Easy Chart Electrical Wire Color Codes – Infographic

Wire color codes or cable color code charts for both AC and DC are classified based on national standards for each region. You may find different colors in different countries, so that’s why we need to check it by ourselves or consult a professional.

Keep in mind that not every country has all the wire color codes recorded in a document. When it comes to this, we need to use local custom or “alternative” colors.

Wire color code is a crucial thing to be noted. Especially for electricians, electrical engineers, technicians, and even regular people.

Why?

If you have opened a light switch box or an electrical outlet, you might have encountered various confusing colored cables.

For those of you, who haven’t learned about it, let me explain it to you briefly.

Why do we use different colors for cables? No more and no less to differentiate the cable standardization.

A wire colored in black is different from a cable colored in brown, orange, red, or green.

We need to know what is the specific purpose for each color before touching it (you better don’t touch or plug-unplug the cable unless you know what is the meaning of its color).

Knowing the meaning of the color will keep us and our electrical system safe.

Before we start learning about wiring color code, let us understand what electrical wiring is a bit first.

Electrical Wiring

Electrical wiring is an installation of the electric devices and cables. The devices can be electronic boards, switches, sockets, and room lighting.

The wiring needs to be taken seriously. We must follow the safety standards and installation practice. The types of the wire and its size are strictly classified to the operating voltage and current capability.

Not only that, the temperature, exposure, moisture, and chemical level are planned carefully.

Electrical wiring standard and electrical wiring installation are made with the purpose of the best safety for people and devices.

This standard varies for each region or country. They are modelled based on code produced by national or international standards organizations.

Please remember that older installations may use different colors. It is wise to make a note about color code history. With this strategy, we will get better safety and easier maintenance.

From the list below, you will learn about:

  • Live wire color
  • Color wiring diagram
  • Conductor color code
  • Phase color chart
  • Positive and negative wire colors
  • Wire color code charts

Europe Wire Color Codes

IEC AC wire color codes

Most of Europe uses this IEC 60446 (International Electrotechnical Commission) standard for electrical color code charts. The colors and the labels can be observed below:

  1. Single phase, Line (L) = brown
  2. Three phase, Line 1 (L1) = brown
  3. Three phase, Line 2 (L2) = black
  4. Three phase, Line 3 (L3) = grey
  5. Neutral (N) = blue
  6. Protective earth (PE) = green-yellow

From the list above we can conclude that:

  1. For single phase system we will find:
    • Positive = brown
    • Negative = blue
  1. For three phase system we will find:
    • Positive = brown, black, grey
    • Neutral = blue

United Kingdom Wire Color Codes

UK AC wire color codes

The UK now adapts IEC 60446 as its own wire color codes from British Standard BS 7671:2001 Amendment No 2:2004. There is a little extension that UK also uses grey color as line conductor. Same as above, the UK wiring color code (with extension) along with 3 phase color chart will be:

  1. Single phase, Line (L) = brown, grey
  2. Three phase, Line 1 (L1) = brown
  3. Three phase, Line 2 (L2) = black
  4. Three phase, Line 3 (L3) = grey
  5. Neutral (N) = blue
  6. Protective earth (PE) = green-yellow

From the list above we can conclude that:

  1. For single phase system we will find:
    • Positive = brown, grey
    • Negative = blue
  1. For three phase system we will find:
    • Positive = brown, black, grey
    • Neutral = blue

United States Wire Color Codes

The US follows National Electrical Code (NEC) wire color codes. The wiring color codes from NEC are classified into flexible cables and fixed cables.

Flexible Cable

The wire color codes from this category are extension cord, power cable, and lamp cords wiring color.

120 V line voltage:

  1. Line (L) = black
  2. Neutral (N) = white
  3. Protective earth (PE) = green, green-yellow striped.

240 V line voltage (split phase):

  1. Line (L) = black or red
  2. Neutral (N) = white
  3. Protective earth (PE) = green, green-yellow striped.

Fixed Cable

The wire color codes from this category are 3 phase color charts, all of the cable behind the wall, in the wall, or on the wall.

US AC 120 208 240 volt wire color codes

120, 208, 240 V line voltage wire color code:

  1. Three phase, Line 1 (L1) = black
  2. Three phase, Line 2 (L2) = red
  3. Three phase, Line 3 (L3) = blue
  4. Neutral (N) = white
  5. Protective earth (PE) = green, bare copper (no insulation), green-yellow striped (for isolated systems)

US AC 277 480 volt wire color codes

277, 480 V line voltage wire color code:

  1. Three phase, Line 1 (L1) = brown
  2. Three phase, Line 2 (L2) = orange
  3. Three phase, Line 3 (L3) = yellow
  4. Neutral (N) = grey
  5. Protective earth (PE) = green, bare copper (no insulation), green-yellow striped (for isolated systems)

Canada Wire Color Codes

Canada follows the wiring color codes standard by Canadian Electric Code (CEC). The wiring color codes from CEC are classified into flexible cables and fixed cables.

