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Why Are There Three White Wires on My Outlet? (Explained)

When it comes to wire outlets, there are some simple rules in regulating which wire is what. Almost all the outlets will have three distinct wires and each of them will also have distinct features as well. The three main objectives by name are Hot, Neutral, and Ground.

The above-mentioned three components of wiring work in tandem to allow electricity to flow inside our homes. The wires also have other functions like keeping the home safe from fire hazards or unstable flow of electricity. 

Thus, we can say that these wires play a crucial role in maintaining stable safe electricity to our homestead.

We are here today to learn about a unique thing that we might face sometimes when we would want to DIY electricity outlets. We might find that there are three white wires on the outlet in question. 

Let us discuss in detail below why there are 3 white wires and what function they have.

Why are there three white wires on my outlet?

The black wire is the hot wire, while the white wire is the neutral. The extra white wires are there to take any unused electricity and send it back to the breaker panel. When there are three white wires on the outlet, we need to take the three white wires and connect them to the white wire fixture.

Region-wise wire colors might change. However, the colors most of the time stay the same to maintain a common practice. The rules and regulations might still be different depending on the region.

There are other rules in the wiring outlets as well and it does not just depend on the color. For example, we are never to connect more than one wire under a single screw terminal. 

Then again it is never a wise decision to direct wire all three cables to the receptacle by utilizing both the screw terminals and the push-in terminals on the back.

If we go back to the colors, the white wire functions differently from the black one, the green or the uncolored one functions differently from the colored or white ones vice versa. Let us briefly go over the differences between them and see which one plays what role. 

Keep reading below to know more about electricity outlet wires.

White Wire: 

These wires are there to be the neutral tones in the color-coded wires. They have a specific when there is more than one, they take the extra unused electricity and send it back to the breaker panel.

Black Wire: 

These wires are usually larger than #6AWG wires. This is rather common practice and they always need to be on the right side of the outlet, unlike the white wires which go on the left bottom side. 

The black wire is almost always denoted as the hot wire by the color coding laws. 

Ground/Green Wire: 

The only wires that sometimes can be uncolored. These wires are also sometimes in green color. 

They do just what they are called after, the ground wire will take electricity back to the breaker panel and then finally outside to a rod that will be buried in the ground.

What are the 3 white wires for a light fixture?

Wire color codes are internationally specified often by the law enforced in our region. The usual colors are white, black, and green/ground. These colors indicate what each of the wire’s roles is. 

The black one is the hot wire, the green or ground wire is for the ground, and finally, the white wire stands for neutral in a light fixture. There are cases where there will be 3 white wires for a light fixture, these take any unused electricity and send it back to the breaker panel.

What do three white wires indicate?

We know most narrow wires will be color-coded by the manufacturers. They do this to utilize insulation of different colors and they are helpful for electricians and engineers to work with.

Wires that are usually black insulated are larger than #6 AWG. Color coding is always added during the installation around the wire. Like the black wires, the White wires are also color-coded to indicate that these wires are neutral.

When there is more than one white wire, for example, three white wires then that will indicate that those other wires are there to take back any excess current or electricity that would flow there and get it back to the breaker panel.

How to attach 3 white wires to an outlet?

Here is a step-by-step guide on how to attach 3 white wires to an outlet. Keep reading below to know more.

Tighten down the outlet:

Take a screwdriver with the correct size and gently tighten down the outlet as long as it is not moving around.

Take the three white wires:

We have to take the three white wires and untangle them from the other wires in the outlet and make them reach out from the bottom left.

Cut off extending white wires:

Cut off extending white wires and use the scrap from the cutting to routing the 3 wires from a wire nut to a single white wire.

Use a red wire net:

Use a red wire net and crank down on the 3 white wires of the outlet. Push the wire net inside and take out the single white wire for use.

Final Thoughts 

Sometimes we might find three white wires in an electrical outlet. We already know that they are the neutral wire, whereas the black is the hot one and the green wire is the ground wire. Three white wires would indicate that they are there to route unused electricity back to the breaker panel.