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#139095 - 10/18/03 07:39 AM Some german electrical info
:andy: Offline

Registered: 10/18/03
Posts: 272
Loc: Germany
Hi there,

i am an electronics engineer from germany, just signed in at your board.

Perhaps somebody is interested in some main facts of german electric installation.

voltage is 230V to Neutral (220 until about 10 years ago) at 50 Hz, and 400V between phases.

cable colors:

Phase 1 - black
Phase 2 - brown
Phase 3 - black (violet in some rail systems for fluorescent lamps)
Neutral - blue
Ground - Green/Yellow striped

the use of this is given everywhere, if not a home-worker has installed his stuff badly himself. An electrician would never use different colors.

When you have cut a 5-conductor cable, you can find out which black wire is L1 and L3. L1 is between blue and Green-yellow. the other black wire next to brown is then L3.

Unlike in the US, in Germany the Ground wire in a standard installation cable must be insulated and the same AWG as the other wires!
Thinner ground wire is only allowed off big diameters over 70mm² (thicker than AWG1).

A few basics if anyone's interested

Stranded wires are not allowed for fixed installation!! We use only solid copper wire, less common AL for >80A or so.
If stranded wire is used for Industrial controls, in small equipment... the use of "Wire end sleeves" (dont know the word), small metallic pipes that are crimped over the stranded copper to protect it from being damaged by a clamp. Some Cage Clamp systems (Wago, Phoenix) dont need the sleevings.

Standard Diameter for Schuko Receptacles and Lights is 1,5mm², AWG15. Fusing is, depending on the lenght and Way of installation (In/on wall, in thermal insulation walls), normally 16 A, with MCBs for Overload and short-circuiut protection. So you can get 3680 Watts from one outlet!

Bigger outlets are: CEE or CEKON in 3-Phase 16A, 32A and 63A.

Safety Regulations and testing are very hard, and therefor the Quality is pretty good.

RCD (i think they are called GFCI in the US) are permitted for bathrooms and kitchens. The RCD integrated in a receptacle is very unusual here, mostly there is a RCD in the breaker panel. And overall, mostly there is a 3-Phase Master RCD for the whole house / one per floor.
RCD trip current must be 30mA or lower.

There is no metal casing used in the house installation! Only for extreme industrial use. All Panels, Receptacle and connection boxes as well as the tubes between them are plastic.

A house is standardly supplied with 4x 16mm² = AWG 5. 3-Phase and combined Neutral/Ground.
Fusing in the House at the Annexe box (right word??) is normally 3x 50 or 63A. Down-fused at the meter to 3x35A. Meters are in-house here. The 50 or 63A are melting fuses, they are permitted in the house, to trip if a MCB should fail in case of a short-circuit. the meter-fuses are partially becoming breakers in between.

The neutral is connected to Earth at the house, and split into Neutral and Ground for the Power panel(s).

Every conducting part must be touch-protected! Every Switch or Receptacle clamp, every breaker, you wont be able to touch a live part in a well made installation. Breakers are mounted on a DIN rail and supplied by a 3-Phase-rail (insulated). this has alternating L1, L2, L3, L1... coming out in a fork form, that is screw-clamped to the Breaker. Line is always on bottom, load on top. RCD's line is on top, load on bottom. So you can go rightaway from the RCD to the breakers with a 3-phase-rail.

If anyone is interested in pictures, i can upload some (Outlet&Switch fixtures, Breaker and Meter panels, Connection boxes...)

now i hope i didnt write all this for nothing
greetings. I wrote as good as i knew, but all info is without guarantee

[This message has been edited by :andy: (edited 10-18-2003).]

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#139096 - 10/18/03 05:26 PM Re: Some german electrical info
Pinemarten Offline

Registered: 08/23/03
Posts: 122
Loc: Edmonton, AB, Canada
Welcome to the board.
I have worked with German and Euro equipment for years, and I am curious about a few things:

What is the minimum size allowed for industrial control conductors? Ours (Canada)is 16AWG, and some terminals seem a little small.

On low voltage DC control circuits (24VDC), I have devices that have a blue and a brown wire. Which is positive and which is negative?

