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3 phase electricity for machinery


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I have a large barn which is going to be converted into a house, workshops and garage for a few cars.

The house and barn were originally owned by an old lady who is  now a neighbour. At some point in the past she has had the electricity supply disconnected from the barn and a cable installed between the barn and the house to run a few lights and sockets. I assume this was done to save money on her EDF standing charges for two properties.

The three phase cables are still connected to the overhead lines and look as though they are still terminated in a box in the barn where the original meter and disjoncteur was fitted.

I have recently bought a number of machines to enable me to manufacture windows, doors, staircases, flooring, skirtings and architraves to complete the barn as well as setting up a French Business doing the same. Most of these machines are three phase and range up to 10kw for the largest.

I would like to reinstate the original three phase supply to the barn although I am not too familiar with the French wiring standards I should have no problem getting my head around them as I served an electrical based apprenticeship in the UK and currently work in the oil industry with electricity.

My thinking was to simply reintstate the original barn wiring and lighting circuits and get EDF to reconnect the barn on that basis Then run the wiring in for the machines and just get EDF out to raise the current rating per phase up to it's maximum. Applying a diversity factor which assumes the machinery will not be operated simultaneously would mean that a a 20kwish setting on the disjoncteur should be ample, which I believe is the maximum edf will allow on a domestic supply. Or should I say it was the maximum they would increase the house supply to.

I invite costructive advice on whether I am likely to get away with this or whether or not I would be rumbled and my supply disconnected. Could I do this and have a French electrician check it over prior to EDF connecting the supply.

I do not however want my spelling mistakes corrected and told by all and sundry that I personally wouldn't do this.

Many thanks in advance.

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As I understand it, EDF would not have a problem reconecting this, at 20KW, so a simple lighting & power circuit. They would however, insist on a CONSUEL inspection before final connection. It wouldn't be too difficult to pass, especially if you keep it simple (earthing is important to them, so overdo it).

A 20Kw supply standing charges will be high!

You could, of course admit you are commercial. Then, at least you could offset 100% of your electricity costs against social charges.


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Why not give EDF a call and ask them to send a techncian out to take a look and give his advice,it won't cost you anything although you may have to wait a couple of weeks. We do this a lot when we get odd projects that have weired electrical problems and our own workshop was changed back to three-phase to take our large machines with no probs whatsoever except that you have to declare it a business which is what we are anyway.
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I'm pretty sure xlb could quite easily argue that he chooses to have 3 phase electricity to power 3 phase machines for his own personal use without having to register as a business until he chooses to register as a business, as he can easily prove that he's not in business at the moment I really wouldn't worry about that aspect of it mate.


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"I'm pretty sure xlb could quite easily argue that he chooses to have 3 phase electricity to power 3 phase machines for his own personal use without having to register as a business until he chooses to register as a business, as he can easily prove that he's not in business at the moment I really wouldn't worry about that aspect of it mate.


Quite correct Chris - certainly in our part of France and I would imagine throughout.

If you require 3 phase for your own use for woodworking machines, then registering as a business does not enter into into it.

Val's point is a good one - EDF will call and do an 'etude' re your requirements and provide the supply required, if technically possible. Providing you pay the bills for the supply then EDF are not going to be interested in how you are registered. Obviously if you are registered then the workshop costs can be offset against profits.

Re making windows, doors, etc - I would be interested in how XLB has worked out his business plan for this. Custom kitchens, furniture, etc are fine, but windows, doors, staircases, I would have my doubts as a commercial venture unless they were part of overall large projects.

Kind regards,

Bob Clarke

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Thanks for the votes of confidence all comments will be taken on board.

I do not have a business plan as such as I am no where near starting a French business at the moment. I will know when the time is right to do so and my business plan at this point should be clear and simple aswell as being based around local knowledge I will have gained by then.

My business idea is based around a few factors. The main one being the difficulty sourcing what I wanted or needed locally. I needed some windows making and the French joiner quoted me in excess of six months to have them done. I am not the type of person just to get my feet up for six months and wait, maybe that is my failing. I could have messed around with the widow opening sizes and went to Lapeyre and bought them but again that just isn't me.

My feeling is that if a business of this type can flourish in the UK with more competition then I believe that it will do well here in France, where the raw materials are less expensive although not as readily available. Or it would seem that way initially.

We are having some building work done currently and the French artisan doing the work is using doors which are more or less of the peg. This job was planned and the devis signed some time ago before I decided to go down this route. These doors are good quality but if I had a choice they would not be what I would use.

Working with wood is something I love and I woulld just like to give people in my area or for that matter anywhere a bit more choice in the materials they use for their building projects. They would then benefit from items in their house, which were original and not like everything everybody else has in theirs. They can even play an active part in the design if they like.

I am not looking to mass produce things or to try and compete with others doing similar work.  I simply do not need to as I have a well paid job in the oil industry in the UK that allows me three weeks off every five.

As a result of the above, when the business is formed I do not need to make any money from it in the short term. I require all of the items I hope to sell in the future for my barn project (960 squm floor area). This more than justifies my outlay so far for machinery. The money I shall save on making all of my own joinery products will pay for the machines and at the end of the day, if looked after these machines will be worth as much or if not more than I paid for them after our barn is finished. I risk nothing but have much to gain.

I accept that I am fortunate, I was tempted to use the word lucky but where I am now is a result of a lot of years hard work and not really down to luck.

You may ask how my current role in the oil industry is connected to joinery manufacturing? I assisted from the outset in the set up (including wiring) of a joinery manufacturing business in the UK. I worked there in my spare time and advised in it's continual growth over the first few years of it's life. Although I understand why, I did not agree with direction this business went as it moved toward mass produced joinery. The workforce had the tallent and flair to produce some quite stunning and original work, but the business owner who was very good friend decided that he would rather make twenty stair cases at £800 each and keep the business going for a month to six weeks than making one at £12,000 in a week and worrying what to do for the next few weeks. Granted the location of the business did play a major part in his decision but that could have been got around by good advertising and marketing. The quality of the product was achievable at reasonable cost and that is the hardest bit of the job.

This expertise is still there in the UK to be called upon as and when the need arises. As well as numerous other contacts in the UK from whom I have purchased machinery, each and every one an expert in the use of the machines they retail.

This thread like many others seems to have taken a bit of a turn away from advice on some industrial wiring which in the UK is part of my professional remit. Only the rules change slightly. No where in my original post did it state my intention to work on the black as it is called. I came to France for a better way of life. I feel a greater need to give rather than take from the French society which has more or less welcomed us to France with open arms. I am not about to abuse this privelage which I see others openly doing.

Thanks again for all of your replies, keep them objective and keep them coming. You can never have enough knowledge.

I hope this make interesting reading and puts some minds at rest that I am not just another Brit who has moved to France to exploit the French.

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