In a typical switch loop (from the past) where 14/2 is used, the white wire should be marked on both ends with black tape to indicate it is a "hot" wire just like the black wire.

In a 14/3 cable, the black and red would be used for the switch and the white remains the neutral to be used in the switch box if it's ever needed (now required by code). Is the red wire being red good enough to indicate that it's "hot", or should it also be marked with black tape to indicate it is actually the switched side of the black wire?

For the answer - is this codified, or just convention?


Being red is fine. Code wise, anything that's not colored as a grounded (neutral) or grounding conductor, is an ungrounded (hot) conductor.

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  • Ok, great. I knew red was Ok to mean "hot", but I didn't know if it also needed to indicate that it was electrically connected to the black. – JPhi1618 Feb 17 '16 at 15:29
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    Most devices that have a switched output use a red wire to Identify the output that is switched. + to tester. – Ed Beal Feb 17 '16 at 15:46
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    @EdBeal That's true, but that's a convention, not a code requirement. – Tester101 Feb 17 '16 at 15:49
  • In older wiring, one may find out the colors have faded. Moreover, many times and incorrectly, the neutral would be switched, as opposed to the correct way of switching the hot. – Kris Feb 17 '16 at 18:00
  • White and gray are reserved for neutrals. Green, green/yellow and bare wire are reserved for safety ground. Any other color is allowable as a hot, with no further code requirements as to color except you should be consistent within your facility. There are conventions though, e.g. orange/yellow/brown/gray is 480 wye, and if you see that running in a conduit, good guess that's what it is. – Harper - Reinstate Monica Feb 17 '16 at 20:56

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