Resistor Colour Code

Reading Resistor Colour CodesResistor Colour Code ExamplePractice Problems

What is Resistor Colour Code?

Resistors are usually very tiny and it is difficult to print resistance values on them. So, colour bands are printed on them to represent the electrical resistance. These colour bands are known as resistor colour code


resistor colour code

All leaded resistors with a power rating up to one watt are marked with colour bands. They are given by several bands and together they specify the resistance value, the tolerance rate and sometimes the reliability or failure rates. The number of bands present in a resistor varies from three to six. The first two bands indicate the resistance value and the third band serves as a multiplier. In this piece of article, let us discuss how to read resistor colour codes, look at an example and learn a mnemonic to remember the number sequence.

How to Read Resistor Colour Code?

  • To read them, hold the resistor such that the tolerance band is on your right. The tolerance band is usually gold or silver in colour and is placed a little further away from the other bands.
  • Starting from your left, note down all the colours of the bands and write them down in sequence.
  • Next, use the table given below to see which digits they represent.
  • The band just next to the tolerance band is the multiplier band. So if the colour of this band is Red (representing 2), the value given is 102.Resistor Color Code Table

Learning with an example

Here’s an example to get you started:

colour code

The band colours for resistor colour code in the order:

Band colours in order RED RED BLACK GOLD
Digit representation 2 2 1 ±5%
Value 22 Ω ±5 %

The tolerance values represent by how much the resistance can vary from its mean value in terms of percentage. A gold band represents the lowest variation, so be sure to buy these at the electronics store.  The value of the given resistance is: 22 Ω ± 5% . The tolerance of the resistor can be calculated as follows:

Tolerance=Value of resistor × value of tolerance band

= 22 Ω × 5% = 1.1 Ω

This means that the 22 Ω resistor with a tolerance value of 1.1 Ω could range from the actual value as much as 23.1 Ω to as little as 20.9 Ω. It is important to note that the band next to the tolerance band represents the multiplier. All the bands to the left of this band represent the significant digits. There can be more than two such bands.

A mnemonic to remember the resistor colour code

You can remember the colour code values using the following mnemonic:

BB ROY of Great Britain had a Very Good Wife

The capital letters represent the first letters of the colours and their positions the digit values. Now that we have an idea to determine the resistance value of a given resistor. Let us solve some problems related to this in the next section.

Practice Problems

Q1) Determine the resistance of the given resistor with the given colour sequence (Red, Green, Red, Gold).

As we know, the first two colours represent the significant digits of resistance value so the given colours represent digits 2 and 5. The third band is a multiplier band. Hence, the colour red represents a multiplier factor of 102. The last band represents the tolerance level and the tolerance level of the resistor is ±5%. Hence, the resistance value of the given resistor is 2500 ± 5% Ω or 2.5 kΩ.
Resistor colour code of 2500 Ω resistor

Q2) What colour bands would a resistor of resistance value 1000 Ω with a tolerance level ±5% have?
The colour bands of the resistor would look like this:
Resistor colour code of 1000 Ω resistor

Frequently Asked Questions

Which end of the resistor must be used for reading the colour codes?

Following are the ways to understand which end of the resistor must be used for reading the colour codes:

  • Most of the resistors have colour bands grouped closer at one end. Hold the resistor with these grouped bands to your left. Always read the resistor from left to right.
  • Resistors never have a metallic band on the left. If the resistor have either gold or silver band on either ends, then the tolerance of the resistor is 5% or 10%. This band of the resistor must be position on the right and the colour code must be read from left to right.
  • Resistors range from 0.1 Ohm to 10 Mega-ohms. For a four-band resistor the third colour will always be blue ie 106 or less and for five-band resistor the the fourth colour will always be green ie 105 or less.

In a six-band resistor colour code, what does the 6th band represent?

The 6th band represents the multiplier.

What is a reliability band?

Reliability band is present on the resistors specified by military. Four-band resistors have an extra band indicating reliability. These resistors are rarely used in commercial electronics.

What is zero-ohm resistor?

Zero-ohm resistor is also known as zero-ohm link and is used as jumpers in Printed Circuit Boards. The resistance of zero-ohm resistors range from 10 to 50 mega-ohm.

Why high voltage resistor don’t use metallic color?

High voltage resistor don’t use metallic colour instead use gold or silver to prevent metal particles presence in the exterior coating.

Learn the factors that affect the electrical resistance by watching the video below.

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