Calling all budding DIY electricians

Hi guys,

So, I’m looking into purchasing a property and the everything in my opinion needs a little work. I’ve been told it’s on a 2 phase electrical system and some new sockets have been installed alongside some of the old original ones (which still work).

My question is, does anyone know if you can still buy these older style sockets and switches or will they need to be replaced with the new larger style ones as I’m looking to get them spruced up as well as made safe…

Anyone else seen or have these in their property?


??? It’s normally 1 or three - maybe some ancient anomaly.

I think you need a root and branch re-wire.

As for the sockets - no, they will all need to go AFAIK.


Ahh, the old “sans Terre” wiring style 2 pin sockets.

Love that a piece of Earth cable has been used to run either the Live or Neutral. Standard for France.

Get recommendations for a local sparky with a Siret number.

I must admit I thought that had just been stuffed up into the boite d’encastrement unused. I’m a bit worried there only seem to be blue wires entering though.

It just screams “get rid of this and start again”.


I have a number of these sockets in my house. The electrics here were worthy of the Crystal Maze! You had to switch the dining room light on in order for the bedroom light switch to work. Likewise, the kitchen light in order for the cellar light to come on. Fortunately we found a fabulous multi-trade, that was recommended to us by our French neighbour, who has put it all right, including adding additional sockets to the lounge as it only had one, and that was on the ceiling :rofl:.

1 Like

Riiight - I suspect someone had got a bit confused as to which terminal to daisy chain from.

Seriously though I think this place would need a complete re-wire, starting from sorting out what the supply arrangement is - monophase or triphase. I’m not aware that two phase is a thing in France (it is in the 'states) - perhaps @Badger has some experience with what might be going on. The only way I can see a genuine two phase supply would be if there is some sort of odd shared supply with one building getting two phases and another getting the third. In any case it would be best to regularise that to monophase or triphase before venturing further.

1 Like

Good old French iffy wiring. Strip it out. Replace with up-to-date kit by a registered pro.


Cheers for the input. We’re in agreement and I think I’ll get a pro in to review the lot. Anyone have any recommendations for the VAR region?

As for 2 phase, the vendor didn’t sound to confident when sharing this info with me so perhaps it isn’t. I know there are 2 consumer units in the house if that helps shed any light.

When I bought my house I had Single, Two and Three phase. Kitchen was 2 phase with funny plugs. Kept 3 phase for my workshop woodwork machinery, and replaced 2 phase with single phase… You could then do it yourself, but now need a sparks.

So, you had a three phase supply. With perhaps some kitchen appliances wired to take two of the phases (my induction hob has this option IIRC).

AFAIK France has had 3-phase plugs with 3 connectors - L1, L2 and L3 for balanced/“delta” connected loads, 3-phase 4-pin plugs (L1-3 and Earth), 5-pin plugs (L1-3, neutral and earth) and “ordinary” single phase outlets, some ancient ones being the two-pin (live & neutral), no earth variety.

Don’t suppose you have any photos, might be interesting to try to work out what was going on.

Three phase in rural France is often not much power per phase - some rural properties are a long way from the transformer and voltage drops limit the maximum current per phase.

1 Like

No drop of voltage here. We are totally rural, but my Cast iron planer thicknesser, needs plenty of umph to start up. Sorry, no photos. My wife wanted Belfast sink out on day one, so we re routed 3 phase to workshop, and put in modern french double sockets, single phase. We also have Induction Hob on its own circuit. The top of one wall is taken up with Lightning conductors, as we get many storm. They reset on regular basis. It was a learning curve, as no logic in sheath of wires, yellow, purple, orange. they bought a job lot perhaps

How many electricity meters?

Sounds entertaining. Have you had it checked out. What did the DDT say about the electrics?

There is no such thing as a two phase supply in France. You either have one (monophasé) or three (triphasé). By “supply” I mean the main connection that is supplied via a meter.
How phases are used within an installation is an entirely different matter. Most things will be monophasé, but tri is commonly used to run machinery, pumps, hobs & water heaters. I’ve even come across old triphasé storage heaters, even in domestic settings.
Your installation certainly needs the attention of a competant person. Those two pin sockets cannot remain.

1 Like

Yup, had it all checked by town electrician. He was very happy with my tidy up. My father was an electrician, so knew mostly what i was doing. Just surprised by multi coloured sheathing wires

Thanks, Jonathan.

As long as neutral is blue and earth green/yellow any colour can be used for phase in a monophase setup.

Traditionally red/blue (live/neutral) was used a lot but black/blue seems to be common as well.

I don’t know if there was an older standardisation for three phase wiring colours - in the UK it was red/yellow/blue for the phases and black for neutral but that obviously wouldn’t have worked in France where I think blue has always been neutral.

The current standard for three-phase is L1=brown, L2=black and L3=grey with blue=neutral and green/yellow=earth.

Other colours - yellow, orange, purple etc are commonly used for control circuits such as the heures creuses signal from the meter.

Chez moi the new stuff I added has live=brown even though it’s not a very “French” colour to use it is consistent with the three phase colours. Otherwise there was a mix of black and red for live. I still need to do a thorough audit of the electrics though (or as thorough as I can without ripping cables out of walls) as there are some definite oddities.

I hope that your multicoloured smorgasboard at least consistently applies one colour to each phase and the correct colours neutral & earth

Can you do any electrical work in the house yourself legally?

I’m not sure if it is legal or not. My brother has been a domestic and industrial leccy in the UK for over 40 years and he did some work for me. He actually discovered a quite dangerous condition in the existing wiring, and the house was only 8 years old, so I’m glad he did the work.

The untrained and sometimes very stupid can do their own electrics and gain a Consuel Attestation. But it is not legal for an untrained and non registered to do paid work on someone else’s property.

Good to see people commenting who clearly know their onions. As far as FR lekky is concerned I know sweet f.a. but things need doing …

This is the set-up for meter, breakers etc. in the house which I will own come 17:30 12/10/21

These 4 breakers have been taped together for the ‘chauffe eau’ and are therefore 3-phase. Is that right? I don’t understand the meaning of the note on the breaker to the rt. Is that the trip for the ‘chauffe eau’?

I want to instal an induction hob. I have seen that there are some which can run from a [UK 13A] socket but most need their own feed. Is that the case in FR? Would it be 1-phase or 3-phase?

I’m told the old meter will be swapped for a Linky when I sign up for a supply.

What is the box on the left? The box on the right looks like a RCD.

I wondered if it was to protect this outdoor socket?

Or maybe this one down by the door off the street? They look recent …

Any thoughts would be much appreciated.

I have just installed a 4 ring induction hob that was 8kw and required a 32A supply. One that can run off 13A must be 1 or 2 ring?

We had a portable one in UK with just a single ring that we used to use rather than wait for the Rayburn to heat up.

1 Like