How To Select The Right Ethernet Cable

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Ethernet cables are necessary in connecting computers to modems, networks or routers through a wired connection. The cables use twisted pairs of solid core wires or copper wires to transmit data in RJ-45 connectors. Four twisted parts of copper wire make the twisted pair cables. Sometimes, data transmission happens through only two pairs, but for optimal stability it is best to use all four pairs. System admin theory indicates that wired connections are better than wireless connections as far as stability is concerned.

There are various cables for an array of applications and distances. The signal in most Ethernet cables deteriorates as distance increases. Connectivity and network speed depends on the type of cable being used. To choose the right Ethernet cable, you need to consider the terrain it needs to cover, the cable’s function, distance, and network type.

Cloud computing and wireless internet strategists are almost taking charge of the IT infrastructure, but private wired networks will not be obsolete any time soon. Ethernet cable technology has advanced fully to compete with the latest Wi-Fi technology. It is wise to consider in-house networking if you have high internet usage at home or in your business. You may be ready to buy an Ethernet cable, but they are not all equal. The designers have made them uniquely for various purposes. Read on to understand what to look for when choosing an Ethernet cable.

Ethernet cable cat rating

Ethernet cables are availed in various labels such as Cat6, Cat5e, Cat5, among other specifications. Cat is a short form for a category, and you need to select the right category according to your needs. The standard cables for older networks are Cat5e cables, but they are gradually becoming obsolete. The best version of Cat5 cables is the Cat5e, with the ‘e’ standing for enhanced. Most homes and businesses prefer Cat5e since they can use them with modem internet, and can transmit data at over 100 Mbps at 100 MHZ. This is a reliable speed for many homes and businesses.

Cat6 Ethernet cables are better than the Cat5 version. They can transmit data at over 1 Gbps with 250 MHZ. When you are using Cat6 Ethernet cables, you will rarely experience interferences with the cables. They are more expensive than Cat5, but if you need uninterrupted service, buy Cat6. If you are looking for any cables that can support your needs for internet speed, it is good to have Cat5.

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Ethernet cable metals

Ethernet cables have various raw materials. Some of them are sophisticated, while others are readily available. Aluminum, for instance, is a readily available metal, but if you move it frequently it can crack. Aluminum Ethernet cables are cheap, and they do not last long. If you need durable Ethernet cables, go for brass cables. They are pricey, but they will serve you for a long time. If your need is the transmission of voluminous data, gold Ethernet cables are your best choice, but they are very costly compared to brass and aluminum.

Length of Ethernet cables

You need to pay attention to the length of the cable you buy. If a cable is too short, it will not work well. Before you proceed to buy an Ethernet cable, you should measure the space you have and then buy a longer cable than your available space. For instance, if you have a space of 0.75 meters, you should buy a cable that is 1 meter long. Do not buy cables the exact measurement of the available space. You could also choose to buy Ethernet cables that have no ends, and later cut them and fix the plugs you need.

Ethernet cable plugs

Manufacturers make Ethernet cables with a plug on either end, but some come without plugs for anyone who might need an open cable. You will buy a cable and plug depending on your reason for buying an Ethernet cable. The most common and typical choice is a straight-through cable. If you hold the ends on each side, you can see the small colored wires that constitute the cable have the same order of colors from left to right. Such cables are the best to connect two devices, for instance, a router to a switch, or a PC to a switch or hub.

A crossover cable is different in that its plugs on either side are different. This cable is best to connect two devices which are similar, and have no switch in the middle. The crossover function is entrusted to the middle component. Precisely, a crossover cable can help to connect two similar switches or PCs.

Ethernet cable construction

Ethernet cables are constructed in several ways. If a system admin needs to use an Ethernet cable for home networking, it is better to choose cables with simpler construction. As earlier mentioned, Ethernet cables have four twisted parts of copper wire. Further, we can categorize cables as shielded twisted pair (STP)  or unshielded twisted pair (UTP). Shielded twisted pair cables are the best to avoid interference from foreign devices, and they are better in performance. You will rarely find them used in home networking since they are more expensive than unshielded twisted pair cables.

If you need Ethernet cables for home networking, consider choosing stranded cables as opposed to solid ones. Stranded core cables have thin strands of copper wire whose total thickness when put together is, at most, 24 gauge. This type of twisting is best for patch cables and extreme bends. Solid core cables have a single copper wire whose thickness measures 24 gauge. They are better and more stable in transmitting signals over long distances, but their flexibility is questionable. You cannot bend them too much since they can break easily. You will find them in use when a network is being installed during the construction of a house.

Ethernet cable coatings

Most Ethernet cables have PVC coating, but due to toxic fumes released as PVC burns, it is rare to find PVC coated cables being used in public spaces. They are prohibited from being used in some fire codes, which instead use plenum rated cables. Note that plenum is not a coating type, but such cables have flame retardant smoke coating, or Teflon. Plenum rated Ethernet cables are rarely used in home networks due to their high price.

If your workplace is rugged, you can use direct burial cables, aerial duct, outdoor, or armored cables. Such coatings prevent the cables from foreign matter or water. The cables are resistant to corrosion, and they cannot be damaged by abrasion. They are rated differently, but their application in home networking is rare.

Choose the right Ethernet Cable

To choose the right Ethernet cable category, you must understand your connection speed. If your connection goes up to 100 Mbps, you should choose either Cat 5 or Cat 5E. If you prefer faster connections, it is better to choose Cat 6. Next, determine the length of cable you need. Longer cables tend to reduce the signal speed. Shorter cables have a clearer signal and fast internet speeds. Choose the right plug type for your Ethernet cable. has numerous system admin projects which you can use to practice.

To find the right Ethernet cable for your home network, you need to do proper research. Check your preferred internet speed, cable length, and cable type. If you are upgrading your existing network, invest in Cat 6 cables. The cables will serve you for a long time since they can transmit data at speeds of over 10 Gbps. Understand the meaning of each descriptive item to avoid spending money unnecessarily.

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