Electrical Color Codes

An electrical power cable found commonly in most structures consists of 3 wires (2 wires + 1 grounding) and is double-insulated.

Diagram of typical green/yellow colour-coded wire for grounding (earthing).

To enable wires to be easily and safely identified, all common wiring safety codes mandate a colour scheme for the insulation on power conductors. In a typical electrical code, some colour coding is mandatory, while some may be optional. Many local rules and exceptions exist with no exception to some cheaper manufactures making non typical colour variations (pink, orange, purple).  Older installations vary in colour codes, and colours may shift with insulation exposure to heat, light, and ageing.

Many electrical codes now recognize (or even require) the use of wire covered with green insulation, additionally marked with a prominent yellow stripe, for safety grounding (earthing) connections.  This growing international standard was adopted for its distinctive appearance, to reduce the likelihood of dangerous confusion of safety grounding wires with other electrical functions, especially by persons affected by red-green colour blindness.

Standard wire colours for FLEXIBLE cables, eg. Extension cords, power (line) cords and lamp cords. In South Africa these wires are identified as follows:

  • brown             -           LIVE (PHASE)
  • blue                -           NEUTRAL
  • green/yellow   -           EARTH

Standard wire colours for FIXED INSULATED cables (an assembly of two or more electrical conductors, usually held together with an overall sheath, e.g. Power cables that’s installed as permanent wiring within buildings, buried in the ground, run overhead, or exposed. In South Africa these wires are identified as follows:

  • red, white or yellow, blue                   -           LIVE (PHASES)
  • black                                                  -           NEUTRAL
  • green/yellow or bare copper              -           EARTH

Facebookinfo@kes-sa.co.zaFourways Office Park, Fourways, Gauteng+27 11 465 6947