Europe, including the United Kingdom, uses the Electrotechnical Commission Code (IEC) for the colour of wires. These are different in colour from wires in the United States, which follows the National Electrical Code (NEC). If you need to wire an appliance using European electrical wiring, it's important to be familiar with the wire colours and the terminals each wire connects to. A simple wiring diagram will ensure that you wire electrical devices safely.
Put a sheet of paper and a section of coloured pens on a table. Write "European Wiring Diagram" at the top of the sheet of paper using a black pen. Draw a 3 inch square about 2 inches from the top of the paper centrally placed using a black pen.
Write "European Plug" above the square. Draw three ½ inch diameter circles inside the square. One needs to be near the top of the square centrally placed. The other two need to be about an inch from the bottom of the square, but equidistant from each other so that the three circles give a triangle effect inside the square.
Write the letter "E" inside the top circle. Then write the letter "L" in the left hand circle and "N" in the right hand circle. Next to the square write "E = Earth (Ground)" then under that write "L = Live (Hot)" and immediately under that write "N = Negative (Neutral)." This means you can easily compare the European and U.S. wiring terms.
About three inches from the bottom of the sheet a paper. Draw a rectangle 3 inches by 2 inches; the longest sides need to be drawn horizontally and the shorter sides vertically. Above the rectangle write "European Appliance Wiring."
Draw three ¾ inch squares inside the rectangle, but next to each other. Write "E", "L" and "N" respectively inside the three squares.
Use a green coloured pen and draw a line from the box with "E" written in it to the circle in the box at the top of the paper with "E" written inside. Draw two more lines to connect the letters "L" to "L"" and "N" to "N" in the top and bottom boxes. Use a brown pen for the "L" and a blue pen for "N".
Next to the rectangular box write the word "Europe." Next to Europe write "U.S."
Draw three coloured lines about 1 inch long under the word "Europe". Use a green pen for the first line, a brown pen for the second line and a blue pen for the third line. Draw three more lines under the letters "U.S." adjacent to the three other lines. Use a green pen for the first line, a black pen for the second line and a grey pen for the third line. This enables you to easily compare the wire colours in Europe and the U.S.
Both the U.S. and Europe use green and yellow striped wire for the ground connection, so if you want to make it clearer, you can use a yellow and green pen to give a striped effect. The hot wire in the U.S. can also be red, for standard phase home wiring.
Tips and warnings
- Both the U.S. and Europe use green and yellow striped wire for the ground connection, so if you want to make it clearer, you can use a yellow and green pen to give a striped effect.
- The hot wire in the U.S. can also be red, for standard phase home wiring.