Colour codes for electrical wires.

UK wiring colour codes
UK wiring colour code.

What is the colour codes for electrical wires? This is a system where the colour of a wire represents the function of a wire in a circuit. There are a lot of colour codes for electrical wires. There is the American wiring colour code and the British wiring code.

I am not saying that there are only two electrical wire colour code systems in the world. There are even the Chinese wiring colour codes. I am very much conversant with the British electrical wiring colour codes. This is the electrical wiring colour code that we use in Zambia.

Table of Contents

Electrical house wiring colour codes.

Electrical house wiring colour code refers to the colours of cables that are used in domestic or residential premises. Here the colour code can be grouped into two. The first group is for the colours of cables used in the lighting and power circuits of a house.

The other group is for the colours that are used in wiring home appliances. The first group of cables can be divided into two. The first is the colours used in a single-phase house installation. The second is the colours that are used in a three-phase electrical installation.

What is the single phase colour code for single phase installation?

To answer this question correctly, I must establish or explain what is a single-phase installation? A single-phase installation is an electrical installation that has one live or hot wire supplying the house.

There is one cable carrying electric power to the house and another cable being the return path for electric power. The cable that is the return path for electric power is called a neutral wire.

I have mentioned two cables that is neutral wires and live wires. These are not the only cable that is used in single-phase installations. The last but not the least cable is the earth wire. The earth wire is a protective conductor protecting both people and appliances from electrical shocks and damage.

single phase colour code

The single-phase wire colour code for a single-phase installation is::

Phase wire or live wire the colour is red./ Brown.

Neutral wire the colour is black./Blue

Earth wire, can either be bare or green or green with yellow stripes.

In single-phase domestic or residential appliances, the single-phase wire colours are different. for the live wire you use brown for neutral it’s blue and for the earth, you use green/yellow cables.

what colour is the live wire

Country 1 Phase3 Phase
U.S.ABlack, RED Black, RED, BLUE / Brown, Orange, YELLOW
Australia Red, Brown RED, WHITE, BLUE
colour for live wire.

neutral wire color.

What is a neutral wire? a neutral wire is a return path for the electric current passing through the electric circuit. The live wire takes electric current to the appliance. Then the neutral wire takes the current from the appliance back to the distribution board and finally to the neutral point.

Different countries and regions of the world have different colours for the neutral wire. For this reason, I am going to give you the colour for neutral wire for a few countries.

Neutral wire colors Canada and USA: For both the US and Canada, the colour of the neutral wire is white and grey.
Neutral wire colour Malaysia: Blue is the colour used for the neutral wire..
Neutral wire colour India: Black is the colour used for neutral in India.
Neutral wire colour Australia: For Australia, blue is used for the neutral wire.
Neutral wire colour UK: For the UK and Ireland blues is the neutral wire.
The neutral wire colour in Pakistan is black.

uk wiring colours.

You might be aware that the UK wiring colours were changed in 2006. This change was made so wiring colours in the UK can be aligned with that of Europe.

For this reason, I am going to show you the colours that are used for the live wire in the UK for both the old wiring colour code UK and the new wiring colour code UK.

new uk wiring colour codes

The image above is showing you the colour for live wire in the UK for both old wiring colours and new colours.

The old colour system, Red is a live wire and black is the neutral wire.

In the new colour system, Brown is a live wire colour and blue is the neutral wire colour.

3 phase wiring colours uk.

In a 3 phase wiring system, you have three live wires that are 120 degrees out of phase from each other. This wiring system is mostly used in commercial and industrial applications.

The voltage in a three-phase system is 415V. For three-phase induction motors, you will have three-phase and earth wire. That is 4 wires. Below is an image showing you 3 phase wiring colours UK.

UK wiring colour codes
3 phase wiring colours uk.
  • Phase 1 Brown
  • Phase 2 Black
  • Phase3 Grey
  • Neutral Blue
  • Earth Green/yellow

Top Plug wiring colours

UK Plug Wiring Colours

Most appliances in a home have a top plug. A top plug is the one that gets power from the socket outlet to the home appliance. In short, a top plug is a link between the socket outlet and the home appliance.

As you can see from the drawing above that it show the colours used to wire a top plug. I have put a table below to show you, the colours used to wire a top plug.


plug wire colours uk

The new electrical wiring colours for plug wire colours in the UK are green and yellow for the earth wire; brown for the live wire, and blue for the neutral wire.

Plug wiring colours UK
plug wire colours uk

PLug wiring colours south Africa

Plug wire colours south africa
plug wire colours south Africa

Well, plug wiring colours south Africa as you can see from the above picture. The 3 pin plug wire colours in south Africa are brown for live wire, yellow and green for earth wire and blue for the neutral wire.

3 phase wiring color code.

In three-phase installations, you have three wires that are live or hot with one neutral wire. There is some residential house that requires a three-phase power supply. In such installation, you need a three-phase power supply.

For the three-phase installation, 3 phase wire colour code you use red yellow and blue. Then you use black as a neutral. The three phases are named as:

  1. Red phase
  2. Yellow phase
  3. Blue phase
  4. Black for the neutral.

I must mention that three-phase machines do not need a neutral wire for them to operate. I mention the neutral wire because you need it for socket outs and lighting circuits to work. Three-phase machines use 3 phases and earth. The colour of the earth cable is the same as in single-phase installations.

Colour codes for electrical wires.

In the preamble for this talk on electrical wiring colour codes, I said that I will limit myself to talking about the British electrical wiring colour code.

Now I have decided to add other electrical wiring colour codes. For the following countries.

  • U.S.A
  • South africa
  • Australia

all the electrical wire colour codes listed include both three-phase wire colour and single-phase wire colour.

U.S.A wiring colour code.(american electrical wiring colours)

Image from electrical technology.

Wiring colour codes used in home and office environments.

  • Phase 1 – Black
  • Phase 2 – Red
  • Phase 3 – Blue
  • Neutral – White
  • Ground – Green, Green with Yellow Stripe, or Bare Wire

Wiring colour codes are used in higher-voltage systems for industrial motors and equipment.

  • Phase 1 – Brown
  • Phase 2 – Orange
  • Phase 3 – Yellow
  • Neutral – Gray
  • Ground – Green, Green with Yellow Stripe, or Bare Wire

wiring colour codes Australia.

Australia has its own wiring colour code system. Below is electrical wire colours in Australia.

Australian electrical wiring codes
Image from Electrical technology.
  • Phase 1- Red
  • Phase 2- white
  • Phase 3- Blue
  • Neutral-Black
  • Earth-Green

Electrical wire colours south africa

South Africa has its own wiring colour codes system. Below is South African electrical wire colours.

South African wiring colour code
Image from Electrical technology.
  • Phase 1-Red
  • Phase 2-White/Yellow
  • Phase 3-Blue
  • Neutral -Black
  • Earth-Green/Yellow.

what colour is a neutral wire in south Africa?

The colour for a neutral wire in South Africa is black in a three-phase installation. While in single-phase installation, the colour for neutral wire is blue.

What are the live, neutral, earth colours in south Africa?

In a single phase, the live wire is brown, neutral is blue and the earth is green/yellow or bare wire. This is true even for flexible Extention cables.

Final thought on wiring colour code.

There are a lot of colour codes for electrical wiring. . What is the code for your country? I would like to learn from you. Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

3 responses to “Colour codes for electrical wires.”

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