How to identify electrical cables

How to identify electrical cables

Although not their original intended purpose, cable ties today are indispensable to electricians in their job of identifying electrical cables and here, we explain why.

Identifying electrical cables – why is it important?

Electrical wiring can pose a real threat to safety, particularly when not labelled or, worse, labelled incorrectly. Cables that are not labelled, and cannot be identified, can be unplugged in error or even cut through, which could cause fire or electrocution.

Where an electrician is dealing with a power outage, he will be able to identify the problem wire in order to reach a fast solution – where an electrical system can be returned to normal service quickly, efficiency and productivity labels can be maintained.

There are lots of resources that every electrician should carry in their toolbox, but the following items can be used specifically to identify electrical cables.

Using cable ties for electrical cable identification

  • Phase marking cable ties are hot foil printed with industry recognised markings N for neutral wires and L, L1, L2, and L3 for live wires. They are used by electricians undertaking metering and installations, repairs and inspection, and they are an approved method for identifying electrical cables to enable electricians to comply with UK Wiring Regulations. Visit our blog to learn what phase marking cables are and why they are so important.
  • Coloured cable ties offer electricians a quick and efficient method of identify wiring, for example in data cabinets where they can be used to colour code different sets of wires for quick identification.
  • Marker cable ties – these useful cable ties can be written on when used to identify larger bundles of electrical cabling as they can be read quickly without a colour key being needed. 

Other methods of cable identification

Heat shrink tubing will shrink to a ratio of either 2:1 or 3:1 when applied with a heat source to a bundle of wires, making it an efficient means of cable identification.

Adhesive lined heat shrink tubing has an additional inner layer of adhesive. Once cooled following application, a seal is formed which makes this a great solution wherever cables need to be protected from moisture. Our complete guide to heat shrink tubing has lots more information about shrink ratios and applications, with advice on what size to buy.

Electrical tape is used to group wires together and is the ideal product to tell electrical cables apart, thanks to a universally recognised colour key in the UK - red tape is used on low voltage phase A wiring, yellow for low voltage phase B, blue tape low voltage phase C, while green tape is used for the earth, and black tape for insulation/low voltage or neutral.

Electrical supplies from cableties-online

We always stock high quantities of all of the above items that an electrician needs to safely and correctly identify electrical cables. Additionally, we carry stocks of other electrical equipment and accessories for the jobbing electrician. For any help or advice with your cable identification, contact our friendly sales team by email at or phone on 01623 412160.