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Video:Identify Electrical Wire Color Coding

with Debbie Anderson

Do you know the difference between black, white, and red wires? Learn how to identify wire color coding and what these color codes are used for when working on electrical projects.See Transcript

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Transcript:Identify Electrical Wire Color Coding

Hi! I'm Debbie Anderson for About.com. If you have ever wanted to try your hand at repairing an electrical problem but you did not know what all of those wire colors mean – today I am going to show you how to identify different wire color coding so you can better understand what each wire color code actually means.

Wires and Color Coding

Electrical wires have markings stamped or printed on the outside sheath of the cable. And although these markings tell you what type and size of wire you have, the color of the wires will reveal that different color wires serve different purposes.

Black Colored Wires

The most common wire color code is black. Black wires are always used for hot wires and may feed a switch or outlet. Most important, Black Wires are never used as a Neutral or Ground connection.

Red Colored Wires

Red wires are also used for hot wires or switch legs. One of their other useful applications is to service as the interconnect wire between two hardwired smoke detectors.

Blue and Yellow Wires

Blue and yellow wires are also used as hot wires and are generally used for travelers in three-way and four-way switch applications, as well as used for switch legs to lights and fans.

Green Wires

Finally, Green wires and bare copper wires are used only for grounding.

Wire Color Exceptions

While most electrical wire color coding tends to follow these general rules and guidelines - in certain instances, wire colors may be used for connections that do not follow these general rules.

For example, an exception to the rule may appear when a white wire is used as the second hot wire.

In instances such as this, the white HOT wire should be properly marked on the end with red or black electrical tape to show that it is being used for something other than a neutral.

With the right knowledge about electrical wire color coding, every project should be a safe one!

Thank you for watching! To learn more, please visit us on the Web at homegarden.about.com.
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