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An electrical DIY question

Posted by SirLurkalot - Created: 14 years ago
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10 replies (Showing replies: 1 to 10)

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Posted by SirLurkalot - 14 years ago

Filip,

Thanks for the description, which is very useful.

I think I have one of the earth leak cutout switches you describe, but I’m not certain. My main circuit switch panel consists of

- at the top, in its own large box, a Gardy DB90 "disjoncteur differentiel", marked Ir15/30/45A and 500mA with black, red and T buttons. In a small window a number 45 is visible. I think this is the master control for the entire main circuit switch panel. The red button turns off all power in the house, and the black turns it back on.

- next down, three rows of 12 individual switches for individual circuits, labelled 10A, 16A, 20A, 32A or N, which I think are the automatic cutout switches for the individual spurs. The first, top left, one of these looks different from all the others. It’s much bigger, juts out far more and has a small black lever switch on it marked 1 or 0, for on or off I think. It’s marked "telerupteur 15A 250V" and has a small circuit diagram printed on it which could be interpreted as having the function you describe. I think it’s the earth link cutout switch you’ve described. However, it doesn’t have a manual test button and isn’t marked 30mA.

- there are various other switches at the bottom, though none of them look like the earth leak cutout you’ve described.

"30mA" doesn’t actually appear anywhere on any switch in the whole panel.

I think the first individual switch is the one you’ve described. Does that sound right? Thanks for your help.

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Posted by Filip-189436 - 14 years ago

If you have one it will certainly be installed in your main ciruit switch panel. If your panel is made up of automatic cutout switches usually thermal having various ratings of 6A 16A and maybe 20A 30A the Earth Leakge Trip will be the first in the line. It also will have an on-off switch and often a manual test button. Also on this unit will be marked 30mA.Even if your main distribution panel or box still has fuses for circuit protection an Earth Trip may still have been installed.So look for a 30 - 45A trip switch with 30mA written on it and if it has a test button, push it and the switch will trip to off isolating all power to the premises. Before switch the power back on it would be wise to switch off any heavy gear such as washing machine or waterheater in order to obviate a power surge.There is also a crude method of testing if you are protected. If you have in your tool kit one of these LED testers try this,but switch off computers unless on protected backup.Put one end of the cable probe to a good earth, earth pin of a power socket or water pipe etc and the other on a live side of a power socket. The result should be a complete power cut and will require resetting from the main switch (earth trip).regards,Filip

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Posted by SirLurkalot - 14 years ago

OK Filip, it sounds good, I'd like one of them.  But maybe I already have one?  How would I (and the millions of other AngloINFOers out there) work out whether we already have one in our houses?  I estimate that the consumer unit in this house is 10-15 years old, and I assume it's a box somewhere near that. What does it look like?

Dublinmike, I agree that you should check your earth is actually connected.  But in this house everything but the consumer unit group of boxes and the sockets etc is covered in plaster, and I don't know how to tell if the earth is actually connected to a rod.  Outside the house is a tarmac pavement/road.  Where would the rod/connection actually be?

I know about earth bonding to all the piping, and I'll make sure of all that.

In the UK you do of course have shaving sockets in bathrooms.  But their socket contacts are usually covered by a bit of plastic that slides away when you put a shaver plug in, which as I understand it makes them much safer when water's flying around.  This house has ordinary sockets (without contact covers) right next to the sinks, which I'm planning to remove/replace.

 

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Posted by dublinmike-182617 - 14 years ago

Filip is absolutely correct, you should always fit one. Where you come from it's known as an ELCB (earth leak current breaker) and yes I agree it is mandatory. Incidentally please make sure your new place actually HAS an earth rod, I don't mean earth wiring, I mean check that it goes to an actual rod. I've now seen over 10 houses without them in less than a year. Finally don't forget to run earth straps to all your copper piping.

On an earlier point, in the UK you do have sockets in bathrooms however it's max rating is 3AMP and it's a two pin magically called 'the shaving socket' in the light fixture. But you'd be surprised what people can get to run in the shaver socket, and crucially it's ALWAYS over the sink! So I'd go easy on the French if I were you :-)

Mike

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Posted by Filip-189436 - 14 years ago

It is an automatic cut-off switch power rated at whatever your distribution board is designed to supply at maximum. This is usually 20A,30A or 45A. Other than acting as your main isolating switch i.e. connected between your electricity counter (EDF property) and your switch board, this device has a built in earth leakage detector which registers leakage of the live current throughout the premises to earth. The norm setting for this is 30 milliamperes. A leakage in excess of that will trip the main switch to off position.If one were to take an example more serious than burning a house down, that of someone being electrocuted the effect is as follows. Take the worse case a kitchen or bathroom, someone with wet hands, one hand on a water tap the other on the live side of 220 volts. The person would most certainly receive a nasty jolt for half a second by which time the main circuit breaker will have tripped and a life saved. Appliances such as electric irons have always been a high risk for electric shocks or fire due to the wear and tear on the flexible power cable from constant pulling and rubbing. Most likely the main switch will cut off when plugging into the power socket a faulty iron, toaster or whatever. Inconvenient maybe but at least one is aware of a problem.If you do not have this main switch with earth trip then please get one and install it, you will never regret it.Regards,Filip

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Posted by SirLurkalot - 14 years ago

Filip,

It's good to hear about the Earth Leak Dejouncteur.  Maybe it'll prevent me burning the house down.  Could you explain more what exactly it is and how it works please?

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Posted by Filip-189436 - 14 years ago

Excuse me for taking up the point again about fused plugs and sockets in bathrooms, but a fuse would not fuse if you got on the wrong side of it even if it was as low as 1 ampere.Full protection is given by the installation of an "Earth Leak Dejouncteur" on the main switch line into the premises, very efficient and instant power off giving excellent protection against faulty appliances and human contact. This devise has been mandatory on new installations for many years, one of the better French safety rules. Filip

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Posted by SirLurkalot - 14 years ago

It was two separate irritants.

Plugs in the UK have fuses in them, which I think are safer than French unfused ones.

Sockets in bathrooms aren't allowed in UK, since water flying around (have you seen me take a shower?) can cause a short circuit.  Every time I see a socket in a bathroom in France I shudder.  This house here doesn't have light switches in the bathrooms, but maybe others do.

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Posted by mike-179830 - 14 years ago

I think it was two separate irritants:

unfused plugssockets in bathrooms

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Posted by Filip-189436 - 14 years ago

What is the advantage of fused plugs and sockets in bathrooms? Filip