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Old 02-26-2013, 07:05 AM
Mike D's Avatar
Mike D Mike D is offline
Join Date: Jul 2008
Location: Houston, TX
Posts: 452
Default Standard wire color code?

Is there a standard wire color code? I know red = power and black = ground. But beyond this, is there a best practice or standard?

Searched the site, and there was a mention of Stein's code in an article of kitplanes. Does anyone have the info or a link to the article?.
Michael Delpier
RV6A -O-320, fixed pitch, GRT Sport, 496
RV-10 - working on finish kit
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Old 02-26-2013, 07:36 AM
Sid Lambert Sid Lambert is offline
Join Date: Jul 2005
Location: North Atlanta
Posts: 1,119

Most people just use the white Tefzel wire and label it.

Are you building or debugging?
Sid Lambert

RV-7 Sold
RV-4 - Flying - O-320 Fixed Pitch - Red over Yellow

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Old 02-26-2013, 07:43 AM
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ccsmith51 ccsmith51 is offline
Join Date: Jul 2010
Location: Orlando, FL
Posts: 1,071

Found the below here:

Color Meaning
Yellow Power (ships power)
Red Power (device power)
Black Return
Blue Signal
Green Signal
White Signal
Chris Smith
Maule M5-180C
RV-6 O-360 CS (Sold)
RV-4 O-360 FP (Sold)
Orlando, FL
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Old 02-26-2013, 08:03 AM
pvalovich pvalovich is online now
Join Date: Dec 2005
Location: Ridgecrest, CA
Posts: 390
Default Wire Color

I used mostly white wire. If I had to do it again I'd use colored wire and code each circuit. Really hard to keep track of all those white wires.

Doesn't matter how you color-code it as long as you document what you did.
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Old 02-26-2013, 08:13 AM
Rupester Rupester is offline
Join Date: Dec 2005
Location: Mahomet, Illinois
Posts: 2,196
Default My own color code ...

I decided early on I would follow the convention of red=power, black (or green) =ground, but I would also color code the other wires consistently, i.e. in a way that enabled troubleshooting later. For no particular reason, I used yellow for the three strobe power packs (from the switch), red for nav lights from the switch, white for taxi/landing lights, etc. The color code was primarily for wiring to the wings and tailcone, though it carries thru to the toggles in the panel. All power from the busses to switches is red, all grounds are black. I actually ended up with very few white wires.
The downside was the planning necessary to order correct wire quantities in the various colors. Arghhh.
Terry Ruprecht
RV-9A Tip-up; IO-320 D2A
S. James cowl/plenum
(Dues paid thru Nov '18)
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Old 02-26-2013, 08:27 AM
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rleffler rleffler is offline
Join Date: Jun 2006
Location: Delaware, OH (KDLZ)
Posts: 3,956

Similiar to Terry, I used red for power, black for ground, and white for data.

I think it helps for troubleshooting and helps prevent from hooking up a power source to the wrong pin.

It does require a little more planning to ensure you have enough of the correct color, length, and guage.

Bob Leffler
N410BL - RV10 Flying
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Old 02-26-2013, 09:17 AM
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Mike S Mike S is offline
Senior Curmudgeon
Join Date: Sep 2005
Location: Dayton Airpark, NV A34
Posts: 14,254

Another common thing is to use a color --- lets say blue, and a blue with tracer when wiring up things that take a pair of wires. Audio comes to mind, but there are a lot others.

For things that take a three wire setup, color, white tracer, black tracer. Trim motor control or feedback pot for instance.
Mike Starkey
VAF 909

Rv-10, N210LM.

Flying as of 12/4/2010

Phase 1 done, 2/4/2011

Sold after 240+ wonderful hours of flight.

"Flying the airplane is more important than radioing your plight to a person on the ground incapable of understanding or doing anything about it."
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Old 02-26-2013, 10:03 AM
Ken Martin Ken Martin is offline
Join Date: Nov 2008
Location: Burleson, TX
Posts: 111

You can certainly choose your own preference as this is the Experimental Category. For most everything, I still refer to the original accepted aviation standard practice source. FAA AC43.13-1b


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Old 02-26-2013, 10:38 AM
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DaleB DaleB is offline
Join Date: Sep 2012
Location: Omaha, NE (KMLE)
Posts: 1,884

Originally Posted by Ken Martin View Post
You can certainly choose your own preference as this is the Experimental Category. For most everything, I still refer to the original accepted aviation standard practice source. FAA AC43.13-1b
... which (please correct me if I'm wrong) refers one to MIL-C-27500, which specifies two completely different color codes, both of which apply to multi-conductor cables. For single wires, white is specified. The nice thing about standards is that there are so many from which to choose!
Omaha, NE
RV-12 # 222 N980KM "Screamin' Canary" (bought flying)
Fisher Celebrity (under construction)
Previous RV-7 project (sold)
-=VAF=- 2017 dues paid
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Old 02-26-2013, 12:26 PM
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Ironflight Ironflight is offline
VAF Moderator / Line Boy
Join Date: Jan 2005
Location: Dayton, NV
Posts: 11,673

Here's the problem with deciding to go with a consistent color code - once you go that way, you are all in, which means that you probably can't use a premade harness for your autopilot, EFIS, etc....they might very well have their own code, and then you'll have multiple color meanings within the airplane. I pretty much stick with white wires for avionics harness, although I might use red for power and black for ground as well. There isn't anything wrong with color coding, but if you want the whole airplane to be the same, t is a lot of work, so be prepared...

Paul F. Dye
Editor in Chief - KITPLANES Magazine
RV-8 - N188PD - "Valkyrie"
RV-6 (By Marriage) - N164MS - "Mikey"
RV-3B - N13PL - "Tsamsiyu"
A&P, EAA Tech Counselor/Flight Advisor
Dayton Valley Airpark (A34)
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