What Color Wires Can Go Together? Complete Guide

When making a home improvement related to electricity, you may face many different colors of wires. Each color is assigned to a different electric purpose. To avoid confusion and you must know your local color code. So, what color wires can go together?

What Can Color Wires Go Together?

Some wires can not go with the others, meanwhile, some of them can. Because each wire has a certain color that refers to a certain use. For example, black-colored wire is known to be the hot or live wire in any circuit. Meanwhile, the white-colored wires are the neutral ones. 

Do Red and Green Wires Go Together?

No red and green wires cannot go together because each one of them is designed for a certain role.

  • Red wires are used as hot or live wires in some circuits. They are used as the second live wire, specifically in 240-volt installations.
  • Green wires are used as ground wires. The green-colored wire must not be used for any other use but grounding. Because it can endanger people’s lives, ground wires shouldn’t have currents in normal conditions.

Do Red and Brown Wires Go Together?

Yes, red and brown wires can go together because they are used as live or hot wires.

  • Red wires are used as hot or live wires in some circuits. In modern systems, brown wires are used as hot wires. Meanwhile, the red wire is used in the old systems.
  • Brown wires are used as hot wires; brown wires are usually used in the UK’s modern systems.

Do Red and Blue Wires Go Together?

No, red and blue wires cannot go together. Even though they might be used to carry current, they are different in the application.

  • Red wires are always hot wires, whether you are a UK or USA/Canada resident. The brown wire replaced the hot wire in the UK, but if you have an old system. You would still be able to see it used as a hot wire.
  • Blue wires are used as hot wires in the USA but for certain applications. They are used to run in conduits and also as traveler wires. Meanwhile, in the UK, they are used as neutral wire. The wire is carrying back the current back to its source.

Do Red and White Wires Go Together?

No, red and white wires can not go together because they are used for different things.

  • Red wires are used as hot or live wires in some circuits. They are used as the second live wire, specifically in 240-volt installations.
  • White wires are used as neutral wires. They carry the current from the appliance back to the power source or the main panel.

This color-coding applies to whether you are a UK or USA/Canada resident.

Do Red and Black Wires Go Together?

No, red and black wires can not go together. Although both are used as hot wires, they are in different phases. The black wire is on phase 1, which is 120 volts. Meanwhile, the red wire is on phase 2, 240 volts.

  • Red wires can be used as hot wires in some circuits. In 240-volt installations, the red wire is used as a second live wire.
  • Black wires in the USA always refer to hot wires found in every household. Meanwhile, in the UK, the black color wires were used as neutral wires before 2006. So, if your house is old, you probably have black neutral wires.

Are Red Wires Positive or Negative?

Red wires are always positive in DC power, which is true in either the UK or the USA/Canada. However, the red wires that serve as the hot wires were replaced in the UK. The hot wires now are brown-colored. So, it depends on how old your house is, modern houses have brown, and the old houses have red.

Are Black Wires Positive or Negative?

Black wires are negative in DC connections. In the USA, they refer to hot wires found in every household. Meanwhile, in the UK, the black color wires were used as neutral wires before 2006. So, if your house is old, you probably have black neutral wires.

Are White Wires Positive or Negative?

White wires are negative in DC grounded connections. White wires are used as neutral wires. They carry the current from the appliance back to the power source or the main panel. They are the same in both the UK and USA/Canada.

Are Blue Wires Positive or Negative?

Blue wires are different based on their circuit. In DC grounded 2-wire system, the blue wire can serve whether as positive or negative. Meanwhile, in the 3-wire systems, it serves as mid-wire.

Are Brown Wires Positive or Negative?

Brown wires are positive. They serve the same as the black or red wires in the USA. Any one of them is a hot wire, so they are positive. A hot wire is responsible for carrying the current from the main panel or power source to the appliance.

Are Green Wires Positive or Negative?

Green wires are neither positive nor negative wires. The green wires in the USA refer to ground wires; meanwhile, they are green but have yellow stripes in the UK. They must not be used for any other purpose; the ground wire should not carry any electric current.

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What Do The Wires’ Colors Mean (USA)?

NM or non-metallic electric cables (120 – 240 volts) have two parts: the outer coat made of plastic and the inner colored wires. The outer coat holds the colored wires together inside the cable. It also helps to know the gauge and the number of wires inside it. The color of the wire coat tells for which purpose it should be used.

