Wiring colour codes

I am rewiring some of the electrics, and want to update and rationalise the existing cabling.

So, can anyone confirm to me that the current Euro/France standard for colour code for the supply is for 3 phase, Brown then Black then Purple ?, and that on 1 phase it is Brown or Black ?, noting all Neutrals are to be light blue.

Many thanks


Our inspection was equally useless. The bulk of the document listed the "qualifications" and description of the inspector. The installation was pronounced "compliant".

A quick look round before we bought and saw the inspection suggested to me that the whole house would need rewiring.

Detailed check after we moved in revealed :

The only earth was a 2.5mm sq stranded cable so corroded as to be useless. Norm specified 16mm sq.

Many of the circuit breakers were wired with the live and neutral transposed as were many of the sockets (unrelated to the wiring of the circuit breakers). Some argue that this doesn't matter as all the circuit breakers are double pole. However if you get an earth failure on an appliance which is incorrectly wired the metal parts may become live - not a great situation especially with a washing machine etc.

Several sockets had no earth. One pair were linked with an earth but the "feeder" socket was not earthed!

There was only one ELCB for the whole house (Norm spec was at least 3)

A sub-main to the rear of the house which had a separate tableau was 2.5mm square (12M long)(norm was 16mm sq)

Sub-main to the barn/workshop was 2.5mm sq (16M long) with no separate tableau in the barn. Replaced with 10mm sq)

I was advised by several members of the forum to have the earth tested (cost about €100+ to do this) but instead opted to fit three extra piquets all linked with 16mm sq cable (about €5 for each piquet and maybe €30-40 for the cable all of which I would have needed anyway) Not tested but with that degree of redundancy fairly sure its fine.

I did think of complaining about the quality of the inspection and report but, since I hadn't paid for it and didn't rely on it either decided against it. I suspect that if I had it would have resulted in a further inspection by EDF who would almost certainly have put a "red sticker" on the main switch and disconnected the whole installation. Very inconvenient and costly to sort out.

As I understand the regulations unless you rewire the whole house in one go (ie a complete new installation) you don't need to have a certificate of compliance from EDF. If you just replace the wiring in sections over time you are not doing a "new installation" and no compliance inspection is required. I think if you have a "temporary connection" you will need a certificate from EDF before they will connect to the finished installation.

The gas inspection was much the same and was done with the main stopcock at the meter turned off and sealed so it is hard to see what other than a very superficial visual inspection could have been done to "certify the system as safe".

All in all hard to see what is the point of these inspections apart from providing employment to a few who could clearly not get any if it was based on any degree of competence. Makes on wonder how much one can rely on the reports for asbestos and termites as well.

Just replace everything you don't like the look of and treat all the exposed timber. I guess as long as you don't do too much demolition involving doubtful cement sheeting or roofing you don't need to worry much about asbestos.

Remember if you do much cutting or machining of MDF with power tools you should wear a good mask as the dust and vapour produced can be very toxic. Paper masks are not adequate for MDF you need special filters to trap both fine dust and the volatile solvent as well.

I wonder if the likelihood of getting a satisfactory report depends on who is the person selling the house!

We had no inspection but received the certificate, our neighbours had no second inspection and received a certificate. So receipt of certificate does not necessarily mean inspection and nor does it stop anybody doing what they like to their electrics after a basic initial installation and receipt of certificate. Also if you already have an electrical supply that does not need upgrading then you can play with your electrics as you like until such time as you need to sell.

Quel surprise!

Welcome to France.

The so called "electrical inspection" for a sale is a complete joke! We bought a property in January and of course per policy were presented with an electrical inspection certificate. Pages & pages of data and I thought "this is good"...

On moving in the true picture was seen......Over the front door, in the sitting room, in the garage & in the bathroom I found bare wire ALL live, not even a terminal block on them, just spayed out live.

The jumble of garage wiring in the roof was beyond belief with no logic on colours, indeed in many instances wires joined were of different colours! Unlike in most buildings when wires are run through walls you either go vertically or horizontal.....Oh no, the shortest route between two points seemed to be the rule of thumb when I decided to knock through some walls....

and to top it all some power points did not work because the wall wiring had corroded and one power point was connected via lighting circuit !

Guilty as charged, although they are EC rated (not NF) so I am happy they are safe enough for me. Note a number of the Blue wires are 3 phase socket lives, which I am going to heat shrink Purple to match EEC regs.

Yes I know that if I wanted to sell, that someone could/would say something but A, that's unlikely for some time to come, and B, when it does there will most probably be a new standard that neither current rating will meet.

Due to the new (UK) Consumer Unit rules coming in for the New Year, there were some amazing bargains of the old style Boxes fully configured, which I couldn't let pass by.

Scuse me for asking Tony, are those UK consumer units and from the collection of blue neutrals it looks like you have used single pole UK spec breakers and not French spec double pole breakers?

Don't know if this is of interest, but I've finished rewiring the Garage and are now starting to get everything together for the main house.

At least its all a lot neater in there now

No worries Peter, in "my house almost any colour goes" is exactly what I have in mine. In fact on some of the 3 phase outlets in the Garage, the sacrosanct 'blue' for neutral, is actually live....

Hence while redoing the electrics I thought I would change the colours to conform to the latest standard that the French recognise, that is until its changed again.


I do not wish to be sarcastic but in my house almost any colour goes and you just have to work out what wire does what.

Some of my wiring is new, less than 10 years old and they in no way correspond to the colour code suggested by Melissa.

And then of course, you have the local "electrical" companies that make it up as they go along.

Assume nothing is logical and you will remain safe.

Peter S

Many thanks Melissa, apart from adding Red to the phase choices, that's what I understood IEC 60445 (2010) recommended.

My concern was that irrespective of what the official euro advice was, that France would do its own thing and either keep the old Brown, Black & Black colours, or invent something totally different.

In which case what was I to do with the Purple heat shrink sleeving I've just ordered.......