Why did Enedis look so shocked yesterday?

I have a house that I spend 4 weeks of the year & have an electric bill of 360 euro per month, surprisingly that is not the problem. Initially upon rewiring the house the builder said that the 6mm cable supplied from the street by EDF into my building was dangerous & he expected I would be awaking to fried birds on my front lawn. After 3 useless conversations with EDF they increased my supply to 12kw but did not physically change any of their equipment, I told them it was dangerous but they declared it would not be possible I would use more than 12kw.

We have historically experienced the EDF main breaker switching over but stomached the inconvenience. Yesterday a young English speaking Enedis chap showed up to put in a smart meter & replace the 1920’s EDF meter. I mentioned that the cable was dangerous considering that I estimated that I was pulling up to 30 kw of power (in the 2 weeks I spend there at Christmas) through their current copper tooth floss running from the street & at least a 10mm cable was needed. Surprisingly he agreed but could not understand the power usage. I explained that being a tea drinker with a wife who drinks coffee & likes a slice of toast that the kettle, Nespresso machine & toaster each were rated 2kw. Add in the 3 blow dryers each 2kw with a boiler of 2kw, 16kw of electrical heating (we have no gas just 4 large wood burners), an induction hob rated to 11kw without the 2 ovens & lighting that probably takes 2kw. I am sure there are some additional items I have missed (like the dryer & washing machine & drainage pumps etc).

After the smart box went in I had someone test the house & turn on 2 ovens, 2 rings on the induction hob, 1 heater & the boiler & it tripped the EDF breaker. It appears if anyone cooks then they no longer will simultaneously be able to boil a kettle. We think the smart box now regulates our consumption to just 12kw & the 1920’s box was dangerous but conveniently unregulated.

I am calling EDF from here in London tomorrow to see if they can suggest a way of overcoming the supply problem. What is also disappointing is that we just had a new pool installed with heat pump which is rated at 2.6kw without including the 3/4hp pump, my builder has suggested even though I have never swam in it we turn it into a fish pond if EDF cannot up the supply.

I am concerned because when I showed the 2 Enedis technicians the Neff induction top they asked where an earth I got it, as if it was illicit contraband, & my answer of John Lewis did not pacify their shock. They declared you could not get it here in France (not sure I believe that) & my lifestyle was the problem.

Unfortunately gas is not available in our area. Am I the only one who feels 12kw is not a lot of power when these Enedis seemed to think otherwise. I am assuming I will need to push to 36kw but I fear this is going to lead to the EDF religious police interrogating me about my kettle & cooker.
Am I the only who has had these power supply problems ? Any suggestions short of selling the house.
The idea of adding air conditioning this summer is definitely out of the window (literally).

Thanks for any advice of encouragement.

FWIW…(for what it’s worth) I don’t want a smart meter…My situation is slightly different as I live here and have no ties to uk whatsoever bar family…I live quite happily on 6kw with a payment of less than 40 euros per month…The only thing I can suggest is that you look into the inpowermovement…I don’t know if this works in France as I am not yet at the point of challenging the installation of a smart meter…x :slight_smile:

I’d love to offer words of advice and encouragement but I’m not entirely sure what question you are asking.

On paper 6mm2 armoured cable in free air is adequate for 60A although the voltage drop is high so anything beyond a pretty short run between you and the transformer will loose a lot of power - but that is Enedis’s problem, not yours. As long as the voltage is above 207V (230V -10 %) when you draw 12kW the supply is within spec. If the voltage is below this then Enedis should replace the cable or put you on a higher voltage tap on the transformer and live with the loss.

If they do just up the tap voltage, of course, you might wind up with too high a voltage off load (and, again reason to complain).

My understanding is that anything over 12kW is delivered as three phase - it sounds like you might need to bite the bullet and arrange a higher supply agreement (if you can stomach the increased standing charge).

We also have an induction hob - yes, UK sourced (in fact I think from John Lewis as well but I’d have to check the receipt). However, at present, that should be to EU specs and I can’t see why it would not be legal in France. Ditto oven and dishwasher; the washing machine was bought in France. We also have a heat pump which seems quite capable of pulling 20A on its own.

So far despite that lot we haven’'t tripped the 60A breaker yet, I gather the previous owner did have problems with the heating tripping his 6kW supply when it kicked in.

