Harmonised Cable Codes and Colours 

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Within Europe the European Committee for Electrotechnical Standardization (CENELEC) has standardised the both the designation and colour of cables.   These are published in CENELEC document HD 361 S3:1999 "System for cable designation" and HD 308 S2: 2001

"Identification of cores in cables and flexible cords".  This note provides a general overview to the harmonised system and gives some examples.

Cable Designation

The HD 261 document, classifies the construction of the cable by allocating codes (letters or numbers) to represent the cable voltage, insulation material\, structural elements, sheath, special features and conductor type.

For a full list of codes and their meanings, it is best to refer to the standard.  A typical cable specification would take the form of:

Harmonised Cable Code

Laying out the Harmonised Cable Code

The layout of the cable code can be split into three parts.  Fist the standard and nominal voltage are given.  This is followed by the insulation material, construction features and sheath.  Finally the cores and cross section are specified. 

Each cable element is designated with a alpha numeric code as detailed in the tables below. Typically these are connected together to form the final cable designation.  Optional codes or codes that have no relevance to the cable under consideration are simply omitted.

Note: some codes are preceded by a '-' sign, for example -A (aluminium).

Designation Codes

Identification of Designation
A    authorised national standard
H    harmonised standard

Nominal Voltage
01   100 V
03   300/300 V
05   300/500 V
07   450/750 V

Structural Elements
- Concentric Conductors 
A       Concentric aluminium conductor
A6     Concentric aluminium conductor, meander-shaped
C      Concentric copper-conductor
C6    Concentric copper-conductor, meander-shaped
C9     Divided concentric copper conductor
- Screen
A7     Aluminium screen
A8     Aluminium screen, individual conductors
C4     Copper braid screen
C5     Copper braid screen, individual conductors
C7     Copper tape screen
C8     Copper tape screen, individual conductors
D      Screen of one or more thin steel tapes
- Armouring
Z2     Armouring of round steel wires
Z3     Armouring of flat steel wires
Z4     Armouring of steel tape 
Z5     Braiding of steel wires    
Z6     Supporting braid of steel wires
Z7     Armouring of sectional steel wires
Y2     Armouring of round aluminium wires
Y3     Armouring of flat aluminium wires
Y5     Armouring of special materials
Y6     Armouring of steel wires and/or tape and copper wires

Conductor Material
w/o designation  Copper
- A      Aluminium
- Z     Special material and/or special shape

Special Design Features
- Supporting Structures
D2     Textile or steel wires over cable conductor
D3     Textile elements stranded in conductor cable
D4     Self-supporting cables and wires
D5    Central conductor element
- Special Versions
w/o designation round cable construction
H       Flat type as separable cables with or without jacket 
H2     Flat type of cables not separable
H3     Building Cable, flat webbed 
H4     Multi conductor flat cable with one plain conductor
H5     Two or more single conductor stranded, non-jacket
H6     Flat cables with 3 or more conductors 
H7     Cable with two-jacket extruded insulation
H8     Coiled conductor

Conductor Type
- D      fine wire stranded for welding cables 
- E      extra fine wire stranded for welding
cables 
- F      fine wire stranded for flexible cables 
- H      extra fine wire stranded for flexible cables
- K      fine wire stranded conductor for fixed installation 
- M     Milliken conductor 
- R     conductor of multi stranded wires 
- S     sector-shaped conductor of multi stranded wires 
- U     round conductor of single wire 
- W    sector-shaped conductor of single wire 
- Y     tinsel conductor
- Z     conductor of special material

Protective Core
G     with green/yellow earth conductor
X     without earth conductor

