Electrical Wire Color Codes and Their Meaning Explained

Electricity is a crucial element for a thriving life and a source of energy. It is an essential requirement in almost every industry, be it manufacturing or production. The electricity in a building or a facility distributes to each corner through a sequence of wires. The tools and machines that generate and conduct electricity are loaded with wires too. We can say that wires are an essential element in the generation and transmission of electricity.

Electrical wires exist everywhere; little do people know that an entire house is surrounded by a massive number of wires that run through the walls and the circuits to give power to the electric appliances in the home. As much as the wires are useful to transmit electricity, they can cause hazards too. If an electrical wire is faulty in a circuit or extension cord plug, it can cause injuries, fires, and even deaths by shocks. Also, different electrical wires exist for different appliances and functionality, and so there are wire color codes that indicate their purpose. These color codes help the electrician ensure that everything is safe, secured, and can wire effectively.

Types of Electrical Wire Color Codes
There are different electrical wire color code standards, and it is essential to understand which one to follow when. The used standards vary based on the country where the wiring occurs, the type of electricity, and other components. For workplace safety, it is essential to understand the color codes and their functionality.

Wire Color Codes For DC Power

  • For DC power wiring, there will be either two or three wires.
  • Positive - For positive current, the wire is red.
  • Negative - For the negative current, the wire is black.
  • Ground - For ground, the wire is white or grey.

Wire Color Codes For AC Power

Phase 1 - This phase's wire should be black.
Phase 2 - This phase's wire should be red.
Phase 3 - This phase's wire should be blue.
Neutral - Neutral wire should be white.
Ground - Ground wire should be green.

The red wire indicates the secondary live wires in a 220-volt circuit. Red wires exist for switch legs. Additionally, these wires help to connect smoke detectors hardwired into the power system. It is safe to interconnect a red wire with a red wire or connect it to a black wire.

The black wire transfers power to switches in all types of circuits. Consider every circuit's black wires to be hot at all times. These wires are not used for a ground or neutral wire and should be used to feed power switches and outlets. A black wire exists for the switch leg or the connection between the switch to the electrical load.

Blue and Yellow
Yellow and blue electrical wires exist for transferring power, but these wires are not used for wiring the outlets for standard plug-in electrical devices. Yellow wires exist for multiple uses, like switch legs to fans, outlets paired with light switches, and structural lights. Blue wires exist for travelers for three-way or four-way switches. Both these colors exist for the live wire pulled through a conduit.

White and Grey
White and grey wires indicate a neutral wire. Mostly, white wires exist for this function, but grey also serves the same function. The neutral wire and the neutral bus bar interconnect together within an electrical panel. The neutral bar is of conductive metal that attracts the electric current to distribute outward to feeders. It is possible to connect white and grey wires only with another pair of white and grey wires. Even though the wires are neutral, they can still transfer current, especially the unstable load - the unused electricity that returns to the electrical service.

The green electrical wire specifies the grounding of an electric circuit. No other color wires connect with green wires except a green wire itself; only two green wires can interconnect. These wires connect to the grounding terminal and transfer to the ground bus bar from the outlet box within an electric board. The green wire's main motive is to provide a way for the circuit's electric current to pass to the ground if a live wire accidentally touches metal or any other conductive material. If there is any fault in the circuit, it may carry significant current, so always treat green wires with caution.

If a facility needs to change the wiring systems, the best alternative is to remove and replace all the wires in the circuit. This can be a moral decision as in those situations, the older wiring may cause safety issues. Another way to convey the necessary information regarding the cable's color is to apply wire labels every few feet. This is a right and affordable solution to bring older wiring to a better safety standard.

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