Have you ever taken a close look at the variety of wires running through your home? If you’ve ever seen inside the walls, or opened up an electrical box to replace a switch, light fixture or other electrical component, then you will know exactly the colors that I’m talking about. These wires are color coded to make everybody’s job easier. By understanding the basic coloring of your home’s wiring, you can make your dealings with electricity much safer.
The basic question that most people have is: what do the different colors mean? Wiring is separated into different colors in order to easily differentiate between different circuits and the root purpose of each wire in your home. A circuit is the way that your electrical service divides up the electricity that it is sending into your home. Each circuit is made up of a particular bundle of wires that is connected to its own circuit breaker. This set of wires will provide power to a certain room or other area of your home. Whenever you trip a circuit breaker, this is the area that will lose power until the circuit breaker is flipped back to the on position.
The national electrical code sets forth three different wire colors that are to be used in our home electrical systems. While there are many other regional variances and accepted wiring practices, ground wires are typically green or bare, and neutral wires are white or gray. Although this is the national standard, the colors that are used in the end are decided on by each individual electrician.
When it comes to choosing wiring colors, many electricians follow the following rules. Hot wires are often black, dark blue, purple, light blue or red. Switch legs are frequently yellow or orange. Ground wires are typically green. Neutral wires are most commonly white, but grey is frequently found in special situations such as GFI outlets. Three way wires are often brown. That being said, it is not guaranteed that the wires are all the correct color in your home. Always be cautious when working with any electrical wires.
Whenever more wires are present in a system, stripes are commonly used. These stripes, often a white stripe or blue stripe, indicate a specific application for each wire. In order to further differentiate, some electricians will use color coded electrical tape or other labeling devices in order to make electrical systems easier to navigate for future electrical workers.
In a nutshell, electrical wiring is mult-colored in order to designate the particular use of each wire. Without properly separating and color coding the electrical wiring in our homes, businesses and other building, performing any upgrades or repairs would be extremely difficult to perform. Additional time and equipment would be required in order to make sure that every job was finished safely and according to all local codes. By labeling these wiring up front, we save significant time and headache in the future.