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Electrical Wiring Colour Codes

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  1. #1
    2K Club Member chrisp's Avatar
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    Default Electrical Wiring Colour Codes

    DISCLAIMER
    No liability is accepted by the poster, the owner of this forum or by Renovate Forum administrators or moderators for this post.
    This post is for information only. Incorrect wiring of equipment may damage the equipment or render it dangerous.

    WARNING
    Information supplied within this post is not to be considered as comprehensive or detailed formal information on wiring colour codes.
    Members using this information do so at their own risk.


    Electrical Wiring Colour Codes


    In Australia, We use a somewhat confusing mixed colour coding system. Our 'equipment' wiring and our 'installation' wiring (i.e. the wiring behind the power-point/wall) colour codes are different.

    We use an European system for our equipment wiring, but we use an old British-ish system for our installation wiring. To complicate things a little, our equipment wiring standard changed a few decades ago, but the equipment wired to the old standard is still common.
    It is important to be aware that the colour codes have changed over the years, and to also be aware that some equipment that has been imported may use different colour codes. If in doubt, consult the manufacturer of the equipment.
    To help provide a summary of the common colour code I have produced to following:

    [The common colour codes currently in use in Australia are in bold.]
    Important notes/cautions
    In various standards and/or in various countries:

    • 'Blue' has be used for actives (live) and neutrals.
    • 'Black' has been used for actives (live) and neutrals.
    • 'White' has been used for actives (live) and neutrals.

    THEREFORE, IT IS IMPORTANT TO DETERMINE WHICH COLOUR CODE HAS BEEN USED. Knowing the country of origin of the equipment can be very helpful when trying to sort out the colour codes. If in doubt, consult the manufacturer of the equipment.
    AUSTRALIA

    Australian equipment wiring (such as power cords on equipment)
    Current colour code (single phase)
    Active - Brown
    Neutral - Light Blue
    Earth - Green/Yellow
    Current colour code (multiphase)
    Phase 1 - Brown
    Phase 2 - Black
    Phase 3 - Grey
    Neutral - Light Blue
    Earth - Green/Yellow
    [Note: Some equipment may not have an neutral, or may not use all phases.]

    Old colour code (single phase)
    Active - Red
    Neutral - Black
    Earth - Green
    Old colour code (multiphase)
    Phase 1 - Red
    Phase 2 - White
    Phase 3 - Dark Blue
    Neutral - Black
    Earth - Green
    [Note: Some equipment may not have an neutral, or may not use all phases.]
    Australian Installation 'Building' wiring (single phase)
    Current colour code (single phase)
    Active - Red (usually - see box below)
    Neutral - Black
    Earth - Green/Yellow
    Australian Installation 'Building' wiring (multiphase)
    Current colour code
    Phase 1 - Red (usually - see box below)
    Phase 2 - White (usually - see box below)
    Phase 3 - Dark Blue (usually - see box below)
    Neutral - Black
    Earth - Green/Yellow
    Note: the Installation colour codes are quite flexible - so caution is needed - actives/phases can be almost any colour - and are sometimes the same colour.


    The Standard (AS/NZS 3000:2007) specifies the following:

    TABLE 3.4
    CONDUCTOR COLOURS FOR INSTALLATION WIRING
    Function -- Insulation colour
    Protective earth -- Green/yellow
    Equipotential bonding -- Green/yellow
    Neutral -- Black or light blue
    Active -- Any colour other than green, yellow, green/yellow, black or light blue

    NOTES:


    1. When green/yellow is used, one colour shall cover not less than 30% and not more than 70% of the surface area, with the other colour covering the remainder of the surface.
    2. Recommended colours for actives are:

    (a) Red or brown for single-phase; or
    (b) Red, white or dark blue for multiphase.
    OVERSEAS

    For reference, and to show how confusing colours codes can be, here are the common colour codes used in the US and Europe.

    The US:

    Single phase:
    Hot (Live) - Black
    Neutral - White
    Ground - Green
    Multiphase 120/208/240V
    Phase 1 - Black
    Phase 2 - Red
    Phase 3 - Blue
    Neutral - White
    Earth - Green (Green/yellow or bare)
    Multiphase 277/480V
    Phase 1 - Brown
    Phase 2 - Orange
    Phase 3 - Yellow
    Neutral - Grey
    Earth - Green (Green/yellow or bare)
    Europe:
    Single phase:
    Active - Brown
    Neutral - Blue
    Earth - Green/Yellow
    Multiphase:
    Phase 1 - Brown
    Phase 2 - Black
    Phase 3 - Grey
    Neutral - Blue
    Earth - Green/Yellow
    No laurels to rest on

  2. #2
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    Excellent summary.

    The way I remember what connects to what for single phase is blue and black are equivalent and both have BL in the colour name and red and brown are equivalent and both have R in their colour name, May be stupid for some but works for me.
    David L

  3. #3
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    Thumbs up Please help me to correct my wiring color

    Hi chrisp,

    I've been searching for help for a week....It will be really appreciated if you can help me on this. I'm wiring a distribution box. It has 3 pin single phase socket outlets and 5 pin 3 phase socket outlets. All protected with RCD and MCB. I'm confused on colors of wires.
    Should I use Australian equipment wiring code or Australian Installation 'Building' wiring code? as mentioned in your post.

