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Black And White Wires: Which Is Positive? [Answered]

I know how much fear you feel about black and white wires.

This is because you are worried about your safety and that’s a good thing. 

Black and white wires – which is positive?

The “hot/positive” wire, often known as positive, is colored black. It connects the breaker panel to the switch or light source, carrying electricity. Negative refers to the white wire, known as “neutral”. It returns any unused power and current to the circuit breaker panel. White wires may transport electricity and cause electrocution if not handled correctly.

Like the overview, you see but still a bit confused? Relax! I’ve got all the details in the segment down below. 

Just dive in and find out all of it!

What Are Electrical Black and White Wires

The white wire is connected to the hot wire termination of the fixture. Another one may be the hot wire lead and the switch’s other screw terminal. It acts as the switch loop’s second hot wire. 

Wrapping the white wire with black electrical tape should be done. It has to be on both ends to prevent it from fraying. It denotes that it is being utilized as a hot wire in some capacity. This suggests that the white wire has been “coded for hot.”

The ground wire of the new cable is connected to two sides. One of them is the switch and the other one is the fixture.

The switch or fixture box is metal (metal boxes must be grounded). So, the ground connects to a pigtail connected to each box. 

Sometimes, the wire genuinely referred to as the hot wire is black. 

It transports energy from your breaker panel to your light source or switches. The white wire can be addressed as the standard or neutral wire

This cable returns unused power to the same breaker panel.

The black cable connects to the fixture box’s black hot wire and the single-pole switch’s terminals.

Which One Is Positive between Black and White Wires

Plastic insulation is used to wrap two of the conductors in the NMB cable. The hot wire, which offers a 120 VAC current source, is black. It’s referred to as positive wire. 

The neutral wire is the white wire in the circuit. It is regarded as a negative wire. 

The current supplied by the hot wire has a return route through it. The earth’s ground is linked to the neutral wire.

Black Wire

Black electrical wires are used in all sorts of circuits. Transferring energy from the power source to the outlet is accomplished via a transformer.

When dealing with them, use extreme care. You should know it’s hot if you notice a black wire. 

These wires are sometimes used as a switch loop in all circuits. This transfers electricity to switches and outlets. 

Black wires are never used as a ground or neutral line. They are known as hot or positive wires. They’re persistent in residential areas.

White Wire

The color white identifies a neutral wire. It connects to the neutral bus bar of an electrical panel.

The hot wire of a circuit is where power exits the electrical panel. This accomplishes by using items like a light bulb or an outlet. It connects to the neutral distribution board. 

The neutral connection returns the electrical current to the service panel. It has been disconnected. This allows the current to return to the electric utility system.

In most residential structures, white wires may be seen. Only additional white wires may link to white wires. Although these wires are neutral, they may still carry current. This happens if the load is uneven. 

Therefore, use caution when observing a white wire with black or red markings. This indicates that it is no longer neutral and behaves like a hot wire.

How to Identify Wires in Typical Situations

When identifying electrical wiring, color is the most common method. Inside, every wiring is identical, although the outside coatings vary in a diversity of colors.

Below are some ways to identify wires-

Appliances Plug

You should acknowledge that appliance plugs have neither positive nor negative sides. Instead, they have “hot” cables and “neutral” locations.

Ribbed Wire

The ribbed wire is usually the “negative” wire on an extension cord. But it can be any wire. A wire with both sides of the same color is called a negative voltage

If you see the strand has a grooved texture, it must be the negative one. When you touch the wire, you can see which side has the ribbing.

Ceiling Light Texture

Find the positive black wire on a ceiling light. Chandeliers and other ceiling lights have three wires a hole in the ceiling. 

Before you hang them, look for these wires. Ensure good and bad wires.

Speaker Wire

On a speaker wire, the copper wire usually is positive. The silver strand is the negative wire on a standard cable for speakers and amps. 

The copper-colored one is the positive wire. Because these wires are generally kept together by a transparent case, this determines the polarity of either side, which is simple.

Tip: Multiple Wire Color 

The red wire is positive and the black wire is negative. This will happen if the multi-colored cable is black and the one in red.

The striped wire is negative. And the other one called plain wire in black is positive. This will happen if both wires are black but one wraps with white stripes.

4 Things to Follow While Wiring

There’s a chance you’ll want to undertake the task yourself now. But let me tell you something!

It’s not as simple as it looks. So, the work starts, you should obey the following facts:

No Wet Hands

Wet hands should never be used to contact the wire. This is essential! Maybe you are in a hurry and want to do the wiring as quickly as possible. 

This, however, is not something you should do. Because doing so will cause electrical injuries.

Put on the Gloves 

When working with wires, always use gloves. This will keep you safe because no one wants to fall into electrical danger!

Here I’ve some suggestions regarding nitrile gloves- 

Product 1
Product 2

These will keep your hands protected while wiring! 

Be sure of the Wires 

Don’t touch the wires if you’re unsure what the wires are for. You might end yourself in a complex scenario as a result of this.

Ask for Help

When dealing with wires, it’s important to remember to ask for aid. Because working alone is not a good idea if you are unskilled.

The tips will also help connect a 15 amp switch to a 20 amp circuit.


If both wires are black, how do identify the positive or which positive ones?

A multimeter can tell which one is positive or negative. For the red terminal connect the black one. And for the black terminal connect the second black wire. If the tester indicates voltage, the wire contacting the red terminal is the one with power.

What happens if I connect the white wire to the black wire?

You’ll have a short circuit even if you merely let the bare wires contact each other. Furthermore, this will result in a big spark. Firstly, You need to connect both black and white wires. Then, turn on the switching power. Such a twin spark will occur at the fuse or breaker.

Do white wires have power?

White wires indicate neutrally charged wires. However, if not handled appropriately, neutral wires may transport electricity and offer a risk of electrocution. Power returns to the service panel using white cables. If not handled appropriately, both hot and neutral wires can shock and hurt you.