USB Y Cable: What You Need to Know About USB Y Cable

Although USB Y cable seems insignificant to most people, they do not realize it comes in handy in many situations. It would be fair to say that some tasks would even be impossible without their presence. On the surface, a USB Y cable looks like every other USB cable. However, there is a big difference, and that is the cable’s shape. As the name implies, the shape of the cable is similar to alphabet Y. The primary purpose why these kinds of wires exist is to provide power to devices that require energy from more than one USB port.

USB Y Cable

Chapter 1: What is a USB Y Cable?

Before the advent of USB Y cables, finding methods to provide power to devices that required too much energy was a tough task. It was dangerous, as you never knew what you were getting into. Luckily, things became simple, convenient, and, more importantly, safe with the USB Y cables. There are three plugs present on a USB Y cable. All of these plugs have the same purpose: to connect with USB data and power.

You will find two connectors on the Y end and one connecter to a USB device on this cable. The Y-end connectors connect with personal computers and laptops, while the other end attaches with a USB device. Some devices, like external disk drives (especially high speed), need many currents (sometimes a little over 500 mA). These devices are bound to face power issues if you power them using only one USB port. It could potentially cause the device to function erratically or stop it from working altogether. There is also a possibility of the port overloading and becoming useless because of too much damage.

These days, most high-powered devices come with Y-shaped cables with two connectors (for data and power) or external power sources. With USB Y cables, a device can draw energy from two USB ports at the same time. However, according to USB compliance specifications, you cannot use Y cables with 2 A plugs on any USB peripheral. It means that if USB peripherals need a significantly higher power than what the USB specification allows, then it has to be self-powered.

Chapter 2: Main Uses of USB Y Cable

When it comes to regular USB Y cables, their function is to enable a USB to get power from two host sockets of a USB simultaneously while receiving data from a transmitter from one of the sockets. As long as two USB sockets are available with the host, the peripheral will provide energy of two USB ports. The best thing about this is that there will be no need for a mains adaptor. Optical disk drives or portable hard drives sometimes come with Y cables only for this very purpose.

USB Y cables also have newer variants that allow USB peripherals to get power and data from two different devices. It makes power-hungry peripherals usable with sockets designed for supplying very little outgoing power.

There are two different kinds of USB Y cables:

  • One has two female connectors and one male connector. This type has two further categories. The first one is a regular charging cable; it splits the port’s power over two devices. The other type is a special cable. This cable splits data lines; however, its uses are particular.
  • The other kind of USB cable has one female or one male connector. Essentially, your USB cable has one side for hosting and the other side for the device. However, there is an extra connector, which attaches adjacent to the wire.

As you may know by now, USB Y cables earned their name due to their Y-like appearance. This kind of cable is useful if a singular signal has to go to two different destinations. Let’s say, for instance, that you have a headphone output of ¼ inch. You want the same thing to be listenable by two people on their headphones with 3.5 mm connectors; the best solution would be to use a USB Y cable and a quarter-inch male to 3.5 mm female jacks. 

This setup will ensure that the signal quality for both headphones remains the same. The wiring of the cables ensures every single end contact connects with its equivalent present on the dual end. Keep in mind that traditional USB Y cables are specifically for splitting signals. However, do not combine two signals with a Y cable, as there is no control of how the message connects.

Conversely, if a stereo breakout occurs, it does what its name states, break stereo signals in 2 individual points. One of the most common scenarios where a stereo breakout is necessary is when someone uses their iPod to play music or audio with an audio mixer with quarter-inch TS inputs. Using a TRS of 3.5 mm to a dual quarter-inch TS breakout cable would be the best choice for these situations.

Connect the TRS’s 3.5 mm end with the iPod or any other music device to get a left signal on the other end. You can connect every end to its mixer input. If you use it properly, you can use a stereo breakout in any direction. Selecting the right USB Y cable is essential for accomplishing what you want. Besides their abundant use in audio problems, Y cables come in handy for analog audio signals and analog video signals.

Let us discuss some common uses of USB Y cables for single paths:

  • Returning and sending outbound signals on the Y’s leg and keeping the inbound signals separate
  • Taking signals from a single multi-pole output and spreading it two to connectors for input. This system helps to separate the signals. Therefore, USB Y cables act as consolidating connectors
  • Splitting the signals by feeding singular output to multiple inputs
  • Combining signals by feeding various outputs to a singular input

Commonly, Y cables are handy in domestic settings with 3.55 male mini-jack stereos on one end for plugging the headphone or line output of computer soundcards, mobile phones, or MP3 players.

Custom USB Cable

Chapter 3: Is Using USB Y Cable Dangerous?

Whenever gadgets are the topic of discussion, the first question that comes to everybody’s mind is whether they are safe or not; the same goes for USB Y cables. USB Y cables carry a lot of electricity to power-hungry devices. So naturally, people try to be cautious to avoid any damages. However, the way you utilize the cables is a significant factor that decides whether the cable would cause any damage or not.

That said, if you draw too much power for devices not necessarily built for enduring too much electricity, yes, there would be some repercussions. Your device may suffer damage, and your cable could wear out as well.

For example, there is a reason why you should always charge an iPhone with an iPhone charger and not an Android charger. The reason is that chargers for iPhones draw much more power in comparison to Android-based chargers. Therefore, if you use an Android charger for powering your iPhone, not only will it take too long to charge the phone, it will damage the charger’s quality as well. It is also possible that the charger stops working entirely.

