TechSpot

Advice on cat6 cabling

By gianfri
Mar 2, 2008
  1. Hi All,

    as I'm going to get some rewiring done at my house, I'm thinking of laying two runs of approx. 8 m each from the downstairs lounge (where the cable modem sits) to the upstairs room. The wires might go inside the wall or in alternative in a cavity housing central heating pipes.

    I've read that for wall cabling, 'solid' cat6 is best, but I'm also a bit confused at what the benefits of the 'stranded' variety are.

    I've started looking at vendors and I've found solid or stranded easily in multiple-hundred meter reels. While it's relatively easy to source 10m UTP patch cables, which I should be easily able to chop the connectors off and wire to the outlets.

    Given my application and the relatively short run of cable involved, is there any real-life drawback to using simple UTP patch cables?

    Many thanks,
    Gianfranco
     
  2. jobeard

    jobeard TS Ambassador Posts: 13,474   +329

    For a permanently wired end-to-end solution (ie wall plate to wall plate) solid wire
    may be used, but in all other cases, the stranded wire is best; go by cost :)

    Also, cat-6 will have shielding; make sure the installer GROUNDS it on both ends.
     
  3. gianfri

    gianfri TS Rookie Topic Starter

    Thanks. The installation will be fixed wall plate to wall plate. You say that cat6 is shielded, but I've seen stuff like "Solid 23awg 4 pair unshielded cable, for use as a category 6 installation cable". This is a bit confusing.

    I also take it from your reply that using stranded for a fixed installation is an option (albeit not optimal) and at my modest length (~ 8 meters), I suppose the higher attenuation should not be a big problem?

    Going by price, solid comes in minimum lengths of 100m which is overkill, while is relatively easy to source 10m patch cables (stranded, I suppose?), so I'm trying to understand if the second option is viable at all. Also: is there any drawback in having the cable run close to central heating pipes (temperature-wise)?

    Thanks for the clarifications. As it is obvious, I'm a real beginner and trying to get my head round the jargon and technical specs.

    Cheers,
    Gianfranco
     
  4. Nodsu

    Nodsu TS Rookie Posts: 9,431

    No, CAT6 is not shielded by definition. You can get both shielded and unshielded variants.

    For such a short run, any cable will do. Even CAT3 will probably be OK. Instead of buying a 100m reel of cable, just go to your local friendly elctronics/computer shop and ask them to cut you 10m of cable.

    Mind you, you may need special tools to connect the cable to the wall sockets (AMP or Krone tool). Using a screwdriver is not nice :p
     
  5. Ph30nIX

    Ph30nIX TS Rookie Posts: 359

    you can get keystone jacks which are a female - female on both sides, So you can just plug a premade cable into the back of the jack and still plug into the front.

    Might be worth looking at.
     
  6. gianfri

    gianfri TS Rookie Topic Starter

    Thanks all for the advice. I had to look no further than my employer to get as a freebie a good 10m of CAT6 and 10 more m of CAT5e. They also have the tools necessary to fit the component sockets to them, so all I need to get is the sockets and I'm sorted.

    I've learnt so much in the space of about 48 hours! Thanks all!!
     
  7. k.jacko

    k.jacko TS Rookie Posts: 743

    Personally i'd use cat5e (and i just have to wire out my house). Far less fussy than cat6 and if its only 8m then you can get gigabit speeds out of cat5e for that length.
    Cat6 requires the turning circle of a barge otherwise it can suffer, ie. you can't bend it round corners like you can with cat5e, it requires a larger diameter.
     
  8. NetCablesPlus

    NetCablesPlus TS Maniac Posts: 483

    Background: I sell Cat 5e and Cat 6 stranded and solid core patch cables and bulk cabling. This includes PVC, Plenum or Shielded jackets. My customers, who include many professional installers, tell me that they prefer to use solid core when they can because it is much easier to crimp on plugs or put into keystone jacks and they trust the connections more. They use stranded only when its superior flexibility is required. You also may want to check your local fire codes if you are planning to run the cable in walls, ceilings, etc. It may not apply to your situation, but plenum jacketed is preferred if there is a risk of fire hazard because plenum does not emit toxic fumes when burning.

    There have been a few discussions about the benefits of using Cat 5e or Cat 6 in this forum over the years, but most people will agree that Cat 6 is 'more forgiving' if you are not an expert networking person. However, Cat 6 is also more difficult to crimp plugs to. Based upon the small difference in actual cost of the cables, I usually recommend Cat 6 these days, unless you have a lot of connections to make and are inexperienced at it. Hope that this helps.
     
  9. tipstir

    tipstir TS Ambassador Posts: 4,715   +89

    Stick to what works, I say Cat 5e Ultra 350MHz. I don't see a difference using 5e Ultra with Cat 6.
     
  10. NetCablesPlus

    NetCablesPlus TS Maniac Posts: 483

    Have never heard of Cat 5e 'Ultra'. Can you provide a link to such a cable? Cat 5e (which actually stands for Cat 5 Enhanced) is already 350 MHz. What does the 'Ultra' add to the equation?

    By the way, I have seen two different ratings for Cat 6 from the various manufacturers: 500MHz and 550MHz, so you want to be aware of that issue if you are looking at Cat 6. I think that the 500 MHz is not what the spec's call for and I refuse to sell them.
     
  11. gianfri

    gianfri TS Rookie Topic Starter

    Got my hands on both varieties of cable in question, 5e and 6 and they are both UTP, stranded I believe. C6 is appears indeed much harder to work with, as it is considerably thicker and rigid, so I will discuss with the installer (who is in fact an electrician) and will choose depending on easy of installation to avoid kinks, sharp angles, etc.

    My remaining concern is whether it is appropriate to run the cables along central heating pairs. even with appropriate thermal insulation, the temperature along these pipes is considerably higher that room temp when the CH is running. Any advice?

    Many thanks again for sharing expertise
     
     
  12. NetCablesPlus

    NetCablesPlus TS Maniac Posts: 483

    There should be only a slight difference in diameter and flexibility with the Cat 6 cable due to the internal spine that is put into a Cat 6 cable to further reduce crosstalk between the twisted pairs. Of course, I have seen some manufactured Cat 6 cables that are considerably thicker and stiffer, but that is simply due to inferior manufacturing processes, in my opinion.

    Regarding the heat issue: I run my Cat 6 stranded cable through my house and in my cellar, one of the cables runs alongside a heating duct and some hot water pipes and I have never had a problem. You could probably look up the melting point for PVC to determine if you ever might have a problem. Of course, if you are concerned about a potential fire hazard if your heating system malfunctions, you should see my comments above about plenum cable.
     
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