Telephone Wiring Color Code

Telephone Jack Tip and Ring Color Code

Dear Mr. Electrician.  What is the telephone wiring color code for the phone jacks in my house?  I want to replace all the old telephone jacks, but I am confused by the tip and ring color code.  The new telephone jacks have red, green, yellow, and black terminals, but the wires inside my walls have eight wires with different color stripes.  How do I connect the new telephone jacks?

Answer:  I have put together a residential telephone wiring color code chart to help you understand how to connect the existing four-pair telephone wiring in your walls to the new telephone jacks.  You can see it further down on this page.

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Table of Contents

The four-pair wire can have four separate telephone lines at each jack location.  However, if you only have one phone line for your house, you should use the same color pair for each new phone jack you install.

There are two types of standard residential modular telephone plugs.  The most common is the RJ-11, which uses only two of the wires in a four (or more) conductor small cable.  It is the same kind of plug that you use to plug your household telephone into the phone wall jack.

The other is the RJ-14, which uses four wires and it’s used to handle two telephone lines or 2-line phones.

TELEPHONE COLOR CODE FOR JACKS IN YOUR HOME

Wall plate with built-in telephone jack
Wall plate with built-in telephone jack

Tip refers to the one side of a two-wire telephone wire circuit connected to the battery’s positive side (+) at the telephone company’s central office.

“Ring” refers to the one side of a two-wire telephone wiring circuit connected to a battery’s negative side (-) at the telephone company’s central office.

Generally, the phone company connects the telephone lines at their termination block in a specific order.  The blue pair is; first, the orange pair is second, the green pair is third, and the brown pair is fourth.  So for one phone line, the blue pair should be the correct line to connect to.

However, there may be instances where the phone company found a problem with the blue pair and had to use the orange pair instead.  In some circumstances, it is possible that there was a problem with all of the telephone pairs going into your house, and the phone company had to split between pairs of wires.

When removing the old telephone jacks, take note of the telephone wire color code and which wires are being used on the old jacks.

The rear of the phone jack with the blue pair attached according to the telephone wiring color code
The rear of the phone jack with the blue pair attached according to the telephone wiring color code.

The blue pair is connected as the primary telephone line.  The solid blue wire is the “Ring” and gets connected to the red jack terminal.  The white wire with a blue stripe is terminated on the greenTip” screw.

One pair of wires is used for one telephone line.  The pairs of wires are twisted together to avoid crosstalk between telephone lines.  This helps the sound quality.  When looping the bare telephone wire around the terminal screw, loop the wire in the direction that the screw will tighten (Clockwise).  This will cause the loop to close on itself and make a better connection.

Tip +
Ring –

Green

Red

Black

Yellow
Pair 1 White with
blue stripe
Blue
Pair 2 White with
orange stripe
Orange
Pair 3 White with
green stripe
Green
Pair 4 White with
brown stripe
Brown

 

The orange pair connected as the primary telephone line is consistent with the telephone wiring color code
The orange pair connected as the primary telephone line is consistent with the telephone wiring color code.

The solid orange wire is the “Ring” and is connected to the red jack terminal.  The white wire with an orange stripe is terminated on the green “Tip” screw.

CLICK HERE To See Telephone Jacks and Adapters On Amazon

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The blue pair and the orange pair are both connected to the telephone jack according to the telephone wiring color code
The blue pair and the orange pair are both connected to the telephone jack according to the telephone wiring color code.

A splitter plugged into the jack will enable the use of two separate telephone lines.  The solid blue wire is the “Ring” and gets connected to the red jack terminal.  The white wire with a blue stripe is terminated on the green “Tip” screw.  The solid orange wire is the “Ring” and is connected to the yellow jack screw.  The white wire with an orange stripe is terminated on the black “Tip” screw.

A telephone jack splitter
A telephone jack splitter

A telephone splitter enables both pairs of telephone wires to be connected to the jack for two separate phone lines.  There are many splitter types available.  Some can be used on 3-pair and 4-pair jacks.

Cat 5e four twisted pair unshielded telephone wire that has the telephone wire color code
Cat 5e four twisted pair unshielded telephone wire that has the telephone wire color code.

Cat 5e is available with each pair shielded or the whole cable shielded.  A shielded phone cable is not usually necessary for average residential telephone installations.

Leviton Telephone Jack Wiring Diagram
Leviton Telephone Jack Wiring Diagram

I recently purchased a Leviton Decora-style telephone jack, and the above wiring diagram was included in the package.

Below is a diagram for four pair wire on a plug and jack.  Notice that the blue pair is in the center.  You can plug a standard two-pair phone plug into this jack for standard phone service.

Four-pair telephone plug and jack wiring diagram showing the telephone wire color code
Four-pair telephone plug and jack wiring diagram showing the telephone wire color code.





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PRINCESS TELEPHONE

Princess telephone cord wires with color code and crimped fork terminals
Princess telephone cord wires with color code and crimped fork terminals.

The red and green wires on the princess phone are identical to any other telephone.  The yellow and black wires were usually used to power the lighted dial.  I think the white wire was used for a nightlight on the phone.

Click here for princess telephone wiring diagrams in PDF format.

Occasionally, I find an old Western Electric light gray or beige or light gray-colored low-voltage transformer plugged into an electrical outlet in someone’s basement.  I recall having one of my regular clients get me over to check their phone wiring after a telephone repair person told them that they had voltage on their telephone wires.

I knew exactly what was causing the voltage on the phone wires.  It was the above-mentioned long-forgotten transformer.  The original purpose of that transformer was to provide power to a Princess Telephone with a dial that lit up.  Those phones are no longer around, but many of their small gray or beige power supply transformers still are.  Unplug it if you see one in your house or, more likely, in your basement.

The low voltage wiring to the princess telephone power transformer was an ordinary cat 3, two-pair telephone wire.  The conductors’ colors are red, green, black, and yellow.  I think the yellow and black wires were connected to the terminals on the transformer.

An example of a plug-in transformer used to power the light on a princess telephone
An example of a plug-in transformer used to power the light on a princess telephone.

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TELEPHONE TOOLS

I don’t advertise to do telephone wiring as I am geared up for electrical work.  However, several times when I have been in clients’ homes, I got asked to install one or more telephone jacks.  So I bought myself a telephone wire punch-down tool and a tone tracer to identify the correct pair of wires.

The telephone tone tracer is fabulous for tracing telephone wires, but it does not work as well on complicated electrical circuit wiring.  Other electrical circuit wire tracers are available, especially for electrical circuit wiring.

I also bought a spool of the satin phone cord to connect the phone to a phone jack, along with some RJ11 plugs.  This required a unique tool for assembly.  I bought a cheap phone plug crimper to make phone cords any length clients wanted.

Click here to see my specialized electrician tools.

Wiring diagrams of mine for bathroom fans, ceiling fans, two-way switches, three-way switches, four-way switches, and motors can be found by clicking here.

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