My wall has a black and a white wire. My sconce has a blue wire and a brown wire. What gets connected to what?

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    Please tell us where on the planet you are, as color conventions vary widely by country and even by state or province. More importantly, where was the sconce made, and to where was it intended to be exported? – A. I. Breveleri Jun 14 '17 at 17:47
  • You probably already know this, but the lamp will work either way. One way will be safer that the other. - The issue is that in most places in the world, one of the house wires is held to a voltage level as close as possible to the surrounding earth, and is thus relatively safer to touch than the other wire. In the US this would be the white wire. And, for most sconces and lamps, one electrified part of the appliance is much more likely to be touched. For common ES sockets, this is the threaded shell. Therefore you want the lamp shell to be connected to the white wall wire. – A. I. Breveleri Jun 14 '17 at 18:01
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    So the question to consider is: which wire, blue or brown, is connected to the part of the sconce that you are most likely to touch, say, when changing a bulb or switching it on? – A. I. Breveleri Jun 14 '17 at 18:07

The Europeans and the rest of the world are harmonizing on a color standard as follows:

  • Hot - Brown (and several other colors as needed, including gray)
  • Neutral - Light Blue
  • Ground - Yellow with green stripe, or the reverse, or green, or bare

According to trade deals with those nations, we must honor their color scheme for appliances from European providers. Our own scheme is:

  • Ground: same
  • Neutral: white or gray
  • Hot: every other color, or one of those colors taped on a white or gray

The NEC allows light blue for neutral in certain cases, an obvious nod to our treaty obligations.

However... Anything you install must be listed. To be more precise, it must be a device approved by your AHJ (your local electrical inspector) and they simply rely on listings issued by UL, the main American testing lab.

Due to our treaty obligations, we must also honor listings to equivalent standards done by their testing labs such as CSA, TUV, etc. All these labs operate internationally so a German company might get UL listing for a fixture to be sold in the EU. CE is not a listing agency. RoHS is not a listing agency. Chinese suppliers are notorious for faking listings.

  • Just so it's painfully obvious you might insert a map for this specific case (black to brown, white to blue). – isherwood Jun 14 '17 at 20:33
  • My understanding that CE was the European equivalent to UL , (but not recognised in the US). I just checked it is European comformity required to sell electronics products in the EU. – Ed Beal Jun 14 '17 at 21:42
  • @EdBeal The equivalents to UL (CSA, TUV etc.) are recognized in the US and often do business here, and compete. CE is nothing but a maker's unverified claim that their product conforms to EU standards, it does not mean tested by a third party. Many dodgy products have the CE mark where the UL mark ought to be. – Harper - Reinstate Monica Jun 14 '17 at 21:49
  • My memory was tuv did 3rd party verifications but I have been retired from HP for quite a while . equipment sold in the EU had to have the CE mark or a 3rd party certification like TUV , we built a lot of different equipment that was shipped after passing for each type and spot inspected after that. – Ed Beal Jun 14 '17 at 23:00

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