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The New And Old Wiring Colours

We’ll go over the new and old UK wiring colours for cables and wiring in the property in this guide. We’ll also touch upon when the new electrical wiring colours were introduced in the UK, 3 different types of wire, what the new wiring colours are, and how to check the condition of your wiring cables.

When Did The New Wiring Colours Come In the UK?

Although they had been in use since 2004, the new wire colours became compulsory in 2006. It may appear that having two systems is confusing, however, the new method was implemented to ensure that the UK’s wire colours match those of other European countries. This is commonly referred to as the ‘harmonised’ system.

In fact, the new wiring system is more commonly present in today’s households. The government updated the legislation in the Requirements for Electrical Installations on April 1, 2006, making it illegal to use old wiring colours in new domestic and commercial renovations. 

There are both old and new electrical wire systems with certain properties. The new wire colours should be used in any expansions built after 2006, while the interior of the building may still have the earlier wire colours.

The new legislation did not require current properties to be fully rewired; however, new properties were obliged to use newer wiring colours.

The Three Different Wire Types

A UK plug connects the main supply to appliances in the home. In the plug, there are 3 different wire types:  live, neutral, and earth wires.

Earth Wire

In the case that the live wire loosens and comes into contact with a metal piece of the appliance, the earth wire is designed to pull a large current through the fuse.

It is needed to protect users from a dangerous electric shock.

The earth wire is linked to the metallic body of electric appliances so that any escape of electric current is directed to the ground.

Earth Wire

The live wire is the brown plastic-covered wire. The live wire is located on the left, whereas the neutral wire is positioned on the right.

The live wire is the one with the most power. It is responsible for carrying the voltage and supplying it to the appliance.

Because the live wire carries a high voltage, it should never come into contact with the earth wire, as this would complete a circuit from your mains supply to the ground, and could potentially risk in a serious shock or fire.

Neutral Wire

The main goal of the neutral wire is to provide a pathway for the current to return to the power source and finish the circuit as a whole.

New vs Old UK Wiring Colours

New vs Old UK Wiring Colours

What Are the New Electrical Wiring Colours?

Blue, brown, and green wires make up the current wiring. T here is a brown live wire, a blue neutral wire, and a green/yellow protective earth wire. The UK’s redesign of wiring colours between 2004 and 2006 led to the creation of modern wiring colours. Since 2006, the legislation has required that these colours be used for all wiring in newly constructed business and residential electrical systems. You will still find old wiring is still present in pre-2006 installations, and it is recommended that it be updated if you decide to rewire a home. 

Related Article: What Is The Cost To Rewire A House

Green/Yellow Protective Earth Wire

Since 1977, the colour of protective Earth wire has been green and yellow, and this has not changed since the 2000s. In order to ensure safety, there is a Protective Earth (PE) conductor that may, if necessary, transmit a current directly to the earth. By doing this, the electrician may avoid electrocution.

Brown Live Wire

As part of the new rules, the live wire’s colour was changed from red to brown. Any device that has a red live wire is likely made of outdated wiring. 

Black Live Wire

Three-phase live wires underwent colour changes in 2004. In three-phase wiring, line 2 is a black live wire. Prior to 2004, a yellow live wire served as the default colour for line 2.

Grey Live Wire

In three-phase wiring, line 3 is the grey live wire. Before the IEC regulations were put into place 15 years ago, the line 3 live wire was blue.

Neutral Blue Wire

As part of the IEC regulations, the neutral wire was switched from black to blue. To manage and regulate the voltage, neutral wires were installed. They are able to transfer currents back to the power source. Together with the blue neutral wire, the brown live wire completes the circuit.

3 Core and Earth Cable

One of the two popular forms of wiring systems is a 3-core and earth cable. Any appliance connected to the earth is considered under Appliance Class I, which is acceptable for this sort of wiring system. A live brown wire, a neutral grey wire, a green/yellow protecting earth wire, and an extra black conductor—the live line 2 wire—are the internal 3-core and earth electrical cable colours.

2 Core and Earth Cable

2-core and earth cables are regarded as suitable for Appliance Class II. A live brown wire, a neutral blue wire, and a green/yellow Protective Earth wire make up a 2-core and earth cable.

What Are the Old Electrical Wiring Colours

What Are the Old Electrical Wiring Colours?

What colours were applied in the UK for wiring before IEC? A green/yellow earth wire and black and red wires, which served as the neutral and live wires, where required by law for new installations from 1977 until 2004.

Green/Yellow Protective Earth Wire

The Protective Earth wire was the only element of the IEE colour scheme to alter in the 1970s. In the UK, the earth wire’s colour was switched from pure green to a mix of green and yellow, which it still has today. 

Red Live Wire

Up until 2004, any new installations included red live wires. Since it had been the normal colour of British line 1 live wires for decades, this wire had not undergone any change as of 1977.

