40A RCD serves up to 4 breakers
63A RCD serves up to 8 breakers
If like many of my customers your fuseboard has been upgraded, it will consist of rows of circuit breakers. Each row will be protected by an RCD which will be the larger size switch, normally at the start of the row on the left. An RCD is a Residual Current Device use for protection/earth [as per picture below]
Next door to the fuseboard is an independent box the main switch, the property of your energy supplier – see picture with the words 30/45/60A and in a glass window, ever so small, you will see a number either 30, 45 or 60A and this tells you the amount of supply you have coming into your premises. [as per picture below]
40A RCD serves up to 4 breakers
63A RCD serves up to 8 breakers
Over many months I have received calls from customers who have experienced regular tripping of the RCD which would suggest that an upgrade from 40 to 63A is recommended. And on subsequent follow ups, this has often been the case. As always, if in doubt, speak to a qualified electrician.
As of 1st January 2018 new energy efficiency regulations regarding electric heating have been introduced. Lot 20 legislation states that space heaters for sale in the EU will need to adhere to these new laws or be axed.
Lot 20 is a piece of legislation that most people have not heard of but massively effects the manner in which electric heaters are produced. It has been introduced by the European Ecodesign Directive which governs all energy using products including lighting, washing machines, vacuum cleaners to gas boilers and solid fuel burners. These are split into several 'lots' and Lot 20 applies to local space heaters including storage heaters, electric radiators, radiant heaters and underfloor heating to name a few.
Many heaters now include smart technology to help reduce energy consumption, electronic time and temperature controls, open window sensing technology, predictive start functionality and remote app based control. Old non compliant radiators can still be sold after 1st January 2018 provided they were manufactured before this date.
The use of electric heaters are still popular for home owners in France, French and non French alike. So for the home owner if you are thinking of upgrading or adding electrical heating to your home, use this information to help guide you, so that you are aware of what the legislation is and the choices that are available to you.
New products to the market will have price increases but the long term use of them, should see consumption being used effectively and therefore not compromise your bills.
For more information regarding this directive, please visit this English site https://www.lot20.co.uk/
It has been an exceptionally busy time for me this year right from January 2nd to Monday 14th August, when I took a well earned rest for a couple of weeks. The first time in 5 years! A proper break.
As well as remedying electrical problems for existing customers and tending to electrical additions for many, I have also been busy with rewires. Three in particular have kept me busy this year and each have been different.
Sauze Vaussais - Dept 79
I was particularly delighted to work on a rewire on my door step. The clients had purchased a property which needed a complete renovation. They had purposefully purchased something that they could put their own personal stamp on and incorporate some cool gadgetry for their minimalist but functional home.
After completely gutting the property builders set to work in reconfiguring the home exactly to the clients wishes. With me doing my bit to include lighting of stairwell, zonal lighting in the lounge, dining and kitchen areas. All controlled by a panel in the main lounge/diner. Even the external lighting is controlled by a separate remote system either by a hand held fob or wall panel. Continuing on, high ceilings meant the installation of velux window blind which are controlled by hand held remote. I love it when clients want to explore creative lighting options in their home fused with advanced control.
Here's what the client had to say about my work:
“Nothing is too much trouble for Paul! Having installed the complete wiring from scratch for our renovation he was happy to come back and do the smaller jobs like garden lighting and even making the trip to add a single socket in one room. Paul clearly knows exactly what he is doing and ensures that everything conforms to the French regulations and standards. He worked well with the other builders on site and fitted into their schedules as much as he possibly could. We are delighted with the results.”
Champagne Mouton - Dept 16
June was dedicated to a 4 week rewire at Champagne Mouton. A lovely town house with great history and a real depth of character. I had been recommended by Andrew Johnson/Karen Jones in Ruffec for some electrical works to the kitchen. Having visited the property so that I could prepare my devis, it was clear that the main fuseboard and earthing was a little unsuitable. As safe electrics is paramount I brought it to their attention immediately. They were aware that the system was old and as they were planning to do a number of aesthetic works themselves to the property, they invited me to present a devis for a rewire. Once accepted, a new fuseboard replaced the old with clear identification of the various zones, with surface mounted trunking and surface mounted sockets and switches.
Here's what clients had to say about my work:
Thank you Paul, for the great job you have done rewiring our house.
We were impressed by how hard you work, your pleasant attitude and friendly disposition.
We would highly recommend you to other people who need electrical work done.
Fontenille - Dept 79
After the 4 week rewire in Champagne Mouton my next job was a 3 week rewire in Fontenille. Client was keen for a rewire of an old non compliant installation before commencing with internal decoration. We had several meet ups before deciding on final works. Trust was of paramount importance for this client, living solo. It is a huge undertaking for many people when they live in their homes, fixtures and fittings are in their place, everything is how they want it to be. Invite a few tradesmen and suddenly dust sheets, moving of furniture can be pretty disruptive to their day to day lives. The house was originally 2 separate houses and electrical works included 2 fuseboards to provide adequate supply and circuits for a bigger property, with an additional fuseboard in the garage to feed circuits in the garage and provide overall protection. Circuits were rewired and all 2 pin sockets replaced to comply.
