10/14/2012 - 11:19

I remeber a few weeks back someone said they couldn't have an electric kettle on at the same time as water heater. Is this something that only happens in rural areas or is it everywhere? Here in UK I could have every electric appliance on and there would be no cut-out. I was just thinking about say large fridge/freezer, washing machine, TV, computer, oven,kettle - is that possible or would I have to change my lifestyle completely? If the small kw only certain areas how can you find out what it is so to avoid??


Enel will be able to tell you how large a supply that you can have. If the main supply line needs upgrading, then it may be a few thousand Euro. Ours here, was upgraded to 15Kw, they put in new pylons and supply line. 7 years ago, it cost about 1600 Euro. There are only 6 houses on our white road, with 2 unoccupied, but did not seem to be a problem.

The default electrical supply in Italy is only 3kW. I forget what the normal power supply to a house in Britain is, but I know that a power-shower unit that heats water on demand can easily draw 10kW. If you only need to run lights, a fridge and television, then 3kW will be more than adequate. Lots of Italians manage just fine with just this. I upgraded our capacity to 6kW shortly after moving in and we've never had any problems. Even though we have pretty much all the stuff you'd find in a British house and we don't pay any attention to when we switch things on, the meter circuit breaker has never tripped. At the moment, I can hear a clothesdryer running in the utility room, while a food dehydrator and a room dehumidifier run in another; I'm using a PC and I can hear the TV upstairs that's connected to a satellite box. Meantime, we have lights on in the rooms that are occupied and four fridge-freezers are plugged in at various places around the house. It's possible that there's a dishwasher going in one of the kitchens as well. One thing that we don't have is an electric immersion heater. Again, I can't remember what the normal power rating of those is in Britain, but I think it could very easily cause problems even on a 6kW supply. We're also aware that things like ovens, kettles and toasters you buy in Italy are generally lowered powered and so take a little longer to heat up. It's not like it takes hours to get an oven up to baking temperature, just that you have to wait a few minutes longer. I would suggest to anyone moving here that they try to get by on the default 3kW supply for at least a while. If it involves too traumatic a change to lifestyle, then upgrade to a higher capacity. When I did this about six years ago, it involved fiddling around on the ENEL website. There was no visit by an engineer, just a signal sent down the line to the meter which meant it would trip at a higher power draw. It's possible that things might be more difficult now than they were then, but it seems unlikely. It is, however, possible that the wires supplying your place simply can't safely carry any additional load, so an upgrade of the line as mentioned by Badger might be required. The reason for trying to keep the 3kW supply if possible is that you pay more for electricity if you have a higher capacity supply. Al

Thank you Badger and Allan.  I know we use at present 10kwh per day - probably more in winter but don't know how that compares with the 3kw that would come in to a house.  Just tried to find how much comes in UK but haven't found it yet!

Joy I am sure someone else will reply with regard to large goods like washing machine, oven, dishwasher etc as I purchased all these here, but all my small goods I have purchased from UK (usually amazon.co.uk) i.e. kettle, halogen oven, magimix, rice cooker, bread maker, iron etc etc.  We also have a couple of English TV's, DVD player, surround sound system, that we brought over with us and all are fine here.  I would definitely support Allan's suggestion of trying to manage on 3kw for a while as easier to upgrade than down.  We managed for 18 months in our first property on 3kw and the only time it tripped was if I was running washing machine, iron and oven and then put on the electric kettle. I worked around that for 18 months.  When we moved into our current home I had two ovens built in the kitchen and needed 6kw.  On 6kw I have never had it trip but you do pay more for 6kw.

Joy, if your electricity consumption is currently 10 kilowatt hours a day, that could be made up of you using 1kW of electricity for 10 hours, 2kW for 5 hours and so on. In other words, what you're doing now should, in theory, be a usage pattern you could continue with in Italy with only a 3kW supply. The real problems come with heat-generating devices. Blowdriers are notable, as are quick-boil kettles. I seem to recall that UK washing machines might also be a problem due to the power they use heating the water very quickly. UK appliances work fine in Italy. However, one thing you must bear in mind is that power lines in Italy are mainly above ground and that electrical storms are very common here. This combination means that it's very sensible to have good quality surge protection on electronic equipment like computers, TV and associated boxes. Even then, it's wise to unplug equipment from power and telephone sockets when there's a storm heading your way. Generally, you don't need to worry about lights and things like toasters, since they're more robust and less likely to be damaged by surges on the line, although I have heard of such things being fried by a direct strike on a house's power line. Al

We run the house and the apartment on 3kw....has only tripped once in 6 years when 3 guests were using hairdryers at the same time!. Always hob gas kettle, but we have an English toaster and washing machine.I guess we live rather simply without the need or the want for too many appliances. Alans warning re unplugging the computer when there is a storm is well founded. Had a lightning strike in the house which blew up the printer and as I was standing next to it at the time taught me a lesson about unplugging as well as logging out. 

Thanks everyone - as I won't be working if we move over then I probably won't be in such a hurry to do everything at once!! Can anyone say what the difference in price is for 3 or 6 kw when using about 3600 kwh per year. Thanks  :)

Nearest I can get to on the Excel calculator is for the 3kw supply, for 3600kwh is 937 Euro. This is as you have not gone into the 4400kwh band which adds much more. 3000kwh gave me 798 Euro 3600kwh ...... 937 Euro 4399kwh ......1122 Euro This is a "beta" calculator, but is fairly close to the actuals hopefully. 6 kw supply will take me a little longer to calculate, but sure someone on here can give you a close estimate.

