How to Tell the Ground From the Hot Wire on an AC to DC Battery Charger

Written by jonra springs
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How to Tell the Ground From the Hot Wire on an AC to DC Battery Charger
Battery chargers connect to car battery terminals by colour codes. (dead battery image by Katrina Miller from

An AC to DC battery charger is an ideal recharging situation due to the constant supply of power from the AC side providing energy to revitalise a battery. Typical AC battery chargers plug into a wall outlet for power supply. The connectors to a car battery, camera battery, or any other storage cell include a hot wire with a positive charge and a ground wire for the negative. It's common for battery charger wires to be colour coded to avoid confusion.

Skill level:


  1. 1

    Look at the insulation colours on the cables, jack plugs or clamp handles on your AC to DC battery charger. Look for a "-" and a "+" symbol on the cable or clamp if no colours are present.

  2. 2

    Identify the hot wire by its red-coloured jack, cable or clamp insulation. Find the "+" symbol on one of the parts if colours are not used.

  3. 3

    Identify the ground wire on a colour-coded set by its black cable, jack or clamp insulation. Look for a "-" symbol to identify the negative ground wire on an AC battery charger in the absence of colour codes.

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