We're ordering some machinery from China and need it manufactured to Australian electrical standards including the wiring colour code. Unfortunately we don't have any electricians or engineers that work here (I'm an engineering student) and online all I've been able to find is info in forums - it seems government makes you purchase standards documentation. Some sources I've found indicated:

  • P1: Red
  • P2: White
  • P3: Dark Blue
  • Neutral: Black
  • Ground: Green

and others have indicated that it has since changed to:

  • P1: Brown
  • P2: Black
  • P3: Grey
  • Neutral: Light Blue
  • Ground: Green/Yellow

Can anyone with experience in this topic enlighten me on the current Australian standard before I request the spec for the machines.

  • Is there actually a neutral on your equipment? – mkeith Nov 7 '17 at 3:03
  • 2
    I'm not actually sure. But providing the correct colour code standard will ensure it's correct whether there is a neutral or not – Seano Nov 7 '17 at 4:21
up vote 2 down vote accepted

For three phase wiring, our standard colours are:

  • Phases: Red, White, (dark) Blue
  • Neutral: Black
  • Earth: Green/Yellow

For example, any three-core (3C+E) or four-core (4C+E) power cable bought in Australia would follow the above colour codes.

These colours are strongly advised, but not mandatory.

  1. The internal wiring of equipment may come with European colour codes (brown, gray, black, blue) - this is permissible by AS 3000.

  2. The wiring may also come with no colour code at all. For example, all the wiring might be gray, with wires identified by numbers or labels - this is also permissible by AS 3000. German equipment, in particular, often comes like this - a baffling collection of gray spaghetti.

Therefore, writing a specification that "all wiring colours shall comply to AS 3000" is a pretty weak specification. It's better to specify that three-phase power circuits shall be identified by colours, and the acceptable colours are - red, white, and dark blue for phase conductors, black for neutral, and green/yellow for earths.


For single-phase wiring, I've seen both a) red active / black neutral, and b) brown active, light blue neutral (European style.) AS 3000 allows for both - so long as you don't mix the two colour schemes in the same installation.


Relevant citations From AS3000:2007+A2 Wiring Rules:

3.8   IDENTIFICATION

3.8.1   General

Installation wiring conductors shall be clearly identified to indicate
their intended function as active, neutral, earthing or equipotential
bonding conductors.

Where identification is achieved using the colour of the conductor
insulation, the colours specified in Table 3.4 shall be used.

Conductors with green, yellow or green/yellow combination coloured
insulation or sheathing shall not be used as active or neutral conductors in
installation wiring.

NOTES:
1 Exceptions and special applications for colours are provided in Clause 3.8.3.

2 Internal wiring of equipment is not regarded as installation wiring but may be
  subject to particular equipment standards.

3 Switchboard wiring is not regarded as installation wiring but the
  AS/NZS 3439 series restricts the green/yellow combination to the
  identification of earthing conductors.

TABLE   3.4
CONDUCTOR COLOURS FOR INSTALLATION WIRING
+-----------------------+---------------------------------------+
| Function              | Insulation colour                     |
+-----------------------+---------------------------------------+
| Protective earth      | Green/yellow                          |
+-----------------------+---------------------------------------+
| Equipotential bonding | Green/yellow                          |
+-----------------------+---------------------------------------+
| Neutral               | Black or light blue                   |
+-----------------------+---------------------------------------+
| Active                | Any colour other than green, yellow,  |
|                       | green/yellow, black or light blue     |
+-----------------------+---------------------------------------+

NOTES:

1 When green/yellow is used, one colour shall cover not less than 30% and
  not more than 70% of the surface area, with the other colour covering the
  remainder of the surface.

2 Recommended colours for actives are:
  (a) Red or brown for single-phase; or
  (b) Red, white or dark blue for multiphase.

3 Where colours are used for the identification of cable cores, AS/NZS cable
  identification colours and European cable identification colours shall not be
  combined within the same wiring enclosure or the same multi-core cable.

... [snip] ....


3.8.3.2   Active and neutral conductors 

An active or neutral conductor need not be coloured in accordance with the 
colours permitted by Table 3.4 where— 

(a) insulated conductors within a multi-core flexible cable have each core 
    clearly identifiable by means of numbering, lettering or equivalent 
    means; or 

(b) conductors of flexible cords and cables are identified by alternative 
    colours in accordance with Clause 3.8.3.3; or 

(c) insulated aerial conductors are identified by a number of small 
    longitudinal ribs around the circumference, the neutral conductor shall 
    be identified by multiple longitudinal ribs evenly spaced around the 
    entire circumference and length of the conductor that clearly 
    distinguish it from the other conductors.

It seems these are the new colour standards for equipment, based on the most recent National Electrical Standards as of 2010 thru 2017. I have confirmed they are accurate.

New cable colour code for Three Phase

  • Phase 1 - Brown
  • Phase 2 - Black
  • Phase 3 - Grey
  • Neutral - Light Blue
  • Earth - Green/Yellow

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FWIW

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  • Can I ask for the source of these tables please – Seano Nov 7 '17 at 4:23
  • The tables, or equivalent, are in the wikipedia article I linked to in my answer. – mkeith Nov 7 '17 at 4:30
  • The blue colours in those images (the originals in the Wikipedia article, and the images above) are rather poor, particularly the dark blue. (I have great difficulty distinguishing between them when they're not adjacent to each other.) For the "Australian Equipment" table above it looks like the dark blue image has been used, rather than the light blue one. – ovirt Dec 12 '17 at 7:25
  • I agree, the professional photographer who took them was more interested in the beauty of gradient dark shadows than the accuracy of a single color so disregard anything in the shadows. Is it my imagination that AU think Red-Wh & Blue are all hot (heads) and Black is Neutral while USA thinks Whites are Neutral? while EU uses Smirf color for neutral. I think there is some social statement in this. – Tony EE rocketscientist Dec 12 '17 at 19:25

Based on my web research, it appears that Australia follows standard AS/NZS 3000. If you want an absolutely authoritative document, you will have to purchase the latest version of that standard, or find a place (maybe a library) where you can review it. In that standard, it is recommended that three-phase colors used in a building be red/white/dark blue. It is not required. It is just suggested. A number of colors are prohibited from being used for phase wires.

Neutral can be light blue or black. But since one of the suggested phase wire colors is dark blue, it seems that black is a better choice for neutral. Ground can be green or green with yellow.

However, Europe follows IEC 60446. That standard uses the grey/black/brown scheme. Apparently AS/NZS 3000 allows you to use the EU color code also. Some websites are saying that the IEC 60446 color code is actually recommended or required for EQUIPMENT sold in Australia.

So I would say that if your product may be dual marketed into EU countries, you should consider using the EU color codes. Australian electricians will probably be familiar with it, and it is "legal" in Australia. But the other color code could cause problems in the EU market.

Main source is wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electrical_wiring

Nobody has actually quoted the real 'machinery' standard for Australia which is AS60204. This standard will help you to specify what you actually want including the lamp and control button standards. AS/NZS 3000 is ONLY for fixed wiring not machines.

  • 1
    and what does that standard say on wire color codes? – RJR Jun 5 at 10:39

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