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Do You Understand The Color Of The Different Wires In Your Boat’s Electrical System?

A reader recently sent in this photo from his boat showing the behind the scenes look at his shore power selector switch. His question has to do with whether or not the wiring color codes on his boat are compliant with regulations or industry standards.

He tells us he is a licensed electrician and he’s never seen the light blue that is quite prevalent used in an installations.  So, what’s up with this? Nothing, other than the fact that the boat was quite obviously (to me) built in Europe and different, internationally recognized colors were used to wire up his boat. Here’s the way this plays out within the ABYC Standard E-11.

  • Hot wires (ungrounded) Black or Brown. We often see brown used in Europe. In this case Black, just as in North America has been used.
  • AC Neutral (grounded) White or Light blue. In this case light blue was used, but white is the preferred choice in North America
  • Grounding Wires- Green or Green with a Yellow Stripe. In North America the solid green is most common, in Europe, the green with yellow stripe is more popular.

Additional accepted colors for hot wires (ungrounded) can be red, orange or dark blue or black with either a red, blue or orange tracer stripe.

So, in a nutshell, there are multiple choice here that are compliant with industry standards both here in the US and Canada as well as in Europe and anywhere where ISO Standards are used.

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