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Cat5e Riser vs Plenum

by Tom Niswander on February 11, 2021
cat5e riser vs plenum

As more and more categories of cables are brought to market, using Cat5e might seem like an after thought. However Cat5e still packs a lot of punch in terms of speed and functionality.

This article will help explain which cable to choose from in your next install. Cat5e riser vs plenum cables

Cat5e Explained

To begin this article let's quickly go over the performance you can expect from Cat5e cables. 

Cat5e cable is rated by TIA standard 568.2-D to perform up to 1Gb speeds at distances up to 328 feet (100 meters). This also includes a 100MHz bandwidth.

But the great thing about Cat5e cable is as technology involved so could its use cases. You can now technically get up to 2.5GBase-T and 5GBase-T on Cat5e riser or Cat5e plenum cables. It's able to do this by using the standard of IEEE 802.3bz.

You can find even more in depth information on Cat5e over here: Cat5e Max Speed.

What Is Cat5e Riser Cable?

cat5e riser cable in box

Now that we know the speeds you can get in your home or business let's now get in to these two different cable types. 

First up is Cat5e riser cable.

Conductors

Cat5e riser is a cable that has solid conductors. The solid conductors allow it to perform better over longer distances. The solid conducts in cables refer to the wires inside the cable jacket and underneath the insulation. Having a solid conductor means that the copper wire is one solid piece. This gives the cable great strength for long runs.

Fire Rating

Now what makes a Cat5e riser cable a (riser rated cable) is actually the jacket and insulation material used in the cable production. Cat5e riser cable is composed of an Polyolefin (PO) insulation. This is the material covering the copper wires.

The cable is also composed of a jacket material of Flame Retardant Polyvinyl Chloride (FRPVC). This material help keep flames from spreading down the cable.

With both of these compounds use this makes this cable suitable to be installed in multiple areas:

  • Homes
  • Businesses
  • In Wall
  • Risers
  • Beneath Flooring
  • Attics

It is not safe to use in plenum spaces.

Cat5e riser cable is great choice for those looking to run wires throughout a home when there maximum required speeds will be 1 gigabit (1000mbps). It's is a cost effective solution and very affordable in todays market.

Shop Cat5e Riser Cables

What Is Cat5e Plenum Cable?

cat5e plenum cable in box

Cat5e plenum is very similar to riser rated cable in that it also has a lot of the same structure to it.

Conductors

The wires inside Cat5e plenum cables are solid which we mentioned before make it a great choice for long runs.

Fire Rating

The major difference with this cable is that is has the highest fire retardant rating you can have on ethernet cable. It does this by having different compounds than the riser rated counter part.

Cat5e plenum cables are composed of a Fluorinated Ethylene Propylene (FEP) insulation.

Its jacket material is made from Low Smoke Flame Retardant Polyvinyl Chloride (LSFRPVC).

Both of these compounds when used together in the cable make it possible for the cable to have a plenum rating. These compounds prevent the spread of flames down the cable jacket and prevent the burning of smoke off the jacket.

This is dually important because plenum cable is meant to be installed in areas with air circulation/air flow. If fire were to happen a plenum rated cable can help prevent the fire from spreading.

Where to use Cat5e Plenum Cable:

  • Plenum Spaces
  • Air Duct
  • Drop Ceilings

The great thing about plenum rated cable is that you can also use them in areas meant for riser cables. So you can use this cable for in attics, walls and beneath flooring installations

Though it might be more than you need to spend on cable for those areas, keep note that you can use them there.

Shop Cat5e Plenum Cables

Safety

The major takeaway from the differences between Cat5e riser vs plenum cable is that they have different compounds in their structure.

These compounds are meant to make your cable safe in the areas they are are meant to be used for. You want to ensure that your cables are properly certified so you know that you are getting cables that will do their job.

If you see any cable marked as CCA (Copper Clad Aluminum), please know that this can potentially be a fire risk.

Not only that but CCA can never be used in plenum cables. It will also never be certified. So a certified CCA plenum cable is not a real thing.

Always stick with pure copper cables whenever you need to use them. Where the cable type is solid or stranded, make sure that 100% pure copper is used in the construction.

Final Thoughts

Here at Infinity Cable Products we take safety very important and all our cables are UL or ETL certified for industry leading performance. Feel confident knowing our cables have gone through all the testing needed to be safe in riser and plenum spaces.

Cat5e riser cables is great choice for residential installations that need gigabit speeds throughout their home.

Cat5e plenum cables are the perfect choice for commercial and businesses needing to run cables in areas with air circulation.

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