Electricity supply

08/08/2010 - 13:01

This is a bit of a silly question I am sure but making plans for a renovation project and the subject of an Electrical supply for the property crops up (it has an existing suppy).  I am used to having a 100amp single phase  supply (approximately 25Kw) as standard into our small two bedroom home in the UK, no problem. Speaking with people in the village in Italy where the renovation project is it seems most people have a 3Kw supply to the house and some have 6Kw. Now in honesty 3 Kw hardly runs a decent hairdryer, I have also been told that 9Kw would be the largest supply for a domestic dwelling can this be true? I had planned on fitting electric underfloor heating to the existing floors in at least 3 bedrooms also the lounge and dining room (very little change in floor level being essential) but a very rough estimate would be if all these were on at the same time I would be looking at between 12 and 15Kw.  Does anyone know if 3 phase supplies for domestic use are available, I am sure I could get away with 3 times 9Kw supplies, say  one phase per floor idea.   Thanks



You'd be lucky to get more than 6kW - most houses manage quite easily on 3KW - it just means no electric kettle, and watch what you plug in when the washing machine is on.   I think you'll need to review your proposed heating method

Would entirely agree with Alan - we have lived in Italy for 10 years, 2 adults, 2 children and have never had more than a 3kw supply and have NEVER had a problem. Sure, we cannot put on washing machines etc if the oven is on, but you soon learn to work around it and you survive! The children have grown up knowing that they have to switch things off when not in use, but is that really such a bad lesson to learn? We have never had a problem with hair driers or kettles as we consider when we use them, and to be honest, in the height of summer, no- one wants to use a hair drier anyway! To be fair, we do not have under floor heating or a swimming pool and we do not have 'paying guests' - if we did we might have to review the situation, but for a normal family, 3kw is fine for us, just as it is for the vast majority of Italian families!

I know you wouldn't be using your 3 x 9Kw anything like all the time, but have you looked into the cost of electricity in Italy?  Nowhere as bad as the cost of gas, I'll grant you, but nothing like cheap.  Most Italians are, as others have said, very frugal in their use of energy. Incidentally we found the 3Kw difficult at first (for 140 sqm of living space), so we have upgraded - we've now got 4.5Kw.  And it's ample.  The main breaker has only tripped once since we upgraded (about 5 years ago). Incidentally it used to be the case (and may well still be) that your standing charge was calculated on the basis of the Kw your contract (and therefore meter) allowed.  And there was a lower rate per KwH for residents provided the supply was only 3Kw.  This may all have changed though, I don't know.

I dont know why all the confusion, you can have as much electricity as you require. You may have to have the supply line enlarged, but other than that no problem. Once you get over the 3Kw minimum, you only pay extra for each Kw of supply at 1.20 euro per month. If you have 6 Kw available it is 7.20 per month, 10Kw 12.00 Euro. Unit cost for usage is the same. Try to keep off electric underfloor though, not a good option

Thanks to all for the replies great stuff Badger that is all I needed to know the fact that it is possible. To be honest been using electric underfloor heating for years and it seems to work pretty well, just need to get the insulation of the rooms sorted out. Also the fact the floor height is only increased by 20mm or so helps.  Having spent the last 27 years in a house with only Electricity as a source of energy Gas is an alien concept, well kind of. I guess a small wood burner will be installed in the lounge, but hopefully more for cosmetics than necessity. I would rather not spend my dotage hauling logs cool Thanks again great site, certainly a mine of information.

Sounds to me like you are heading towards a heat pump solution... it runs on  your favourite energy, electricity, but delivers over 4 times the energy consumed. .. and no log lugging at all. There are really slim underfloor heating solutions around now - not much deeper than your 20mm quoted. Badger is the expert on heat pumps so I will presume to say no more.

We have 6Kw, run a pool (very heavy on electric), and all the usual...washing machine /dishwasher / toaster/vacuum (heavy!) etc etc (gas kettle though!)............6Kw is a perfect amount. with the basic 3 Kw ..I would think you will have problems at some point. By the way Enel are required to provide an 'extra' 10% me thinks, so we have a 6.6Kw supply. Our bills are circa 100euros per month at 6Kw (over a year) .........seems reasonable to me. Summer months with the pool the consumption DEFINITELY rises fairly dramatically (almost double, certainly increase by 70%)....so plan ahead I say. S

I agree with Badger. You can effectively have as much power supply as you want. We have 12kw. We are totally dependent on electricity for heating, garden, pool etc. Last year our bill was about €4,200 (350m2 house) so if you are starting from scratch it may be worth your while to investigate alternative power sources.

