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How to identify positive or negative wire markings on a black & white stripe

Updated February 21, 2017

Wire markings, especially for electronic equipment, are typically colour coded to designate the positive and negative polarity. It is important to connect the wires so the positive wire is attached to the positive terminals on each end of the connection and negative to negative. Crossing the wires reverses the polarity of audio signals in stereo components such as loudspeakers and may cause a short circuit. If your equipment uses a black-and-white stripe with a connector on each end, just remember a simple rule to connect them correctly every time.

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  1. Turn off the power to and unplug the devices you need to connect.

  2. Turn the component, such as a speaker, around to locate the two connection terminals. Black is the negative terminal. The other terminal, typically white or red, is positive.

  3. Connect the black side of the stripe to the negative terminals on each end of the connection and the white stripe to the positive terminals.

  4. Connect multicolour stripes to the same terminals on each end. For example, if you have a cable with a black-and-white-striped wire as well as a solid-colour wire, connect the black-and-white-striped wire to the negative terminal at each end and the solid-colour wire to the positive terminals.

  5. Warning

    Do not plug in power cords or turn on the equipment until the wire connections are complete. This prevents a possible short circuit if a wire is accidentally crossed while connecting components.

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About the Author

James Clark began his career in 1985. He has written about electronics, appliance repair and outdoor topics for a variety of publications and websites. He has more than four years of experience in appliance and electrical repairs. Clark holds a bachelor's degree in political science.

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