New Electricity Supply in France

Installing a new electricity supply in France is fairly straight-forward. EDF (Electricité de France) will do it for you (at a cost), providing the supply is no more than 10 metres from the property. If the distance is greater than 10 metres you will have to get some-one else to install it. Here are some considerations for those wanting to do it themselves.

In the past, electricity was most often supplied to a property via overhead cable. If you are needing a new supply it must now be buried in the ground. The cable must pass through a long, flexible, conduit (gaine – it looks like vacuum hose), red in colour, from the supply box (coffre) to your property. The gaine used most often has a diameter of 90mm.

If you are replacing a temporary or existing supply, I also recommend that you should get a devis from EDF before you buy gaine or dig trenches. It is quite possible that they will not put the permanent coffre in the same place as the temporary, and will put it at your boundary, probably next to your front gate. For us they came and did a survey, put a marker peg in the ground and sent a drawing with the devis.

The gaine should be buried 0.5 metre deep – the distance between the top of the gaine and the surface, except where it passes under a vehicle path, when it must be 0.85 metre. If the gaine runs alongside a vehicle path, it must be at least 0.5 metre from the edge of the road. It can’t pass within 20cm of any other gaine (gas, water, telecom, etc) in any direction.

A red plastic warning grill (grillage) must be placed in the trench 20cm above the gaine… this can be bought by the roll.

The gaine will come with a draw string to pull the cable through. Electricity cable is heavy and if your gaine is more than 10 metres long, I suggest you pull through a more substantial cord with which to pull the cable. I would also recommend that its a two person job, one to keep the tension on the cord/cable and the other to keep feeding the cable through, it could help if the cable was on a drum, on rollers.

You may want to pull the cable through before you put the gaine in the trench… it’s a heavy job either way, but slightly easier to do on the straight and level. Don’t leave the cable lying around, somebody may help themselves, once it is in the ground it is relatively easy to secure.

If you are wanting to bring the electricity supply across a neighbours land, you will need their permission (permission that should have been sought before you bought the property).

Be aware that in France you must have a main breaker in the house, as well as at the EDF end.