Electrical Wire Color Codes: What Does Each Wiring Color Mean?

colored electrical wiresHomeowners in the Rochester area living in homes that were built after the 1940s will notice the electrical wires behind their walls all follow a specific color standard. Each wire color indicates its unique function in a circuit, and learning how to understand each is essential prior to attempting any kind of DIY electrical work.

Understanding Electrical Wiring Colors

Every electrical wire has a different function, and its color will tell you precisely what that is.

Black Electrical Wires

These wires provide power to switches and outlets. They are typically used as switch legs in circuits, connecting switches to their electrical load. Black electrical wires are live at all times, so exercise the utmost caution when handling them.

Red Electrical Wires

Red wires act as secondary live wires and — like black wires — can be found in certain types of switch legs. These wires usually appear when hardwiring smoke detectors to the home’s power supply.

Blue & Yellow Electrical Wires

Blue and yellow wires are pulled through a conduit rather than being used in outlet wiring. When connecting ceiling fans, structural lights, and outlets paired with light switches, you’ll usually find yellow wires. Blue wires, on the other hand, are mostly used for three- or four-way switches.

White & Gray Electrical Wires

White and gray wires are neutral, and both have the same functionality. Neutral wires are used to connect to the neutral bus bar, which is a conductive piece of metal located inside an electrical panel that enables the safe travel of electrical currents throughout the house. These wires can only be connected to one another and, while neutral, may still carry a current.

Green Electrical Wires

Green wires are ground electrical circuits, connecting to a grounding terminal and running to the ground bus bar in an electrical panel. It’s a failsafe for your home’s electrical system, allowing electricity to escape into the ground. This promotes safety in case a live wire within the circuit touches metal or other conductive material.

Call an Electrician in Rochester, NY – Call Lon Lockwood Electric

Lon Lockwood Electric has the expert electricians Macedon residents need to safely resolve all their electrical issues. If you have questions or would like to schedule a service appointment, don’t hesitate to reach out to our team today!