For example, the yellow coat or cover means that the wire is 12 gauge. Meanwhile, the white cover means that the wire is 14 gauge. Each color has its uses:

Black Wires (Hot or Live)

Black wire always refers to hot wires and is commonly found in every household. The hot wire is responsible for carrying the current from the main panel or power source to the appliance. You can use a white wire as a live wire, but you have to label it with electrical tape. So, everybody knows it’s a hot wire.

However, you can not use the black wire as a neutral wire and label it with tape. In addition, it can’t be used as a ground wire; black wire must always be used for wires carrying current from the source.

Red Wires (Hot or Live)

Red wires can be used as hot wires in some circuits. In 240-volt installations, the red wire is used as a second live wire. The second use for red wires is wiring hardwired smoke detectors. This helps when one alarm is activated; the others also are activated.

White Wire As Hot Wires

Sometimes white wires are used as hot wires. This happens when they are marked with red or black electrical tape. So, it’s no longer used as a neutral wire. However, some other colors can mark white wire, not only black and red colors. For example, in 240-volt installations, the white wire, if it’s labeled, can be used as the second live wire.

Exposed Copper Wire (Ground Wires)

Most ground wires are exposed copper wires. The ground wire is very important for any electrical application. It helps to disperse any power surge in case of short circuit happens. The current is carried to a safe place (the earth or the ground) to prevent electric shocks. The grounding wires can be connected to many devices.

For example:

  • Fixtures
  • Outlets
  • Switches
  • Metal Frames

Anything that is made of metal needs to be grounded. Such as metal boxes, since they are good conductors, need to be grounded. Unlike the plastic boxes, they don’t need to be grounded since they are bad conductors.

Green Wires (Ground)

Green wires are used for grounding. If your devices have grounding screws on them, they may also have a green color. Green wires must always be used to refer to ground wires. They can not be used for any other purposes because they can endanger people’s lives. The ground wire, in general, doesn’t carry any electric current.

Grey or White Wires (Neutral)

Grey or white wires are used as neutral wires. When dealing with white wires, you have to look if there’s a label or wrap on them. Because if a white wire is labeled, it refers to a live or hot wire. Before approaching any white wire, you should always do an important step to test it first. Because if they are old wires, they may have lost their labels.

The neutral term doesn’t mean that the wire doesn’t carry any electric current. The neutral wires can carry an electric current as well. The main job of the neutral wires is to carry back the current from the appliance to the main panel. So, it would be best if you always were cautious when dealing with neutral or hot wires.

Blue or Yellow Wires (Hot)

Sometimes yellow or blue wires are used as hot wires. They can be found in NM cables; another use for blue wires is in four-way switches. They can be used as traveler wires. Although they can carry current, they are not used in normal outlets wiring.

What Do The Wires’ Colors Mean (UK)?

The UK has some different colors from the USA, such as the brown wires used as hot or live wires. So, you have to be careful when doing an electric task and pay attention to what the color means in your country.

Brown Wires (Hot or Live)

Brown wires and Red Wires (previously) are the same as black wires in the USA. The hot wire is responsible for carrying the current from the main panel or power source to the appliance. You can use a white wire as a live wire, but you have to label it with electrical tape. So, everybody knows it’s a hot wire.

However, you can not use the brown wire as a neutral wire and label it with tape. In addition, it can’t be used as a ground wire, and brown wire must always be used for wires carrying current from the source.

Blue Wires (Neutral)

The blue wires are used as neutral wires beside the white wires. The neutral term doesn’t mean that the wire doesn’t carry any electric current. The neutral wires can carry an electric current as well. The main job of the neutral wires is to carry back the current from the appliance to the main panel. So, it would help if you always were cautious when dealing with neutral or hot wires.

Conclusion

To sum up, you must know what each wire color stands for before starting any electric task. So, you don’t violate the local color codes in your area. Besides, it’s very important to know which wire is carrying a current and which is not. Electricity is fatal and can cause very serious injuries or even death

For example, the Black wire in the USA always refers to a live wire. Meanwhile, in the UK, it’s the brown wire which is live. In addition, not all wires can go together; they have to be serving the same purpose. For example, the brown and the red color can go together. But the red and the black wires can’t.

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