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Old 04-18-2009, 11:16 PM   #1
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Default Proper switch leg colors

Every jobsite I have worked on so far has used 277v for its lighting circuits. For that we have used pink colored wire for the switchlegs and purple for travellers on 3 ways with pink being the switchleg. Just this last week I was working on a job where the lighting was 120v and was pulling wire for both power and lighting. Well, I grabbed a roll of pink and a couple rolls of purple for switch legs and travellers. After pulling in a couple of switches, the journeyman stopped me and told me that for 120v we use orange for the switchleg and made me re-pull all the pink I pulled in. That night in the hotel room I spent at least 3 hours looking in the code book trying to find anything that requires certain colors to identify the switch leg and the differences between 120v and 277v switch leg colors.

Does such a thing exist?

Thanks
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Old 04-18-2009, 11:24 PM   #2
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........Does such a thing exist?.........
Not in the NEC. Job specs, personal preference, designer's choice may dictate a specific color, but The Book is silent on the issue.

My personal choices are:

120/240/208 V
Black/Red/Blue for hot, white for neutral, Brown/orange/Yellow for switch legs. Purple for travellers.
277/480 V:
Brown/orange/Yellow for hot, grey for neutral, Black/Red/Blue switch legs. Purple for travellers.
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Old 04-18-2009, 11:28 PM   #3
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geez 480....do you live on this website? Im grateful for your quick responses but man...seems like everytime I post something on here, you answer within 10 minutes.

By the way, Im not complaining, just stating an observation.
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Old 04-18-2009, 11:29 PM   #4
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I've never heard of this before. We never EVER mix blue/red/black with BOY colors.
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Old 04-18-2009, 11:33 PM   #5
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I've never heard of this before. We never EVER mix blue/red/black with BOY colors.
No reason not to......
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Old 04-18-2009, 11:46 PM   #6
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I use a slight variation of 480s choice.

For 277, brown, orange, yellow are hots, and purple is the switch leg. For travelers, I use the corresponding low voltage color. If the hot is brown, I'll use black, orange-red. I also use these colors for more than one switch leg.

For 120, it's just the opposite. Black, red, blue are hots, purple is the switch leg, and the corresponding high voltage color is travelers or more than one switch leg.

In the rare event of more than one switch leg and 3 ways, I pull two purples, and tape one of them.

It seems confusing here, but looking at a switch box or a fixture, it makes a lot of sense.

Rob
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Old 04-19-2009, 02:12 AM   #7
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277 is wierd.... Brown Orange Yellow?
347 is Orange Brown Yellow. lol

Anyways, never worked with 277. But for 347 We always just use the circuit color of that switch and just label the switch leg. Same for 120 when we are pulling single conductors.
Sometimes I wish we had purple and pink for travelers and SL though, some boxes are pretty full and not every one labels as well as they should.
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Old 04-19-2009, 07:47 AM   #8
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Not in the NEC. Job specs, personal preference, designer's choice may dictate a specific color, but The Book is silent on the issue.
Or local amendments. We have them here.
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Old 04-19-2009, 07:56 AM   #9
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If you choose to use Brown, Orange, Yellow for your phase colors then you have to use BOY for the switch legs as well, including travelers.

If you choose to use Black, Red Blue for your phase colors then you have to use Black, Red Blue for the switch legs as well, including travelers.

You must identify the phase of the ungrounded conductor branch circuit for it's entire length.

2008 NEC 210.5(C)
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Old 04-19-2009, 08:04 AM   #10
 
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i just use the NEXT color for the sw leg; that is, if the hot is BLACK, then sw leg is RED. same for BOY/ 277V lighting. just make sure everybody on the job does the same.
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Old 04-19-2009, 08:56 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by LawnGuyLandSparky View Post
I've never heard of this before. We never EVER mix blue/red/black with BOY colors.
I guess to each his own. I'm not aware of anybody doing this around here.

Last edited by william1978; 04-19-2009 at 09:02 AM.
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Old 04-19-2009, 09:01 AM   #12
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If you choose to use Brown, Orange, Yellow for your phase colors then you have to use BOY for the switch legs as well, including travelers.