FWIW I’m not keen on a smart meter either but I imagine that ultimately there will be no choice both in France and the UK.

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Your lifestyle obviously requires a lot more electrical current than the average French user. Is you €360 what you pay for your one month in the property or 1/12 of your annual bill?
I run my house on a 6kW supply. My use includes an electric Aga that runs 24/7 for about six months, a hotplate with induction hobs, electric heating in the bathroom and in the bedrooms when visitors come to stay, a water heater that runs non stop plus all the electric lighting, TV equipment, washing machine, dishwasher, electric tools etc. I pay for my bills two monthly and the two most expensive in December and February are about €360, that is €180 a month for the most expensive months. I’m looking forward to getting a Linky meter to take advantage of some of its features.

Big induction hobs wound up full use 'leccy like it’s going out of fashion, ours is 7kW but I can believe 11kW of the larger 5 element ones, which is almost all of a 12kW supply on its own.

That said in practice it’s hard to get 4 pans on ours and even if we did it’s unlikely that all would be running full tilt at once.

But re-reading the OP - 2kW of lighting is excessive. Get some LED lamps!! :slight_smile:

They…the quintessential “they” have just installed a smart meter in my moms garage…(England) She is elderly and disabled and already suffers a myriad of health problems and is on a daily cocktail of pharmaceuticals with a notable proliferation of headaches since the installation of the smart meter…I would hope that if enough of us worldwide stand up and challenge the installations on health grounds that we can stop the inevitable…x

I don’t know about France but in the UK I suspect that part of the reason that “they” are so keen on smart meters is at least in part to reduce overall consumption.

There are several reasons for this but one is that the government has not been replacing the generating capacity that will be lost as ageing coal (not many of those now though) and gas stations are decommissioned. the prediction is that we will not have capacity to meet demand within the next 5 or 6 years.

I’m not sure why it should have had any effect on your Mum’s health though.

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Linky meters communicate with the electricity company and emit waves that mix with the other WiFi, TV and mobile phone signals that are present in your home but for some reason they are singled out as being the bad boys. There’s many a post on the subject if you look around the forums. Makes me think about aeroplanes flying above my house.

Hi David,
The 360Euro is every month over the year even though we spend approx a month to 5 weeks of a year in the house. Essentially the month costs 4,320 euros which is basically the weeks over Christmas. We turn off all of the heating when we are not there bar 2 dehumidifiers.
The problem originally was running 8 2kw electric heaters 24 hours a day for 2 - 3 weeks on top of all of the other stuff thats connected.

I am not an electrician (probably obvious) but when I add up the kw of the appliances we use it far exceeds 12kw. I will see what EDF says but my house panel never trips but this EDF breaker does & as mentioned it has got much worst with the new smart installation. Actually I forgot to mention after the Enedis guy installed the smart box he looked at the EDF breaker & accidentally dropped it into the drywall cavity in front of his irritated supervisor. He was forced to install a new breaker switch rather than risk almost certain electrocution retrieving the original - I am sure the new one was rated the same as the old at 60amps but I never checked.

Thanks for everyone’s comments, they are helpful.

One of the main reasons that the Linky meters are unpopular is because they trip when they exceed the level you are paying for. The traditional systems absorbed a spike in demand when a heater or something cut in and temporarily put you over your limit. On the plus side you can increase your supply within a year of a Linky meter without being charged a fee. If you do though your monthly standing charge will increase.
To answer you question, the engineer looked surprise because your demand for electricity is much higher than the norm. I know the Christmas problem, when my stone house was a holiday home I had to pour heat into it to make it comfortable. Keeping a lived in house warm is much easier and comparatively much cheaper.

Hi Paul
She who is to be obeyed does not like the color emitted by led’s & having 5 chandeliers with 12 bulbs a piece & all the other lighting you get to the 2kw.

The Neff induction is 90cm 5 ring single phase which replaced a Teka unit. The Teka induction we had for 3 years was a monster that needed 3 phase to run but boy it could boil a pot of water faster than a volcano.

Hi David,

We are also in Aquitaine (St Emilion) & with a 360sq metre stone house it needs some heat when we turn up in the winter. 3 years (could be 4 years) ago my brother & family came to visit at Christmas from their home in Florida & the temperature fell to -13c & the main fuse kept tripping. I could only smile in the candle light explaining to them they were lucky to have the 1860 experience (the year it was built).
I am not worried about the standing charge if I can boil the kettle & enjoy other essentials.


