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I live in Spain, my home's electrics are just terrible. I'm waiting for an electrician to look at it and quote me for sorting it all out.

Things are frequently tripping out, I've been trying to spot a pattern of what equipment is on or loading might be causing it, so far I've eliminated just about every possible cause, except one that I've only just thought of.

Owing to my office having just a single power socket, and me having quite a lot of equipment in here I ran an extension from an adjacent room so that I can split the load.

This means that connected equipment is not necassarily drawing power from the same circuit. E.G. At least 1 PC is drawing power from the next room, while the 2 screens it is connected to is drawing power from this room.

Could this simple fact be "spooking" the circuit breakers and resulting in the power getting cut?

(I may well be using the term "circuit breakers" incorrectly. What I mean here is the small switches designed to throw during an overload or abnormal condition, usually found near the incoming supply. I am aware that there are several different types of modules that can be used here, and I have no idea which of them I have.)

EDIT - Pictures of the breakers: https://photos.app.goo.gl/GKH5rzNJxV1HpGe36 https://photos.app.goo.gl/LYWHxuPog6cF4T8HA https://photos.app.goo.gl/xEgm4TwS4wrtLWMU8 https://photos.app.goo.gl/Zkj9yRNQVFHW9hLm9

Edit - clarification To be clear, the loads we're talking about are not excessive. The last time it tripped the total load on the circuit(s) that tripped was (I think) in the region of 10-15A - spread across those 2 sockets. There was other load on the supply at the time, but these did not go off until I started flipping breakers.

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  • I'm not sure if this is the correct stack-exchange for this question, but I couldn't find a more appropriate one. If you know a better place for this question, please say so and I'll move my question there. – DJL Jul 11 at 11:12
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    I've flagged it for migration to DIY. – Transistor Jul 11 at 11:13
  • Can you post photos of your distribution board/consumer unit? – ThreePhaseEel Jul 11 at 11:40
  • I'm trying, but 3 different ways I've tried and encountered totally unrelated issues. I'll get back to you on that! – DJL Jul 11 at 11:58
  • Do you have a master RCD? Is that tripping? Do any of the individual circuit breakers have an "Test" button on them? – Harper - Reinstate Monica Jul 11 at 12:27
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having quite a lot of equipment in here I ran an extension

So you already know the answer to the question, and you've already taken measures to solve it.

You are overloading your electrical system

Stop doing that obviously.

You aren't "spooking" the circuit breakers, you are drawing enough power to melt the wires, and the breakers are correctly sized to trip before that happens, and they are doing their job. They are not malfunctioning or acting irrationally: you are. You are treating electricity like a cornucopia of unlimited power for anything you please, and it simply isn't that. You can provision more electrical service to a room, but you would need to do that.

And you already know you need more electrical service in that room, because you've called in an electrician to tell you that, and I'm pretty sure you know that's what he's going to say.

... So what's your question?

What do I tell him? Tell him you want 4 total circuits in that room. Why 4? Because the labor is 90% of it, the cost of a couple extra cables is nothin', so you might as well over-provision the room rather than have him come back. It's possible you won't have panel space for that, OK, but when you're working hard in this room, are you really doing anything in the garage or living room? So you can have him add the extra circuits to existing circuits that you don't use much at the same time.

My home's electrics are terrible though. No. What you're really saying is "I want to do more stuff than most house's electrical will support". That doesn't mean your house is bad, it means your demands are high. Who knows? Your house might also be bad, but this doesn't prove it.

How do I manage this intelligently so it won't trip in the meantime? Simple but a little bit of work. For each breaker you are worried about, note the number on it (e.g. 13, 15, 16, 20) and turn it off. Now go figure out what outlets lost power, then you can turn it back on again. Look at the appliances on that circuit. Ignore LED lighting, anything with USB, "wall-wart" or lump-in-the-cord power supply - those aren't worth counting. Look at the stickers on the remaining appliances for its electrical rating in watts, VA or amps. If you get watts or VA, divide by your local standard voltage (e.g. 230). That will give you amps. Total up amps for all the appliances on that circuit. Do whatever it takes so all the running appliances are less than the number on the breaker.

You might turn on only some appliances at a time. Or you might move appliances to different places so they are on a different circuit - a laser printer is a good one for that. Moving big loads out of the room also reduces the air conditioning load somewhat.

  • "drawing enough power to melt the wires" No I'm not drawing anything like that much power! It's a lot of equipment for a single socket, although honestly it could probably handle it, I was just erring on the side of caution by splitting it across 2 sockets. – DJL Jul 11 at 16:18
  • As for turning breakers off one-by-one to see what goes off. I did this a while back and was extremely confused by the results. It seemed like multiple breakers were killing the same circuit. This is part of why I need an electrician, but I don't know if its relevant to why they are tripping out. Also - on every occasion bar 1 the switch hasn't actually gone to the down position, it's stayed up and I have to flip it off, then on again, to reset it. Which seems quite odd to me. – DJL Jul 11 at 16:22
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    The last time it tripped the total draw on the circuit(s) that tripped out would have be on the order of about 10-15A - and that was split across multiple sockets – DJL Jul 11 at 16:27
  • @DJL Sorry, you weren't very specific in your original question If you had that kind of hard data (and expertise) you should edit that into your question. Don't downplay your situation, you've clearly been getting multiple breaker trips, and that indicates a serious problem. I've tripped a breaker twice in 10 years. End of the day this is your problem to solve, and it doesn't get solved except by you doing what works. – Harper - Reinstate Monica Jul 11 at 16:36

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