What everyone seems to forget is that prices for electricity, gas, oil etc are going to rocket over the next 10 years - indeed we may even find supplies rationed, so  spending a bit more now on solar/wood burning stoves now is not a luxury choice made by those with more money than sense. As to the 3kw supply I think it's an excellent thing - teaches everyone to be more careful and not leave everything switched on.But I am a grumpy old treehugger!      

On the power side I think we have 6kw which seems fine for c.400m2 house incl pool. If you want the convenience/lack of radiators on wall benefits of underfloor heating and at least put one arm around a tree, try water heated underfloor heating with solar. Our panels first heat our hot water system for showers and underfloor heating, then when that has reached the target temperature the panels divert heat to the pool. In practice means virtually no gas use in summer and reduced gas bills for heating in winter.

"What everyone seems to forget is that prices for electricity, gas, oil etc are going to rocket over the next 10 years - indeed we may even find supplies rationed, so  spending a bit more now on solar/wood burning stoves now is not a luxury choice made by those with more money than sense." I admire your "green" credentials but for us lesser mortals you are making a big sweeping statement.  In the late 1980's and for the most part of the 1990's fuel prices in real terms (ie inflation adjusted) were actually falling. It took the 20 years to 2007 for real fuel prices to regain their 1987 peak. One could argue that the period 2005 to 2008 was a speculative bubble or a catch up. (who knows?). Prices for the last 12 months, for example, are down around 12% and without a sustained pick-up in world economic recovery its difficult to see how prices can be pushed higher. Not well known, but the actually peak in real fuel prices was not the 1973-74 period but around 1917 as WW1 drew to its conclusion. I've no problem whatsoever with solar but in pure economic terms break-even recovery rates are pushed out considerably by falling real electricity prices. You could well be right Abruzzo but also you could be wrong.

Oh it's so good to have something to get one's teeth into! Bravo Capo - but like Obama et al you are (arguably, I'm a complete fence sitter!) confusing sustainability with affordability (aka 'peak oil' and that stuff). For poor (as in not a lot of money) mortals there is a great deal to be said for burning wood: of course it creates carbon dioxide (something never much mentioned), but trees grow, and in Italy wood is produced from sustainable sources (which  means it is unlikely to run out, due to legislation about how much woodland you can hack down in a decade). Solar (pre heating of water) is not a bad idea, but we are nibbling at the edges. As of now, photovoltaic doesn't make sense without subsidies (and the subsidies are really quite enticing in Italy). Then, you have to do the 'carbon equation': some of the materials used in photovoltaics are quite 'carbon expensive' to produce. This is why I have not considered wind power (nor electric cars). Because if you have a notion to 'save the planet' you really should research the whole picture. However, (and no, I have no connection with any geothermic companies), efficiency is a very important concept, and enhancing the bounty which a thermal differential offers  (think about it is as a reverse fridge, you know when there is a frost the earth four feet below is warmer, and you can exploit this) so that way is efficient. I cannot believe we are still in thrall to the arabs and their oil: probably they just have bought the media.

With all the comments above, I am quite happy to have the whole house heated by the equivalent of a 2kw fan heater. As with everything else, do loads of research before deciding if you want to live in 1 room or the whole house in the winter.

Hello Fillide "but like Obama et al you are (arguably, I'm a complete fence sitter!) confusing sustainability with affordability" I was not at all aware that I was taking about "sustainability". I was, however, talking about "affordability". To me, making statements that fuel "prices are going to rocket" without a single piece of supporting evidence is quite dangerous. I have nothing whatsoever against solar, photovoltaics or geothermal except the "true" initial capital costs to my mind are very high and in purely economic terms (unless these costs fall substantially) many people may be worse off in their pocket compared to conventional fuels. More so, if the prices of conventional fuels actually fall in real terms. Its a bit ironic that "For poor (as in not a lot of money) mortals" green energy may actually be a higher cost solution. However, if more ethically aware people than myself decide to go down this route then I totally respect them. And....I don't work for ENEL.

