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Wire Color Codes: Neutral Wire

Neutral Wire Color vs Grounding Wire

In industrial and manufacturing facilities, electricity is running from each corner and is in nearly every aspect of what workers do. A malfunction or confusion over wire color codes could unleash the serious dangers of electricity. Having a complete understanding of different wires and functions is imperative for your electrical safety efforts. Often confused with each other or used interchangeably, neutral and ground wires are some of the most misunderstood wires in electricity. 

Why is Neutral Wire Color so Important?

Neutral wires are often overlooked or grouped in with grounded wires, and color codes can get muddled in all the confusion. To set the record straight, neutral wires are not ground wires. Unlike ground wires, these wires will carry currents regularly and serve as paths to return energy back to the original power source. This is all an essential function of alternating current (AC) power, and only exist in AC power. Grounded wires travel in just one direction and are only used in times of power abnormality. Neutral wires control and regulate voltage while grounded wires are more of a safety net in times of emergencies. Because neutral wires are consistently carrying voltage, it’s important to properly label wires so workers know how much voltage they are potentially working with and the risks associated.

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Different Types of Neutral Wire Color

In an AC power system, there are certain specifications as to whether the neutral wire should be white or grey, depending on the classification of volts.

AC Power 912/208/240 volts) – This voltage is often found in homes, and businesses that do not require a lot of energy. The neutral wire will be white.

AC Power (277/480 volts) – Common in manufacturing and industrial environments and has several high-voltage connections. For AC Power using these amounts of voltage, the neutral wire color is grey.

It is necessary to correctly color code the two, as the AC power with higher voltage as more serious potential for deadly electrocution or other critical injuries.

Don’t forget: Data wiring

Data wiring does not adhere to wire color code standards but should still be handled with the same care as electrical wiring. Although data wires primarily transmit information, some networking cables will have enough electricity within them to cause a hazard. It is good practice to label or attach warning signs near these cables to remind workers to exercise caution.

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