Yellow Live Wire

In all three-phase wiring before the adoption of BS 7671, line 2 was yellow. Prior to 1964, Line 2 had likewise been white.

Blue Live Wire

Line 3 of three-phase wire was blue before to 2004. Line 3 remained blue for numerous decades, however it was green before to WWII.

Neutral Black Wire

Prior to 2004, all new neutral wires were black. Black had been the standard colour for new UK electrical equipment for many decades previous to 1977, thus nothing had changed.

3 Core and Earth Cable

Earlier versions of 3-core and earth cables had a red live wire, a blue neutral wire, a green and yellow protecting earth (as of 1977), and an extra yellow conductor that served as the second line’s live wire.

2 Core and Earth Cable

A live red wire, a neutral black wire, and either green and yellow or bare copper wires made up 2-core and earth cables in the past. The IEE regulations from before 1977 required that the above be either bare or completely green.

Check condition of cables

Check The Condition Of Your Wiring Cables

Tough Rubber Sheathed cables

Most cables in homes before the 1960s were robust rubber encased cables that were pvc-insulated (TRS). Its black appearance makes this sort of sheathing easy to identify.

During this period, the use of vulcanised rubber insulated cables (VRI) also became more widespread. This cable type is no longer used in residential areas since it is over 55 years old. If this resembles your property, we advise hiring an electrician right away to complete a complete rewire.

Age, high temperatures, overloading, as well as exposure to direct sunlight can all cause insulation and sheathing to breakdown. Rubber can also degrade if it has been subjected to these conditions.

Cables that are deteriorating lose their mobility and insulation, become dry, and are more likely to collapse and break.

Lead Sheathed Cables

In household residences, lead-sheathed cabling were more common until the 1950s. They are copper conductors with rubber insulation and a lead outer covering. Lead encased cables degrade over time because they are rubber insulated, just like TRS cables do.

Some older buildings still utilise lead sheathing, which may be slowly decaying without your knowledge. Please be advised that any lead-sheathed wires are past their intended working life and should be examined by a qualified electrician right once to guarantee your safety.

PVC-Insulated Sheathing

From the 1960s onward, PVC-insulated sheathing remained popular and is currently the most used type of sheathing. However, old houses still have TRS and lead-sheathed wires today.

Assure the safety of your household and the use of long-lasting sheathing. Make sure your cable colours adhere to the current BS7671 Wiring Regulations standard and that they are routinely checked for flaws.


Can you connect old wiring to new wiring?

New lighting fixtures cannot be connected to any non-compliant wiring, according to US law. You’ll need to replace your home’s wiring if it still employs knob-and-tube wiring. Thankfully, you won’t often need to replace your complete wiring system. It’s recommended to replace your wiring system if you have the money though.

Lighting Installations coventry

What Is Single-phase Wiring?

A single alternating voltage is present in, produced by, or utilised by a single-phase system, circuit, or device. Single-phase electricity is defined as the delivery of alternating current electricity through a system where all supply voltages fluctuate simultaneously.

What is Three-phase Wiring?

Three-wire ac power circuits are used for three-phase power, with each phase’s ac signal being 120 electrical degrees apart. Commercial and industrial buildings often use a three-phase supply, whereas a single-phase supply typically services residential properties.

Which is live red or black?

In contemporary systems, the live wire is brown, while in older systems, it is red. In new appliances, the neutral wire is blue, but in older systems, it is black.

What distinguishes a 3-core and earth cable from a 2-core and earth cable?

Live, neutral, and earth conductors make up the three cores of the “Appliance Class I” cable (connectivity to earth). Only live and neutral conductors make up the two cores of “Appliance Class II” cable (no connectivity to earth).

What Is An Electricians Hourly Rate In The UK?

Usually, an electrician will operate on an hourly rate basis rather than a fixed fee. You can find further information regarding electrician’s hourly rates across the UK on different jobs.

How can I tell if my wiring is old?

Most people don’t give what’s behind their walls any thought. However, whenever you use an electrical appliance such as light switches, you pull power from your home’s internal wiring. If this wire is outdated or broken, this might result in serious issues such as electrical fires.

1) Frayed Wires

2) Burnet Plug Sockets

3) Tripping Circuit Breakers, Fuse Box & Consumer Unit

4) Smoke Coming From Appliances

5) Lights Are Dimming

6) Appliances Showing Bare Wire Or Exposed Metal

7) Connections Are Loose

8) Buzzing Noises Coming From Appliances

Related Article: Want To Know The Cost Of Adding New Plug Sockets To A Room?

It’s recommended to leave working on electrical units to experienced and qualified electricians in Nuneaton. If you have any questions about new wiring colours, electrical wiring, British wiring colours, household wiring and electrical installations, don’t hesitate to get in touch.

Why not take a look at our article on PAT Testing – A Explanation Guide

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