Folder Sockets, amps and company: what are the standards?

Always listening to their readers, the Alexians have decided to give you a simple summary of the different applicable standards for choosing sockets, switches and other connected products. So many unanswered questions if we do not know in detail the types of sockets, the relationships between amps and watts, ...

So, follow us!

Sockets: who cares?

Few of them know the different types of sockets. Let's be humble, our goal is not to give you an electrical lesson, but to help you avoid buying incompatible plugs by mistake. And on online sales sites, it is not uncommon to find products that are not suitable for our French facilities.

First of all, a little semantics. Are you familiar with sockets and plugs? So, to keep it simple:

  • First, we have the wall outlets, which we call sockets. We know them in France with the two holes (phase and neutral) to insert the male plug and a metal rod which will serve as an earth (type E plug).
  • We will recognize the male socket (called plug) because it will fit into the female socket thanks to its two pins (phase and neutral).

A question immediately springs to mind. If we buy devices online, especially outlets or multiple sockets, are all of them compatible? Beware ! We invite you to check two or three things before purchasing. We all have in mind the UK or Swiss plugs which are not compatible with our sockets. Should we therefore be wary of plugs whose pins are similar to ours? The answer is yes.

First, you will have to check that the plug of your device, if you are trying to insert it into a wall outlet, has the hole to insert the grounding pin because it is often from there that comes the problem (type F file)… Look for this information on the marketplace via photos of the product, which are the most telling, or its description. Be careful, because sometimes there is no photo of the cards or description of the type. In this case, you can try to contact the seller or not make the purchase because this lack of information can demonstrate precisely a lack of knowledge of the market on the part of the seller. Indeed, most of the connected sockets or multiple sockets being manufactured in the Middle Kingdom, some sellers release a standard connector which is adapted to the greatest number of markets but without being specific to France. This will have the unfortunate consequence of not being able to enter the file of your " smart socket ”into your wall outlet… Which is quite annoying.

Are there other problems with connected multiple sockets and sockets? If we look in detail at the readers' questions, it turns out that many are concerned that the sockets of this type of equipment do not have grounding pins… What is to be said about this? A potential safety problem, the earthing allowing to evacuate an excess of electricity in the event of problem of insulation? Oh no.

Note that even if there are no pins, the ground is present. Everything happens on the inner edges of these sockets which have metal strips serving as earthing. These are actually F-type compatible sockets. These sockets can be found in Europe and they are compatible with type E / F plugs. Note that the E / F plugs are male sockets that mix the characteristics of E plugs (with a grounding hole) and F type, says Schuko (with metal strips on the top and bottom of the plug) . Nice no?

Thanks to this, all household appliances sold in France and Europe can be used on any type of wall socket and connected socket. Thus, if your extension cord does not have an earth pin at the level of its sockets, that does not have any importance because logically, all your plugs are of type E / F.


Switches connected to the end of the wires

Would you be tempted by connected switches which, in addition to being generally quite pretty, make it possible not to invest crazy sums to control GU10s or other lamps not found in connected by voice? Before you even know which ones to choose, you need to know if you can put them in your home. In fact, the vast majority of connected switches available today require 3 wires for connections: phases, lamp return and neutral. Gold, neutral is prohibited on our French installations, at the level of the switches, because this causes a real safety problem.

For example, you want to change a bulb or intervene on the connection of a lamp by cutting the switch: without neutral, no current passes while with a neutral, there will always be some, therefore with a real risk of electrocution. Why is a neutral necessary for the connected switches? To keep the Wi-Fi active even if the switch is off.

Attention, if you have back and forth, you have three wires but no neutral (you have shuttle wires), ditto with a double ignition. The problems are quite numerous when you put connected switches on this type of installation: light flashing, which does not go out completely ...

It is always possible to draw a neutral from the electrical panel, from a socket or the like, but this should be done by a professional, if he judges that there is no risk. However, you won't easily find a professional pulling a neutral wire from an outlet near your switch. Why ? Because your circuit will be declared non-compliant with safety standards which say that lighting circuits and electrical outlets must be separated. In addition, the wires are often of different diameters (1,5 or 2,5 mm²) and the relative amperages are also different between the circuits (16 A for lighting and potentially 20 A for sockets). Thinner wire will resist overloading less. Imagine that you came to transplant 1,5mm² wires on a 2,5mm² socket circuit… The wire will not support it and will deteriorate in the best case, and in the worst case can generate a fire. Another point, in the event of an electrical problem or for any other various and varied reasons, your insurance will not work. Ditto for the resale of your property which must now show white paste in terms of electrical compliance. To do things properly, you have to start from your table and draw a neutral.

French brands are starting to make connected switches without neutral, but not at the same price… The best may be to wait a little longer.


Entangled in amperage?

Amperage is the intensity of the electric current, that is, the quantity of current which passes or which can pass in a device or a circuit. Each device in use will generate a quantity of current, therefore a power in Watts, depending on the voltage (220 to 250 V) and the intensity. If the sum of the powers of the devices connected in use is greater than that which the circuit breaker can withstand, it will go into safety and trip.

It is the same for sockets and switches… They are given for 10, 16 or 20 A… What does it correspond to? The maximum power supported is calculated by making the product of the current (16 A for example) and the voltage (250 v). In this case, it gives 4000W. This means that you can accumulate for 4000 W of appliance on the socket… This calculation must be done for each of your sockets because sometimes the voltage noted differs (220, 230 or even 250 V).

It is therefore necessary that you know appliance consumption to come and connect to your sockets and multiple sockets (by combining them). If you ever exceed the maximum power, there is a risk of damage to the devices, starting a fire or even electrocution.

Thanks to this simple calculation, you know if you can use this 10A switch to control your 3000 W radiator. The answer is no in this case. Nothing prevents you from plugging a 2500 W device and a 2000W device to a 1000 W power strip with maximum power tolerated. But you should not turn them on at the same time.


All it would take is an acronym

There is a nice collection of various and varied acronyms on a connected socket… What do we find?

  • RoHS: "Restriction of the use of certain Hazardous Substances", is a European directive issued with the aim of reducing the use of hazardous substances in the manufacture of electronic equipment. So nothing to do with any security standard.
  • CE marking : visible proof that a product complies with the essential safety requirements. The manufacturer certifies that his product complies with the "essential health and safety requirements" of the regulations which concern him and by which he therefore assumes his responsibility. In order to affix the “CE” marking to his product, the manufacturer must carry out, or have carried out, checks and tests which ensure that the product conforms to the essential requirements defined in the relevant European texts. We are therefore largely on the declaration and the compliance file must be provided only at the request of the authorities and customs. Sockets and other electrical devices cannot be placed on the market without CE marking. The graphics and the proportions of the marking are defined. Be careful, the rumor of a “China Export” CE marking is unfounded and seems to be infox.
  • NF certification: a voluntary process, it attests to the conformity of the products with particularly demanding criteria in terms of quality and safety. It is issued by a recognized independent body. Rather rare on connected sockets, switches and others ...

And now, thanks to this file, you can now choose connected sockets and other switches in full knowledge of the causes. Aren't we nice ?!

Did i choose Alexa or did she choose me? Let's say that as a beta tester, it's a bit of both! And I do not regret having met our favorite assistant nor this adventure undertaken with Alexien Modo. Technophile, self-taught and loving popularization, I try to make our common passion easy to access!