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What Is CMX Cable?

by Tom Niswander on May 07, 2020
what is cmx cable

Looking to install cable outdoors or areas exposed to weather conditions? Well when it comes to ethernet cables you have many choices. The great things about copper cables is that they come in many different forms. Pretty much anywhere you want to install a cable there is a specific type suitable for it. From inside the walls, to areas with air flow and even locations directly exposed by sun there is a jacket type for it. The most popular outdoor cable is CMX cable and in this blog post we will go over what is cmx cable?

What Is CMX Cable?

CMX cable is a type of twisted pair ethernet cable that has an outdoor rated jacket. It is used to create data transmissions to your network devices and can also be run to security systems. The CMX jacket gives the cable the ability to be installed outside in harsh environments such as sun (UV protection) and rain. The jacket material for CMX ethernet cable is Polyethylene (PE). This type of material has high impact protection and is more durable than other types such as CM Communication cable , CMR Riser cable, or CMP Plenum cable. It is suitable for outdoor use in the sun or rain. The great thing about outdoor cable is also the ability to be directly buried. With its stronger jacket it gives the cable the functionality to be buried or trenched underground and out of sight. Making this cable perfect for installs between commercial buildings, on the side of your house or in your backyard.

Is CMX Cable Waterproof?

CMX cable is constructed to be waterproof. It can be placed outdoor facing damp conditions that can come from early mornings or rain. It gives it the ability to be waterproof with its Polyethylene (PE) jacket. Inside CMX cables there are also other ways that can help water proof your ethernet cable.

Water Blocking Tape

Water blocking tape can be used inside the cables structure to wrap around the individual pairs. This tape helps in concealing the copper wires from any extra moisture.

Gel Fill

Gel filled cable is a technique in which your cables core is flooded with gel (sticky) like compounds. This alternative method also helps in giving your copper or fiber cable extra water protection. This also gives helps when you are putting your cables underwater. While this type of structure is beneficial for protection from moisture it should be noted that it will be messier to work with and install.

Double Jacket Layer

This technique of doubling the layers of jacket materials also helps in strengthening the jacket for installs outside. Even thought this cable does not have water blocking tape or gel filling it is still suitable for protection from water.

A lot of the decisions of outdoor cables comes down to personal preference. The majority of CMX ethernet cables today will all have different variations of all three of these materials. Choosing which one for you comes down to where you are installing and what you like to work with.

When we decided to carry outdoor ethernet cable from Elite Cable the decision was made not to include water blocking tape or gel filling in the cables.

The reason for this is optimal signal transmission quality. These types of materials can have an adverse affect on signal quality and we ultimately decided to stick with outdoor CMX cables with the single and dual layer jackets. This ensures that Cat5e or Cat6 cables have the ability for maximum transmission performance. At the same time providing all the benefits of outdoor cables such as waterproofing and UV resistance.

Directly Burying Cable

The great thing about CMX cables is their added ability to be buried out of sight. This means that you can install this cable directly in the ground with no added protection. While cmx cable does have this ability we always recommend to run it in conduit for added protection. This gives you a couple benefits.

The first one is that it is easier to reinstall cable after the fact. After the cable has been buried or trenched along side conduit it can save you time if you ever want to remove or switch cables. The other benefit is that no matter how tough an outdoor cable can be you just never know what might get through to this cable.

We've seen things happen such as animals chewing through lines. Though this is rare you can never be too prepared.

Cable In Water

Another use for CMX cables might be that you need to submerge the cable underwater. This is ok with outdoor rated cable. The important thing here is that all loose ends are sealed tightly. This means that while you are putting the cable though water the ends are not exposed and covered. This makes sure no water gets inside during your cable run. The other important thing is to have tightly concealed terminations. Exposed RJ45 plugs can cause electrical performance mishaps. Its also recommended to add strain relief boots over the RJ45 plug as well to conceal it from the back. There are different types of ways you can do this as there is waterproof housing, junction boxes and even outlets which can cover the cables.

What Kind Of CMX Cables Are There?

When shopping for CMX cables it typical you'll come across many different versions. From a visual perspective you can find outdoor cables in bulk length form or in patch cord length. Bulk length form can come in 500ft or 1000ft feel lengths, These are great for custom jobs around your home or business. They will be deployed on a reel for convenience pulls. A more plug and go style is in patch cord form. These come in various pre-cut and terminated lengths around 3ft to upwards of 175 feet. Great for quick runs around your home or business as well.

CMX cables most often come in category option of Cat5e or Cat6. Depending on the performance you need will determine the category to get. Not only all there different categories but outdoor cables come in unshielded and shielded options. Unshielded options are for normal use in homes or business where EMI is not present. Outdoor shielded ethernet cable is for areas with EMI that can interrupt your network. For the construction of CMX cables you typically find them with an insulation of Polyolefin (PO) and a jacket material of Polyetheylene (PE).

Testing Outdoor Ethernet Cables

Getting a tested and certified cable is key to an installations success. This ensures that your cable has gone under all the important testing methods to deem it suitable for its type of install. For the case of outdoor cable you want to make sure that the CMX jacket has passed certain tests to ensure that it is a CMX jacket. One of the industry leading flame tests is done by Underwriters Laboratory (UL). The specific test is called UL 2556. The scope of this test covers testing methods, formulas and calculations to meet wire and cable standards. UL is the industry leader and trusted source for testing outdoor rated cables. We ensure all our CMX cables are UL listed to provide consumers reliable and performance tested products.

Get The Cable You Need

Cat5e CMX Cables: Get gigabit speeds up to 328 feet, Perfect for shielded and unshielded applications. This cable is constructed with solid conductors for long runs.

Shop Cat5e Outdoor Cables
shop for cat5e cmx cables

Cat6 CMX Cables: Get gigabit speeds in your home or business up to 328 feet. Achieve up to 10Gb under 180 feet in ideal conditions. Coming in unshielded and shielded versions for any environment. This cable is constructed with solid conductors for long runs.

Shop Cat6 Outdoor Cables
shop for cat6 cmx cables

Final Thoughts

Outdoor rated cable (CMX) is a perfect solutions for installations that want to go in to outdoor spaces. They are waterproof, UV resistant and can even be directly buried. When directly burying cable we do recommend that you include conduit for added protection and easier changes down the line. Whether you're upgrading your network to gigabit or beyond look to CMX cables when the cables runs are looking for some fresh air.


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