Tim's Ethernet Patch Cable Color (Colour) Codes
Tim's Ethernet Patch Cable Color (Colour) Codes
Keeping data from getting crossed in a data center can be a pain. Here is how
I try to keep things sane.
This is the current list of colors of ethernet cables I can find or have seen:
- blue - most common so workstations or generic servers.
- red - critical systems. Sometimes used for building fire systems
- yellow - less critical system.
- orange - cables that go off to other racks
- green - where the money flows for e-commerce systems.
- black - VoIP systems since the phones came with black patch leads
- white - video camera network
- pink - used for RS-232 serial cables
- purple - used of ISDN type links
- tan - telephone lines
Note that the fluorescent colors are very rare today but they do stand out.
- light blue (rare but commonly used on cisco cables)
- fluorescent blue (even rarer)
- red (many of these are cross over cables)
- yellow (this was a standards approved color for cross over cables)
- cisco cable yellow
- fluorescent pink
- fluorescent green (never seen this buts its in catalogs)
- black (easy to confused with power cords)
- white (sort of rare)
- light gray
- dark gray (rare)
- silver (rare)
- tan/beige (common in cat 3 patch cables)
- purple/violet (they are different but when you order one you get the other)
- fluorescent violet (very rare)
One thing to consider is about 15% of all males are slightly color blind and only about 10%
think they are. Many colors look the same but often times a color blind person can easily
tell the difference between say tan cables and beige cables but can't tell the red from the green.
Color codes for fiber (fibre?)
Color codes for fiber jackets:
- orange - multimode
- yellow- single mode
- light blue - could be either
- gray - could be either but tends to be single mode
Note that buildings will often have these colors:
- blue - straight cut - fiber joint is perpendicular at 90 degrees
- green - angled cut - fiber joint is angled slightly
For -48 volt systems you can get:
- red - fire alarm cables
- white - cheaper fire alarm cables
- blue - who knows? Could be alarm, fire, hvac, or data
- tan - same as blue but older
- red - ground in a positive ground system but higher potential than the black or blue.
- black - negative 48V but can routinely be -56V
- blue - could be the same as red (gnd) or black (-48) but tends to be the same as red on a different circuit if there are two circuits and there is red, blue and black.
Note that -48 Volt systems tend to be able to provide massive amounts of unfused current. These system
will often have enough capacity to boil the metal in tools.
Numbers can be represented using Resistor code (International standard IEC 60062:2016) can be used with vinyl electrical tape to put numbers on cables using the following:
There are many ways to use these codes such as a cross connect cable
going from rack 1 to rack five could be an orange cable with a brown
band nearest the connect and a green band next. A cable for server
234 could have red, orange and yellow. The code is well known,
had been a standard since the 1920s and is an International standard
- 0 Black
- 1 Brown
- 2 Red
- 3 Orange
- 4 Yellow
- 5 Green
- 6 Blue
- 7 Violet
- 8 Grey
- 9 White
Telephone cable colors could also be used but that gets very messy quickly.
Law and medical offices often use a different color code but they will have lots of stickers that make the job easier and well as signs that have things like "7=light blue".
Most of this page describes the outer jackets. Inside cables like power you can have:
Live power from selected places around the world:
- red (power AU/UK)
- brown (old for AU/NZ/UK)
- yellow (old phase 2 UK)
- blue (old phase 3 UK)
- blue (phase 3 in AU)
- blue neutral in Europe
- black (power in Europe)
- gray (old IEC phase 3)
- gray (power Europe)
- gray (neural in US/Japan)
- white (neutral in US)
- white (phase 2 in AU)
- white (switch return in AU/UK)
- green with yellow - Ground most places
- green or yellow but not both (power IEC 60446 and a very bad idea)
- green (ground in the US according to parts of the Elec code and sanity)
- green (never ground in the US according to other parts of the Elec code)
- bare copper (ground in the US or death)
The color codes for ships make much more sense and are about as uniform.
For example blue is used for compressed air on US registered ships yet
blue is for water on UK registered ships.
Multi color warning signal lights have the following colors from the top
There are international standards for this order and due to color blindness
issues, it is a workplace safety offense in many countries (UK, AU)
to put them in a different order. The color codes above are 8 bit RGB codes and their nm wavelength. Note that blue is a bit above 437 to aid people with blue color blindness and the red is at 630 which is above the 564 to aid red/green color blindness. The 498nm for white is peak sensitivity of the eye's rods. The blue and white can be used to indicate and error is being corrected or a machine need service.
- red - 630nm 255,67,0 - on solid - used as a warning
- orange or amber - 590nm 255,216,0 - .5 seconds on, .5 seconds off as a warning
- green - 525nm 55,255,0 - on except when activity. Nominally 2.9 sec on, .1 sec off. This indicates normal activity and the flash indicates it isn't stuck on. This is typical of ethernet port as well. They are green when connected and briefly drop out to show traffic.
- blue - 470nm 0,153,255 - only on solid.
- white - 498nm 255,255,255 - 4 hz equal on and off.