When doing electrical work in your home, you might become a bit confused about the different colors of wiring that you run across. In fact, you may feel as if you are dealing with a virtual rainbow of colors if the wiring in your home is older. This is because the UK has undergone some pretty major changes over recent years in terms of the colors used with electrical wiring. Although this may be a bit confusing at times, making changes to the color system was really the best move for residents of the UK and other parts of Europe.
The History of Electrical Wire Coloring in the UK
About 30 years ago, the UK had made the decision to use the color blue for neutral conductor wiring used in flexible cords and flexible cables, which are usually used in non-fixed installations. When this decision was made, however, there were no changes made to help harmonize the colors that were being used for fixed installations. Throughout Europe, however, some major changes were being made and these changes were being made rapidly.
By 1999, it was clear that keeping up with the new standard throughout Europe meant that the UK would have to take some drastic steps in order to change the fixed cable colors and remain in step with the rest of Europe.
Mixing Up the Colors
Of course, when the UK made the decision to change over along with the rest of Europe, there were already millions of homes throughout the UK using the red, black, and yellow/green color combination that was so common. In order to reduce the number of new installations with these colors, it meant mixing existing colors with the new colors.
Although the regulations to change the wire coloring didn’t become compulsory until 2006, the new colors were put into place in 2004. In fact, on 31st May 2004, the Institute of Electrical Engineers published its Amendment 2 of the wiring regulations in Britain. This amendment specified that the new colors, which are sometimes referred to as harmonized colors, were to be used for all new fixed wiring installations throughout the UK. This way, the UK would be more in line with the colors being used throughout the rest of Europe.
Making Sense of it All
Because of the color changes, you might have a mixture of colors in your home. Whereas red used to indicate a live wire, it has now changed to brown. The neutral black color has been changed to blue, but the earth wire is now either green or yellow. This means you may have some wiring that starts off as red and then changes to brown and started as black and then changed to blue. If you do have a mixture of colors, you have to have a warning at the fuseboard. This way, anyone doing work on your home will be aware of the change.
If you are still feeling a bit confused about the color change or are simply not comfortable with simple wiring jobs, you might want to consider taking an electrical course. This way, you can learn more about wiring and can complete simple tasks on your own or, if you are greatly interested in electrical work, you may even want to consider pursuing an electrical career.