I am impressed with your style of schematics, after I learned how to read them, I found them easier to deal with than our ladder logic. The grid/page references to relay contacts are very quick to deal with in a hurry (trouble shooting).

Do you have CAD programs for 'digitizing' our old photocopies of old photocopies?

I am still trying to find a good German/English technical dictionary for millwrights and electricians.

#139097 - 10/18/03 05:50 PM Re: Some german electrical info
:andy: Offline

Registered: 10/18/03
Posts: 272
Loc: Germany

which kind of industrial conductors do you mean? 120/230V or low voltage?

for 230V, here the minimum is 0,75mm² = right between AWG 18 and 20, so you should use 18. this is allowed to be fused at 16 Amps for short distances in controlling cabinets and power panels (dont have the exact lenght in mind, i guess it was 1,5 meters, 5 feet?).

for 24V, you can go as small as you want if you proper fuse it. I do a lot of work on 24V with inductive sensors and so on, and these are colored:

Brown =24v,
Blue =0V,

We only use cad programs to make new schematics, but i dont work on them. all i can do in this area is making PCBs on eagle.

whats about the ladder logic? i dont know anything about that system or what it looks like. could you link me any image of that?
do you mean a schematic for industrial control, or one for microelectronics?

good night (its 2:50 am here now...)

#139098 - 10/18/03 07:50 PM Re: Some german electrical info
SvenNYC Offline

Registered: 08/19/02
Posts: 1685
Loc: New York City
:andy: said:

the use of "Wire end sleeves" (dont know the word), small metallic pipes that are crimped over the stranded copper

I think they're called "ferrules" in English. At least that's what one of my catalogues calls them....

Little metal sleeves that go over the ends of stripped stranded conductors....right?

#139099 - 10/19/03 02:56 AM Re: Some german electrical info
:andy: Offline

Registered: 10/18/03
Posts: 272
Loc: Germany
right, for a search of "ferrule" i get these.

[This message has been edited by :andy: (edited 10-19-2003).]

#139100 - 10/19/03 04:53 AM Re: Some german electrical info
Texas_Ranger Online   content

Registered: 12/17/01
Posts: 2332
Loc: Vienna, Austria
Hi Andy! MY first colleague here from a German-speaking Country! I'm from Austria.
On the stranded wire issue: Flex is not permitted for fixed wiring, but stranded is, for cross sections of 10mm2 and up (feindrähtig).
The fuses we're talking about are the good old Diazed or Neozed.
There are some metal panels, but they're rather rare and they don't have to be grounded (or at least those I've seen aren't). Here in Austria main fuse boxes and meter enclosures are always metal (either galvanized or painted dark grey). Those only take a meter, no main fuses, branch circuit fuses, etc. like some German meter enclosures do.
Ferruels also shoulöd be used whereever a flex is connected to a plug, appliance, etc. Back in the old days sparkies used to tin the ends, but that has caused some fires.
Noch was: Wenn du Probleme mit was englischem hast, kurze fremdsprachige Diskussionen sind hier erlaubt!

#139101 - 10/19/03 05:23 AM Re: Some german electrical info
pauluk Offline

Registered: 08/11/01
Posts: 7693
Loc: Norfolk, England
Guten Tag :andy:, und Wilkommen nach ECN. Sie sind die erste aus Deutschland.

(Hope I got that right - You know how hopeless we Brits are with languages ).

Phase 1 - black
Phase 2 - brown
Phase 3 - black (violet in some rail systems for fluorescent lamps)

That's an interesting use of two phase colors the same but the third different.

I assume Germany is all set to adopt the new CENELEC-recommended phase colors (Black, brown, gray) in the near future. The U.K. will be switching to those in a couple of years.

Stranded wires are not allowed for fixed installation!! We use only solid copper wire,

Do you mean you use solid even for the larger sizes, such as 6 or 10 sq. mm?

In the U.K. standard cables are solid in the 1.0, 1.5, and 2.5 sizes, then stranded for 4mm and larger. For individual wires (for conduit use) the 2.5 size is available in both solid and stranded.

