Cable Colour Code

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Power cable insulation is normally colour coded so that phase, neutral and earth conductors can be easily identified. These colour codes vary with region and / or country:

Country / Region Three Phase Single Phase DC Protective Earth Code Reference
Phase A Phase B Phase C Neutral Active Neutral Positive Negative
European Union Brown Black Gray Light Blue Black or Brown Light Blue - (1) - (1) Green / Yellow (with blue markings at ends) (2) IEC 60445 (2010) (3)
United States Black or Brown Red, Orange (delta) or Violet (wye) Blue or Yellow White or Grey Black (120V), Red (208V) or Blue (240V) White or Grey - - Green or Green / Yellow NFPA 70 (NEC) (4)
Australian / New Zealand Red (5) White (5) Dark Blue (5) Black (5) Red Black Red Black Green / Yellow AS/NZS 3000 (2007)
People's Republic of China Yellow Green Red Light Blue - Light Blue - - Green / Yellow GB 50303 (2002)
Japan Brown Black Purple White or Natural Grey Black or Brown Light Blue - (1) - (1) Green or Green / Yellow IEC 60445 (2010) (3)
Russia Brown Black Purple Blue Brown Blue Brown Grey Green / Yellow IEC 60445 (2010) (3)
South Africa Red White or Yellow Blue Black Red Black - - Green / Yellow IEC 60445 (2010) (3)


(1) No recommendations given
(2) In Denmark, Italy and Poland, light blue along the entire length with green / yellow markings at the ends
(3) In 2007, IEC 60446 was merged with IEC 60445 (2010), "Basic and safety principles for man-machine interface, marking and identification – Identification of equipment terminals, conductor terminations and conductors". IEC 60446 is no longer used.
(4) Since 1975, NFPA 70, "The National Electricity Code (NEC)" has not prescribed colours for active conductors (except for orange for earthed delta). Local regulations take precedence.
(5) These are preferred colours. Active conductors can be any colour except for green / yellow, green, yellow, black or light blue

Cable colors

Identification colors of cores in cables in Europe have been subject to developments that results in the harmonization document HD 308 S2. These rules do not apply to conductors used in the materials and sets assembled at the factory although compliance is strongly recommended. For information, old national colour codes are shown in the table below. These cables are still widely present in existing installations.

Old fixed cables colors in European countries (CENELEC - feb. 1996)