Here's what client had to say about my work:
I had Paul Wilkins do a complete rewire on my house, it was a complicated job & he advised me accordingly.He was extremely tolerant of my need to understand the process & my changing my mind. (A woman’s prerogative). He was always very punctual (I could set my watch by him) and he always had cheerful smile (despite my constant questions). I am thrilled with the results & have no reservation to recommend him to anyone.
When customers are not living in France full time and have commissioned work to be carried out they need peace of mind that the job is going to be done in their absence.
I have recently finished an electrical job at L'Isle Jourdain, Vienne  for a client who divides time between France and the UK. I initially was asked to provide a devis for the work via a team of builders who I have worked with before and submitted the devis to the client which was accepted shortly after submitting. The work commenced with the client the other side of the Channel and was more than happy for me to liaise with her designated key holder along with other trades who were on site.
The property was a typical older French property which didn't not comply to current NF normes. When clients are not here full time I take photos of the work that I am doing and then share to either dropbox or google drive so that they can see exactly what I have done, as per the devis submitted. Regular updates help me keep in mind any considerations or suggestions I need to make as the job goes along.
This particular job continued right up to Christmas and the New Year. With other works continuing, such as installation of the heating system, it meant working on site was cold, as working alongside a plumber who was installing the central heating system. A lovely job to do with no real challenges other than the fact initially it was a 3 phase installation but when EDF came along for some strange reason they had made it single phase, so modifications had to be made to accommodate single phase installation.
The job was completed on time and with the detailed photographic work, the client was more than happy with the results. I shall look forward to returning in the Spring to work on new recommendations that I have made.
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Despite Brexit I was fortunate enough to benefit from a number of house purchasers who made contact with me to provide electrical devis. Subsequently the autumn and winter months for Paul Wilkins Electricien was extremely busy in the Deux Sevres and departments 16 and 86 bordering.
As with many older French properties, many lack earthing which predominantly helps make the electrical installation safer, along with updates to fuseboards and circuits to service clients needs and appliances in their homes.
I closed 2016 with a couple of ongoing rewires for habitats where clients have gone all out in redesigning their homes and have enjoyed working with many building teams [it can be lonely working on your own, but my new Bosch 360 Professional PowerBox Jobsite Radio will keep me company]. Plus enquiries where clients want to concentrate on outside garden lighting, and entertaining areas where outbuildings are being turned into bars.
Here's to another successful year of keeping homes electrically safe,
Hot tubs are fast becoming increasingly popular for owners of French homes. Whether it be an inflatable or portable system for 2-4 people or something that is permanent for up to 8 people with music and lighting systems integrated.
Many customers who have them say they would not be without it. Have to say, if I were to choose between a swimming pool or a hot tub, it would be a hot tub for me!
When it comes to the power supply you need to make sure you have plenty of power to run your hot tub and be aware of the safety protection required. A fixed hot tub usually requires a 32A dedicated supply, and must be RCD protected. I would also recommend a cut off switch be accessed within close proximity of the hot tub.
The inflatable hot tubs can be plugged into normal socket [depending on power rating], again must have RCD protection.
Over the last 18months I have been called upon to help with the installation of both inflatable and permanent hot tubs, and will be only too pleased to assist if this relaxing feature is something you want for your home - email@example.com
As a registered and insured tradesman myself, I hear lots of horror stories from customers and potential customers who have experienced unpleasant circumstances. As a registered and insured tradesman I have no qualms in presenting any details to any customer. For me, I want a customer to feel that they can do business with me that is legal.
When you are seeking the services of a tradesman the likelihood is that you will ask for recommendations from people that you know or from your local magazine. Don't take these at face value. There are a number of obligations that you need to consider before anyone crosses your threshold and commences work, as there are serious implications for the homeowner should you choose to use unregistered or uninsured trades people on your premises.
There are a number of sites that you can visit to check siret numbers :
However, please note that these sites will only provide details of the main and primary activity and not any subsequent activities. If in doubt, feel free to call your local Chambre de Metier and ask them to verify what they are registered as, or enquire with your local Mairie.
Don't be afraid to ask to see attestation or confirmation of the relevant insurances attributed to trades. Who is the insurance with? Are payments up to date? We all know France loves a law and insurance. Each activity needs to have the corresponding insurance. Insurance for one activity does not cover for all. Please note that there is difference between public liability insurance and decennale insurance and some trades are required to have both. If you have doubts, eliminate them from your research.
Artisan tradesman are required to have decennale insurance and a carte professionnelle – this provides confidence to a potential customer that they have had their qualifications verified by the Chambre de Metier and are appropriately insured. Plus artisan tradesmen are not allowed to register additional activities. For example as a registered artisan electrician you won't see me offering to cut your grass.
