Different Cable Colors and Their Uses: the Complete Guide

Different Cable Colors and Their Uses: the Complete Guide

Have you ever tried to troubleshoot a network issue and been taken aback by the rainbow assortment of cords and cables? You wouldn’t be alone in saying the variety of cable colors is a little daunting. Configuring a wired network can be tough as it is, so when colors are thrown into the mix, they’re sure to throw you for a doozy.

Though the meaning behind the colors differs between industries, there are fortunately some consistencies to lean on when it comes to different cable colors and their uses. In this complete guide, CableWholesale dives into the different cable colors, their meanings, and their common uses. Once you’ve read through this guide, you’ll have a more comprehensive understanding of that rainbow assortment.

What Are the Standards for Cable Colors?

Some institutions, such as the Worldwide Trade Association and the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), offer guidelines to standardization, but there is not one universal standard for cable colors. Most existing standards also lack details on specific cable colors and their function.

Cable colors most often vary due to their release date, the industry they are purposed for, and the country in which they are released. For example, a purple cable from the early 2010s in the US may function very differently from a purple UK wire manufactured today.

With the dedication and direction of various technical associations such as the Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA), the Department of Defense (DoD), and the IEEE, one day, it’s possible that we may have a universally accepted standard for cable colors. Until we do, CableWholesale is here to offer some other options for cord consistency.

What Do Different Ethernet Cable Colors Indicate?

As stated, there is currently no holy grail of color standards in cabling. However, there are some widely accepted color codes that your network could adopt. No color deems a cable better or faster than another—it simply differentiates it.

What Color Should I Find My Ethernet Cable In?

That depends on your needs! You will find each category of Ethernet cable (Cat5, Cat5e, Cat6, Cat6a) in a broad selection of hues.

Since you can find different colored cables that serve the same function, it’s important to include multiple colors. For a network that requires cables with a range of varying functions, different cable colors help implicate each cable’s specific function. As you’ll see with CableWholesale’s selection of cat6 plenum cables alone, you can customize your network’s color assortment based on your preferences.

Most commonly, wiring companies manufacture blue, green, grey, white, yellow, and orange cables. Outdoor cables will most often be denoted with a black waterproof jacket to withstand external elements.

With the Variety of Color Options, Is There an Ethernet Cable Color Code I Can Use?

Though one industry’s application for a cable color may differ from another’s, there are some consistencies that we can rely on to distinguish different cable colors and their uses. Here are some common color codes that industries apply for their various cable needs.

Ethernet Cable Color Consistencies

While there’s no all-encompassing code for Ethernet cables, the following colors share some regularities across industries. They are:

  • Grey Ethernet: Most often, grey cables serve as the standard cable for connection. You are likely to find a host of grey wires in residential or business facilities.
  • Green Ethernet: Green typically denotes a crossover connection. Crossover connections enable communication between several different computers or devices on one network, physically connecting them to one another.
  • Blue Ethernet: Blue cables are mostly applied for terminal server connection. Terminal server cables will situate multiple systems to one Local Area Network (LAN). The connection possibilities with the terminal server nix the need for a network interface of any kind.
  • Yellow Ethernet: Power over Ethernet (POE) connections will often use yellow cables. Since POE cables deliver a 30W current, the IEEE thought it was especially important to land on a color to best classify this function. So, if you’re ever handling a vibrant yellow cord, be careful of any active electrical current.

The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) has designated the TIA to establish such cable standards. While the TIA’s standards are generally accepted in cable manufacturing, tech manufacturers are not required to abide by them, leaving us with an assortment of cable colors and meanings.

Patch Cable Color Code and Standards

A popular color code for patch cables is as follows. The color refers to the patch cord jacket.

  • Grey: standard network connections
  • Black: used as a generic, default color
  • Purple: non-ethernet digital connections
  • Blue: terminal server connections
  • Green: crossover connection
  • Yellow: POE connection
  • Orange: non-ethernet, analog connections
  • Pink: additional color option for any function
  • Red: IP cameras
  • White: additional color option for any function

As you can see, there’s a slew of jacket colors to choose from. The main thing you will want to keep in mind when fleshing out your network is consistency. Designating specific colors for specific functions and adhering to that for your whole system will streamline maintenance and troubleshooting.

Network Cable Color Code

Administration Standard for the Telecommunications Infrastructure of Commercial Buildings (ANSI/TIA/EIA-606-A)

This standard was put into effect by the ANSI/TIA. It goes into detail about the best approaches for cable identification and labeling. The standard’s color code involves the following color code recommendations.

  • Purple: termination of cables connected to common devices, such as computers or LANs
  • Blue: termination of telecommunications media (you’ll often find this in the cable equipment room, not at the telecommunications outlet)
  • Green: these are used to classify a crossover connection, which directly connects different computers or devices.
  • Yellow: termination of alarms, security, and other various circuits
  • Orange: demarcation point, or central office termination
  • Red: termination of phone systems
  • White: first-level backbone cable
  • Grey: second-level backbone cable

Creating Your Network Variety of Cable Colors

For over 16 years, CableWholesale has committed to the development and production of network cables of the utmost performance potential, quality, and safety. If you’re looking for a place to start your wired network endeavors, start with us. We supply cable accessories to improve wire management and a wide variety of bulk cables at a favorable price. We’re happy to provide virtual technical assistance with any of our products, ensuring you’re satisfied with your network setup. Contact us today to learn more about our extensive inventory and impressive warranty from one of our tech representatives.
Different Cable Colors and Their Uses: the Complete Guide

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