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What is the grey electrical wire?

Updated April 17, 2017

When doing electrical work, being able to identify wires by their colour coding is an essential skill. Grey wires mean different things depending on where you are working or on where the wire or device was produced.

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In the U.S.

In the U.S. AC system, grey wiring is not one of the "common" wire colours. Instead, it is a federally-accepted alternate for the neutral wire, one whose principal colour is typically white. This colour-coding system is required by the U.S National Electrical Code.

Abroad

In Europe, wiring colours are overseen by the International Electrotechnical Commission. Their standard grey wire is the "Line-phase 3" in its AC code. In DC circuits, a grey wire is the negative. Current to 2010, the United Kingdom employs these European regulations. There is no common grey wire found within Canadian colour coding.

Other Facts

Other AC wire colours in the U.S. code include bare, green or green yellow for the ground or protection wire, black or red for the single phase, and black, red and blue for additional phases. U.S. code does not recognise any grey wire in a DC circuit, although it has no formal recommendation for the negative or positive.

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About the Author

Geoffrey St. Marie began writing professionally in 2010, with his work focusing on topics in history, culture, politics and society. He received his Bachelor of Arts in European history from Central Connecticut State University and his Master of Arts in modern European history from Brown University.

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