What do the different colours mean on electrical wires?

What do the different colours mean on electrical wires?

Improper handling of electric wires can cause serious accidents. They can be a threat not only for laymen but for trained electricians as well. This is the reason why understanding wire colour coding is important. Wire identification standards vary from one country to another. However, the colour code standards are almost the same everywhere. 

People often ask what red black and white electrical wires or what are white red and black wires or yellow black wires. The colours of the wires help to understand their purpose along with the amount of voltage the wires are carrying. This blog covers different types of wires based on their colour code. With this guide, you will know how to identify wires based on their colours and what each colour code for wires means. 

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Different Types of Wires

There are different types of wires used in households as well as commercial places. The wires have colour codes based on their uses and other functionalities. Mentioned below are some of the most common kinds of wires used in homes and commercial places along with their colour codes and what they mean. 

  1. Black wires –

    Black is probably the first colour about which you should know in the electrical wire colour code. Black wires designate ‘hot’ wires. In many places, both red and black electrical wires are hot wires. Hot wires can also be in the form of white wires with red or black tape.

    What is a hot wire? Live current runs through a hot wire. These wires carry power from the main electrical panel to the various destinations which need electricity (light, fans, appliances, etc.) Traveller wires are often black. They are mainly used for connecting two or more switches for controlling one function. When you disconnect or cut a black wire, make sure that the circuit is off at the breaker.

    If you touch the open ends of these wires or snip them, you can experience a good shock. Red and black are the main wires which carry power. If you see wires with black or red tape, those might also be hot wires. 

  2. Red wires –

    Similar to black wires, red wires are hot wires too. Air conditioners and other similar large appliances use two hot wires instead of one – there is one black and one red wire in such places. 

    Red wires are also used for interconnecting hardwired smoke detectors. On triggering one alarm, all the other alarms go off simultaneously. Switching is another area where red wire is used.

    In a circuit, there might be multiple switches for one function (switching on a light or a fan, etc.) from different locations. A red wire is used for this purpose. 

  3. Green wires –

    Green wires, bare wires and wires with green and yellow stripes are designated as ground wires. Aluminium and copper are the most common ground wire materials. 

    Ground wires are a kind of safety valve for power which takes an unintentional path. Instead of serving the equipment, the power takes some other route causing electrical hazards like shocks and electrocution. Ground wires carry unintentional power to the earth so that electrical hazards are avoided. 

    In normal circuits, green ground wires do not carry current. However, be careful while disconnecting or cutting these wires as they might contain power in case of a wrong connection. 

  4. Blue and Yellow wires –

    When you have three or four-way switches, you will see the use of blue and yellow wires as traveller wires. They are also used as switch legs when the electrical wires go through pipes in the basement, attic or walls. 

    There is frequent use of blue and yellow and blue wires in industrial and commercial buildings where there is use of three-phase power. Though these wires might not be widely visible, they carry current and are live. 

  5. White and Grey wires –

    White and grey wires are designated as neutrals or grounded conductors. A red or black wire carries power from the panel to various devices and appliances; while the neutral white or grey wire returns the power to the panel. This process continues in an endless loop. 

    Apart from white and grey, grounded conductors might have three grey or white stripes on any background colour, apart from green. If grey or white wires have red, black or other coloured tape at the ends, it indicates that the conductor is being used as a hot and not a neutral. 

    These wires carry power as well and it is always recommended to be careful when handling or using these wires.

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Purchase high-quality electrical wires from Schneider Electric eShop

Now that you know about the different colours of wires and what they mean, you can shop accordingly as per your requirements. It is always recommended to purchase high-quality wires from trusted places for security since electrical accidents are commonplace and can even be fatal. Schneider Electric eShop is your one-stop destination for all kinds of quality electrical goods and equipment, including all kinds of wires. Visit the e-store and check the options now!

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