Electrical wire colors explained

Old 06-18-18, 07:19 PM
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Electrical wire colors explained


Can someone explain the different colors that make up an electrical wire? Are the red and the black wires doing the same thing or is there something slightly different that ones does over the other? Also, what exactly does it mean when they say white is "neutral"?

Thanks, j

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Old 06-18-18, 07:35 PM
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Neutral (white) is a grounded conductor and you will have 120V between one of the hot wire and neutral. You will get 240V (or 208V if 3 phase) between 2 hot wires (red and black)
Red and black are 2 different poles and not the same. However, order of colors doesn't matter.

Your oven is 240V only and therefore, you don't need neutral (white wire).
Just connect Red and black wires to 1L1 and 5L3 (order does not matter) of the contactor. And ground wire to a ground lug.
Old 06-19-18, 04:14 AM
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Additionally be extremely aware of that/those ground wire conductors when "tucking" the wires back into the box. I see some bare "black" showing and keep in mind that even if you tuck that black into the screw more the screws (black wire and red wire) are still hot when you energize the circuit. If that ground/s wire touches either of those screws when you tuck the wires back into the box and secure the cover you will have a heck of a surprise when you turn the breaker/s back on.

I say this mainly because of safety. Those wires are thick and very difficult to work with and are not at all "user friendly".
Old 06-19-18, 08:04 AM
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Thanks AFJES. Just to clarify. The screws that hold the Red, White, and Black wire are all hot. PLUS there is a small piece of black wire that is exposed which is live correct?

When the inspector came out he just pulled it off quickly and push it back on. Isn't there a better way to wire this receptacle? Based on what you said the ground could have very easily touched any of those hot areas.

I have a 4 11/16 box that I will use to replace this one. Based on lambition's post I will cap off the white inside the new box, splice my new 6 gauge black to the existing black in the box, splice my new 6 gauge red to the existing red in the box, splice my new ground to the existing ground in the box then make those three connections in the oven. When I splice them together in the box I use the appropriate size wire connector and we are all set? Thanks everyone


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Old 06-19-18, 08:09 AM
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Note that discussion of wire colors is dependent on region and voltage level. The colors mean different things in different regions of the world and whether you are in a low voltage, residential or commercial/industrial setting. We're mostly talking US/Canada residential here, but the color schemes will be different if you're in another country or purchase an electrical device imported from another country. Bottom line is that wire color is a hint, but if you're unsure always test with a reliable meter.

The most consistent color is bare, green or green-yellow stripe for a ground wire.
White or gray is a neutral wire in US/Canada, blue is neutral wire in many other areas.
Black, red and blue are typical hot wire colors in US/Canada and the order does not matter unless you're in a commercial building with three phase power.
Old 06-19-18, 05:02 PM
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The most consistent color is bare, green or green-yellow stripe for a ground wire.
White, white with a stripe, or gray is a neutral wire in US/Canada,
A ungrounded conductor (hot) can be ANY color other then the ones mentioned above. Color does not matter for an ungrounded conductor except for orange which may indicate a high leg three phase delta system (120/240) where the voltage to ground is higher then normal, typically 208 instead of 120.
Old 06-19-18, 05:06 PM
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Everyone is focusing on the receptacle because you didn't mention that it's not being used.
That will be three mechanical splices within a junction box now.

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