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RCDs and your Electrical system in Spain

RCDs and your Electrical system in Spain

Unless you are a professionally qualified tradesman - or at the very least an experienced DIY-er - you would be well advised to leave any issue concerning Spanish electrics to the experts.

Residual Current Devices - or RCDs for short - often confuse the average owner of a property in Spain. As such Tumbit asked Tony Poole from Sparks in Spain to tell us everything we need to know about RCDs.

"SIMPLY PUT, the RCD is the most important safety device fitted to your electrical installation. It prevents serious electric shock and can save lives. You should not ignore the importance of this little baby !

The RCD is not a fuse, that function is provided by Circuit Breakers (CB) fitted next to the RCD in your Consumer Unit.

Back in 1992, the 16th edition of the IEE Electrical Regulations (UK) changed the name of the good ol' Earth Leakage Circuit Breaker (ELCB) to the Residual Current Device (RCD) in an attempt to more suitably describe it's function. Well, I don't know about that - I had to look residual up in the dictionary - however, it does do a little more than just provide earth leakage protection.

The RCD sits nice ´n quiet in your Consumer Unit (that's a Fusebox in old money) and monitors your electricity supply 24/7. When something changes and it detects a leak of electricity, normally caused by damp or water ingress, between the Live, Neutral and/or Earth it trips-out and disconnects the electricity supply. This stops conductive fixtures in the home, e.g. metal appliances, stainless steel draining boards, copper pipework, etc. from becoming live and prevents a risk of electric shock. The RCD will not allow you to switch the electricity supply back on until the fault is cleared.

The difference here in Spain is that unlike the UK, an RCD must protect the whole of the electrical installation in a domestic dwelling. The RCD must have a minimum rating of 30 mAmps (that's a very small leakage current).

Make sure you test your RCDs at least every 3 months.

Comment on this Article

Armoured cable not required, AFUMEX or Halogen free is the regulation for the mains supply cable, PVC sheathed is fine for for everything else, armoured if you prefer, but not normally stocked in electrical wholesalers in Spain. 4.0mm (20 amp) should be fine for the hot tub ad utility room. Use IP44 socket outlets for exterior use. The RCD must protect everything, interior and exterior.
Tony Poole - Mon 2th May 2016
I am going to purchase a Mobile Home (new). I already know that I will have the requirement to run two armoured cables (10mm) one for an Hot Tub and one for an outside Utilities room. I understand that the Spanish use a single RCD for the whole Installation. Do I need to protect my Outside Outlets over and above the norm.
Bob Nicholson - Sun 1st May 2016
Hi Tony, Please disregard the previous post, I know it makes no sense, Barry
Barry Hipkiss - Wed 6th Apr 2016
Hi Tony, What are your thoughts on phase to neutral fault current protection. Example, my house in La Escala is a TT system with a live earth loop impedance of 36.6 Ohms approx 6.3 amps of possible fault current. How would we protect a 16amp MCB power circuit? Barry Hipkiss NICEIC Qualifiying Manager (Ret.)
Barry Hipkiss - Wed 6th Apr 2016
Well spotted Barry Hipkiss, please excuse the mistake, the "maximum" rating of the RCD is indeed 30mAmp. Generally, this is the only type sold over the counter in stores.
Tony Poole - Tue 5th Apr 2016
RCD.s in a domestic situation must have MAXIMUM rating of 30mA tripping current and not as stated a minimum.
Barry Hipkiss - Tue 5th Apr 2016
Interruptor Diferencial or ID
Tony Poole - Fri 4th Sep 2015
Hi there, what is the Spanish name for an RCD? Thank u very much
Richard White - Fri 4th Sep 2015
Neither, blue/azul in neutral.... black, brown or grey are live. Never presume a cable is dead without testing.
Tony Poole Aka Sparks - Tue 30th Apr 2013
electrical wiring in Spain... what color is neutral,,,, black or maron??
Donah - Tue 30th Apr 2013