Please would someone clarify or correct the following, in regard to UK
'modern' mains house/residential wiring.
Earth: Green or green/yellow?
Live: (230 volts at 50 hertz etc.) Brown?
Much appreciated. Terry.
Your version would be as found in flexible cables the corrections
would be in the fixed wiring within the building, apart from the earth
which would be green/yellow in all cases.
I hope you're not thinking of wiring anything not knowing such a basic
Thanks for the various replies and your corrections..
Several people have pointed out that 'my' colours are those used in 'flex'
leads. I've seen these in, for example, computer power cords and inside some
non North American and appliances imported from elsewhere.
I gather that UK 'house' wiring is;
Earth: Green and Yellow.
In reply to one concern; no! I'm not contemplating any wiring; at least not
in the UK.
I'm trying to sort out some info for a relative now in a Middle East
location where the residences are ostensibly wired to UK standard? The
appliances are from all over the place, Italy, France and Allah knows where!
Typically there are two pin ungrounded 'continental Schuko?' plugs, with
round pins attached to appliances. These are pushed into 13 amp square pin
outlets; one method apparently being to use a butterknife into the ground
pin of a UK style outlet to open the shutters so as to 'force fit' the round
pins into the square sockets of the outlet!
The appliance stays ungrounded and my relative has already in less than five
days had a nasty 230 volt shock from the metal body on an appliance! There
appears to be no proper earths/grounds on some of the outlets and the whole
residence seems to be equipped with one 40 amp 230 breaker. That's only 9.2
Kva for a three bedroom residence with several air conditioners!
It all sounds very inadequate and unsafe by our standards? Since my relative
was 'well brought up' in regard to Canadian Safety Standards he has quickly
bought some UK square pin style 13 amp plugs to rewire the appliance flex
leads. But has serious concerns about the earthing/grounding in the
residence generally! The plumbing is plastic! But he has discovered some
sort of metal pipe in his yard buried in the sandy (e.g. high resistivity)
Here, in eastern north America btw we use different colours for residence
wiring. And btw the above conditions would be condemned for rewiring and
reinspection before the meter would be reconnected! Normal single family
residence here 200 amp at 115/230 volts. i.e. 46 Kva.
Ground; Green or bare copper. Occasionally conduit, or that flexible metal
sheathed cable, is used. But in general most administrations now require an
actual ground wire usually one gauge size smaller than the neutral and live
current carrying conductors, back to the fuse/circuit breaker distribution
panel (i.e. CU) for new and upgrade installations.
Live: Black. However when we wire 230 volts to a cooking stove or electric
hot water cylinder, we use red and black, both wires/legs being at 115 volts
to neutral/ground. Lighting and outlets are distributed between neutral and
each leg/side of the 115-0-115 3 wire supply at the CU. The neutral is
grounded/earthed once only at the main panel/CU.
Radial circuits: 'Ring mains' do not seem to be used at all. This results in
a greater number of individual/radial circuits with rules for the number of
outlets or the lighting load on each circuit. In residence work: Outlets
typically 20 amp breaker maximum (20 x 115 = 2300 Va) Lighting 15 amp
maximum. However in recent years some 'mixing' of outlets and lighting on
15amp circuits seems to be permitted. e.g. basement store room lighting and
a couple of convenience outlets.
Also: For a 'switched' circuit, a ceiling light for example, many
administrations prefer that we use a red/black from the ceiling 'rose' down
to the wall switch. The black is then permanently live and the red is
referred to as 'switched live'. Or we can use black/white and mark the white
as the switched live with say red tape or red nail polish a red sleeve etc.
Many thanks for the comments.
Twin and Earth is currently Red, Blackand bare copper, and going to Blue, Brown and bare
Not all work will need building control approval. There is a list on the
Also note that unless you submit full plans for the work you will be under a
'building notice' and so there is no certificate issued either.
Live electricity is like electrical sparks = blue
Neutral countries aren't on any side, so have more than
one colour = yellow and green.
Obvious really. (For the really stupid out there, note this is
wrong, and I'm highlighting what a daft choice of colours they are.
do not wire using these colours for these purposes)
It's my understanding that the twin and earth cabling colours are
changing to be the same as the colours in Flex as of April this year.
The following link gives more details:
Personally, as a DIYer, I'm just going to use up exisiting stock and
then presumably new purchases will be in the new colours.
There may be some bargins to be had from retailers getting rid of the
current colours at the end of March though!
email@example.com (Big Phil) wrote in message
My guess is that given that the colour change is supposed to come in
at the same time as the rule that all electrical work needs NICEIC
certification, there will be a lot of folk out there in DIY-land
buying a lifetime's supply of the old stuff... any installation work
carried out using the new colours is almost by definition going to
need approving, but if it's done using the old stuff who's going to be
able to say when it was installed?!
(hmm - *thinks* - maybe there will be a market for drums of old-style
cable on Ebay in a year or so!!)
building regulations changes are they?
I thought the building regulations changes were supposed to be
implemented in April 2004 but are likely to be delayed. The wiring
colour changes are much farther in the future than that, certainly as
regards when the 'old' colours are no longer permissible.
The proposals are that the new wiring colours may be used from April
2004, and from April 2006 the current colour code will no longer be
permitted. Of course for the next 40 years or more, no-one will have any
idea what to expect in an old installation!
HomeOwnersHub.com is a website for homeowners and building and maintenance pros. It is not affiliated with any of the manufacturers or service providers discussed here.
All logos and trade names are the property of their respective owners.