Electricians who pull hundreds of feet of cable for dozens of circuits in a big job know how critical it is to properly identify all cabling. For years, they have done this with phase tape or other identification products, but there's still potential for confusion during installations and inspections.

That's why Encore Wire Ltd., McKinney, Texas, decided to expand its line of color-coded wire and cable to NM-B, THHN and XHHW-2 building wire; each wire size now comes in a different color.

Encore Wire introduced its colored wire and cable for the commercial market in 1999 to help contractors with installation and inspection, simplify inventory management and provide a safer, more efficient work environment. With the cable for larger commercial jobs, each conductor comes in a different color.

Encore Wire's efforts have not gone unnoticed: Their new product line was selected as the 2002 EC&M/CEE News Product of the Year by a panel of judges and readers of the magazines. Online voters using the magazines' Web sites, and contractors on the judging panel at the Electric West 2002 trade show chose the product line as the winner over several dozen other products in the Product of the Year competition. EC&M and CEE News are EW's sister publications.

Encore began manufacturing color-coded wire for the residential market in December 2001. The company now colors all of its 12/2G NM yellow and 10/2G NM orange, after numerous requests from electrical contractors and distributors, said Bill Kincaid, marketing manager for Encore Wire.

In explaining his selection of the colored wire as Product of the Year, a Pittsburgh, Pa.-based general contractor, said, “In residential wiring, there is no longer any question on, ‘Did I use the correct gauge?’ I think this is the clear winner.”

Another voter, a Kentucky electrical distributor, said many of its contractor customers first saw Encore Wire's new line of colored cable in a photo display in its counter area, and that the installation photos convinced the contractors to try it.

“It really created a buzz,” said Sharon Butler, Richards Electric Supply Co., Louisville, Ky. “The colored wire makes the job look professional and neat. If someone has not seen it on a job before, they need to. They will be using it on their next job.”

The EC&M/CEE News magazine Product of the Year competition, now in its third year, was developed to honor excellence in new product development in the electrical industry.

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