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Old 07-07-2019, 05:35 PM   #1
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Default Colour coding of 3 phase AC circuits

Should a 3 phase 208Y secondary be coloured Black-black-blue so it is not confused with a 4 wire 240V Delta Red-Black-Blue ?

Also is there a reason Canada makes the A phase the (red) high leg while the US code calls for the B phase (orange) to be the high leg?
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Old 07-07-2019, 06:21 PM   #2
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Should a 3 phase 208Y secondary be coloured Black-black-blue so it is not confused with a 4 wire 240V Delta Red-Black-Blue ?

Also is there a reason Canada makes the A phase the (red) high leg while the US code calls for the B phase (orange) to be the high leg?
If you have different voltages or systems in the same building, it is a good idea to use different colours, but it is not a code requirement. I’ve done many buildings that used orange, brown, yellow for the 347/600 for instance.

It is a code requirement to make the “high leg” red (A phase) though. 4-032(4)
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Old 07-07-2019, 06:31 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by Kyle93 View Post
Should a 3 phase 208Y secondary be coloured Black-black-blue so it is not confused with a 4 wire 240V Delta Red-Black-Blue ?

Also is there a reason Canada makes the A phase the (red) high leg while the US code calls for the B phase (orange) to be the high leg?
the colour coding on single system is not bad but once you get multi bags of voltage then yes you do need to know difference on colours to indentify the voltage on that system.

Typically USA side for four wire delta the colour forumat is black orange ( red ) blue but one warning as I paraphase red due some older place the red is wild leg as long it is marked then you should able know which is which .,,

run of mill Wye system is easy .,, 208Y120 is black red and blue is common for this .
480Y277 typically use Brown Orange Yellow and some local area may use Brown Purple Yellow so just be aware if you ever heard it that is typical in some area.

Old delta high legs used to be on C Phase but now days it on B Phase as it is typically marked at panel or MDC
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Old 07-07-2019, 06:36 PM   #4
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the colour coding on single system is not bad but once you get multi bags of voltage then yes you do need to know difference on colours to indentify the voltage on that system.
Not a code requirement in Canada. A good idea, but not required
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Old 07-07-2019, 09:35 PM   #5
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Thanks.
I don’t have 2018 CEC handy at the moment but it is 4-038 in 2015 CEC. Wording of 4-038 (3): “where colour-coded circuits are required......3 phase AC - red (A), black (B), blue(C) and 1 white”
But is that referring to 4 wire wye?
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Old 07-07-2019, 09:57 PM   #6
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Thanks.
I don’t have 2018 CEC handy at the moment but it is 4-038 in 2015 CEC. Wording of 4-038 (3): “where colour-coded circuits are required......3 phase AC - red (A), black (B), blue(C) and 1 white”
But is that referring to 4 wire wye?
Yes it is covered the run of mill Wye system. both 3 and 4 wire wye system use same colour sans neutral conductor that about it.

One step further always double check the supply voltage .,, if you are new person working on this system a journeyperson will explain to you if you ask them nice.

I have a habit to double check the voltage due sometime the colour is not in the right spot so just be aware of that.
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Old 07-07-2019, 11:10 PM   #7
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Thanks.
I don’️t have 2018 CEC handy at the moment but it is 4-038 in 2015 CEC. Wording of 4-038 (3): “where colour-coded circuits are required......3 phase AC - red (A), black (B), blue(C) and 1 whiteâ€Â
But is that referring to 4 wire wye?
It is for delta or wye. It says “where a neutral is required” for the white wire because there would not be a white conductor when using a delta system.


4-032 Identification of insulated conductors

3) Where colour-coded circuits are required, the following colour coding shall be used, except in the case of service entrance cable and when Rules 4-026, 4-028, and 6-308 modify these requirements:
a) 1-phase ac or dc (2-wire) — 1 black and 1 red or 1 black and 1 white*† (where an identified conductor is required);
b) 1-phase ac or dc (3-wire) — 1 black, 1 red, and 1 white*†; and
c) 3-phase ac — 1 red (phase A), 1 black (phase B), 1 blue (phase C), and 1 white* (where a
neutral is required).


And the one that says the high leg must be the “A” phase (red) is this one.

4) Where the midpoint of one phase of a 4-wire delta-connected secondary is grounded to supply
lighting and similar loads, the conductor insulation shall be colour-coded in accordance with Subrule 3) and the phase A insulated conductor shall be the insulated conductor having the higher voltage-to-ground
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Old 07-08-2019, 04:45 PM   #8
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It is for delta or wye. It says “where a neutral is required” for the white wire because there would not be a white conductor when using a delta system.


4-032 Identification of insulated conductors

3) Where colour-coded circuits are required, the following colour coding shall be used, except in the case of service entrance cable and when Rules 4-026, 4-028, and 6-308 modify these requirements:
a) 1-phase ac or dc (2-wire) — 1 black and 1 red or 1 black and 1 white*† (where an identified conductor is required);
b) 1-phase ac or dc (3-wire) — 1 black, 1 red, and 1 white*†; and
c) 3-phase ac — 1 red (phase A), 1 black (phase B), 1 blue (phase C), and 1 white* (where a
neutral is required).


And the one that says the high leg must be the “A” phase (red) is this one.

4) Where the midpoint of one phase of a 4-wire delta-connected secondary is grounded to supply
lighting and similar loads, the conductor insulation shall be colour-coded in accordance with Subrule 3) and the phase A insulated conductor shall be the insulated conductor having the higher voltage-to-ground
Doesn't 4-032 (3) (c) therefore mean than using any colour other than red - black - blue (- white) (eg on a 600D or 600Y347 system) be AGAINST code? Personally I've never seen other colours for phase conductors used, only for switch legs or other special applications.

