Purple as 3rd line/phase conductor!?

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28 Jul 2012
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United Kingdom
This article here suggests that the colour of the 3rd line conductor in the EU (and thus also in the UK) is purple! :eek:o_O

Is this a simple editing mistake :?: as I am hoping, or can purple wires really be used in place of grey wires for 3rd line/phase conductors to my horror? o_O:cautious:

Worth noting that I have not seen Purple used as a wire colour in the UK before other than for things like control circuits such as within CH/HVAC systems, within appliances, etc...

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I did not see purple in general use.

Your picture did miss out the note below, and this states
(1) In the UK, grey can be also be used
The whole of Europe now has the same colour codes. IIRC France used to use purple. I don't believe that the article is correct about DC either.
Your picture did miss out the note below, and this states
(1) In the UK, grey can be also be used
Indeed, but that would imply that the rest of the EU uses purple, and (by implication) cannot use grey - which is surely total nonsense?

Kind Regards, John
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  • Julius Susanto is a chartered electrical engineer from Australia and the editor of Open Electrical. His interests are power system modelling and studies.
  • Fikret Velagic is an electrical engineer from Bosnia and Herzegovina, with interests in renewable energy, mechatronics and electrical power engineering software.
  • Philippe Mertens is an electrical engineer from Belgium. Find out more about Philippe on his user page.
  • Muhammad Raza is an electrical engineer from Pakistan with a masters degree from Germany. His interests are in HVDC and power systems analysis.
  • Douglas Smith is a project designer and technical writer from the United States and pondering about obtaining a formal electrical engineering degree.
  • Ankit Roy is an electrical engineer from India with a masters degree in Power Electronic Drives. He is currently working in a network analysis cell to take down power distribution losses in India.
  • Jeson Pitt works as a sales representative for D&F Liquidators, a leading supplier of electrical products. He has a keen interest in everything “electrical” and loves to learn about new techniques to polish his electrical skills and knowledge. Jeson also loves to share his knowledge while enlightening people about electrical products and solving their electrical dilemmas.
  • Ben Ubah is a power system engineer from Nigeria, with interests in web-based power system analysis and simulation, virtual power system laboratories, computational power systems engineering and the RPowerLABS project.
  • Volkan Kumtepeli is an electrical engineer from Turkey with a BSc. degree in Electrical Power Engineering from Yildiz Technical University. He is currently studying PhD. degree in Sustainable Earth at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore. He is interested in control of power electronic converters and applied mathematics.
OK one from Belgium, but rest not from Europe so likely used the internet to get information about other countries. I know when I did my degree I did not even touch the regulations and this is what we are talking about not electrical theroy it would seem to be a group of students having some fun rather than a serious web site.
OK one from Belgium, but rest not from Europe
Fikret Velagic is an electrical engineer from Bosnia and Herzegovina...
I presume that eric intended to talk of the European Union (as in the posted table), rather than "Europe" - and, as you will be aware, Bosnia and Herzegovina is/are not (yet) members of the EU.

Kind Regards, John
But "Europe" in the context of that table is the CENELEC countries, not the EU.

I know it says "European Union", but that's just because of more ignorance on the part of the authors, surely?
But "Europe" in the context of that table is the CENELEC countries, not the EU?
If that were the intent, why would the relevant row of the table say "European Union"?

Edit. You slipped in your second sentence after I had replied!

Kind Regards, John
The entry for protective earth is also very confusing, since it's describing the markings not for just a protective earth but for a combined neutral-earth conductor.

The description of colors for the United States is also very muddled. For single-phase wiring it seems to be suggesting that black is used for 120V, red for 208V and blue for 240V, which is absolute nonsense. Under the phase B column for three-phase systems it also seems to be suggesting that orange is used only for delta systems, which is not so. The note about the NEC is also not quite correct either (and it's National Electrical Code, not National Electricity Code).
Strange that they've mentioned the Basic Safety Standard IEC 60445, but then apparently ignored its Annex A, which shows brown/black/grey for AC line conductors.
I do remember at the time there being some debate about what the third color should be, and some mention of purple as a possibility before grey was settled upon. Could purple have been in some draft proposal, and that's where the reference has come from?
I used to come across purple and orange flex, it was used for wiring the lights in the pump heads in pubs. I think they were only 24vAC tho.

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