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Joined: Aug 2001
Posts: 7,520
pauluk Offline OP
I'm certainly no expert on Continental wiring, but I'd thught I'd pass on a little of what I know about the systems used by our neighbors across the Channel in France.

They use a 3-ph 4-w system similar to that in the U.K., but standardized at 220/380V (50 Hz). It's not at all unusual for residential service to be 3 phase, sometimes fused at only 15 or 20A per phase on smaller homes.

Electric ranges typically take a 4-wire (plus gnd) connection for load distribution.

As in the U.K., and unlike most other European countries, the French keep lights and receptacles on different branch circuits. Lights are generally fed on 10A branches, recepts. on 16 or 20A. They don't use British-style rings (Phew!), but American-style radial or "tree" topography. I've seen some documents which indicate that recepts. are usually limited to amaximum of 8 per circuit.

Dedicated circuits are wired for each large appliance, such as a washing machine, fixed room heater, etc.

Plugs have two round pins which fit into a recessed receptacle. The pin size & spacing is the same as that used on the German "Schuko" plug (widely used in the rest of Europe), but the grounding connection is different.

French recepts. have a MALE ground pin in the recess which mates with a FEMALE connection on the plug. Many plugs in France are made with side ground contacts as well so that they will also fit the Schuko socket elsewhere in Europe.

Wiring colors are:
Hot=Brown, Neutral=Blue, Ground=Green/Yellow.

Joined: Oct 2000
Posts: 5,392
so a range is H, H, N & G ? Has it been that way for long? This has been something of a brewhaha here ( all the appliance guys hate us)

Oh!... and the female/male grounding arrangement would certainly put an end to all the grounding conductor snipping we se here.

Joined: Aug 2001
Posts: 7,520
pauluk Offline OP
A smaller range might be H-H-N-G on two phases but the larger ones take power from all three phases, so they're H-H-H-N-G. With some models now being sold right across Europe, we're seeing some of these in the U.K. (here we just strap all the phases together for the British single-phase residential service).

I think 3-ph ranges have been quite common for some time, although I'm a little hazy on the history of French power distribution. A few weeks ago I stripped out an early 1970s British range here: It was wired for 1-ph with only a single L1 (line/hot) terminal, but the block had empty positions clearly marked L2 and L3, which I assume would have been used for some export models.

When you mention the brewhaha over range wiring there, I assume you mean about using the neutral as a ground rather than a separate ground wire.

To the best of my knowledge, nowhere else in Europe (Western Europe at any rate) would ground the frame of an appliance to the neutral. As in Britain, the neutral & ground are kept entirely separate after the service entrance, although some areas have the main house ground to the neutral as in the standard U.S. or British PME systems.

No, there's no ground pin to cut off on the French plugs, but a lot of older buildings seem to have non-grounding recepts. without the ground pin. There's nothing to stop an appliance requiring a ground being plugged into one of these.

Joined: Oct 2000
Posts: 2,723
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Broom Pusher and
3 Phase 4 wire in my house would be kind of cool - I would just prefer it to be a lower voltage to ground.
It would be interesting, even helpful for machinery / motors - but more of a "Trivial Thing" [Linked Image]

On the other hand, I can think of several clients, friends and would-be customers who would be foaming at the mouth if they knew of this! [Linked Image]
If these people found out, they'd make a mad dash to France, dragging their Families and belongings with 'em [Linked Image]
[refer to an older thread about "why can't I have a 3 phase 480 volt system at my house", where this issue was humorously debated].

Scott SET

Scott " 35 " Thompson
Just Say NO To Green Eggs And Ham!
Joined: Aug 2001
Posts: 7,520
pauluk Offline OP

I saw the thread about 3-ph 480V for a house. I reckon there are some heavy-duty wood/metalworking types here who'd like 3-ph for lathes and other machinery.

What's the problem with 220V to ground? You're not telling me a guy who sits in the driving seat of a huge powerful locomotive doesn't like the idea of more than 120V to gound, are you?! [Linked Image]

Before standardization at 240/415V in Britain some areas had 220/380, but the highest pre-standardization voltage was 250/440V.

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