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So Many Colors – What do They Mean?

Feb 19, 2015

By: Chelsea Haley, DKI Ventures, LLC

Knowing the color codes for electrical wires is great knowledge to have for safety when installing or checking your own wiring.

Here are the common color codes used:

Black

Used for power in all circuits – Considered hot and should be used as the power feed for a switch or an outlet. (Often used as a switch leg).

Never use as a ground or neutral wire.

Red

The secondary live wires in a 220-volt circuit – Used in some switch legs.

Connect to another red wire or to a black wire.

White and gray

Indicate neutral wires (still carry a current), which connect to the neutral bus bar (conductive metal that attracts the electric current for distribution outward to feeders within an electric panel).

Connect only to other white and gray wires.

Green

The grounding of an electric circuit – Its purpose is to provide a path for a circuit’s electric current if a live wire within the circuit happens to touch metal or other conductive material.

Only connect to other green wires. Can carry a strong current – treat cautiously.

Blue

Used as hot wires – Usually used as travelers in different switch applications, (three-way or four-way switches).

Yellow

Used as hot wires – Used mainly as switch legs in fans or lights.