How To Choose Cat6 Plenum Cable
Getting the right plenum cable for your installation is important to its success. The average home runs cables approximately 200 feet in length. This means that over multiple runs these numbers will start to add up and you want to ensure your install goes perfectly. Getting cable in bulk length is a great solution to this and gives you the freedom to run cable anywhere you'd like. If you're reading this article it's likely you have to run cable in your home or business in areas with air flow. Whether you're a DIY or having a professional come to do the installation its important to understand which Cat6 plenum cable is right your needs. In this article we will do just that by helping you choose which Cat6 plenum cable to use?
Choosing the right cat6 plenum is made easier by keeping these four things in mind:
What Is Cat6 Plenum Cable?
Cat6 plenum cable is an ethernet cable that is suitable for areas with air flow. The Cat6 portion of the cable designates its performance capabilities. Which for Cat6 is 250MHz and 1Gb up to 328 Feet (100 meters). Cat6 improves over Cat5e cables by giving you extra headroom in performance which includes better performance against crosstalk. With the inclusion of the recent standard IEEE 802.3bz of 2.5GBase-T and 5GBase-T this gives you the ability to achieve even higher performance under ideal circumstances. The plenum portion of the cable refers to the jacket material. With plenum cables being used for areas with air circulation they need to have the highest amount of flame retardant material available to perform. Plenum cables are often composed of jackets with low smoke flame retardant pvc material and insulation with FEP which gives it the ability to perform at higher temperatures. The great thing about this material is that it emits less amounts of toxic smoke and does a great job of reducing the spread of flames. Now that we've got a good understanding of cat 6 plenum cables at its core let's jump on over to choosing which cable is right for your use.
Getting the right cable for the right environment in an important step in the purchasing journey. For Cat6 plenum cables you will encounter two types of different environments. One being areas with no EMI and areas where there is EMI. This pretty much covers the majority of installs if you happen to be looking for cable in your home.
- Unshielded Cat6 plenum cable is the perfect cable for most installations in majority of homes and common in businesses. Unshielded cables are often composed of UTP structures which have unshielded twisted pairs. Meaning there is no shielding wrapped around the wires. Unshielded plenum cables are great of homes, offices, restaurants, businesses, shops and anywhere EMI is not present. These are easily connected to other unshielded connectivity.
- Shielded Cat6 plenum cables are the go to choice when EMI is present. EMI is any sort of signal interference that can cause interruption on your cable. To safeguard against this shielded cables have foil inside wrapped around the wires. You'll find many different shielded types but for our Cat6 cable you'll find it in F/UTP (FTP) which has foil wrapped around all four twisted pair together. Common uses for shielded cables are in doctors offices, hospitals, labs, factories and anywhere EMI is present. Some of the most common EMI generators are radio towers, electrical power lines, radars, engines, electric motors and broadcasting towers. For the majority of people in their homes these are most likely not a concern but business will want to double check just to be safe.
After deciding which environment you fall in to let's head on over to picking our cable type.
This portion of the article is specific to our company: Infinity Cable Products. We provide the brand of Elite ethernet cables which has three different Cat6 plenum cables to choose from. This gives you the ability to power ethernet connections in any environment.
Cat6 unshielded 23AWG plenum cable. This cable is a UTP (Unshielded Twisted Pairs), 23AWG, Solid, 1000ft and comes in an easy to pull box. What makes this Cat6 cable unique is that Elite wants to give you Cat6 performance in two ways. With and without a spline. This boils down to personal preference. Our Cat6 plenum 23AWG cable is built without a spline for anyone looking to install cable without the cross separator. For many this is a convenience and the great thing about this is that you can enjoy Cat6 performance with the inclusion of more insulation around the wires instead of a spline.
Cat6e unshielded 24AWG plenum cable. This cable is UTP (Unshielded Twisted Pairs), 24AWG, Solid, 1000ft and comes in an easy to pull box. As we mentioned in the previous paragraph Elite offers 2 different unshielded Cat6 cables. Elite Cat6e plenum cable is the version of cable with a spline. Cat6e cable is great for data, video and audio applications looking for high speeds.
Cat6 shielded 23AWG plenum cable. This cable is F/UTP (FTP) which has shielding wrapped around all four twisted pairs. This is what assists in giving you the protection from areas with EMI. Elite shielded Cat6 plenum comes on a wooden spool for convenient deployments. The reason you'll find shielded cable on a spool instead of a pull box is to protect the inner shielding from any cracks or bends when puling the cable. This can be more controlled pulling on a reel which gives you optimal performance with your shielding material. This cable is great for any home that's experiencing EMI, businesses, labs, doctors offices and factories.
Probably the most important aspect to choosing Cat6 plenum cable is the certification of your cable. It's important to not overlook the types of certification that your cables have or even the construction of the cable. The first and foremost thing to look for is if the cable is made of solid 100% pure copper conductors. The alternative to this and often cheaper is copper clad aluminum (CCA). It's recommended that when you are installing ethernet cable to only use pure copper. Copper clad aluminum will result in less quality and can even be a safety risk. When working with plenum cable you need the highest quality cable you can get and ensuring your cable is pure copper will give you a more reliable and enjoyable cabling experience.
The second portion to certification is which laboratory is testing your cables. Some of the most common testing labs are ETL and UL. The industry leading laboratory is UL and this ensure that your cables have gone through the most stringent testing standards in the industry. While every other lab test to UL standards the only way to guarantee the highest level of safety conformity is to be UL certified. The great thing about UL is that they constantly check products that have been certified to ensure that each and every one of your products will pass and meet building safety code. So when looking for ethernet cables look for the shiny bronze sticker which with Elite cable comes with all their cables.
We hope you found this guide on how to choose Cat6 plenum cable helpful. Remember to keep in mind your environment, type you need and getting the product with the right certification. Plenum cable is an important backbone to any network and getting the right Cat6 plenum cable for areas with air flow will ensure your network performance is everything you could ever want.