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Only Connect: On cable colour codes

DEF Standard 61-12Ever wondered what colour codes multicore data cables use? Or why cable cores have different colours? If so, this week’s blog post is just for you.

To the untrained eye the array of colours used on multicore can be confusing. It can often seem random when you have two identical cables using different colours. For example an 8 way cable and 24 AWG cable using totally different colours.

The reason for the differences is quite simple when you know what to look for. The simple way to look at cables is to understand there are three main specifications, however there are many more but to keep things simple we will stick with the most common.

UK BS Def 61-12, USA Mill Spec Standard, and German DIN 47100. These specifications are not conductor size specific.

These are the most commonly used colours and they use the following colour coding:

UK BS Def 61-12

1 Red 10 Pink 19 Yellow/Blue 28 Orange/Green
2 Blue 11 Turquoise 20 White/Blue 29 Grey/Green
3 Green 12 Grey 21 Blue/Black 30 Yellow/Brown
4 Yellow 13 Red/Blue 22 Orange/Blue 31 White/Brown
5 White 14 Green/Red 23 Green/Blue 32 Brown/Black
6 Black 15 Yellow/Red 24 Grey/Blue 33 Grey/Brown
7 Brown 16 White/Red 25 Yellow/Green 34 Yellow/Violet
8 Violet 17 Red/Black 26 White/Green 35 Violet/Black
9 Orange 18 Red/Brown 27 Green/Black 36 White/Violet

USA Mill Spec:

1 Black 2 White 3 Red 4 Green
5 Orange 6 Blue 7 White/Black 8 Red/Black
9 Green/Black 10 Orange/Black 11 Blue/Black 12 Black/White
13 Red/White 14 Green/White 15 Blue/White 16 Black/Red
17 White/Red 18 Orange/Red 19 Blue/Red 20 Red/Green
21 Orange/Green 22 Black/White/Red 23 White/Black/Red 24 Red/Black/White
25 Green/Black/White 26 Orange/Black/White 27 Blue/Black/White 28 Black/Red/Green
29 White/Red/Green 30 Red/Black/Green 31 Green/Black/Orange 32 Orange/Black/Green
33 Blue/White/Orange 34 Black/white/Orange 35 White/Red/Orange 36 Orange/White/Blue
37 White/Red/Blue 38 Black/White/Green 39 White/Black/Green 40 Red/White/Green
41 Green/White/Blue 42 Orange/Red/Green 43 Blue/Red/Green 44 Black/White/Blue
45 White/Black/Blue 46 Red/White/Blue 47 Green/Orange/Red 48 Orange/Red/Blue
49 Blue/Orange/Red 50 Black/Orange/Red

DIN 47100

1 White 2 Brown 3 Green 4 Yellow
5 Grey 6 Pink 7 Blue 8 Red
9 Black 10 Violet 11 Grey/Pink 12 Red/Blue
13 White/Green 14 Brown/Green 15 White/Yellow 16 Yellow/Brown
17 White/Grey 18 Grey/Brown 19 White/Pink 20 Pink/Brown
21 White/Blue 22 Brown/Blue 23 White/Red 24 Brown/Red
25 White/Black 26 Brown/Black 27 Grey/Green 28 Yellow/Grey
29 Pink/Green 30 Yellow/Pink 31 Green/Blue 32 Yellow/Blue
33 Green/Red 34 Yellow/Red 35 Green/Black 36 Yellow/Black
37 Grey/Blue 38 Pink/Blue 39 Grey/Red 40 Pink/Red
41 Grey/Black 42 Pink/Black 43 Blue/Black 44 Red/Black

The above colour charts will help you to identify what type of colour coding your cables are using so if you need to get an identical cable to match this will help you to make a start.

There will be other factors involved when matching cables. However, the colour coding is a great start because if you can match the colour coding you are on the right track and the rest should then follow easily.

Also once you have the colour charts you can then compare how things are wired up in devices and things start to become much clearer, as the way colours are used often matches the numbering of the codes.

Simple! Try it next time you are looking at pre wires devices and see if you can identify the colour codes.

(Image: Permanoid wire and cable manufacturer – DEF Standard 61-12 Pt 4 & Pt 5 Multicores)

Tags: cable cores, colour codes, data cables, Only Connect, untrained eye

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