Knowing your colors is the key to being a successful electrician. Color codes and symbols are the way to understand what colors go where and what they mean. Without this knowledge, you could cause a fire by wiring something incorrectly or damage your appliance by installing the wrong cord.
The electrical wiring color codes knowledge does not just apply to the electricians. It is also applicable to those buying electrical products. So, whenever you place an order for components that will be used in electrical wiring, it will be good to remember the codes.
This guide will teach you everything you need to know about electrical wires and how they work and provide some color coding tips for you to remember. After reading this, you’ll be able to wire anything without making mistakes.
- 1 Types of wires used for wiring
- 2 Different wiring color codes and what they represent
- 3 UK wiring color codes
- 4 US wiring color codes
- 5 3-phase wiring colors in the UK
- 6 Importance of the electrical wiring color codes
- 7 Conclusion
Types of wires used for wiring
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Before we break down the different colors, it will be wise to explore different types of wires used in wiring. From there, you will know which color represents which kind of color.
A hot wire stands for a conductor that provides a direct current to a load. It is used for lighting, for example, when an incandescent light bulb is connected to a circuit.
The fact that they are current-carrying wires means you should handle them with utmost care and precaution.
A live wire is usually used to carry a current in an AC circuit. It is also the type of wire that has the electric current used as a source of power for other electrical devices such as motors, lighting, and appliances.
In general, you should use this type of wire to connect your electrical devices plugged into an outlet, while you should use hot wires to connect sockets or switches.
A ground wire is also known as a conductive grounding wire. It is used to connect electrical devices with earth, and it can be either metallic or non-metallic. The main objective of using a ground wire is to eliminate any possibility of electric shock by connecting electrical devices and components.
It also serves to provide electrical grounding for circuits and components.
Neutral wires are designed to carry the electric current back to the source.
In an AC circuit, the neutral wire is connected to the source of electricity, and it is used as a return path for the electric current.
In a DC circuit, neutral wires are used to connect the source of electricity with the battery.
Different wiring color codes and what they represent
Back to the main topic, let’s look at the different color codes for wiring and what they mean.
This is the live wire in the cable that makes the circuit.
This wire carries no current but is used to ground other wires.
Blue or Blue and White = neutral wire: A wire carrying no current that is used to ground some other wires.
Green=ground Wire: This is a bare copper wire that provides a connection point for grounding. It must not be confused with green, which indicates an earth ground, like an electrical appliance with an internal earth connection.
Yellow: Thi is also used for representing earth or ground.
White=power wire: This is the wire that carries current from a mains power supply to the appliance.
Green and White=ground wires: These are bare copper wires that carry current from the power supply to the ground.
Red=Hot wire: This wire carries current from the main power supply to the appliance.
UK wiring color codes
You probably think that the color codes for the wiring are universal. In reality, the regulations are different depending on the geographical area.
The wiring color codes for the UK are different from the color codes for the US market. So, it will be good to define the two regions whenever we discuss this topic.
The wiring color codes in the UK were harmonized in 2006. They are known as BS 7671. The system is based on the European Committee for Standardization (CENELEC).
The color codes are used in all countries of the EU. So, if you buy electrical products in any country, it will be good to look at the wiring color codes first before buying them to avoid mistakes when installing them.
US wiring color codes
In the US, the color code system is different from the European. The color codes were developed in the late 1940s by the National Bureau of Standards (NBS).
The NBS established several committees to create an electrical wire and cable standard. As a result, each committee created its standards and published them as NBS Standards.
As time passed, these standards were adopted as national standards. The first one was NEMA-001 in 1949, followed by NEMA-002 in 1950, and so on.
The National Electrical Code was adopted in 1954 to help standardize these national standards into one single code for all electrical products sold within the United States. It is also known as NEC Table 600 or NEC 600 Series.
The US color code is different from that of the UK color code. So, when you buy the wires and other electrical components, it is vital not to confuse the UK vs. US wiring color codes.
3-phase wiring colors in the UK
The electrical wiring colors are also identified by their phases. For instance, in the UK, we have 3-phase wiring colors which may be different from the ordinary UK codes.
The colors are as follows:
-Blue = Neutral
-Red = Live (hot) wire of the 3-phase circuit.
-Yellow = Earth (ground) wire of the 3-phase circuit.
-Green = Power wire of the 3-phase circuit.
European (IEC) wire color codes
It is also important to know the European color code, commonly known as IEC electrical color codes. The IEC codes were implemented in 2010, and they are similar to the European color codes.
Canadian color codes
Other than the American and Europe, we also have the Canadian electrical wiring color codes. They are quite similar to the American wiring codes, so you shouldn’t be confused.
The image below shows different electrical wiring color codes for different regions/countries.
Importance of the electrical wiring color codes
Do the colors of the electrical wiring matter? You may ask.
Whether you are a buyer or an electrician, you should be concerned by the colors used on your electrical wiring. Here are the top reasons why these color codes matter:
The colors of the electrical wiring can be a cause of safety hazards. For instance, you may not know that the red wire is live and should not be touched. This is vital since we cannot underestimate the dangers associated with the handling of electricity. The safer you are, the better.
Installation and maintenance
Electrical installation should be done in a clear and precise manner. All the components and wires should be installed in their rightful place. And this is where the importance of the color code comes in. The color codes are used to indicate which wires are hot and which are neutral. This helps electricians in their installation and maintenance activities.
In most applications, electrical isolation serves to protect wires and associated components from physical and electrical damage.
The color codes help in electrical isolation, such as air conditioning units. The users can identify the wires that are carrying electricity to the room to ensure that all the appliances will not be affected by a malfunctioning appliance.
Are you an instructor handling electrical engineering students? The coloring codes may be vital in your field of work. They will ease your teaching process.
The color codes also help in instructions for homeowners and electricians who may be installing an electrical device or appliance for the first time.
Aesthetics and organization
The color codes help in aesthetics. The users can use the color codes to organize their wires and keep them neat and orderly. Keep in mind that some electrical circuits comprise complex wirings. In some, you will be forced to deal with numerous wires. Using different colors will improve the face value of the course and make it look organized.
Comply with electrical wiring standards
As simple as that. Engineers and electrical technicians are always required to
The color codes allow the users to comply with electrical wiring standards. There is some standard that regulates the color coding of wires.
I hope that you can appreciate the importance of electrical wiring color codes at this point. If you have any questions or concerns, consider getting complete information from experienced technicians.
Otherwise, we at ICRFQ will help you source the best electrical components in China.
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