These are the costs for everything for each year here using electricity, heating and dhw 24 hours per day with a heat pump. OK initial installation is expensive, but over a few years it pays for itself Electricity Costings     2007 2008 2009 2010 KW Cost KW Cost KW Cost KW Cost   Jan/Feb 2522 556.52 2803 644.17 2849 862.96 2763 798.38 Mar/Apr 1793 408.69 1862 449.28 1742 502.58 1708 497.20 May/Jun 884 227.88 954 255.82 892 227.06     Jul/Aug 835 219.88 879 245.52 793 187.12     Sep/Oct 1345 324.81 1575 404.56 1306 352.68     Nov/Dec 2194 702.66 1917 541.43 2304 622.42     Totals 10573 2440.44 9990 2540.78 9886 2754.82    

You do not say what your initial outlay or grants etc were Badger. I have a little 40sqm2 flat without any heating and wondering what to do. Will probably get a portable gas canister heater  and convector heater for winter plus hot water bottle for now. But I have read all the different posts and it is very confusing. However, it is obvious that central heating installation would be daft at present when the place will only be in use for a few weeks of the year and possibly not at all in depths of winter. However, I find it all very interesting as when I retire in a few years, I would like to spend as much time as poss in Italy. So another thing to throw into the equasion is that unless you arer intending to stay for the amount of years that it would take to get your money back from your initial outlay ie neither upsizing or downsizing, this would be a factor to consider.

Capo Boi. The table is for the total cost, including all standing charges, IVA etc. Unit cost on the top rate of electricity, is nearly 24cents + another 2C in extra charges + IVA, so you are around 28 Cents per KW.

In reply to by Badger

What a great post...............we can all talk about the costs of this and that, but I for one am happy sharing costs with each other (a la Badger)..............that way we can all maybe at least understand the variety of costs that we all need to undertake. It is ALL personal preference anyway, the more REAL info that we have at our disposal, the better informed decision making we are likely to make?! Well done, S

Sprostoni. Your consumption figures for electricity are similar to various others that I have and equate to what we normally expect for an average (circa E1200 p.a. ). Based on that, we heat the house here for about 50% of our total expenditure per year.

Capo please can you tell us who thinks prices for oil, gas and eletricity are not going to go up considerably in the next 10 years - apart from yourself that is ? If we cover the planet with wind farms and nuclear power stations we may just keep electricty prices in line with inflation but I know in Abruzzo in particular there is massive opposition to wind farms and I can only imagine the outcry in Tuscany if the million £ views are spoilt by giant wind farms. Another issue is the drilling for oil in Italy which has also created a massive public outcry. If we continue to demand cheap oil, gas and electricity then there is a big environmental price to pay;and who is prepared to pay it ? Do you want your Italian home to overlook an oil well ? And do you trust the companies to safeguard the envirnoment after what's just happened in the Gulf of Mexico. By chosing an unsustainable system (of heating) now you are simply creating debt that your children and grandchildren will have to pay off.

While I am principally a solar/wood exponent (you guessed) I would like to point out just how significant Badger's figures are as I'm not sure the previous posts have quite nailed it. This is important stuff. He buy's some 10,000 kw.hrs for Eur 2500 and half of that goes on normal electricity consumption. The remaining Eur 1,250 and 5,000kW.hrs heats his house and water. It actually takes about 20,000 kW.hrs to do that on most well insulated houses so his 5,000kW.hrs are multiplied up by 4 by the heat pump - ie a Coefficient Of Performance of 4. This is serious competition for us dedicated wood luggers.

Bunterboy, I think we might have had this question before. A1 is the accumulated consumption in the time intervals F1,  A2 is the accumulated consumption in the time intervals  F2  and A3 is the accumulated consumption in the time intervals  F3 where: F1 (ore di punta/peak hours) = Lunedi - Venerdi ore 08:00-19:00 F2 (ore intermedie/mid level) = Lunedi - Venerdi 07:00-08:00 e 19:00-23:00 e Sabato 07:00-23:00 F3 (ore fuori punta/off-peak) = Lunedi - Venerdi ore 23:00-07:00, Sabato 23:00-24:00, le Domeniche ed i Festivi Simply do A1+A2+A3 to get your total consumption. "Lettura periodo precedente" should be the consumption during the previous month. See if this makes sense to you and your bill :-) And just because you have 3 time intervals it doesn't necessarily mean that the tariff changes during the day. That depends on your type of contract.

As far as I have understood it, since July 1, any consumer of electricity who pays their bill to ENEL (there are other options where you pay different money collection companies, and I'm not sure this applies to these contracts), whether on a resident tariff or not, YOU PAY MORE for electricity consumed in 'working hours'. It's not rocket science to avoid paying peak rate leccy. Saturdays and Sundays (and public holidays) are lower rate (maybe you can do all your washing and dishwashering at the weekend?), and peak rate doesn't cut in until 8am, so if you are an early riser that's an opportunity - or if you are a night owl (like me!) you sling the stuff in the washing machine at 2am. For your electricity bill NOT to get more expensive, you must consume at least 66% in off peak times. It really makes perfect sense, and requires only small changes in your routine.