Guide for different USB Cable Color Codes – What does each color mean?

Many things around us are color coded to avoid written description of the object as it is easy to use a single color or a collection of colored strips to code an object. 

You may have wondered while dealing with the USB cable having different colored wires in it. These wires are commonly red, green, white and black but these colors may vary from different versions to versions of USB cables.

In short, USB cable color codes are: white and green wires in this cable are data wires while red and black are power wires to take out the power. 

Further in this article we will see different versions of the cables and how color codes vary from version to version.

USB cable color code

Well! Everyone of us is aware of USB cables because these cables are very commonly used in different electronic connectors for different purposes. Whether it is a mobile charging cable, a camera cable, LED cable, printer cable or electronic gadget connector many of these use USB cables.

USB stands for “Universal Serial Bus” and a USB cable is used to connect a device whether to a charger or a computer USB port. It is not only the option as there can be more reasons for that.

USB cables have become universal in its use. These cables consist of a USB connector on one side and another connector on the other side e.g type C or mini connector. It can be of any type. 

When you open up a USB cable then you will see 3, 4 or five wires inside this cable having different colors. These colors are used for coding USB wires and these colors are not always the same in each USB cable. 


3 wire USB cable

A USB cable having three colored wires in it means that this cable can only charge the device because it has three wires which are: one for +ve power connection, other for -ve power connection and the last one is ground wire.

Now coming towards different color codes of 3 wired USB cable:

  • One wire is a positive power wire to handle 5V of dc. It can be Red or Orange or yellow colored wire
  • The other wire is a negative power wire. It can be White, or Gray colored
  • Third wire is for ground. Once you identify the first 2 power wires then you will be able to find the third ground wire.

4 wire USB cable

Most commonly USB cables have 4 wires of different colors and these cables can transfer data as well power. Two wires are power wires and the other two wires are for data transfer. The color code for these wires is:

  • First wire which is +ve power wire can be orange, red or yellow
  • Second wire which is -ve wire will be of black, white or gray color
  • Third wire is +ve data wire +D which will be white or green but keep in mind no two wires will have same color
  • Fourth wire which is -D wire will be of blue or green
USB Cable Color Codes for a usb cable having 4 wires
4 wire USB cable
Note: in the above section you have seen in some combinations green is +ve data wire and in some cases it is -ve data wire.Keep in mind in combination of blue and green, green will be +ve and blue will be -ve and in case of white and green white wire will always be +ve data wire.

USB 5 wire cable

Some of the USB cables have five wires inside of it. In this case you have to locate power wires first and after that you have to find out data wires then the remaining 5th wire will be a ground wire. Such types of USB cables come with printers. 

You can use the above 4 wire color code guide to find the first four wires and the fifth will be your ground wire. 

PitFall prevention: it is always difficult to find out and locate right wires especially when you have a cable which have a combination of 4 to 5 wires and that is why you should use color coding of wires to avoid a failure in selecting the right wires for connection. Generally  Red wire indicates a +ve power wire and it will always be considered +ve.  Green for grounding  Yellow and blue for power, White and gray for neutral And black for power but in some cases where red appears with black the black will be neutral.

Is there a difference between type C cable color code and USB charging cable color code?

The difference is the shape of the connectors as a USB charging cable consists of a USB connector on one side and type c connector on the other side so the cable will be the same for connecting these two connectors.

Do 4 and 5 wire USB cables have the same color code?

It may or may not be! The color code scheme may vary for different cables. Even two USB cables having 4 wires in it may have a simply different color code scheme for wires.

What is the difference between USB cable color codes and USB ports color codes?

USB cable color code indicates different wires in the cable and tells its users which wire is for what purpose. Whereas USB ports color codes indicate different types of ports which may vary in speeds, versions and efficiency.

Is there a data transfer cable only?

USB cables come in two variants. One is charging only USB cable and the other is a data transfer cable. Data transfer cables also transfer power along with data as these cables can also be used for charging.