Electrical Systems - Color Codes

Page 5

Electrical regulations and standards that apply to boat builders and recreational boats.  Calculating Wire Size

Wiring Color Codes: If you look at any wiring you will see that the wires are all different colors. This is so an electrician knows what they are looking at.   Each color has a specific function.

Direct Current Color Codes: From ABYC standard E-11 Table XIV and Table XV.


Green/Green w/yellow stripe DC Grounding Conductor Bonding Wires (insulated)
Yellow or Black or
Black W/Yellow stripe
DC Negative Conductor Negative Mains
Red DC Positive Positive Mains
Yellow/Red Stripe Starting Circuit Starting Switch to Solenoid
Brown/Yellow stripe or Yellow Bilge Blowers Fuse or Switch to Blower
Dark Gray Navigation Lights Circuit Breakers or Switch To Lights
Dark Gray Tachometer Tachometer Gauges and Senders
Brown Generator Armature Generator Armature to Regulator
Brown Alternator Charge Light Generator Terminal or Alternator Aux Terminal to Regulator
Brown Pumps Circuit Breakers or Switch to Pumps
Orange Accessory Feed Amp Mtr to Alt or Gen Output & Acc Circuit Breaker & Switches
Orange Common Feed Distribution Panels To Accessory Switches
Purple Ignition Ignition Switch to Coil & Electrical Instrument
Purple Instrument Feed Distribution Panel To Electrical Instruments
Purple Main Power Feed Positive Mains (particularly un-fused)
Dark Blue Cabin and Instruments Circuit Breakers or Switch to Lights
Light Blue Oil Pressure Oil Pressure Gauges & Senders
Tan Water Temp Water Temp To Sender To Gauge
Pink Fuel Gauge Fuel Gauge Sender to Gauge
Green/stripe Tilt Down/Trim in Tilt and Trim Circuits
Blue/Stripe Tilt Up/Trim Out Tilt and Trim Circuits

Alternating Current: Wiring Color Codes

I strongly recommend that unless you have experience or training working with AC electrical systems, that you hire an electrician. AC is deadly!

Black: Hot. An ungrounded current carrying conductor. This is the hot side of the system. Do not touch! You will get zapped!

White: Hot. Neutral. Shore Grounded Neutral.  A current carrying conductor maintained at ground (Earth) potential. Do not touch! You will get zapped!

Grounding Conductor. Green or Green with Yellow Stripe Used as a path to ground if there is a ground fault in the system. Do not cut or disconnect! Normally does not have any current.  If there is current in the green wire there is something wrong.

Hot: Red An ungrounded current carrying conductor in 120/240 volt systems. Do not touch! You will get zapped!

EU and Great Britain boats:

For recreational Boats exported to or imported from the European Union, Great Britain, or any other country that uses the International Standards Organization (ISO) rules, the Color Codes are slightly different. You need to get a copy of ISO 10133 Small Craft - Extra Low Voltage DC Installations and ISO 13297 Small Craft - Electrical Systems - Alternating Current Electrical Installations. See

For DC wiring:

Negative wire can be Black with a yellow stripe or Yellow.

For AC wiring,

Hot wire can be Black or Brown.

Neutral wire can be White or Light Blue.

Protective wire (the Grounding Wire in the US) is green or green with a yellow stripe.


American Boat And Yacht Council  Boat Design Net  Wooden Boat Foundation

This Web site may contain copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. I am making such material available in my efforts to advance understanding of educational, economic, and scientific issues, etc. I believe this constitutes a "fair use" of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this Web site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for nonprofit educational purposes. For more information see: www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this Web site for purposes of your own that go beyond "fair use", you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

Created with Dreamweaver 21.2 ©newboatbuilders.com 2022 All Rights Reserved