Basic Electronics

Resistor Color Codes explained: 4 Band resistors and 5 Band resistors

Resistor Color Codes- Overview:

Resistor Color Codes- Imagine you are exploring the world of electronics. You want to build cool gadgets and understand how they work. One of the first things, you want to try to understand to get familiar with, when you are learning electronics is the resistor color codes. It is like learning a secret code that helps you figure out the value of resistors.

Now, you might be wondering, why not just use a digital multimeter to figure out resistor values? Multimeters are great, but sometimes you do not have one handy. Imagine you are tinkering with electronics in your garage or at a friend’s house. You might not always have access to a multimeter whether it’s analog or digital.

That’s where knowing resistor color coding comes in handy. It’s like having a superpower that lets you figure out resistor values just by looking at them. And you can have this superpower only by remembering this sentence “BB ROY Great British Very Good Wife”. Or you can remember this other sentence “Bad Boys Race Our Young Girls But Violet Generally Wins

If you remember any of these sentences, you can always create a resistor color chart and read any resistor. After some practice, you won’t need the chart anymore. You will be able to decode the colors in your mind. Or you can even use your fingers.

BB ROY Great British Very Good Wife.

Resistor Color Codes

Here is an image of two resistors, they’re made of a different material but they’re both resistors, for the most part, they work exactly the same. They got slight property differences. The metal film resistor happens to be a lot more accurate, but anyhow, we’re not going to worry about this. Now, we’re just going to worry about the resistor color codes. When you get more advanced into electronics, a different type of resistor might make a difference, but for the beginning what you’re mainly worried about is the amount of resistance that the resistor has and this is indicated by the color codes. Now, of course, resistors also come in packaging.

Resistor Color Codes

This resistor package has the resistance value printed on the package itself 470-ohm. I got 10 of these resistors.

Resistor Color Codes

Other resistors have it on this little strip. They come on these paper strips with the resistance value printed, as you can see in the image given above 150-ohm resistors.

Resistor Color Codes

On some strips they hand wrote the values, these resistors are 220-ohm. If the values are not printed then of course you can also use the multimeter to get the resistance values, but it is still a great idea to get familiar with the resistor color codes. It helps you sort out unknown resistors a lot quicker and stuff like that.

Resistor Color Codes

With the help of this diagram, I will try to make it easier for you to understand, how to find the resistance of a resistor by only looking at the color bands. Before, we dig deeper, there are a few things that you should know. If you are using a Multimeter to find the resistance of a resistor, then it doesn’t matter which probe of the Digital Multimeter is connected with which lead of the resistor. You don’t have to be worried about the tolerance band. Just connect the test leads of the multimeter with the two leads of the resistor, set the selection knob of the multimeter on the resistance and that’s it.

In a 4-band resistor, the tolerance band can have different colors depending on the tolerance value. The most common colors for the tolerance band are Gold, Silver, Brown, Red, Green, and Blue; representing tolerance values of ±5%, ±10%, ±1%, ±2%, ±0.5%, and ±0.25% respectively.

Gold: ±5%

Silver: ±10%

Brown: ±1%

Red: ±2%

Green: ±0.5%

Blue: ±0.25%

Resistor Color Codes

But, if you read a resistor using the color bands. Then you should be careful. You will need to keep the tolerance band on the right side. So, using the resistor color codes, we read a resistor from left to right while keeping the tolerance band on the right side.

Resistor Color Codes

resistor color codes

The colors are Brown, Black, and Orange.

As per the Table

Brown = 1

Black = 0 and

Orange = 3

So, as per the formula,

AB x (10)C

Where A and B represents the two digits and C represents the Multiplier.

= 10 x (10)3

= 10 x 1000

= 10K ohms

This resistor is 10K-ohms.


The same method applies to all the resistor types. Let’s take a look at another resistor 1K ohm.

Resistor Color Codes

Now, it’s time to start the real work. First, we are going to start with the tolerance band.


Resistor Color Codes

 The tolerance is the amount that the resistance can be over or under its rated value, the amount to expect actually. When you look at the tolerance usually it’s a 5% a gold band, you can expect that the actual resistance of the resistor will be somewhere between 5% higher or lower than the rated value. So it’s going to be slight off from its rated value, but it’s still closed for beginning projects.

Resistor Color Codes

The blue metal film resistors, they’re a little harder to identify, which stripe is the tolerance stripe, usually this stripe is brown for 1%, but Brown could also means that the resistance starts with the 1 so hopefully it’s a different color on the other end Brown, because these are almost always eye brown for 1 percent accurate. But any case that both ends are brown it’s probably decided with the bigger gap, that is the tolerance. so it’s a little trickier with these blue resistors but usually it’s still not too bad so we take the tolerance stripe now and we put it on the right side like you see the image given above. The tolerance bands of both the resistors are on the right side.

Resistor Color Codes

Now we start at the left and get our rated value. So the first resistor, beige ones, they tend to have four total stripes four bands whereas the blue ones the metal film ones tend to have five total bands five total stripes, but the process works the same. We just have one more band with that one.

But we’ll do the beige one first, the one having 4 color bands. So, this is a resistor I commonly use. I do a lot of 9-volt projects and this is really about the minimum resistance I want to use to protect an LED.

As per the color chart given above.

The first band which is yellow stands for 4.

The 2nd band is violet and it stands for 7.

The 3rd band is the Brown and it stands for 1. This band represents the number of zeros that follow the first two numbers, So you don’t just write down the actual digit it’s actually the number of zeros so in this case this band is brown, so all that means is there’s one zero. So 47 for the first two bands and then one zero, 470 ohms.


Band A is 1st digit

Band B is 2nd digit

Band C is Multiplier

Band D is Tolerance

Resistor Color Codes

 Now, the five band resistor works in the exact same way except for, we have one more band. So in this case we have three digits followed by the multiplier which is the number of zeros that’s the easiest way to explain it. So,

Green is 5

Brown is 1

black is 0

So, these are our first 3 digits, and then we have the red and its value is 2 which means, we will have to add 2 zero’s as well. so it will become.

  1. So this is a 51K ohm resistor.

Resistor Color Codes

Let’s read this resistor. As you can see the Gold color band which is the tolerance band is on the right side. We will start reading the resistor from the left side. As this is a 4 color band resistor, so the 3rd band is the multiplier, this is the number of zeros. So,

Brown = 1

Black = 0

Red = 2 ( two zeros). So,

1000 ohms or 1K ohm.

Resistor Color Codes

Now, let’s read this one. While the tolerance band is on the right side. We will start reading the resistor from the left side.

Brown = 1

Black = 0

Orange = 3 (multiplier) number of zeros to add

This is 10000 ohm or 10K ohm. So the first two color bands represents the first two digits and the third band is the number of zeros.

Related Article:

Different types of resistors and their applications

Watch Video:


Engr Fahad

My name is Shahzada Fahad and I am an Electrical Engineer. I have been doing Job in UAE as a site engineer in an Electrical Construction Company. Currently, I am running my own YouTube channel "Electronic Clinic", and managing this Website. My Hobbies are * Watching Movies * Music * Martial Arts * Photography * Travelling * Make Sketches and so on...

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button