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What are the Different Colors Electrical Outlets Used for?

Why are RED, Blue and Orange Colors Receptacles Used in Hospitals & Commercial Applications?

In commercial as well as hospitals, you may have noticed different colored electrical receptacles such as Red, Orange and Blue etc. If you are curious to know about the applications of different colored outlets, following are the reasons for different colors of electrical outlets installed in the hospitals, industrial and commercial applications and home theater, recording rooms, media center and sensitive military applications.

What are the Different Colors Electrical Outlets Used for?

Red Color Outlet

The red color outlet (also known as receptacle or socket outlet) are hospital grade (AKA medical grade) receptacles which means the outlets are connected to the emergency backup power. The bright red color outlet can be easily identified by the paramedic staff e.g. doctors and nurses where they need to quickly connect the life saving equipment in case of emergency.

The backup power can be either from batteries (power storage) or generators (power generation). The hospital grade red colored outlet (there may be an indicator LED or a green dot on it) are connected to the utility power as well as backup power. An online UPS system is used (for pure sine wave to operate the critical and sensitive medical equipment) in case of battery storage whereas manual or automatic generators are used for backup power in case of disaster or power outage from the local power distributors.

Orange Color Outlet

The orange color outlet is an isolated ground receptacle. There is a typical green color triangle printed on it while the green LED indicator or dot specifies it as a hospital grade outlet.

Isolated ground means the outlet is connected to a separate ground wire which isolates the outlet from common neutral wire connected to other ordinary outlets. This way, the isolated receptacle provides power which runs from the direct ground point.

The main reason for an isolated ground orange color outlet is to prevent the unwanted “noise” and humming sound while operating different kinds of equipment.

The fluctuation of electromagnetic waves in electrical signals leads to “noise” that will disturb the audio, video and especially sensitive military, industrial and medical equipment and devices which needs to be operated with consistency and precision. That’s why a hospital needs to use isolated ground orange color outlets to eliminate the noise interference in the diagnostic and life saving equipment.

In addition, the isolated ground orange color receptacles are also used in commercial theaters, news rooms, recording centers and studios for clear audio/video without interference by electrical noise.

Blue Color Outlet

The blue color outlets are used for surge suppression and protection against transient voltage spikes. There is built-in audible alarm and an LED indicator in the typical duplex hospital grade blue colored receptacle such as Leviton 8280-IGB blue color and NEMA 5-15R and 5-20R for 120V, 15A & 120/240V, 20A (Isolated Ground, 2-Poles, 3-Wires).

In the blue outlet, there is built-in alarm with audible tune in case of loss of protection. The LED bulb is continuously ON when protection is Active. The LED indicator is OFF if the protection circuit is deactivated due to excessive transients and voltage spikes.

The bright blue color outlet is used in workshops, hospitals, computer servers rooms and sensitive locations where an active eye attention is needed for call out in case of special blue color receptacle. The blue color outlets are self grounding outlets with alarm indication in case of loss of ground protection are used in the following applications.

  • Hospital grade outlets in emergency rooms in healthcare buildings and hospital, industrial and commercial applications.
  • Isolated ground i.e. separate ground for this outlet which reduces the electrical noise for smooth operations of modern electronic equipment.
  • It provides surge protection for electrical and electronic equipment and devices in industrial, commercial and residential applications.
  • It provides three level surge protection e.g. Phase to Neutral (P-N), Phase to Ground (P-G) and Neutral to Ground (N-G).
  • It Filters the Electromagnetic Interference (EMI) and Radio Frequency Interference (RFI)

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Good to Know: The red, blue and orange color outlets are the same like other ordinary outlets and can be used for general electrical wiring purposes where it meets the wiring requirements. In addition, the special outlets are exempted from GFCI and AFCI protection due to unwanted tripping operations.


  • NEC “517.2” does not require the installation of hospital grade outlets in examination rooms for electrical wiring in healthcare facilities and medical buildings.
  • NEC “517.18(B)” and “517.19(B)(2)” are required to wire medical grade receptacles in patient bed locations and critical-care areas.
  • NEC “110.3(B)” shows the use of a hospital grade outlet for operating a special equipment if mentioned by the manufacturer marking for proper grounding in case of special applications.
  • NEC “517.13(A) and (B)” suggest using MC (Metal Clad) Cable for medical grade receptacles in patient bed rooms.

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