Devis and factures will need to show siret number and insurance details, these are recent requirements, so if you don't see this on any paperwork, again feel free to eliminate from your research.
Devis should be clear and set out exactly what will be done. Do not sign a devis until you are happy that everything you want done is included. There should be no hidden surprises between devis and facture. Be clear about when works are to commence, particularly when there are a number of trades involved.
A reputable tradesman will ask for a deposit or materials to be paid.
A reputable tradesman will clearly state how future payments are to be made.
A reputable tradesman will not insist on being paid cash.
A reputable tradesman will happily give you references of customers that you can contact if you request to do so.
A reputable tradesman will have more than just a mobile number to be contacted on.
It is not unusual to seek 2 or 3 devis and a reputable tradesman will be aware of that. You as a customer should be able to ask questions and feel confident about who you are dealing with, as ultimately they will be working in your home and you will be paying them. So any doubts or concerns you have eliminate them from your research.
Always work with a reputable tradesman, there are serious implications as a home owner should an unregistered or uninsured or not appropriately insured tradesman be working in your home. Should an accident or death take place in your home, you as the home owner will bear some responsibility.
Should you wish to sell your house you may be asked by the Notaire to provide invoices for major works that have been carried out within a certain timespan. If you are unable to do this, you may find yourself footing a bill should something untoward happen in the future once your home is sold.
Much of my work is rewires and renovations for domestic properties in rural France, and appreciate it when I get an opportunity to do electrical work at non-domestic premises, especially a milking parlour.
Very recently I was asked to take a look at connecting a 3 phase milking machine for local enterprise, Noah's Ark Farm based in Bouin. I made a visit before commencing works to see a huge carefully dis-assembled milking machine with its wiring loom completely intact. More than happy to undertake the work so returned the following week to find the machine re-assembled and mounted ready for re-connecting the wiring loom.
The fuseboard, fed with 5 core cable [3phase] had to be moved to a safer location as goats, apparently, can be a bit disruptive. I also installed a 3 phase cut off switch that was within easy reach for extra safety measures. In a short space of time an impressive ramp and trough system had been built ready to milk many goats at once.
On completion, the system was tested to make sure that the motors worked in conjunction with the pump and suction hoses [apologies for the terminology, electrics and farming are two very different things]. We made sure the safety cut off worked, voila and the system was ready for the lady goats in no time.
Wishing Noah's Ark Farm all the very best with their increased milking facility.
For more information visit their Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/NoahsArkFarmBouin/
They produce a variety of quality farm reared free range meats and eggs all year round. Plus they are taking turkey orders for Christmas already!
The use of an LED light bulb allows a lower consumption of 80% compared to a conventional incandescent bulb. This can save you money, as on average 12.8% of total electrical consumption is lighting.
There are a number of reasons to consider LED lighting in your home
On average the running cost of an LED light bulb is €2.25 when compared to €11.07 for a halogen bulb per year.
LED bulbs don't contain harmful materials such as mercury and lead found in other bulbs.
People believe that yo have to compromise in light quality when using energy saving light bulbs. This is not the case with LEDs. They reach brightness almost immediately and also come in different shades. There are also dimmable options too and even LED security and flood lights.
LED are very low wattage but give you the effect of high wattage light, e.g. a 5 watt LED is equivalent to an old 60 watt bulb. These comparisons are clearly marked on the box to give you the 2 levels.
LED lighting is very flexible and adaptable. You can have the option of traditional light bulbs, downlights, strip lights, outdoor and come in most colours.
So next time the light bulbs blow or if you are thinking of installing new lighting let it be LED.
Having recently purchased a French home myself, I will definitely be using plenty of LED lighting.
Here's a quick review of some of the work that I have undertaken over the last few months. With a very mild and warm Autumn blending into November and December a lot of customers are seeking to make the most of the weather and keep me busy. A number of rewires have been done along with additional works. All work done with pride and professionalism and to French Normes too!
Chaignepain 79: continuation of rewire which finished in the Autumn
Château Garnier 86: complete rewire following on from new purchase
Chef Boutonne79: continuation of ongoing rewire plus upgrade to 3phase and splitting loads evenly
Cherigne 79: lighting – installation of downlights and radiators
Clussauis la Pommeraie 79: rewiring of kitchen to French Normes in readiness for new kitchen installation
Cognac 17: 3 phase board change and additional works
Fontenille 79: fuseboard change and updating installation plus electrical gates
Melleran 79: rewire as clients wanted electrics to be in compliant order before putting property on market
St Romain 86: additional works to include radiators and external lighting for decking area
Tillou 79: updating of current electrical system
Vancais 79: board change and additional works
Vanzay 79: renovation of attic into bedrooms and updating current system
These brief blogs are brought to you by Paul Wilkins of Paul Wilkins Electricien.