Live conductor: a conductor intended to be energized in normal use, including a neutral conductor but, by convention, not a PEN conductor [this term is defined in the BS7671].
The term “live conductor” is derived from the general term “live part” and refers to those live conductive parts intended to conduct certain electric currents.
Live conductors are primarily defined as phase conductors and pole conductors, which under normal conditions are energized in a way that poses a serious hazard to humans and animals. The neutral conductor and the mid-point conductor, which are under low voltage, are also live conductors. Phase and pole conductors in extra-low voltage electrical circuits have a voltage that are generally not hazardous to humans and animals.
Figure 1 shows phase conductors L1, L2, L3 and neutral conductor N, which are examples of live conductors.
I will also give examples of conductors that are not classified as live conductors:
Protective conductors are not live under normal conditions. Therefore they are not live conductors. PEN-, PEM– and PEL-conductors firstly act as protective conductors. Therefore, even though, secondly, they serve as neutral, mid-point and line conductors, they are not generally regarded as live conductors.
In Figure 1, you can see the protective conductor PE, which is not classified as a live conductor.
- IEC 60364-1