We quite often have trips on our 3kw supply, maybe once every three or four weeks.  The most frequent cause is that our washing machine is outside the house in the cantina so you forget (or one of us doesn't even know) that it's on, and switches on the electric kettle, oven or dishwasher.   Most often it's the kettle.  There's also a small power surge when our water pump switches on, so occasionally you get the weird experience of turning off the electricy by turning on a water tap - but only if we have a high load already.  But there are many other causes, including guests with hairdryers.   However it's something you get completely used to.  It only takes a moment to reset the meter, though it helps to have a torch handy for when it's dark. Of course sometimes you find the meter hasn't tripped, and you have a power cut instead - as these are also not that uncommon.  Time to light the candles, but the cut is often over before you've done this. The electric immersion heater is not normally a problem, as most of those sold in Italy use much less power than those in the UK.  We only use this in summer anyway.

Thanks Badger for doing your sums! I found a statement this morning dated July and it says we used 4,111 wh during last 12 months and the estimated charge will be £581.68 therefore Italy is about 25% more expensive and we are on a standard tariff.  Me thinks John needs retraining not to leave the oven on when he's finished cooking - or me do the cooking?  ;(( Thanks Tasso  We've always had candles in the meter cupboard but never used them - think of that as a bit of an adventure! After our crap summer (thinks that's what it was called) whereever you are there are for and against and to have a bit of sunshine on a regular basis would be worth it.

There is a bit of a myth about this 3KW supply (I live happily with it, despite my 2.5KW kettle!) Anyway: if you are resident, and have a resident tariff, and only have a 3KW contract, you get reasonably cheap electricity. If (even as a resident) you opt for 6KW, you move onto a different tariff, and it is only about 2 Euro (a month) cheaper to be a resident or a non resident (because the residency only affects the standing charge). So, if you cannot cope with 3KW (as a non resident) it really isn't worth trying to do this - the inconvenience is going to be greater than the small extra charge for having 6KW available. And - (maybe this is why my Kenwood 2.5KW kettle never trips anything) - it's a contractual deal, you promise not to use more than 3KW - but there is a little bit of generosity, and you can use 4.5KW for a few minutes withhout anything tripping. If you have a hefty kettle, it will let you make tea before ENEL have even noticed anything amiss, just because it heats up in milliseconds! I really don't think getting stressed about electricity prices in Italy (as a standard user) is an issue. Other energy prices (gas, gasolio) are way out of any UK experience - not only because these products are expensive in Italy, but because often Italian houses lack any insulation, or intelligence on the part of the installer of the (conventional) central heating system.

Generous, but very wasteful of energy resources, maybe people elswhere need to be mindful before they switch on, and educated on the fact that these things are not infinate. A very dispiriting article in the Guardian today on the world food crisis, especially with regard to climate change, and the failure of crops. Dont know what it would take for people to wake up to the fact that the future of their children and granchildren is at  risk.

I'm not so sure it makes that much difference really.  The UK produces a reasonable amount of its electricity by nuclear means.  Italy doesn't have that option so it buys it from the French and has to ration it.  Those that use lots of electricity always will do so, as they simply upgrade their supply - especially those with pools, air conditioners, heatpumps etc.  Most of those people will use more electricity than the vast majority of UK users.  Having a smaller supply doesn't prevent us using more power, we simply stagger it:  If I need to switch on the oven, iron & put on the washing machine, I simply do it consecutively rather than at the same time.   That said, we do produce our own power (6kW) - not just a conscientious choice but also a financial one.  

Don't think it quite correlates.......I had no idea that we had 25kW here in the UK - I operate from the perspective off keepng usage to the minimum whilst staying warm and keeping an eye on the bill.  We could have the possibility of 3kW/6 or 25 - I'd still be the same.  

That's interesting to know that 25kw comes in to the house - thanks. I probably use a lot at one time as I work full time, so have to rush to get everything done.  I do try to be careful and not waste.  My OH is not so good - he leaves lights on, printers etc and I go round after him.  He says I am mean but he doesn't know what a bill looks like! BTW what difference is there whether a kettle boils slowly or quickly?  Obviously the quick one will use more electric but also it uses for a shorter period so does this even it out?

Joy, you're absolutely right to think that the amount of energy used to boil a certain quantity of water will, all other things being equal, be the same whether it's heated quickly or slowly. So the fraction of a kilowatt hour that's used to boil a cup of water should (in theory) be the same whether it's done in a 500W caravan kettle or a 3kW fast-boil kettle. What will be very different is how much electricity the kettles are using at their point of maximum power consumption, and that's the key issue if the maximum power available to you is limited. If your household power supply is limited to 3kW, you could operate a 500W caravan kettle along with several other appliances, but a 3kW fast-boil kettle would immediately demand all the power available to the whole house. The circuit breaker at the meter which limits consumption at any time to 3kW is, in effect, a resetable 13A fuse. If you draw more current than that at any point, the fuse blows and you need to disconnect or switch off appliances before you can reset the circuitbreaker and get the lights back on. Al