Electrical wiring

Guide to electric wire colours: Ground, blue, brown, and others

This article was written by our friends over at kabelbyen.dk.

(Please consult with a professional before you do anything to any electrical installation. This is just a general overview and should not be considered as specific advice)

Using the right wire using colour code depends on several factors. These include location, voltage, installation type, and so on. In workplaces, it is important to have a clear idea about the colour codes.

That way, the work becomes safer. Also, you can carry out future maintenance with ease. Moreover, knowing the purpose of each wire keeps your house’s electric system in good working condition.


What Exactly Is A Wire Colour Code?

Each colour used in electrical wiring tells you about the purpose of that specific wire. Colour codes in wires are a kind of standardization that different regions in the world follow. It is for a better understanding of the whole electrical system and resolves issues without catastrophic loss.

In some countries, you will find that the governing body is responsible for all the permissible electrical cable colour codes. However, in other regions, you may find that only a few kinds of wiring are required. And, so they have specific colours on the wires. So, the significance of electric cable colours varies from one country to another.


Why Is It Important To Know The Differences Between Each Wire Colour?

All kinds of electrical wires follow a standard colour code. And, they are set by the concerned authority. Each colour helps to identify the special purpose of that wire in the circuit. So, before you make an attempt to change a light fixture or faulty switch, learn about the wiring colour codes.

Learning about the different colour codes on wires is an integral part of the world of wiring. Therefore, I feel that it is wise to leave the work to a professional because it is very dangerous. The electricians are experts in this area and they proceed with caution to avoid surprises.


Why Are The Wires Coloured?

Electric wires have insulating casings filled with different colour codes to indicate their purpose. These days, you can find colour-coded electric wires in every electronic device and electrical system. That way, you can quickly identify each wire and resolve issues.

  • Live circuits or hot wires are coloured red or black. But sometimes they come in yellow and blue
  • A neutral wire comes in either grey or white
  • The ground comes in green or green with a yellow stripe. Sometimes, it has a bare copper wire

However, these wiring colour codes vary. So, it is challenging to learn them at first. But knowing about the colours is important. And, it might save you during a blackout. Or, when it is time to check the installation of a new fixture. Keep in your mind that most of the wires carry a charge. So, treat every colour with caution.


Different Types Of Wiring Colours

You may have accidentally come across an exposed wire or thought of repairing a switch. However, you should know how dangerous it might be. Thankfully, the wire coatings give you the idea of whether the wire is neutral, ground, or hot.


Green With Yellow Stripe, Green, Or Bare Copper Represent Ground Wires

There is no question that green is the widely used ground cable colour. However, you may treat green wires with or without yellow stripes and bare copper as ground wires, as well. The purpose of the ground wire is to allow a safe passage for the electricity below your house.

Ground wires allow the positive changes in your electrical panels to move in the ground in a controlled manner. The process is safe because it eliminates the risk of an electric shock or fire. In short, ground wire reduces the risk of an electric overload. These wires redirect excessive electricity when there is a lightning strike or short circuit.

In the US, chances are that if you have a new home constructed after 1960, it has a properly grounded system. But if the house was built before 1960, you have to find out through observation. Take a look at the outlets.

  • In grounded outlets, you will get a D-shaped and two other slots. They connect to a ground wire
  • But outlets with two slots and a missing D-shaped slot isn’t connected to a ground wire

If you are still in doubt, don’t risk yourself. Instead, reach out to a reliable local electrician.


Black Represents Hot Wires

Black insulation denotes hot or live wires. And, they are widely found in standard household circuits. Sometimes, you may find the wire red as well. Black wires are hot wires that carry electricity from one point to another. You should always take precautions and extreme care while working with these wires. They feed an outlet or switch. Also, they work as a connection that runs between the switch and the electrical outlet.


Red Represents Hot Wires

You will find a red wire when there is an outlet for 240-Volt electricity. You can find them on your wall switches that control the outlet. When you turn the switch on, the red wire supplies power to the outlet. You can use a red wire as a second hot wire. When your circuit board has 240-Volts instead of 120-Volts, you can see both black and red wires.


Blue & Yellow Represent Hot Wires As Well

It is not a common sight to see blue and yellow wires in an outlet. Both these wires carry power and represent live wires. You can see yellow wires acting as switch legs to outlets. The light switches control them.


Gray Or White Represent Neutral Wires

Both these colour codes represent neutral wires. Neutral wires connect to a piece of metal called the neutral bus bar. You can find them within the electric panel. They distribute electricity throughout your house. While they are popular as neutral wires, they carry electrical current. So, treat them cautiously.


What Are The Brown Grey Black Electrical Wires?

When you have three colour-coded cables as brown black grey, it is a cable used for a single-phase circuit. Wondering what are the brown grey and black electrical wires used for? These wires are for operating high-voltage systems such as industrial equipment and motors.