Which Wire is Hot When Both Are Same Color?

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Ideally, the hot wire is red or black while the neutral is white in color. However, in some fixtures, both wires can be of the same color. This presents a problem that is confusing and somewhat dangerous in nature.

So, which wire is hot when both are same color, if you had the question, you’ve come to the right place.

Normally, when both wires are of the same color, there’s a small writing on the case of the wire, to indicate which wire is what. If you can’t seem to find it, don’t worry. There are other methods too, which we will describe here.

Which Wire Is Hot When Both Are Same Color

Wire Color System: Explained

A hot wire is not the wire that has a high temperature, rather it is the wire that carries electricity from the distribution system to your socket or to the ground through the ground wire switch or grounding conductor. Let’s break it down, in the case of a 1-phase system there will be two connectors that are connected in between the breaker panel of your house to your socket or light source, etc. The load wire generally connects the light switch to the light fixture.

In these wires, one is called the hot wire or live wire that carries the electricity from the breaker panel. The other wire is called the neutral wire which purpose is to complete the circuit. So, knowing about the neutral wire color is also crucial in this case. If you find out that two black wires which are hot and also how to tell hot from the neutral wire? Normally hot wire is black and the neutral wire color is white. So, if you see any white wire, assume that is the neutral wire. But if in any case, they both have the same color, then it will be a real trouble to detect the type of the wires and their wire color code.

How to Find Which Wire is Hot When Both Are Same Color?

There are several ways to detect the hot wire if they both have the same color or can also be said both wires are the same color which is positive. Here I’ll describe the top way which is not only the safest but also the easiest way to find out the hot wire when both wires are black of the electrical system even if it shares the same color as others. Let’s dive into that.

  • In this way, you will need just a typical digital multimeter with two test probes. Set the mode of the multimeter into HVAC i.e. High Voltage AC (VAC or V~), that is the mode to measure High voltage alternating current. You can check this good quality digital multimeter.

Discover the easiest and safest way to detect the hot wire with a digital multimeter!

How to Find Which Wire Is Hot When Both Are Same Color 1
  • Touch the Red probe to one wire and the Black probe to the ground that is the metal part of the frame. You can put a small knob to the other wire for safety purposes. Now check the reading of the voltage that is showing on the display.
  • If the reading is around 100 to 120 v, then it is surely the hot wire and the other one is the neutral wire. If the reading is close to 0, then it is the neutral wire and the other one is the hot wire. You can repeat step-2 for the other wire to be sure for the 2nd case.

If you get a 0v reading in both cases, that means there is no electricity on any of the wires. Check whether the circuit breaker and switch are ON or not. It is okay to get 220v as a reading on your multimeter as the distribution voltage varies from country to country. The standard distribution voltage in the USA is 120v where in Europe it is 240v. Will you face any problem with how to find neutral wire again?

Frequently Asked Questions and Answers

Which wire is positive if both are same color?

Run your fingers along the wire. The smooth-feeling wire is the positive one, and the groovy one is the negative. That is the industry standard.

Which wire is hot when both are clear?

In case of clear or transparent wire casing, the copper wire should be hot. And the neural wire should be a silver wire.

Can both wires be hot?

No, they can’t. however, if you test with a voltage probe, both wires will be shown as hot when the switch is on and the appliance (blub, fan, etc.) is running. This happens a small amount of voltage is being fed to the neutral when the bulb is on. But that doesn’t mean that both wires are hot.

Final Verdict

There is no second chance to correct the wrong work in the case of electrical wiring like the ground wire and perfect fan and light fixture, or gas light fixture, or wall light fixture. So, it’s always better to check all the points, switch and joints before testing the electrical system. 3 out of 5 electrical accidents occur due to the wrong connection of a hot wire and little knowledge about the neutral wire color. Will you be able to tell the color code if you see the black wire or white wire? So, detecting the wiring color, determining which wire is hot when both are the same color is very crucial. In this case, detect the hot wire or how to tell which wire is hot when both are black by following the above steps to prevent any possible accidents on your system.

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