Wiring Query

12/02/2012 - 06:48

I was just about to wire up my workshop to the ENEL box this morning and discovered that the LIVE (Brown) and the EARTH wires are connected together at the meter tails, I was expecting the NEUTRAL and the EARTH wires to be connected together, has anyone else encountered a similar scenario? The place has been rewired recently and no problems exist as far as we are aware.



Do not assume that the color of a wire reveals its purpose or attributes. Wires of every color can be hot, either by intention or idiocy. You must assume every wire is hot until you test it. I learned this the hard way in the US with a box fed by two circuits, and then I had a refresher course in Italy with a system that had white wire on both poles. 

The major query is does your (gas fired) boiler still work! That is the single appliance which I have encountered to be phase sensitive - everything else just says AC, do I care - and so ENEL take the same view. Most salvavitas are simple RCCBs (and no, I'm not qualified to discourse on the difference between  ELCBs or RCCBs) Why I enquired as to the colours of your wires?: well, in Italy black was always neutral - as it was in the UK and the US. That (to me) is a no brainer universal intelligence thing. However, for some reason absolutely beyond my comprehension, the Europeans decided that blue would be the 'new' colour for neutral, and that brown would be the colour for live. Now how effing crazy was that? Earth is brown coloured (for a  layman, innit, brown is what earth is coloured). Blue (accompanied by black, the uiversal neutral) was (up to about 1994) the live feed in Italy.  There are norms for which colour wires you can use (in new installations) - they differ for low voltage circuits, and for two way (or relay switched) circuits, but basically they avoid green for anything other than earthing. The absolute cretinosity (IMO) was to move from Red = Live, Black = Neutral, Green = Ground - (norms which I thought one got ingrained in nursery school wherever one lived in the world). But - in practice, it doesn't really matter, and we could all move to a two wire (feed and ground) system if there weren't professional electricians' lobby groups pressing for consumers to be kept confused! If it works - don't fix it. (Sorry to hear of your tools getting nicked - that was a bummer)

I woke up in the night sweating... and thought, live and earth connected together..sounds dangerous. So first thing next morning I changed it to neutral/earth together like I would in UK. Not sure why Enzo wired into the  box as he did but my bit is as it should be. Fingers crosssed!

I'm still alive and now moved on to installing an insert stove and increasing the height of the chimney above  the kitchen. I used 150mm inox liner and it seems to work great but local plumbers said my tube is too small! Great advice and help from Giovanni Russo's big shop  in Francavilla, best flue liner shop I've ever visited - a grotto d' Aladino if ever there was!!!

No gas boiler in our 'house' but the colour coding leaves me confused from time to time, next job insulating the kitchen ceiling and installing lights and switches. The insulation we've put in so far has made an incredible difference to the cosy feel of our little love nest. Sadly the tufe used for the main construction is always going to create problems which we have tried to mask in many cases. Best option demolition and rebuild, but need a lottery win for that so muddle on...

Your new flue sounds big enough to me. We have a 6" liner on our whole house oil furnace in the states, as well as (separately) a 6" flue on our woodstove. If it"s oversized it won' t draw well, and that's will cause difficulty starting a fire (for wood) and the possibilty of backdrafts in windy conditions. FWIW, neutral wires in the US are white.