What is the Sprinkler System Wire Color Code?

Whether you’re installing a small sprinkler system for your lawn or a complex industrial irrigation system for a commercial farming operation, you need to do the wiring correctly the first time to avoid costly damages.

Your sprinkler system is more than just a series of pipes and valves–it also consists of electrical wires that control the valves. These wires need to be connected properly to keep the system working effectively and avoid potential hazards associated with short circuits and electrical fires. Your electrician should use a wiring color code chart to know where each wire needs to go.

If the sprinkler system gets power directly from a power outlet, ensure that your electrician knows what to do if an outlet catches fire. These instructions should be displayed clearly near the outlet or another obvious location. This will help the electricians and anyone else responsible for servicing the wiring of your sprinkler system in the future to know how the system is wired.

Wiring for a Sprinkler System

The purpose of wiring your sprinkler system is to ensure that the cables connect the controller to the valves to regulate how they open and close during water usage. In most instances, cables used for wiring sprinkler systems are buried in the ground.

Your electrician should choose the right cables for your system. Ensure the cables have been approved for burial and have a high ultraviolet-resistance rating. Your electrician should also be able to match the cable colors correctly according to the applicable color code.  

Because you bury the cables that provide electricity to your sprinkler system, ensure that no cable is left exposed to avoid accidents and so you don’t have to worry if exposed wires can cause a fire. If a live wire and ground wire come into contact, they’ll create sparks that can cause a fire.

Understanding the Sprinkler System Wire Color Code

Most sprinkler systems come with color-coded wires to indicate the station numbers controlled by the cables. However, some systems don’t have color-coded cables, leaving it to the electrician to decide where each wire goes and which station number it controls.

Generally, the colors start from brown, which is station number one. Brown is followed by red, orange, yellow, green, blue, violet, and gray for stations two through eight. Note that not all irrigation units support all eight stations.

The number of colors you select when installing your system will depend on the number of stations it can support. If the system supports more than eight stations, you will need to use two-toned cables (e.g., white and black).

In most cases, sprinkler systems require you to attach each station number with a common cable with a white wire. Systems that use master valves use a black cable as their common wire. Others use a combination of white and orange wires.

If your sprinkler system doesn’t come with color-coded cables, you can use whatever colors you’d like. However, your colors must be used per the National Electric Code wiring color code. The most common sizes of irrigation system wires are between sixteen and eighteen American Wire Gauge (AWG).

Wire the System Properly

Sprinkler system cables shouldn’t be used for any other application other than the irrigation system. As your electrician wires the sprinkler system, they should be aware of the common wiring faults that may occur and avoid them.

For instance, they should be aware of faulty master valves. One sprinkler system comes with several valves that control how different areas of your lawn or farm are irrigated. These valves are in addition to a master valve that controls the flow of water to the whole system.

Because your entire irrigation system depends on the master valve, any faulty wiring in this part of the system will render the whole unit useless. Two cables connect each valve to the controller and other valves. If a common wire is cut, the valves won’t turn on. Your electrician should be aware of the problems that can occur from cutting the common and dedicated wires.

These wiring tips and safety measures should be displayed on the premises to remind your electricians what they need to do to keep the system working. If you are unsure of what you need to do to ensure that your wiring is colored correctly for the safety of your worksite and ongoing use of the sprinkler system, contact Creative Safety Supply!


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