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Old 07-08-2019, 05:46 PM   #9
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Doesn't 4-032 (3) (c) therefore mean than using any colour other than red - black - blue (- white) (eg on a 600D or 600Y347 system) be AGAINST code? Personally I've never seen other colours for phase conductors used, only for switch legs or other special applications.

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Other than the high leg, Colour coding ungrounded conductors is not a requirement of the CEC. You’ll notice the code says “where colour coded circuits are required.....”


It’s an attempt to have a standard across the country. So if an owner, contractor or engineer wants colour coding, that is a standard to follow.

I have been on many jobs where the plans spec’d different colours, mainly for different voltages. High tech businesses like Adobe and Blackberry and at the airport for instance.

IMO the CEC should make a code that specifies certain voltages must be certain colours or at least make a code that if there are different voltages in a building, they should be different colours.
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Old 07-08-2019, 07:12 PM   #10
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Other than the high leg, Colour coding ungrounded conductors is not a requirement of the CEC. You’ll notice the code says “where colour coded circuits are required.....”


It’s an attempt to have a standard across the country. So if an owner, contractor or engineer wants colour coding, that is a standard to follow.

I have been on many jobs where the plans spec’d different colours, mainly for different voltages. High tech businesses like Adobe and Blackberry and at the airport for instance.

IMO the CEC should make a code that specifies certain voltages must be certain colours or at least make a code that if there are different voltages in a building, they should be different colours.
Way back, when i wired the Ark, we used to have Orange, Brown, Yellow for 347/600. I think it was code, but cant swear to it.
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Old 07-08-2019, 07:38 PM   #11
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Way back, when i wired the Ark, we used to have Orange, Brown, Yellow for 347/600. I think it was code, but cant swear to it.
I'd guess that may have been the spec on the Ark. I've seen it lots in specs that 120/208 is Rd/Bk/Bl and 347/600 is Or/Br/Yl. One job comes to mind out here where those colors were spec'd and we used the opposite color for switch legs (Or/Br/Yl for 120/208 switch legs).. Way too confusing.. Colors mess people up!! Including the best of us. I've seen guys assume a voltage based on the wire color. Don't even get me started on DC color rant.. lol...
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Old 07-08-2019, 09:29 PM   #12
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Way back, when i wired the Ark, we used to have Orange, Brown, Yellow for 347/600. I think it was code, but cant swear to it.
Orange brown yellow has never been a code requirement for 347/600 volt and there never was an Ark! Lol

It is a common spec though, I’ve had to do it and seen in many times.

Orange brown yellow is code for 3 phase isolated systems in patient care areas. 24-208(c)
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Old 07-09-2019, 08:05 AM   #13
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good luck using other colors than red black blue white if using teck cable
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Old 07-09-2019, 08:19 AM   #14
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good luck using other colors than red black blue white if using teck cable

Those colours only come up to a 4 conductor cable. When you use teck with more than 4, there are no more colours, it’s all numbered black conductors. Most I’ve done is an 8 conductor teck but they come with much more than that.
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Old 07-10-2019, 12:40 AM   #15
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Not a code requirement in Canada. A good idea, but not required
My dad told me back when he worked in alberta at an oil refinery that it was code to use orange brown yellow for 347/600 and red black blue for 120/208.

Would that have been an alberta code ( @99cents you're in alberta aren't you?) or just for the refinery?

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Old 07-10-2019, 07:40 AM   #16
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My dad told me back when he worked in alberta at an oil refinery that it was code to use orange brown yellow for 347/600 and red black blue for 120/208.

Would that have been an alberta code ( @99cents you're in alberta aren't you?) or just for the refinery?

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Many people in many provinces have told me the same thing. It has never been a code in the CEC. I think it is one of those spec’s that people assume is code.
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Old 07-10-2019, 08:09 AM   #17
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My dad told me back when he worked in alberta at an oil refinery that it was code to use orange brown yellow for 347/600 and red black blue for 120/208.

[B]Would that have been an alberta code ( @99cents you're in alberta aren't you?) or just for the refinery? [B]

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I don't ever remember seeing it in the Standata (Alberta's Code clarifications and amendments). It's not saying it never did, but as Incognito said it's more often misunderstood as code when it's spec driven.
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Old 07-10-2019, 04:54 PM   #18
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I don't ever remember seeing it in the Standata (Alberta's Code clarifications and amendments). It's not saying it never did, but as Incognito said it's more often misunderstood as code when it's spec driven.
US standard is brown orange yellow for over 250 V and black red blue for under 250 VAC. This is not a mistake since the CEC standard is red black blue for all voltages which is reverse of the US colors. Since it is not mandatory US electricians tend towards Brown orange yellow for all voltages out of habit since 208/120 and 230/120 (high leg) are less common.

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Old 07-10-2019, 05:29 PM   #19
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We had three different voltages in my building. It was an older building that was built when RED was still L2 high leg.

Brown.Orange Yellow= 480 volts
Black, Red, Blue. = 240 Volts
Black w/ red stripe, Red w/ Blue stripe, Blue w/ Black stripe. = 208 Volts

In the US it just says it must be identified different for each voltage.
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Old 07-10-2019, 05:35 PM   #20
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In the US it just says it must be identified different for each voltage.
We should have a code like that. Most of our commercial buildings do have different voltages.
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