Insulation & Sheath Materials
B        Ethylene-propylene rubber (EDR) +90°C 
B2      Ethylene-propylene rubber (EDR), hardened
B3      Butyl rubber
E        Polyethylene
E2      Polyethylene, high density
E4      Poly-tetrafluorethylene
E5      Eethylene propylene rubber
E6      Ethylene tetrafluorethylene
E7      Polypropylene
G       Ethylene-vinylacetate (EVA)
J        Glass fibre braiding
J2      Glass fibre wrapping
M       Mineral insulation
N        Chloroprene rubber (CR)
N2      Chloroprene-rubber (CR), welding cable
N4      Chlorinated polyethylene
N5      Nitril-rubber
N6      Fluorinated rubber
N7      PVC nitril rubber compound
N8      Polychloroprene rubber, water resistant
P        Impregnated paper insulation
Q       Polyurethane (PUR)
Q2     Polyethyleneterephthalate
Q3     Polystyrole
Q4     Polyamide
Q5     Polyamide
Q6     Polyvinylidene fluoride
R      (NR, SR) natural or synthetic rubber
S      (SIR) silicone rubber
T      Textile braiding
T2    Textile braiding with flame retardant
T3    Textile conductor wrapping or tape
T4    Textile conductor wrapping or tape, flame retardant
T5    Corrosion protection
T6    Textile braiding over individual conductor or cable
V       PVC
V2     PVC soft, resistant to increased temperature, +90°C
V3     PVC soft, for low temperatures
V4     PVC soft, cross-linked
V5     PVC soft, oil resistant
X      Cross-linked polyethylene
Z      Cross-linked compound, LSZH
Z1    Thermoplastic compound, LSZH

Note: for details in insulation properties, please refer to:
- Cable Insulation Properties

Cable Code Examples

Different manufacturers vary the way in which they present the harmonized designation for their cables.  Here are a few examples of varying cable designations:

  • H05VV5-F 2G075 is 00/500 V, PVC insulated, PVC sheathed, stranded flexible conductor, 2 core 2.5 mm2 with protective conductor
  • H05V-K 1X1 is 300/500 V, PVC insulated, fine wire stranded, single core 1 mm2 with no protective conductor
  • S03VV-F 3G0.75 is national standard (VDE in this case), 300/300 V, PVC insulated, PVC sheathed, fine wire stranded flexible cable, 3 core 0.75 mm2 with protective conductor
  • H07RV-F 3X10 is 450/750 V, natural rubber insulation, PVC sheath, fine wire stranded, three core 10 mm2 with no protective conductor
  • H05Z-K 1X2.5 is 300/500 V, XLPE LSZH, fine wire stranded, single core 2.5 mm2 without protective conductor

Cable Colour Codes

CENELEC (including BS 7671 - IEE Wiring Regulations)

Function Alpha-
numeric
Colour

Protective conductors  

  Green and yellowcableYellowGreen

Functional earthing conductor

  Cream

a.c. power circuit

Phase of single-phase circuit

L

Brown cableBrown

Neutral of single- or three-phase circuit

N

Blue cableBlue

Phase 1 of three-phase a.c. circuit

L1

Brown cableBrown

Phase 2 of three-phase a.c. circuit

L2

Black cableBlack

Phase 3 of three-phase a.c. circuit

L3

Grey cableGrey
Two-wire unearthed d.c. power circuit
Positive of two-wire circuit

L+

Brown cableBrown
Negative of two-wire circuit

L-

Grey cableGrey

Two-wire earthed d.c. power circuit

Positive (of negative earthed) circuit

L+

Brown cableBrown
Negative (of negative earthed) circuit

M

Blue cableBlue
Positive (of positive earthed) circuit

M

Blue cableBlue
Negative (of positive earthed) circuit

L-

Grey cableGrey
Three-wire d.c. power circuit

Outer positive of two-wire circuit derived from three-wire system

L+

Brown cableBrown

Outer negative of two-wire circuit derived from three-wire system

L- 

Grey cableGrey

Positive of three-wire circuit

L+

Brown cableBrown

Mid-wire of three-wire circuit

M

Blue cableBlue

Negative of three-wire circuit

L-

Grey cableGrey

Control circuits, ELV and other applications

Phase conductor

L

Brown, Black, Red, Orange,
Yellow, Violet, Grey, White, Pink  or Turquoise

Neutral or mid-wire

N or M

BluecableBlue

 

If anyone notices any mistakes or corrections which are needed, please leave a comment below.



Steven McFadyen's avatar Steven McFadyen

Steven has over twenty five years experience working on some of the largest construction projects. He has a deep technical understanding of electrical engineering and is keen to share this knowledge. About the author

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