If anyone is interested in pictures, i can upload some

Photos are always welcome! You can either link to an existing URL, or if you e-mail photos to me I'll upload them onto ECN's server for you.

#139102 - 10/19/03 06:26 AM Re: Some german electrical info
:andy: Offline

Registered: 10/18/03
Posts: 272
Loc: Germany
hi again everyone.

@TexasRanger: for in-panel or industrial control cabinets, we use stranded (mehrdrähtig oder feindrähtig) wires with ferrules up to big AWGs.

with saying there is only solid wire allowed, i meant for the normal in-wall installations, to receptacles etc. we dont do flexible or stranded wires in walls.

Big cables, from 16mm² or bigger, are "mehrdrähtig", for example the 16mm² usually is stranded of 7 2,3mm² solid wires. thats for the flexibility, the 10mm² is the biggest solid cable used in fixed installations, and one solid conductor is very hard to bend.

@Pauluk: Except of making me female, this was good -der- erste aus deutschland

the phase colors: as said, theres this small rule with that you can find out which one is L1 and L3. but not everybody does it this way, so you always have to check the phase rotation...

a unique color code with 3 differend colors would be good. i would prefer the violet in this case, because this is used nowhere else here. Back in time (30 years), gray was used fopr neutral here which could bring some more confusion in. Our house is still wired with the old code which is

L1 black
L2 black
L3 blue (now neutral)
N gray
Groudnd red.

i dont know how they differenced the two black canles back in these days.

Regarding the solid wires, please read the above to ranger. In walls always the most solid available, bigger that 16mm² big stranded for easier bending, but not fine stranded.

i'll see what amount of webspace i have left. whats the size limit for emailing to you?

greetings and have a nice sunday

#139103 - 10/19/03 06:49 AM Re: Some german electrical info
:andy: Offline

Registered: 10/18/03
Posts: 272
Loc: Germany
picture, only some things i found laying around.

top: Fine stranded (hochflexibel) cable (this one's for Car Audio power) 10mm². We use this only for automotive or for constantly moved cables, in moving cable chains on machines ect.)

second: Stranded (Feindrähtig) 6mm² cable, with Ferrule pressed on. This is used for industrial controls, supplying breakers in a home breaker panel (bridge from RCD to breaker) etc. carries 35 to 40A depending on installation type. You can see that the clamps screw has cut into the ferrule, without it might have cut the thin copper.

third: 1,5mm² AWG15 solid (starr). this is the wire for in-wall and on-wall (3, 5 or more in a cable) supplying switches, receptacles and so on. carries 16A.

Bottom: Biggest solid cable for fixed installation (10mm²). Carries 50A depending on type of installtion.

i'm sorry i could not find some big stranded (mehrdrährig) wire as the told 16² with 7 conductors. gonna get som pieces from work tomorrow.


top: 2* AWG18 / 0,75mm² cable for low power units without ground as TV, VCR, desk lamps using Euro Plugs (up to 2,5A) ...
This is also allowed for Hairdryers up to 2000W with a limit of the cable lenght. Then uses Schuko-like plug without grounding.

middle: 3*1,5mm² Cable for extension cords or high power units, up to 16A.

Bottom: Standard NYM cable 3*1,5mm² (AWG 15) for On and in-wall installation. this is only for fixed install and may not be used moveable.

last pic, connection of wall wiring. Wirenuts are very rare here, there were used brass clamps made of a cube of brass with a hole through, and a screw from one side that clamps the wires (fully isolated), but during the last years these have come up:
. You just push the wire in and it is held by a strong, long-lasting metal spring. there is metal under the wire too, you cant see it from the top. This can be loaded to the full possible load of the wire. to remove a wire, you have to pull and turn it a few times.

[This message has been edited by :andy: (edited 10-19-2003).]

#139104 - 10/19/03 06:55 AM Re: Some german electrical info
PaulCornwall Offline

Registered: 06/02/03
Posts: 112
Loc: England
Hi Andy

what part of Germany do you live in??

I have some friends in Berlin.

When ever i have been to Germany your cable system looks like flex, is this the case?

Do you still allow the socket outlet in the bathroom?

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