Red, black, green, blue, grey, yellow, white and more: What do you know about electrical wiring colours in Australia? If that sounds like an awful lot of colours and has you scratching your head, we’ll need to take a dive into the evolution of Australian electrical wire colours over time. They’re standards that were developed to ensure safety and consistency, but as technology advanced over the decades and the demand for ever more sophisticated electrical systems grew, these standards underwent significant revisions to accommodate new safety protocols and materials.

But it was a gradual shift that leads to plenty of misunderstandings these days – and getting those blue wires mixed up with the brown wires is a very, very bad idea!

So what colour is active wire in Australia these days?

Faced with a rainbow of Australian electrical wiring colours and suspect you’re lost in a confusing maze of the country’s decades-long evolution of standards? Here’s how to navigate the basics of electrical wiring colours in Australia:

Need a Electrician?

Get an obligation free quote and competitive pricing from a top rated Electrician near you . It takes just 30 seconds!

1. The old wiring colours (pre-2000)

Before the new millennium ticked over, Australian electrical wiring was completely different to today.

  • Active wire: Originally red, the active wire carries current to the appliance.
  • Neutral wire: Previously black, this wire completes the circuit by returning current to the source.
  • Earth wire: Historically green, it’s a safety wire that directs any fault current to the ground, preventing electric shock.

2. The new wiring colours (post-2000)

The year 2000 marked the shift to all-new wiring colour standards to enhance clarity and align with international practices – whilst aiming not to make any confusion about the change potentially deadly for the user.

  • Active wire: The live wire shifted from red to brown, ensuring a clearer distinction between the neutral and earth wires for better safety.
  • Neutral wire: This change was from black to light blue, designed to offer a more intuitive contrast to the active and earth wires and slash wiring errors.
  • Earth wire: Goodbye green, hello the green-yellow striped earth wire! The colour choice, and the double colour, was to reinforce the earth’s importance as a critical safety measure.

3. Why the change?

It was all about bringing Australia in line with the international standard, known in the industry and worldwide as IEC 60446. At the turn of the millennium, it was agreed that a global standard would make wiring all around the world safer and easier for electricians and technicians to work on projects confusion-free.

4. The other colours you might encounter

For specialised applications or complex installations, you may encounter extra colours other than those we’ve already mentioned, including:

  • Three-phase power lines: Still trying to get an answer to your question about what is the white wire in electrical wiring in Australia? Well, for three-phase power lines, you may see black (old) or grey (new) for one of the phases, and then white or orange for additional phases in more complex installations.
  • Control circuits & other exceptions: Variations like violet, pink, and light green exist for specific uses, depending on the installation’s complexity and purpose.

5. Safety first

It’s all good and well to get your head around the electric wire colours Australia wide, but the most crucial factor with all wiring and electrical systems and work is – of course – safety. That means your electrical work must always be done by a licensed electrician, as incorrect wiring can lead to serious legal hazards – and obviously the risk of perhaps fatal damage to your home and life.

6. Knowing those colours is not enough

Indeed, just knowing the wiring colours is one mere aspect of electrical safety. Regular inspections, especially in older homes, are absolutely essential to ensure that wiring complies with current standards and is in good condition.

Still confused about Australian electrical wiring colours?

Electrical wiring colour guide

When it comes to electrical wiring colours, the emphasis should always – and we mean always – be on safety and professionalism. That means that whenever you’re in doubt, put it in the hands of the best licensed electrician you can find in your area.

That’s where Tradie Near Me comes in. It’s Australia’s most comprehensive and unique platform to easily and quickly connect homeowners just like you with the full range of professional trades across Australia. You just identify your need, request a quote, and you’ll soon be connected with a verified and genuinely recommended Brisbane electrician, Gold Coast electrician, Sydney electrician or Melbourne electrician who won’t let you down. Need more help with those electrical wire colours Australia wide? You’re only a few clicks away from a Tradie Near Me-approved electrician near you, so get started right now.

Expert & Professional Services

Obligation Free Quote

Get an obligation free quote from local tradies to meet your business or home needs.

Competitive Pricing

Our network of local tradies will provide you with a competitive price for the industry.

Top Rated Tradies

Work with professional tradies that follow our quality code, with great reviews and customer service.

Guaranteed Workmanship

You're in good hands for all repairs, installs, and maintenance with tradies that guarantee their workmanship.

Get a quote