First: Thanks for the really nice welcome. I'll try to answer your questions. This may be sometimes a little bit difficult as I'm only an ambitioned (and I hope well-informed) do-it-yourselfer.
To Joe Tedesco: Standard service is in cities usually 3-phase 230/400 V underground, each phase at least 60 amps. Same as domestical, sometimes only single phase/230 V. On three phase systems the neutral is usually not fused, on single phase ones it always has to be. there are only double pole breakers or in older systems two fuses for every circuit. Grounding: seperate ground everywhere, only bonded at service entry. (ground is always insulated yellow-green, the only real rule for color coding) Common color codes: neutral blue, phases all black, maybe numbered. Standard wiring method is Romex or PVC conduit, either solid or flexible (more common for concealed installations) Metallic sheathing is usually not allowed ( I think since the 70ies), metallic conduit may be used for service entry, but everything else (conduit, boxes, ...) has to be non-metallic. There's also a special mixture of Romex and zip cord used for concealed residential wiring. very nice thing, as when renovating old buildings you'll most certainly have to deal with solid brick walls with about 1" plaster on it. Drywall or similar came up in the seventies, and still most exterior walls are built that style. So far about wiring. You generally use more junction boxees than Americans do, e. g. above switches or receptacle sor where the hot wire enters the room. Code: There is a code, I don't know it's exact name, but it applies nationwide and has law character. Electricians have to be licensed , even for only opening a plug without supervision. All DIYers have to have their work checked by a licensed Electrician. (I don't know how many would do that, as that's very rare. Mostly everyone does what he/she wants, but we have about as much accidents as the US, calculated on the respective population. So the rule with the license is not obeyed very strictly, as long as you don't want any money for your work. Then they're quick. i knew a guy who had a flourishing business without a license. i think he went to jail.) I'll try to supply photos, as our next-door appartment will be renovated soon, and it has wiring from the early 50ies. Will be interesting! significamce of names: i'm native Austrian, but soeone misspelled my scandinavian name to Ranger and tried to mock me. But i turne dagainst him, found that nice and now Walker Texas Ranger is my nickname.
Yeah, we usually have 16A breakers with a main GFI at the panel. sockets and lights are usually mixed. Standard domestic service is (e. g. for an appartment of 1000 square feet) 3 phase 230/400V, each phase 25A or more, sometimes only 20 in old buildings. About grounding: I sometimes get confused with the abbreviations, but we either have a ground rod (mostly in rural areas) or ground bonded to neutral at service entry. Any more questions?
Re: Anyone interested in Austrian systems?#133014 12/18/0103:07 PM12/18/0103:07 PM
Many thanks for all the information. Several of your points will no doubt cause some debate.
The continued use of double-pole fusing (hot and neutral) is certainly unusual. We had some such installations in Britain many years ago, but the use of a fuse in the neutral was taken out of our regulations back in the 1930s.
My apologies for using abbreviations you might not know. Even between here and the U.S.A. where we supposedly speak the same language there are ome big differences in terminology.
RCD (Residual Current Device) is the current British term equivalent to the American GFI.
PEN is the (non-American) English abbreviation for Protective Earth Neutral. It describes the system in which the main earth/ground from the house is bonded to the neutral at the service entrance. It is also called PME (Protective Multiple Earthing) in Britain, and it is the standard arrangement for all supplies in America.
The system you described with an earth rod and main GFI is also very common in rural areas in the U.K.
The ban on metal conduit is very interesting. Don't you use it even in heavy-duty industrial systems? (Sounds like the exact opposite of Chicago!)
Sparky: What's with "Code Book DOWN UNDER" ? I think you need to clean your specs - He's in Austria, not Australia!
Re: Anyone interested in Austrian systems?#133015 12/18/0105:13 PM12/18/0105:13 PM
thanks for your explanations, pauluk. As i mentioned I'm not too familiar with heavy industry applications, but I think they use metal conduit there. I also saw it for overhead services, between weatherhead and meter box. But for any other residential purpose it's banned. You don't have to replace it in most cases, but it's not used for new installations. I have to say that that old style conduit was a really ugly thing. It was not a real pipe but made of thin metal plates, with an inside covering of asphalted cardboard. It is usually a pain in the ... to rewire that 'cause it's very narrow and rough. However still better than single wires directly put into plaster, very common method from the 20ies to 50ies. Boxes were the same style, round (7 cm in diameter), ungrounded and covered with asphalted cardboard. Kent already mentioned them in pauluk's thread. Maybe I sometimes send a pic of them, I found one that was never used. Junction "boxes" were rectangular wooden frames, the wires were pulled through between wall and frame. I really like them, because there deppht can vary, so you can put in lots of additional wires without having trouble. Also the hole in the wall doesn't need to be as deep as for boxes. Sometimes you hardly need to touch the bricks.