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Electricity Rules and Regs

La Guerriere

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The rules and regs for domestic electricity in France are subject to the following:

French Standard (Normes Francais). The ruling document is NF C 15-100 which came into effect in June 2003. This is a big advance on previous French and includes stringent requirements for earthing (tougher than UK rules), new types of socket (with mechanical hole obturation), and severe limits on the number of sockets and light fittings allowed on individual circuits. Old-fashioned sockets which were held in by clamps are no longer allowed. There needs to be separate circuits for cooker, washing machine, dishwasher etc and for heaters, where there are kilowatt limits per circuit rather than numeric limits. There are new regulations for plug-ins at all light fittings (the DCL). The heaters need to be wired directly in, using spur points (sortie de cable). There also appear to be stern requirements for the provision of telephone and television points, although whether this is always insisted upon is difficult to clarify. Similarly, there may be requirements for mechanical ventilation systems for kitchen, bathroom and WC (VMC), but there seems to be disagreement as to whether is a recommendation or a requirement. A 32A cooker point is mandatory even though we have a gas cooker.

PROMOTELEC. This is the State body for the promotion of the use of electricity. They provide guidance as to the number of points and light fittings that should be provided per room. This taken together with the number of fittings per circuit dictates the number of ways needed on the main distribution board (consumer unit): this tends to be much higher that on an equivalent UK installation.

Have a look at http://www.promotelec.com for further information. They do a nice little summary boodklet entitled "Locaux d'Habitation: Installation Electrique" which gives a good summary of both Promotelec requirements and also NF C 15-100.

CONSUEL (Comite National pour la Securite des Usagers de l’Electricite) is the body constituted to carry out inspections on new electrical installations. They can be engaged by the individual or by electrical contractor. It is reputed that this can be a formality for known and registered contractors but can be difficult for individuals. In theory a full rewire and new board, equivalent to a new installation requires certification by CONSUEL before EDF will allow connection back to the board. CONSUEL certification would normally require full compliance with NF and PROMOTELEC requirements. The CONSUEL inspection requires the testing of the earth resistance on the new connection (prise de terrre) which requires special expensive test equipment that a contractor only might have. It can’t be done with a standard multimeter. However, earth test meters are available for hire from several UK outfits, and having read this up, it seems to be straightforward enough.

See http://www.consuel.com

There are special new requirements for the integration of the distribution board, incoming power and communications systems, the GTL or Gaine Technique Logement, but this only appears to apply to brand new installations, or renovations involving the moving of walls.

I also recommend the book "L'Installation Electrique" by Gallauziaux and Fedullo, Edition Eyrolles which is very clear and explanatory on most of the above.

Jim La Guerriere




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