Wiring for AC and DC power distribution branch circuits are color coded for identification of individual wires. In some jurisdictions all wire colors are specified in legal documents. In other jurisdictions, only a few conductor colors are so codified. In that case, local custom dictates the “optional” wire colors.

IEC, AC: Most of Europe abides by IEC (International Electrotechnical Commission) wiring color codes for AC branch circuits. These are listed in Table below. The older color codes in the table reflect the previous style which did not account for proper phase rotation. The protective ground wire (listed as green-yellow) is green with yellow stripe.

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IEC (most of Europe) AC power circuit wiring color codes.

Function label Color, IEC Color, old IEC
Protective earth PE green-yellow green-yellow
Neutral N blue blue
Line, single phase L brown brown or black
Line, 3-phase L1 brown brown or black
Line, 3-phase L2 black brown or black
Line, 3-phase L3 grey brown or black

UK, AC: The United Kingdom now follows the IEC AC wiring color codes. Table below lists these along with the obsolete domestic color codes. For adding new colored wiring to existing old colored wiring see Cook. [PCk]


UK AC power circuit wiring color codes.

Function label Color, IEC Old UK color
Protective earth PE green-yellow green-yellow
Neutral N blue black
Line, single phase L brown red
Line, 3-phase L1 brown red
Line, 3-phase L2 black yellow
Line, 3-phase L3 grey blue

US, AC:The US National Electrical Code only mandates white (or grey) for the neutral power conductor and bare copper, green, or green with yellow stripe for the protective ground. In principle any other colors except these may be used for the power conductors. The colors adopted as local practice are shown in Table below. Black, red, and blue are used for 208 VAC three-phase; brown, orange and yellow are used for 480 VAC. Conductors larger than #6 AWG are only available in black and are color taped at the ends.


US AC power circuit wiring color codes.

Function label Color, common Color, alternative
Protective ground PG bare, green, or green-yellow green
Neutral N white grey
Line, single phase L black or red (2nd hot)
Line, 3-phase L1 black brown
Line, 3-phase L2 red orange
Line, 3-phase L3 blue yellow

Canada: Canadian wiring is governed by the CEC (Canadian Electric Code). See Table below. The protective ground is green or green with yellow stripe. The neutral is white, the hot (live or active) single phase wires are black , and red in the case of a second active. Three-phase lines are red, black, and blue.


Canada AC power circuit wiring color codes.

Function label Color, common
Protective ground PG green or green-yellow
Neutral N white
Line, single phase L black or red (2nd hot)
Line, 3-phase L1 red
Line, 3-phase L2 black
Line, 3-phase L3 blue

IEC, DC: DC power installations, for example, solar power and computer data centers, use color coding which follows the AC standards. The IEC color standard for DC power cables is listed in Table below, adapted from Table 2, Cook. [PCk]


IEC DC power circuit wiring color codes.

Function label Color
Protective earth PE green-yellow
2-wire unearthed DC Power System
Positive L+ brown
Negative L- grey
2-wire earthed DC Power System
Positive (of a negative earthed) circuit L+ brown
Negative (of a negative earthed) circuit M blue
Positive (of a positive earthed) circuit M blue
Negative (of a positive earthed) circuit L- grey
3-wire earthed DC Power System
Positive L+ brown
Mid-wire M blue
Negative L- grey

US DC power: The US National Electrical Code (for both AC and DC) mandates that the grounded neutral conductor of a power system be white or grey. The protective ground must be bare, green or green-yellow striped. Hot (active) wires may be any other colors except these. However, common practice (per local electrical inspectors) is for the first hot (live or active) wire to be black and the second hot to be red. The recommendations in Table below are by Wiles. [JWi] He makes no recommendation for ungrounded power system colors. Usage of the ungrounded system is discouraged for safety. However, red (+) and black (-) follows the coloring of the grounded systems in the table.


US recommended DC power circuit wiring color codes.

Function label Color
Protective ground PG bare, green, or green-yellow
2-wire ungrounded DC Power System
Positive L+ no recommendation (red)
Negative L- no recommendation (black)
2-wire grounded DC Power System
Positive (of a negative grounded) circuit L+ red
Negative (of a negative grounded) circuit N white
Positive (of a positive grounded) circuit N white
Negative (of a positive grounded) circuit L- black
3-wire grounded DC Power System
Positive L+ red
Mid-wire (center tap) N white
Negative L- black



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