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Interpower’s Answers to Commonly Asked Questions—Reasons for Using Standardized Cable Conductor Color Codes

At the Interpower Group of Companies, we have real people answering the phones. No recorded messages. As a result, we receive a number of interesting product design questions. Usually if a question has been asked by one person, it means that others also have the same question. So to assist you, we will be sharing a few of the commonly asked questions, complete with answers. Be sure to follow our series, “Interpower’s Answers to Commonly Asked Questions.”

Why can’t I order custom color conductor wires for my cable?

Key points:

Ron Barnett, Product Development Manager, explains why there is a color coding in regards to conductor cable wires.

Product safety standards set these colors in place to ensure that the wiring is correct to prevent shock and damage to equipment,” Barnett said. The purpose of marking the conductors within the cable is to define which conductor is ground, neutral, and line for proper connection to supply and equipment.

Conductor color codes include:  

North American Conductor Color Codes:

3-wire—Green (ground), White (neutral), Black (line) OR
             Green/yellow (ground), Blue (neutral), Brown (line)
4-wire—Green (ground), Black (line), Red (line), White (neutral)
5-wire—Green (ground), White (neutral), Black (line), Orange (line), Red (line)

International Conductor Color Codes:

3-wire—Green/yellow (ground), Blue (neutral), Brown (line)
4-wire—Green/yellow (ground), Brown (line), Black (line), Gray (line)
5-wire—Green/yellow (ground), Blue (neutral), Brown (line), Black (line), Gray (line)
For more details, see the Conductor Color Coding Chart.

Typically there are different color codes for North American and international cable. However, the international three conductor color code of green/yellow, blue, and brown can also be used in North America. This allows equipment manufacturers to build systems with one conductor color code. “It is highly recommended to follow the international conductor color coding system for three-wire cable for the benefit of shipping globally and in North America, ” Barnett explained.

If you have other questions, Interpower offers free technical support. You can check the website at, e-mail (United States) or (United Kingdom) or contact Customer Service in the United States at (800) 662-2290 or in the United Kingdom at +44 (0)1908 295300.

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