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New Wiring Colours

The IEE published Amendments No2 to BS 7671:2001 (the IEE Wiring Regulations) on 31st March 2004. The amendment specifies new cable core colours for all new fixed wiring in electrical installations in the UK. These new colours are sometimes referred to as ‘harmonised’ colours, as they will bring the UK more closely in line with practice in mainland Europe.

Electrical installations work commencing before 31st March 2006 may use the new harmonised cable colours or the pre-existing colours, but not both. Work commencing on site after 31st March 2006 will be required to comply with the harmonized cable core colours and must not use the old colours.

Full details of the changes can be found in Amendment No 2 (AMD 14905) to BS7671:2001 – which is shown in the PDF below. They are also within the new version of BS7671:2001 (incorporating Amendments 1 & 2) which was published on the 31st March 2004; this new version of the wiring regulations can be identified by its brown cover.

New Harmonised colours For Single Phase Installations

The traditional colours of red and black for the phase and neutral conductors are replaced by the familiar colours of brown and blue (Regulation 514-03-01 refers) that has been used on flexible cables for the last 28 years. A neutral conductor, where identified by colour, must be identified by the colour blue (Regulation 514-04-01). Protective conductors remain green-and-yellow (Regulation 514-04-02).

The changes to the colour identification of conductors in fixed wiring are introduced, amongst other things, by Amendment No 2: 2004 to BS 7671: 2001 issued on 31 March 2004. The new colours are the European harmonised colours. Installations commencing on site after 31 March 2006 are to comply with Section 514 and, as appropriate, cores are to identified with the harmonised colours. Installations commencing on site before 1 April 2006 may be installed in accordance with Amendment No. 2: 2004 or Amendment No 1: 2002; that is they may use the harmonized colours or the old colours but NOT both.


For further information including three phase and neutral please see this information on the NICIEC website: www.niceic.org.uk/approved/cablecolours.html, Adobe Acrobat reader required.


New Cable Colours - Courtesy of the IEE (www.iee.org)

1. What are the changes that are proposed for the colour identification of conductors? A1 - For the fixed wiring of an installation, it is proposed to replace the traditional colours of red and black for the phase and neutral conductors of single-phase circuits with brown for the phase conductor and blue for the neutral conductor. The green-and-yellow bi-colour identification of protective conductors will continue unchanged. The proposed colour identification will be familiar, having been used in appliance flexible cables and cords in the United Kingdom for the past 28 years.

The proposed colours for the conductors of three-phase circuits are brown, black and grey with a blue neutral conductor, in place of the traditional red, yellow and blue with a black neutral. Again, the bi-colour green-and-yellow marking of protective conductors will remain unchanged.

The proposed change will implement the use of the core colours introduced in the revision of European Harmonisation document HD 308: Identification of cores in cables and flexible cords, and to align with BS EN 60446: 2000 Basic and safety principles for the man-machine interface - identification of conductors by colours or numerals.

2. Why are the changes for conductor colour identification necessary? A2 - The United Kingdom agreed some 28 years ago to adopt the colour blue for neutral conductors, and has since used harmonised (brown/blue/green-and-yellow) colours for the identification of the cores of flexible cables and flexible cords but, at that time, no move was made towards such harmonisation for non-flexible cables used for fixed wiring. Unfortunately, whilst the United Kingdom was contemplating such change, much of the rest of Europe was standardising on blue for neutral, with brown and/or black phases.

When it became evident in 1999 that, within a few years, a new European Standard would require the use of the colour blue (rather than black) for the neutral conductor of fixed wiring throughout Europe, it became necessary for the United Kingdom to address the cable colour issue with some urgency. The joint BSI/IEE committee now responsible for the technical content of the Wiring Regulations (BS 7671) established a Working Group to consider the position the United Kingdom should take with respect to the harmonisation of the colours of the conductors of non-flexible cables for fixed wiring.

The Working Group concluded that the United Kingdom had no realistic option but to agree to use the colour blue for the neutral, and brown for the phase conductor of single-phase circuits. It also concluded that, due to the widespread adoption in the rest of Europe, the United Kingdom would have to accept black for one of the other phases of a multi-phase circuit. The Working Group also considered that there was a need to be able to distinguish between the phases of a three-phase circuit and decided to propose the colour grey for one of the phases, because, of the very few remaining pan-European colour options, this seemed to have the least disadvantages.

The Working Group’s recommendations subsequently formed the basis of a United Kingdom proposal which was accepted by the CENELEC countries almost unanimously. Europe now has the opportunity to fully harmonise the colour identification system not only for non-flexible cables for fixed wiring, but also for flexible cables and cords and distribution cables.Harmonised Cables for all electrical works large or small, commercial, household, industrial from single, sockets, re-wires


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