcally here of NEMA standards for motor starters, switches and circuit breakers that are used in the USA. The equivalent French device devices are often ridiculously small and (to my eyes) when you consider proper conductor spacing, perhaps unsafe.
I remember touring in France, the central electrical distribution transformers for large buildings. This is just ancedotal and may not represent all installations, but instead of putting the main building transformer in a locked vault with all sorts of safety features and large HV bushings for the primary conductors.... The primary cables were just sort of casually draped through holes in the concrete wall and laid across the top of the transformers. The transformers themselves were typically in the corner of a room that might be used for other purposes with no special protection or security features. I shuddered to think what their nuclear power installations must look like, although, in fairness, I never personally had the good fortune to observe one...
The extension cords I remember purchasing for consumer use were cheap, thin cables (not much more in thickness than some strands of Christmas Tree lighting I've seen) with equally cheap connectors. Once again, it works... but you wonder about the safety issues...
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The code is likely to cover the building wiring only. The lamps would fall under the standards for lamps and should have CE marking etc. But in reality you can't control what people make themselves. If having bulbs dangling from the wires was always common, you can count on it remaining common long after it's outlawed. The "My father always did like this so it must be OK"-rule applies universally in the world ;-)
Yes. Today it should be the same as the other European countries (Blue neutral, black,brown,grey for phases and green/yellow for earth) but they have had their own codes previosuly. Green used to be one of the phases, I think.
Yes, but unlike the American which are usually integrated in the socket, the European are usually found in the panel.
Probably the same thinking as for the German side earth system. If you add a pin ground pin to the plug, people will cut it off. This is more dangerous than having the ground unconnected in an old socket. Cutting of a pin in the socket it more difficult.
Ehh... I lost you somewhere there. But if you mean that the old round ungrounded plugs do not fit grounded sockets, that is true. But aren't most ungrounded plugs in France the flat type today?
Building wiring in France have double pole breakers to switch off both the line and the neutral. But when it comes to lamps and appliances, France is subject to the European standards, which in many cases do not require double pole switches. It's normally not a problem having the lamp live but switched off when plugged in. If you remove the cover without removing the plug from the socket, you have yourself to blame.
It probably is a requirement, but "latin" people like the French, Italians and Spanish seem to consider other things than housing important while the Germans and Scandinavians consider housing more important. This means many houses in France look like they will come down any minute. Nothing wrong with that. I think it's a good thing that our clothes are designed in Paris and Milan and not in Berlin... Not surprisingly, many of the electrical devices used in Europe, including France, are originally German designs.
It seems we Europeans are more laid back when it comes to wiring than Americans.
Reply to
C-H Gustafsson
I must admit when I went to france a few years ago I thought some of the wiring looked pretty dodgy, which really surprised me considering how rich the country is and how much technology they have available. Whats really alarming is this mob are trying the make the electrical rules for the rest of the world, beats me why the British are slowly converting to what looks like a much inferior standard of wiring. I wasn't particularly looking at electrical things while there, but I did notice a lot of stuff that would not be allowed to be done here in Aus. I dont know anything about the electrical code there, these were just observations.
I do remember the funny power outlets there too, looks weird with a pin sticking out of the wall. I also noticed in some places where they had painted, they had painted the power outlets too, including the earth pin, so its functionality might be impaired somewhat.
maybe the french are more sensible with electricity and more careful with it, so no need to overbuild things.
anyway, maybe someone familiar with french wiring rules can comment, I would be interested to know what the go is there.
cheers James
Reply to
In UK, this counts as fixed lighting and is covered by the building wiring regs. These are the only appliances which are covered by building wiring regs.
We (UK) are allowed to hang lamps on conductors. There's a table in the wiring regs which gives the max weight of the lamp verses the conductor cross-sectional area. Often the ceiling rose and/or lampholder have cord grips and if fitted, these must be used, but they aren't required to be present.
There's no polarisation at all with socket outlets in France. It isn't defined which contact is live and which is neutral, and in all double outlets and 2-way adaptors I've seen, the two outlets are hard-wired opposite way round from each other. The fact that you can't put the plug in either way round is hence rather irrelvant.
France doesn't guarantee you will have a neutral, as in a supply conductor which is held near earth potential. Both supply conductors are regarded as live (this also makes polarised outlets meaningless). Having said that, all the French installations I've seen have had a neutral at near ground potential, but I presume there are areas of the country where different supply systems exist.
UK seems to be the other extreme...
Reply to
Andrew Gabriel
Belgium is similar to France in electrical matters.
I have come across supply systems of 3 phase wires and no neutral, the phase to phase voltage being the required 220 volts (you can calculate that the phase to "neutral" voltage comes out at 127v). Consequently distribution boards are quite large to cater for double-pole circuit breakers since there is no guaranteed Neutral, unlike in the UK where only single-pole circuit breakers are used.
As a side note, the general supply voltage in Europe is in progress of changing to 230v, meaning UK is dropping down from 240v and the rest of Europe moving up from 220v.
Reply to
In the USA (California to be exact ) I grew up in a house that has similar lighting. The switch was a grocery store string that ran from the pull chain sockte to a pull chain socket. Turning on the light meant that it swung for a while afterwards.
Reply to
B J Conner
Part of what I have seen in Germany, France, Spain and the Netherlands was more to do with the age of the building than the code. Newer hotels seemed much better than older homes and businesses. At least, that was my experience.
Donald L. Phillips, Jr., P.E. Worthington Engineering, Inc. 145 Greenglade Avenue Worthington, OH 43085-2264 (remove NS to use the address) 614.937.0463 voice 208.975.1011 fax
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Reply to
Don Phillips
I'm a Canadian EE. I did projects in Canada, USA, UK, IR etc...& now working in France. I find the French building code is the safest. Of course the old buildings (old = few hundred years sometimes) have to be upgraded "when renovated" till then you might still find very UNSAFE installations.
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