Flexible Cable

The wire color codes from this category are extension cord, power cable, and lamp cords wiring color.

120 V line voltage:

  1. Line (L) = black
  2. Neutral (N) = white
  3. Protective earth (PE) = green, green-yellow striped.

240 V line voltage (split phase):

  1. Line (L) = black, red
  2. Neutral (N) = white
  3. Protective earth (PE) = green, green-yellow striped.

Fixed Cable

The wire color codes from this category are all of the cable behind the wall, in the wall, or on the wall.

Canada AC unisolated wire color codes

For unisolated system

  1. Single phase, Line (L) = red, black
  2. Three phase, Line 1 (L1) = red
  3. Three phase, Line 2 (L2) = black
  4. Three phase, Line 3 (L3) = blue
  5. Neutral (N) = white, grey
  6. Protective earth (PE) = green, bare copper (no insulation), green-yellow striped (for isolated systems)

Canada AC isolated wire color codes

For isolated system:

  1. Single phase, Line (L) = orange, brown
  2. Three phase, Line 1 (L1) = orange
  3. Three phase, Line 2 (L2) = brown
  4. Three phase, Line 3 (L3) = yellow
  5. Neutral (N) = white, grey
  6. Protective earth (PE) = green, green-yellow striped (for isolated systems)

Australia and New Zealand Wire Color Code

Australia and New Zealand follow the wiring color codes standard by AS/NZS 3000:2007 3.8.1, 3.8.3 for flexible cable.

Flexible Cable

The wire color codes from this category are extension cord, power cable, and lamp cords wiring color:

  1. Line (L) = brown
  2. Neutral (N) = blue
  3. Protective earth (PE) = green-yellow striped.

Australia and New Zealand follow the wiring color codes standard by AS/NZS 3000:2007 3.8.1 table 3.4 for fixed cable.

Fixed Cable

The wire color codes from this category are 3 phase color charts, all of the cable behind the wall, in the wall, or on the wall.

Australia new zealand AC wire color codes

Prohibited = yellow, light blue, black, green, green-yellow striped

  1. Single phase, Line (L) = red, brown
  2. Single phase, Switched Line = white
  3. Three phase, Line 1 (L1) = red
  4. Three phase, Line 2 (L2) = white
  5. Three phase, Line 3 (L3) = blue
  6. Neutral (N) = black, light blue
  7. Protective earth (PE) = green, bare copper (no insulation), green-yellow striped (stranded wire)

China Wire Color Code

China (PRC) has the wiring color codes standard for flexible cable and fixed cable as follows.

Flexible Cable

The wire color codes from this category are extension cord, power cable, and lamp cords wiring color:

  1. Line (L) = yellow, green, red
  2. Neutral (N) = black, blue
  3. Protective earth (PE) = green-yellow striped.

Fixed Cable

The wire color codes from this category are 3 phase color charts, all of the cable behind the wall, in the wall, or on the wall.

China AC wire color codes

  1. Three phase, Line 1 (L1) = yellow
  2. Three phase, Line 2 (L2) = green
  3. Three phase, Line 3 (L3) = red
  4. Neutral (N) = black, blue
  5. Protective earth (PE) = green-yellow striped

Brazil Wire Color Code

Brazil has the wiring color codes standard by ABNT NBR 5410:2004 6.1.5 for flexible cable and fixed cable as follows.

Flexible Cable

The wire color codes from this category are extension cord, power cable, and lamp cords wiring color:

  1. Line (L) = any color except green and green-yellow striped, yellow is prohibited if green or green-yellow striped is used, blue can be used when there is no neutral cable.
  2. Neutral (N) = light blue
  3. Protective earth (PE) = green, green-yellow striped.

Fixed Cable

The wire color codes from this category are 3 phase color charts, all of the cable behind the wall, in the wall, or on the wall.

Brazil AC wire color codes

  1. Three phase, Line 1 (L1) = black
  2. Three phase, Line 2 (L2) = white
  3. Three phase, Line 3 (L3) = red
  4. Neutral (N) = light blue
  5. Protective earth (PE) = green, green-yellow striped

South Africa Wire Color Codes

South Africa has the wiring color codes standard for flexible cable and fixed cable as follows.

Flexible Cable

The wire color codes from this category are extension cord, power cable, and lamp cords wiring color. South Africa uses this IEC 60446 (International Electrotechnical Commission) for flexible cable:

  1. Single phase, Line (L) = brown
  2. Three phase, Line 1 (L1) = brown
  3. Three phase, Line 2 (L2) = black
  4. Three phase, Line 3 (L3) = grey
  5. Neutral (N) = blue
  6. Protective earth (PE) = green-yellow

Fixed Cable

The wire color codes from this category are all of the cable behind the wall, in the wall, or on the wall.