    Here I attach you some photos of my distribution box.

    I look forward to hearing from you mate.
    Kind regards
    Evan
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails ssm15792.jpg   ssm15796.jpg   ssm15794.jpg   ssm15793.jpg   ssm15795.jpg  


  4. #4
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    I hope you don't try and sell that in Australia as you are using banned colours.

  5. #5
    1K Club Member Master Splinter's Avatar
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    You'll need copies of the relevant Australian Standards - Home - they'll have all the info you need.


    Gee, the board software getting that oh-so-useful title (Home) in place of the URL is such a great feature!!!
    Last edited by Master Splinter; 26th Aug 2011 at 12:28 AM. Reason: sarcastic comment about the usefulness of auto-URL-name fetching
    DIY electrical wiring to AS/NZS3000 - details here - http://goo.gl/9d33T (PDF file)

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    Hi Bros, thanks for your reply. Can you please be more specific?

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    Thanks a lot Master Splinter. I will try to find that standards.

  8. #8
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    You can use either code but get rid of the yellow as it is a banned colour

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    Morning Bros,
    Thanks a lot. You've been very helpful. We will change the yellow wire into white. With Master Splinter's help I got a copy of AS/NZS3000: 2007. We will follow that instruction and make a perfect sample!! And we will also send this to TUV to check. thanks a lot. . This is going to save our client in Australia a lot. They are a big hiring company.

  10. #10
    2K Club Member chrisp's Avatar
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    The fun of colour codes and standards!

    In this case, it'll largely depend upon how the supply is connected to the 'distribution box'. If it is hard-wired to the supply (i.e. there is no plug-socket between the distribution box and the supply), then the distribution box would be part of the installation and AS/NZS 3000 would apply. AS/NZS 3000 prohibits the use of green or yellow for actives.

    If there is a plug-socket arrangement on the supply to the distribution box, then it would classified as equipment and (possibly) fall under AS/NZS 3105 Approval and test specification - electrical portable outlet devices. AS/NZS 3105 also strongly references AS/NZS 3100 Approval and test specification - general requirements for electrical equipment.

    AS/NZS 3100 is a little more lenient on the colour codes:

    3.7 Identification of wiring
    For equipment other than that having a Type Z attachment insulated or covered conductors used as earthing conductors shall be coloured
    (a) green; or
    (b) green and yellow in the proportions specified in AS/NZS 3191.
    The colour green in combination with colours other than yellow shall be acceptable for live conductors, provided that the other colour covers not less than 30% of the surface of the conductor in any 15 mm length.

    The single colour green shall not be used to identify any live conductor except
    (i) at the discretion of a regulatory authority, where the conductor forms portion of the complex wiring of equipment; or
    (ii) where it is specified by an individual Approval and test specification.

    AS/NZS 3100 allows yellow to be used as an active
    . It even allows some greens to be used in combination with other colours too - as long as they are not the green/yellow combinations usually associated with earths.

    It comes down to working out whether the apparatus is 'equipment' or 'installation' (i.e. plugs-in or hard-wired) in order to determine which standards apply.

    Clear as mud!
    No laurels to rest on

  11. #11
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    Good day Chirsp. You are pro! Our distribution box has a plug input which allows and only allows the connection to the supply through an extension plug and socket. And the box itself is an "extension cord" itself. We aslo call it portable power board. I think it is ' equipment' thus yellow wire is allowed for the live wire, isnt it?
    Thanks Mate.

  12. #12
    2K Club Member chrisp's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by EvanYuan View Post
    Good day Chirsp. You are pro! Our distribution box has a plug input which allows and only allows the connection to the supply through an extension plug and socket. And the box itself is an "extension cord" itself. We aslo call it portable power board. I think it is ' equipment' thus yellow wire is allowed for the live wire, isnt it?
    I would suspect so. However, without checking out all the referenced standards to see if there is a prohibition to using yellow, I would say it is okay.

    If you want to be sure, you could change the yellow wire to white wire. The (dark) blue - red - white is the common convention used behind 3-phase outlets in Australia and would abide with both AS/NZS 3000 and AS/NZS 3100.
    No laurels to rest on

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    Thanks a lot Chrisp. I would like to buy you a beer when I go to Austrlia next time. You just saved my day.

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    The yellow is the problem color either change it or sleeve it white.

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    Hi Bros. Excellent idea!. We will study all standards and make a practcal decision. Cheers Mate!

    I love this Forum.
    Last edited by EvanYuan; 26th Aug 2011 at 03:54 PM. Reason: typo

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    Hi all,

    I noticed that are Bunnings etc., all multi-conductor wire they sell for installation is red+white or red+white+yellow/green. What's the point of not having a black neutral?

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    Quote Originally Posted by ruurdjan View Post
    Hi all,

    I noticed that are Bunnings etc., all multi-conductor wire they sell for installation is red+white or red+white+yellow/green. What's the point of not having a black neutral?
    The black is hard to see at night.

  18. #18
    1K Club Member Master Splinter's Avatar
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    The red and white is for active and switched active.
    DIY electrical wiring to AS/NZS3000 - details here - http://goo.gl/9d33T (PDF file)

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    Hey great thread and a great sight that I have stumble upon.

    Thanks all. I like the simple analogy by wombat2. that really simplifies it.

    thanks again.
    Cheers

    Curound.


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