Hi Saul…

Did you have the electrics inspected/signed-off by EDF (Enedis or whoever) when you had the house modernised?

When we swapped to LEDs we tested out a huge range of bulbs as there is a massive colour difference between the brands even if labelled the same. Eventually we found some that pleased us, and these days there are more and more colour choices within a brand (soft white, bright white, etc) as well as the variation between brands.

For the chandelier we did have to resort to low energy candle bulbs, but again a range of colour is now available.

We had a similar issue to resolve when we installed an air source heat pump, and over 12w you now have to go to three phase. EDF used to supply 18w in two phase, but no longer.


Is there no-one you could trust/ask to get the heating going gently, during the winter months… keeping a low constant heat would be better for the house/furnishings et al… and negate the need for the dehumidifiers (which must be on a hiding to nothing, in a large, unheated, stone house.)


Hi Jane,
Reassuring that I am not alone in the problem. I agree about the LED inconsistency & we tried them in the chandeliers & they were awful. We also had dimmers installed on all lights which we could not find in France & the dimmable LEDs just did not really do it.
I am going to call EDF today & I am just hoping they do not suggest I switch the induction top for a crock pot. I got the distinct feeling they saw the problem as my lifestyle, whereas I feel keeping warm & having access to a warm drink once in a while does not seem too much to ask.
I have booked a flight next week to get this sorted out but I fear EDF may work on a communist era schedule that will be not fit my timeline.

I will share with everyone ‘the good news’ after my phone conversation.

On another note, I would be wary about those smart meters because if David is right about them regulating spikes you may need to stock up on candles & firewood after the visit from the man in rubber boots & gloves.

Hi Stella,

The dehumidifiers help with a low water table & limestone that was laid without a damp course that can act like a sponge. We had French drainage dug (it’s not French it is named after an American called French) to 6 foot around the building perimeter with a large pump that has really helped greatly. The dehumidifiers are desiccant (much better in cold weather than condensers) that emit heat & I would really recommend them if you are trying to combat damp in low temperatures.

In answer to your other question, I would love to invite the EDF inspector over for a cup of tea/coffee, assuming we have the power to boil the water. I have contacted them 3 times previously & no one or nothing appeared & they are just in disbelief anyone can use more than 12kw. I am hoping with the advice of everyone here that I can this time get some action.

Hi Saul…

We are perhaps at cross-purposes. I am assuming you had major electrics done to your property.

Did these works get “signed-off” by EDF as satisfactory… or is whoever did the Electrics, qualified/certified to sign-off the works on behalf of EDF.

In my experience, the Electrician works hand in glove with EDF to ensure that whatever equipment is put in place, will work with the electrical supply.

It seems to me (and I may be wrong)… this step of co-ordination/certification may have been missed…

I really don’t see why they should - they will install supplies up to 36kW, and I can’t see why they should be reticent to take your money for doing so. But be aware

  • moving from 12kW single phase to a three phase supply with incur a high installation cost

  • at the very least you will have to get an electrician to re-wire the tableau

  • high current items (induction hob and oven at least) will need their own three phase connection (so internal re-wiring will be required, not just at the tableau). Modern items should be convertible between single and three phase by just moving some internal connecting links.

  • I think that > 15kW has to be on heures creuses/pleines, it can’t be on the base tariff.

Edit: just noticed that you mentioned an old 3-phase induction hob. Is the house already on 3-phase? If so it should be easy to organise a higher supply agreement.

The problem is that Saul has a greater demand for electricity than the normal supply. It sounds as though the old meter and interrupter was more flexible to his demands than the current setup and it was the external connection he was worried about. The electricity company insisted that it was up to the job but he knew he could draw more than they thought.
The obvious answer is to increase the power supply to the maximum supplied to domestic properties but that will mean changing to tri phase. The underlying problem is that Saul wants his house to be all electric, with only the fireplaces to supply extra heat. Very few French houses of that size are like that. My friends and neighbours who live in large stone houses tend to cook on gas, heat their homes using gas, oil or pellet powered central heating and find a 9-12kW electricity supply more than enough for the rest. Many modern houses are electricity only but they are small, well insulated and super efficient, all the things that a 360 square metre stone house is not.

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