Does white stay with white and red to black?

  • what part of the world are you in? In most parts of the world a white is neutral, green or bare is ground and most other colors are hot or switched. If you have a ground wire, carefully measure the voltage from red to ground and white to ground to verify. Red will likely be hot (line voltage between it and ground) and there should be zero or a very tiny voltage between white and ground....assuming of course the house was wired correctly in the first place. Mar 8, 2020 at 16:57
  • I'm in the USA.
    – verbatim
    Mar 8, 2020 at 17:00
  • 1
    Hmmm.... is the wiring in cable or conduit? Are there any other wires? Maybe some others with more experience in this could help as well. Mar 8, 2020 at 17:03

1 Answer 1


Yes, in North America on a fluorescent ballast, white is neutral and black is hot -- switched hot, that is.

In North American wiring, white and gray are neutral, green and yellow/green are safety ground, and everything else is hot. So red is hot.

Further, there's a mild preference to use black for always-hot and red for switched-hot. You obviously want switched-hot to a light.

  • Thanks Harper ... I learned something here (again)...I did not know gray was considered a neutral color (no pun intended!). Mar 8, 2020 at 17:44
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    Especially in conduit many sparkys will use red for switched hot. no rule for it but it takes guess work out especially in junction boxes with multiple circuits.+ Gray is normally used in industrial facilities to identify different voltage like 277v neutral where white is 120 system. But in residential white and gray are both limited to being neutral.
    – Ed Beal
    Mar 8, 2020 at 17:46
  • yeah in a conduit you have more options for combining colors. in a manufactured cable you can only choose from what's available.
    – Jasen
    Mar 8, 2020 at 23:41

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