Color of electrical cables, which one to use?

What color is the ground cable? What color is the neutral cable? What color is the phase cable? These doubts are very common and even with so much guidance, there are still people who do not know how to correctly identify the electrical cables in an installation. In this article we are going to talk about the color pattern of electrical cables, come on guys!

Electric cables: Return

We know that the return cable is a phase cable that was disconnected from a switch to provide control of turning the lamp on and off. According to item 6.1.5.3 of the NBR 5410 standard, which talks about the colors of cables according to their use, at no time does the standard specifically refer to the color of the return cable.

However, it deals with the color of the phase cable and since this return cable is a phase cable that is being disconnected, then we can use the phase cable rule for the return cable.

In this case, the standard says that any color can be used for the phase cables with the exception of the blue cable that is generally used for the neutral, and also the green cable that is generally used for the earth cable.

It is important to mention that the standard also does not recommend the use of the yellow cable, because in some cases it can be confused with green and yellow cable that can also be used for grounding.

How to know the function of the cable according to its color?

Electrical cables: Earth

I have seen several people with doubts about the color of the ground cable, and there are reports of people who did electrical maintenance in installations where the ground cables were not green cables, is that really wrong?

If you look closely, several appliances have a green or yellow-green cable, which is the grounding cable. In electrical courses, it is taught that the ground cable is green, but we will refer to the NBR 5410 standard, which talks about this in an entire chapter on electrical cables and their identification by color.

Item 6.1.5.3.2 says that any insulated conductor, unipolar cable or multipolar cable vein used as a protective conductor (PE) must be identified according to this function. In case of color identification, the double yellow-green color or the green color (the exclusive colors for the protection function) must be used.

So any cable can be used as a grounding conductor, as long as the sizing rules are respected, that is, these cables must meet the appropriate thickness for the circuit and must always be identified with washers or other type of identification. In these cases, it is essential that the cable is identified at all points where it is visible or accessible.

However, the most recommended is to use the cable color identification, which as stated in the standard, the green color for the earth cable should be used. Using the cable color pattern is the easiest and safest way!

Electrical cables: Neutral

The neutral electric cable has current when the load is energized, so it must be correctly sized and identified. Item 6.1.5.3.1 says that any insulated conductor, unipolar cable or vein of multipolar cable used as a neutral conductor must be identified according to this function. In case of color identification, light blue should be used in the insulation of the conductor.

Therefore, as with the ground cable, there is no requirement that the only form of identification is by the color of the cable, that is, you can use a cable of another color as long as it respects the dimension and is properly identified with washers or other markings. However, if you choose to identify the color of the cable, the color used should be light blue.

Electrical cables: Phase

To facilitate both installation and maintenance, the use of a cable of a color different from the phase cable is the most recommended! Item 6.1.5.3.4 says that any insulated conductor, unipolar cable or vein of multipolar cable used as a phase conductor must be identified according to this function. In case of identification by color, any color can be used respecting the restrictions of items 6.1.5.3.1, 6.1.5.3.2 and 6.1.5.3.3.

These restrictions colors are exactly light blue which is indicated for neutral, green or green with yellow which is indicated for the earth cable. Usually people use black, white or red for the stage.

What a person needs to observe is that one should not exaggerate the variation of colors, otherwise future identification is difficult even by a professional who has not participated in that installation.

After the colors are defined, it is essential to maintain this standard throughout the installation, always following the rules to ensure proper sizing. Although many people do not follow, the use of the color pattern for identification is the most practical and safe way.