Violations Of Code, Are You Using The Right Color Wire?
Tips To Get That Color Right!
By Dave Donahue
One of the most common mistakes electricians and Do It Yourself Project enthusiast do is use the wrong color wire for their projects. Electricians are trained to use specific colors for wiring devices and equipment during installation however sometimes it just doesn’t always pan out the way it’s expected. Color coding wire is done for a reason. It’s not just colored red, black, blue,white, or green for no apparent reason. The purpose of using color coded wire is obvious. It’s to help identify the wire, plain and simple. The reason for this? Safety! Regardless of the size of the wire,specific colors should be used and when not possible, ie (Feeder sized wire) phase tape should be used to identify the wire being installed. Here are the typical colors for wiring.
Green: A green ground wire is used primarily for grounding wires. The ground wire is run to ground the device or equipment being installed. A ground wire is also run from the panel directly to the device being installed or to a junction box. Ground wires are always green or a simple bare copper wire. In older homes it may be difficult to determine exactly which is the ground but it is commonly a bare wire. Think of a ground wire as a safety wire, because in essence that is exactly what it is!
Neutral: The neutral wire is always either white or gray. The neutral wire is simply a return wire for the current being carried in the circuit. This wire is also run from the panel typically to a junction box or device. The neutral wire should be sized according to the circuit being installed. If in question as to whether or not your neutral wire is sized and colored properly contact Swartz Electric. Swartz Electric is the number one rated electrical company in Southern Colorado and can help with any DIY electrical project.
Hot: The hot wire is the wire that actually carries the current to the device. So, this wire should definitely be colored according to specifications and NEC code requirements. Typically for 120 V circuits the hot wire is labeled black. For 240 V circuits the black and red wire are used. The hot wires for 480 circuits are brown, orange and yellow for phases.
This is a fairly simple rule to follow for Do It Yourself projects. The majority of electricians do follow this code specification on all work performed however at times the correct color may not be available. In these circumstances use color coded phase tape to identify your wires at the panel and devices. The main objective here is safety. This is the reason wires are taped or color coded accordingly. Code requires that wires be installed with specified colors for each hot neutral and ground wire. For help with these requirements or for any electrical DIY project always feel free to contact Swartz Electric, a leader in electrical installs in Southern Colorado. As always use precautions when working around electricity. Regardless of how simply a task may appear, electricity can kill quickly . It also doesn’t take a lot of it to do it’s damage. Wear safety glasses, gloves and clothing appropriate for the work being performed. By working safely, you will be around to enjoy the fruits of your labor. Safety first!
Swartz Electric is Colorado Springs highest rated Electrical Contractor and is licensed and insured to perform electrical work throughout the entire State of Colorado. Please see our website for our licenses, insurance, and links to reviews and testimonials. In addition, Swartz Electric provides a 2 year material warranty and a lifetime workmanship warranty.
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This is an original article written by Dave Donahue for Swartz Electric. This article may not be copied whole or in part without the express permission of Swartz Electric, LLC.
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