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Cable colour codes

To enable wires to be easily and safely identified, all common wiring safety codes mandate a colour scheme for the insulation on power conductors. In a typical electrical code, some colour coding is mandatory, while some may be optional. Many local rules and exceptions exist. Older installations vary in colour codes, and colours may shift with insulation exposure to heat, light, and ageing. Many electrical codes now recognize (or even require) the use of wire covered with green insulation, additionally marked with a prominent yellow stripe, for safety grounding (earthing) connections. This growing international standard was adopted for its distinctive appearance, to reduce the likelihood of dangerous confusion of safety grounding wires with other electrical functions, especially by persons affected by red-green colour blindness.


Standard wire colours for FLEXIBLE cable
(e.g. Extension cords, power (line) cords and lamp cords)
Region or Country Phases Neutral Protective earth/ground
European Union (EU), Australia, South Africa (IECĀ 60446) Color wire brown.svg Color wire blue.svg Color wire green yellow.svg
Australia, New Zealand (AS/NZS 3000:2007 3.8.3) Color wire brown.svg, Color wire red.svg Color wire light blue.svg, Color wire black.svg Color wire green yellow.svg
Brazil Color wire yellow.svg, Color wire red.svg Color wire blue.svg Color wire green.svg
United States, Canada Color wire black.svg(brass) Color wire white.svg(silver) Color wire green.svg(green)
Standard wire colours for FIXED cable
(e.g. In-, On-, or Behind-the-wall wiring cables)
Region or Country Phases Neutral Protective earth/ground
European Union (EU) (IECĀ 60446) including UK from 31 March 2004 Color wire brown.svg, Color wire black.svg, Color wire grey.svg Color wire blue.svg Color wire green yellow.svg
UK prior to 31 March 2004 Color wire red.svg, Color wire yellow.svg, Color wire blue.svg Color wire black.svg Color wire green yellow.svg
Color wire green.svg (formerly)
bare conductor, sleeved at terminations (formerly)
Australia, New Zealand (AS/NZS 3000:2007 clause 3.8.1, table 3.4) Any colour other than Color wire green.svg, Color wire yellow.svg, Color wire green yellow.svg, Color wire black.svg, or Color wire light blue.svg
Recommended: Color wire red.svg or Color wire brown.svg for single phase; or Color wire red.svg, Color wire white.svg or Color wire dark blue.svg for multiphase
Color wire black.svg or Color wire light blue.svg Color wire green yellow.svg (since about 1980)
Color wire green.svg (since about 1980)
bare conductor, sleeved at terminations (formerly)
Brazil Color wire yellow.svg, Color wire red.svg, Color wire black.svg, Color wire white.svg Color wire blue.svg Color wire green.svg
South Africa Color wire red.svg, Color wire white.svg or Color wire yellow.svg, Color wire blue.svg Color wire black.svg Color wire green yellow.svg
bare conductor, sleeved at terminations
India, Pakistan Color wire red.svg, Color wire blue.svg, Color wire yellow.svg Color wire black.svg Color wire green.svg
United States Color wire black.svg, Color wire red.svg, Color wire blue.svg (120/208/240V)
(brass)
Color wire brown.svg, Color wire orange.svg, Color wire yellow.svg (277/480V)
Color wire white.svg (120/208/240V) (silver)
Color wire grey.svg(277/480V)
Color wire green.svg (green)
bare conductor
Color wire green yellow.svg (ground or isolated ground)
Canada Color wire red.svg, Color wire black.svg (120/208/240V)
Color wire red.svg, Color wire black.svg, Color wire blue.svg (600/347V)
Color wire orange.svg, Color wire brown.svg (single phase isolated systems)
Color wire orange.svg, Color wire brown.svg, Color wire yellow.svg (three phase isolated systems)
Color wire white.svg (120/208/240V)
Color wire white.svg (600/347V)
Color wire green.svg(green)
bare conductor
Color wire green.svg (isolated ground)
Notes:

Parenthesized colours in italics are used on metallic terminals. "Green/yellow" means green with yellow stripe. See illustrations nearby.

The colours in this table represent the most common and preferred standard colours for wiring; however others may be in use, especially in older installations.

Australian and New Zealand wiring standards allow both European and Australian colour codes. Australian-standard phase colours conflict with IEC 60446 colours, where IEC-60446 supported neutral colour (blue) is an allowed phase colour in the Australia/New Zealand standard. Care must be taken when determining system used in existing wiring.

Canadian and American wiring practices are very similar, with ongoing harmonization efforts.

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graphics: Marekich

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