Hybrids and Orange- What's Up?
Once again, it is worth reviewing the changes that auto manufacturers are going through regarding color-coding of electrical cables in new vehicles. The question from a Long Island firefighter that 'sparked' this Forum message is below.
"Hi Ron, just a quick question if you can. Is the color orange still the only color being used for the power supply on hybrid vehicles ?
To answer the question, I recommend that the July 2007 University of Extrication article be reviewed. The focus of that article was the color changes occurring with hybrid high-voltage cables.
Up until model year 2006, all hybrid vehicle high-voltage electrical cables and connectors were ‘traffic cone’ orange. This was such a great thing. If it was high-voltage, it was orange. Well, much has changed since the 2006 models rolled off the production line. Manufacturers now identify voltages of different wires on a vehicle by color. Colors such as orange, blue, and yellow are now part of the identification plan. It's primarily for those working on a vehicle; either in a repair shop or doing after-market installations of electrical equipment.
Regarding the issue of hybrid vehicle power cables, there are 300-volt hybrids all the way down to 36-volt hybrid systems. So, to comply with the industry-wide power cable color schemes, we no longer have all high-voltage hybrid electric cables and connectors colored orange. It is now possible to have hybrid high-voltage wiring color-coded orange, bright blue, or even yellow. Some hybrid vehicles use two different colors for their high-voltage electrical system on the same vehicle depending on what current flows through that line.
What is the absolute bottom line for responders? Consider all cables as having lethal power inside them until proven otherwise. Black, red, blue... it doesn't matter. They should all be respected at an incident scene.
For hybrid electric vehicles, there is still one truth that holds up for responders. All orange cables on a gasoline-electric hybrid vehicle are high voltage. Not all high-voltage cables however on a hybrid are orange! Raise the hood and see for yourself.