Therefore, choosing a Y cable itself is not inherently dangerous; however, it could be the way you use it. Make sure that you read the specifications of your devices thoroughly to avoid any mishaps. Don’t worry about blowing things up with the Y cable. It is safe to use as long as you take the necessary precautions with any device that utilizes electricity.

A small problem that you may find with USB Y cables is that they tend to be too short sometimes.

You may need to keep devices close to connecting the wires. Choose the longest possible cable size and the best quality to avoid hazards. Moreover, ensure that you store the Y cables carefully and prevent them from bending, overstretching, or tangling too much. It could potentially damage the wire and tear off its plastic, exposing the copper inside. Other than that, these cables are as safe as they come, and there is no need to worry about safety.

Chapter 4: Why Using USB Y Cables is Beneficial

A big problem that several computer-related devices face is the difficulties of using more than one peripheral at a single time. More often than not, computers usually have the burden of the responsibility to switch between many devices. Of course, predicaments like these can be quite worrisome. Furthermore, if the peripheral devices are not portable, users face an entirely different problem. Therefore, any method that switches peripheral devices between computer systems is not only inefficient but also inconvenient.

Luckily, with USB Y cables, there is no need to worry. These cables eliminate several problems and simplify connecting multiple peripheral devices like printers, scanners, loudspeakers, etc. Connecting these devices all at once becomes possible with USB Y cables, and they all function effectively. The cable makes connecting several devices with a single computer remarkably easy. A significant advantage is that the cable wire’s distance does not affect any device’s ability to function correctly. The USB Y cable’s hardware component has a compact box that provides ease for operating optimally. 

It is hard to imagine keeping electronic devices operating optimally without the use of USB Y cables. Although its ports are connectable with several peripheral devices like mice, keyboards, and printers, you should be aware of devices that require more power than others. Every peripheral device has a separate power supply unit, so you need to be wary of them. Printers and scanners are a couple of examples of high-power devices.

The use of a USB Y cable is necessary for them to function adequately without causing damages.

Conversely, there are low-powered devices as well. Cameras and mice are examples of these kinds of devices. Remember to use a cable that provides adequate power to these low-power devices as too much of it can cause damage.

Devices with high power do not require any external power source. Therefore powering the USB Y cable may not be necessary as computer systems can effectively handle it. Also, these cables have innate transformers for moderating their capabilities and ensuring that the computer makes the electricity easily manageable. Following are some more advantages of USB Y cables.

  1. These cables are capable of charging multiple devices without the need to connect them to computer systems.
  2. They have excellent performance on disk drives, printers, scanners, and several other devices.
  3. They have excellent compatibility with personal computers that require remarkably higher amounts of charging power.

Chapter 5: Micro USB Y

As the name suggests, Micro USB Y cables are smaller and connectible with several devices. Gaming consoles like Xbox 360, PS4, PS3, Wii, etc., work well with these cables. The USB ports of the micro cable are of low power and useful for storing files, videos, and games. 

The micro USB Y cable comes in different sizes; 13 inches is usually the go-to site for this cable. The best way to utilize the micro cable is to connect it to ports adjacent to each other. The power supply output that the USB Y cable gives out is perfect for meeting the quick speeds that most devices require. Sometimes, a single USB port does not provide sufficient power. Micro USB ports come in handy in these kinds of situations and do the trick.

Custom Lighting Y Cable

Chapter 6: Materials of Cable

You will find these cables in various materials/ USB Y cable designs play an important role in the performance and delivery for optimum results. Before jumping on the topic of materials, it is essential to note that all USB Y cables have the same housing forms. Following are the numerous materials that you will find with Y cables:

  • Zinc alloy added/ Chrome-treated
  • Zinc Plated/Chrome-treated
  • Nickel Plated

All these USB Y cable materials are suitable for indoor as well as outdoor uses. If you want a USB Y cable for using outdoors, then going for the nickel-plated material would be your best option. The material is perfect for outdoor environments that are corrosive and salty. The enduring structure of the nickel-plated material ensures that the cable survives such situations while still functioning correctly. 

The zinc added/chromate treated materials, and zinc alloy added/chromate treated materials come in handy for outdoor spaces. However, if you want to utilize these materials fully, using the enclosure to mount them in outdoor environments would be a preferable choice.

Chapter 7: Where to Get Custom USB Y for Your Project

There are countless places where you can buy USB cables. There are physical and online shops and markets where you can easily find USB Y cables. However, we would advise you to go for someone reliable. Despite the abundance of USB Y cable sellers, there is no telling about the cable quality you will get.

Often, people end up with subpar cables, which stop working in a short period and tend to damage their devices. Moreover, the material could be of below-par quality, as well. We would recommend you to try our first-rate USB Y Cables. You will find these cables in different varieties, types, qualities, and sizes, and all made to suit your specific needs for your project.

Custom USB Y Cable


You will come across various types of cables these days, but none of them will be as efficient as USB cables, more specifically, USB Y cables. These cables are incredibly exceptional for helping people to use multiple peripheral devices in a single go. Since USB Y cables are multifunctional, knowing how to handle them is necessary. Because if you don’t, you will not be able to get the satisfaction out of it as you should. You can always get in touch with us to discuss your particular requirements for the USB Y cables, and we will provide you adequate solutions in no time.

Hey, I am John, General manager of Cloom and OurPCB.

I am a responsible, intelligent and experienced business professional with an extensive background in the electronics industry.

Reach me at [email protected] to get a quote for your projects.


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