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What do solid or dashed lines on a wire indicate? Is there a difference between the solid and dashed indicators? enter image description here

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up vote 20 down vote accepted

The solid/dashed lines on wires like the ones pictured in your question are used to indicate polarity e.g. for the "wall wart" power supplies. Usually* the wire with the white stripe or the dashed lines carries the "positive" (+) end, while the other, unmarked wire carries the "negative" (-) end.

It doesn't matter if it is striped or dashed, the presence of any kind of marker is the indicator of the wire being the "positive" end of things, as opposed to the unmarked "negative" wire.

This kind of convention is used on speaker cables as well, where the wire that is marked in some manner (e.g. text providing wire information, a stripe, etc.) is the positive end, and the unmarked wire is the negative end.

*I say "usually" since I've seen a wall wart with the wires were reversed, although every other wall wart I've used does it the way I've described above. The only way to be sure is to use a voltmeter and measure the voltage across the two wires. If you get a negative voltage reading, you know you have the test leads swapped.

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3  
Nothing like non-standard standards. +1 for multimeter certainty. – Adam Lawrence Sep 4 '12 at 16:40
    
What about electrolytic capacitors where the white stripe signals the negative pin? At first I got confused by the wire convention being the opposite... – heltonbiker Dec 8 '15 at 23:49

protected by Dave Tweed Jul 25 '15 at 11:42

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