If you choose to use Black, Red Blue for your phase colors then you have to use Black, Red Blue for the switch legs as well, including travelers.

You must identify the phase of the ungrounded conductor branch circuit for it's entire length.

2008 NEC 210.5(C)

Care to explain? I don't see any colors listed in that section.
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Old 04-19-2009, 09:06 AM   #13
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Care to explain? I don't see any colors listed in that section.
I am not saying you have to choose any particular color but that section requires the ungrounded phase conductors to be identified by phase.

If you have chosen Black as the identifier for phase A and the switch leg is on phase A your going to have use black for that switch leg and / or travelers.

This section has been getting changed a lot and for a while you did not have to identify by phase.
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Old 04-19-2009, 09:30 AM   #14
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277 is wierd.... Brown Orange Yellow?
347 is Orange Brown Yellow. lol

In Canada (Ontario) we must use red, black, blue regardless of voltage CEC 4-036(3)(c)
I always thought "BOY or OBY" was only used in the US?

Switch legs using NM or BX CEC 4-034(2)
Can't find a CDN code for switch legs colours in pipe yet......

Last edited by eddy current; 04-19-2009 at 09:49 AM.
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Old 04-19-2009, 09:37 AM   #15
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I am not saying you have to choose any particular color but that section requires the ungrounded phase conductors to be identified by phase.

If you have chosen Black as the identifier for phase A and the switch leg is on phase A your going to have use black for that switch leg and / or travelers.

This section has been getting changed a lot and for a while you did not have to identify by phase.

I don't read it that way at all. If I have, let's say a red wire, where does it say in that section that it has to be red all the way through?
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Old 04-19-2009, 09:45 AM   #16
 
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I've never heard of this before. We never EVER mix blue/red/black with BOY colors.
Well mostly all jobs like commercial we use black/ red/ blue and switch legs brown/ orange /yellow . Or opposite brown /black orange /red yellow /blue

Now some jobs the specs say you will use color for color and make the hot and the switch leg by identification with a label or marking on wire .

Some government or local county jobs like to spec phase colors like purple is the phase b to be that color . Why we dont know its just there pick we do . But i agree with 480 a normal electrician thats been in commercial in the united states for years has used high to low or low to high unless your company has lots of money to buy special wire or labels on a normal project .

So what colors is yours what do you use if you dont use these colors ?Best to ya

Last edited by nick; 04-19-2009 at 09:52 AM.
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Old 04-19-2009, 09:47 AM   #17
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I don't read it that way at all. If I have, let's say a red wire, where does it say in that section that it has to be red all the way through?
It says you must identify the branch circuit conductor by phase.
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Old 04-19-2009, 09:51 AM   #18
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It says you must identify the branch circuit conductor by phase.
And I do... b/r/b until it goes through a switch, contactor, photocell, etc., then it changes to b/o/y (or vice-versa for 277/480).
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Old 04-19-2009, 09:57 AM   #19
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And I do... b/r/b until it goes through a switch, contactor, photocell, etc., then it changes to b/o/y (or vice-versa for 277/480).

IMO you can no longer do that, if you chose Orange as phase B for the 480 system you must use that same color for the entire branch circuit. I see no relief for 'switch legs' in 210.5(C)
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Old 04-19-2009, 10:03 AM   #20
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IMO you can no longer do that, if you chose Orange as phase B for the 480 system you must use that same color for the entire branch circuit. I see no relief for 'switch legs' in 210.5(C)
210.5(C) Ungrounded Conductors. Where the premises wiring system has branch circuits supplied from more than one nominal voltage system, each ungrounded conductor of a branch circuit shall be identified by phase or line and system at all termination, connection, and splice points. The means of identification shall be permitted to be by separate color coding, marking tape, tagging, or other approved means. The method utilized for conductors originating within each branch-circuit panelboard or similar branch-circuit distribution equipment shall be documented in a manner that is readily available or shall be permanently posted at each branch-circuit panelboard or similar branch-circuit distribution equipment.

90.5(B) Permissive Rules. Permissive rules of this Code are those that identify actions that are allowed but not required, are normally used to describe options or alternative methods, and are characterized by the use of the terms shall be permitted or shall not be required.
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