Category Cable

Category Cable is typically a UTP (Unshielded Twisted Pair) type of cable that is used for primarily for Telecom and Networking. There are many flavors out there such as CAT3, CAT5, CAT5e, CAT6 and so on. However it has a ton of uses in the Low Voltage world.

There is a ton of theory and there are people that argue on the proper way to terminate it. When you get down to the sole propose of the application it is for Data and Voice Transmission.

The only time I ever see CAT3 used today is for Door Bells. CAT5 was replaced with CAT5e so you would only run into CAT5 in old installs and CAT5e is phasing out slowly but still widely used. CAT6 is the successor to CAT5e and quite honestly there isn’t much difference between the two. CAT6 uses a slightly thicker wire gauge and has more twists for Crosstalk but still limited to 328FT of distance and handles 1Gbps.

I do not foresee ISP companies handling anything faster then 1Gbps for Residential use. The only reason why we got to 1Gbps was a scare tactic from Google launching a Fiberbased ISP called GoogleFiber. So different ISPs ramped up their bandwidth offerings but since Google has basically put a hold on it the other ISPs are slowly moving back and charging an arm and leg for 1Gbps.

Granted you have 10Gbps for Networking but this is more for Commercial/Industrial use. You mostly see more WiFi then Ethernet in Residential and most of the time you get around 300Mbps unless you know how to properly setup a WiFi Network. In all honestly if you have a stationary System such as a Desktop PC, Work Desk, TV or some sort of IoT device then I would go for a Hardline Ethernet Connection.

Speaking of 10Gbps you can use standard CAT6 but you’re limited to around 100FT I think. However it wouldn’t be exactly 10Gbps, just a ballpark number. Really and truly it’s like this with any connection. If you have a Network with a lot of Devices connected it will get around 10Mbps to 900 and something Mbps with a typical 1GBps connection.

Just follow the simple rules I follow for Ethernet use and you’ll be fine.
Punch down the cables to T-568B or known as “B-side”, don’t go over 300ft, do not use Crossover cables.

T-568B “B-side”

Really and truly you don’t have to follow the above example, as long as the same color wires end up in the same pins on the RJ45 connector. It’s just good practice to use the correct wire color scheme.

You can go much longer then 300FT but you would need a Repeater or Networking Switch. That’s why a lot of big office buildings have more then one Room filled with Networking Equipment.

But wait, There’s more..

There is also STP (Shielded Twisted Pair). CAT5e, and CAT7. This is a trap but can be handy. A typical UTP Cable has eight wires and STP has nine. The ninth wire is a drain/ground wire. It’s used on special connections such as a grounded RJ45. Now this only works if the Devices connection to it has Shielded Ethernet Ports. They claim this will keep interference out but honestly if you have say two PCs connected with a CAT7 cable and both PCs have shielded Ethernet Jacks. A typical PC Power Supply has the DC ground that is also tied to Mains Earth Ground. This could go two ways. Created a Ground Loop that will put noise on the line or if the Mains Earth has any voltage on it could possibly hurt the computers. What I typically do is I’ll leave one side of the drain/ground to the cable disconnected. This way it is properly shielded. This trick is used in Audio and some RF circuits to keep noise minimal. Had a Aiphone Intercom install and the customer had read the manual and demanded us to use STP cable. Installed it and had a lot of hiss and static. My Boss sent me in to find out why and I clipped the Drain/Ground at all of the stations and the Hiss and Static went away. From the wire diagram to the unit the System already had a Ground using the Brown Pairs so this worked out fine.

Another trap for young players.
There are two types of cabling to look out for, Strained Cable and Solid Core. Solid Core is designed for structural wiring and Strained is used for Patch Cables. For an example I have my Modem in a Closet plugged into a wall jack and the wall jack line leads to my Home Office to another wall jack then I have a short cable going to a PC. The run that goes from wall jack to wall jack would be Solid Core and the two cables going from the modem to wall jack and PC to wall jack would be a strained cable. However it is perfectly fine to use Solid Core as Patch Cables. The reason behind the two is you’re more likely to move the cable from the wall jack to the device more often and if it’s a Solid Core cable it could cause stress on the cable and end up with a break in the line. However I wouldn’t recommend Strained cable for long runs. The Strained cable will have more resistance per-foot VS Solid Core per-foot. At least that is what they claim.

Quality of the Cable matters as well. If you look you’ll see different prices for cases of 1000FT. Reason being is a lot of cheap cable manufactures will use Aluminum copper clad cable that honestly is terrible for high speed Data Transferring. Just make sure to get full copper conductor.

There are also different type of Cable ratings as well.
Direct Burial

Typically you’ll see Riser in the big box stores. Direct Burial is made for under ground use, Plenum has a non-toxic material so if it catches fire the fumes won’t kill you and Arial is UV protected and water resistant. I go for Plenum when I can.

So today you have learned to use Quality Cable that is full copper conductor, don’t go over 300FT from a single pull. Stick with one way to terminate the cable. Avoid Crossover cables. Be-careful with shielded cable. If you really want to future proof then go with CAT6a. If you’re using CCTV then CAT5e is just fine. If you’re running a lot of cable then go for Plenum rated.


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