  1. Three phase, Line 1 (L1) = red or yellow
  2. Three phase, Line 2 (L2) = white or blue
  3. Neutral (N) = black
  4. Protective earth (PE) = green-yellow striped

India Wire Color Codes

India AC wire color codes

India uses this standard for wiring color codes. The colors and the labels can be observed below:

  1. Single phase, Line (L) = red
  2. Three phase, Line 1 (L1) = red
  3. Three phase, Line 2 (L2) = yellow
  4. Three phase, Line 3 (L3) = blue
  5. Neutral (N) = black
  6. Protective earth (PE) = green-yellow striped

From the list above we can conclude that:

  1. For single phase system we will find:
    • Positive = red
    • Negative = black
  1. For three phase system we will find:
    • Positive = red, yellow, blue
    • Neutral = black

Indonesia Wire Color Codes

Indonesia uses the wiring color codes standard from PUIL 2011 (Persyaratan Umum Instalasi Listrik) adapted from IEC 60446 as follows:

  1. Single phase, Line (L) = brown, grey
  2. Three phase, Line 1 (L1) = brown
  3. Three phase, Line 2 (L2) = black
  4. Three phase, Line 2 (L3) = grey
  5. Neutral (N) = blue
  6. Protective earth (PE) = green-yellow

From the list above we can conclude that:

  1. For single phase system we will find:
    • Positive = brown, grey
    • Negative = blue
  2. For three phase system we will find:
    • Positive = brown, black, grey
    • Neutral = blue

DC Wire Color Codes

There are also wiring color codes for DC power but we will only cover the NEC and IEC standards since they are more commonly used. These Include 5V, 12V, 24V wire color code, or even higher.

US DC wire color codes

NEC – DC wire color codes

  • Two Wire Ungrounded
    • Positive (L+) = red
    • Negative (L-) = black
    • Protective earth (PE) = bare copper, green, green-yellow
  • Two Wire Grounded
    • Positive (L+) = red
    • Neutral (N) = white
    • Negative (L-) = black
    • Protective earth (PE) = bare copper, green, green-yellow
  • Three Wire Grounded
    • Positive (L+) = red
    • Neutral (N) center-tapped = white
    • Negative (L-) = black
    • Protective earth (PE) = bare copper, green, green-yellow

UK DC wire color codes

IEC – DC wire color codes

  • Two Wire Ungrounded
    • Positive (L+) = brown
    • Negative (L-) = grey
    • Protective earth (PE) = green, yellow
  • Two Wire Grounded
    • Positive (L+) = brown
    • Neutral (N) = blue
    • Negative (L-) = grey
    • Protective earth (PE) = green, yellow
  • Three Wire Grounded
    • Positive (L+) = brown
    • Neutral (N) center-tapped = blue
    • Negative (L-) = grey
    • Protective earth (PE) = green, yellow

Conclusion

From the data above we can conclude that:

  • The wiring color codes for each region are unique from one to another, except for US and Canada.
  • The color above is the newest wiring color code used in every region.
  • You may want to make the record for previous versions of wiring color codes standard for better safety.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Is a black wire negative or positive?

In Europe, UK, US, Canada, South Africa, and Brazil it is used for 3-phase positive lines. In Australia, New Zealand, India, and China it is used for neutral cable or negative.

2. What are the blue and brown wires?

Blue is used for neutral wire in the UK, Europe, Australia, New Zealand, China, Brazil, and South Africa. It is used for positive wire in the US (120, 208, 240V), Canada (unisolated system), and India.

Brown is used for positive wire in the UK, Europe, US (277, 480V), Canada (isolated system), Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa.

3. Is the red wire positive

Red is used for positive wire in the US (120, 208, 240V, and DC voltage), Canada (240V and unisolated system), Australia and New Zealand, China, Brazil, South Africa, and India.

4. What is the orange electrical wire for?

Orange is used for positive wire for the US (277 and 480V) and Canada (isolated system).

5. Is a black and red wire positive or negative?

For the DC circuit, red is used for positive wire (+) and black is used for negative wire (-).

6. Is the striped wire hot or neutral?

For many countries, the striped wire is used for neutral or protective earth.

7. Which is the positive wire black or white?

When there are only black or white wires then black wire is hot or positive and white is the neutral.

2 thoughts on “Easy Chart Electrical Wire Color Codes – Infographic”

  1. On what IEC standard is the IEC DC Wire Color Code Based:

    For DC wiring color code, IEC has standard; that is:
    Purpose Color
    Positive Brown
    Negative Gray
    Ground Blue
    Center-tap Blue

    According IEC 60445 The colours hould be :
    Purpose Color
    Positive L+ RED
    Negative L- WHITE
    Ground M BLUE
    Center-tap N BLUE
    Protective conductor bi-color GREEN-YELLOW

    Reply

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