Easy Chart Electrical Wire Color Codes – Infographic

wire color code infographic

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 outlet, you might have encountered various confusing colored cables.

For 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 is electrical wiring 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.

US Wire Color Codes

US electricians must follow the National Electrical Code or NEC for wiring color codes. NEC specifies that,

Purpose Color
Neutral White or gray
Ground Green, green with yellow stripes, or bare copper

Any others color except the colors mentioned above can be used for other power line cables.

Although any other colors can be used, there is a local practice about specific colors we should use.

The wiring color codes can be divided into 2 groups:

  • US AC Wire Color Code
  • US DC Wire Color Code

US AC Wire Color Code

The wiring color codes which are followed by US based on local practice are divided again into two groups:

a)120/208/240 Volt AC Power Wire Color Codes in US

The wire colors for this category are:

Purpose Color
Single-phase – Line Black or red
Three-phase – Phase 1 Black
Three-phase – Phase 2 Red
Three-phase – Phase 3 Blue
Neutral White or gray
Ground Green, green with yellow stripes, or bare copper

This wiring color codes can be summarized in the chart below:

US AC Wire Code 120 208 240 volt
US AC Wire Code 120/208/240 volt

b)277/480 Volt AC Power Wire Color Codes in US

This category has color codes, that is:

Purpose Color
Three-phase – Phase 1 Brown
Three-phase – Phase 2 Orange
Three-phase – Phase 3 Yellow
Neutral Gray
Ground Green, green with yellow stripes, or bare copper

This wiring color codes can be summarized in the chart below:

US AC Wire Code 277 480 volt
US AC Wire Code 277/480 volt

US DC Wire Color Code

DC wiring color codes are used for the DC power systems such as batteries, generators, and solar power.

Like before, NEC states that ground wire must follow green or green with yellow stripes or just bare copper.

Any other colors can be used for power line wire, but the local practice has wiring color code standards:

Purpose Color
Positive Red
Negative Black
Ground White
Center-tap White

This wiring color codes can be summarized in the chart below:

US DC Wire Code
US DC Wire Code

International Wire Color Codes

These codes follow the International Electrotechnical Commission or IEC as the standard.

The countries that follow the IEC are most of European countries, the United Kingdom, and some other countries (Argentina, China, Hong Kong, Singapore, Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, Kazakhstan).

These countries follow the rule IEC 60445 by IEC. This wiring color codes can be divided into two categories, that is:

  • IEC AC Wire Color Code
  • IEC DC Wire Color Code

IEC AC Wire Color Code

This category has color codes, that is:

Purpose Color
Three-phase – Phase 1 Brown
Three-phase – Phase 2 Black
Three-phase – Phase 3 Gray
Neutral Blue
Ground Green with yellow stripes

This wiring color codes can be summarized in the chart below:

IEC AC Wire color code
IEC AC Wire Color Code

IEC DC Wire Color Code

For DC wiring color code, IEC has standard; that is:

Purpose Color
Positive Brown
Negative Gray
Ground Blue
Center-tap Blue

This wiring color codes can be summarized in the chart below:

IEC DC Wire Color Code
IEC DC Wiring Color Code

Canada Wire Color Codes

Canadian wiring color codes are regulated by the Canadian Electric Code or CEC, for short. The protective earth or ground uses green color or green with yellow stripes. The neutral cable color is white.

For the line wire colors are quite similar to US wiring color codes. The active wiring color codes are separated into two groups: normal and isolated systems.

For normal three-phase Canada wiring color codes:

Purpose Color
Three-phase – Phase 1 Red
Three-phase – Phase 2 Black
Three-phase – Phase 3 Blue
Neutral White or gray
Ground Green or green with yellow stripes

This wiring color codes can be summarized in the chart below:

Unisolated Canada AC Wire Color Code
Unisolated Canada AC Wire Color Code

For isolated three-phase Canada wiring color codes:

Purpose Color
Three-phase – Phase 1 Orange
Three-phase – Phase 2 Brown
Three-phase – Phase 3 Yellow
Neutral White or gray
Ground Green or green with yellow stripes

This wiring color codes can be summarized in the chart below:

Isolated Canada AC Wire Color Code
Isolated Canada AC Wire Color Code

China Wire Color Codes

China follows the wiring color codes below:

Purpose Color
Three-phase – Phase 1 Yellow
Three-phase – Phase 2 Green
Three-phase – Phase 3 Red
Neutral Black or blue
Ground Green with yellow stripes

South Africa Wire Color Codes

South Africa follows the wiring color codes below:

Purpose Color
Two-phase – Phase 1 Red or yellow
Two-phase – Phase 2 White or blue
Neutral Black
Ground Green with yellow stripes

Brazil Wire Color Codes

Brazil follows the wiring color codes by the Brazilian Association of Technical Standards or Associação Brasileira de Normas Técnicas (ABNT).

  • Active line: any color can be used except blue, green, yellow, green with yellow stripes.
  • Neutral – Blue
  • Ground – Green or Green with yellow stripes

Australia and New Zealand Wire Color Codes

Australia and New Zealand wiring color codes are governed by AS/NZS 3000:2018 3.8.1, table 3.4. Any color can be used for hot wire except Yellow, Blue, Black, Green, and Green with yellow stripes.

The recommendation is:

a)Single-phase

  • Line – Red or Brown
  • Switched line – White

b)Multi-phase

  • Red, White, Blue

c)Neutral

  • Black or Blue

d)Ground

  • Green, Green with yellow stripes, or Bare copper

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 version of wiring color codes standard for better safety.

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. What is the wire color codes?

    US AC Wire Code 120 208 240 volt

    US AC Power 120/208/240 volt
    a) Single-phase – Line = Black or red
    b) Three-phase – Phase 1 = Black
    c) Three-phase – Phase 2 = Red
    d) Three-phase – Phase 3 =
    Blue
    e) Neutral = White or gray
    f) Ground = Green, green with yellow stripes, or bare copper

  2. Which wire is live blue or brown?

    IEC AC Wire color code

    IEC AC Power
    a) Three-phase – Phase 1 = Brown
    b) Three-phase – Phase 2 = Black
    c) Three-phase – Phase 3 =
    GRay
    d) Neutral = Blue
    e) Ground = Green with yellow stripes

  3. What color wires are positive and negative?

    US DC Wire Code

    The color wire code is: The positive is red and the negative is black

  4. Is red or black live or neutral?

    The color wire code is: The positive is red and the negative is black

  5. What Colour wire is positive?

    The color wire code is: The positive is red and the negative is black

  6. Is white wire negative or positive?

    White wire is used for neutral wire.

  7. What color is the neutral wire?

    Neutral wire color code is white.