How To Pick the Right Ethernet Cables

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How To Pick the Right Ethernet Cables

While Wi-Fi is sufficient for a smaller network, you may want to use Ethernet cables for your business needs instead. They are more reliable because external radio waves in the air and physical obstructions like desks and walls do not interfere with their connection as they do with Wi-Fi signal. You also gain more security, as hackers cannot easily access your network devices when they rely on wires. For your network to run smoothly, though, you need to know how to pick the right Ethernet cables. We explain which factors you should consider as you look at your options.

Know the Categories

Ethernet cables exist in several categories, with each designated with the name Cat (for category) followed by a number. Most of the time, you will see Cat 5 and Cat 6 cables, though Cat 7 cables also exist. The higher the number, the higher the bandwidth. Some categories have an additional letter after their number label. For Cat 5e cables, the “e” stands for “enhanced.” These cables are the current baseline that people use because they are affordable and achieve the acceptable 1Gbps (gigabits per second) transmission speed threshold. The letter “a” in Cat 6a and Cat 7a cables stands for “augmented” and indicates that those cables have higher speeds than their standard variants. Unless you are performing work that requires exceptional bandwidth and speed, going for middle-of-the-road cables should work fine for your business.

Think About the Jacket

The jacket protects your cables from damage, as abrasion, water, and temperature changes can diminish their ability to function. Because of this, a component of knowing how to pick the right Ethernet cables is being able to distinguish between cable jackets. Your cables should all have jackets that are flame retardant to both guard them against fires and prevent those fires from spreading in your building. There are different jacket types that are better for specific environments as well. For example, if you know that you will need to run your cable through air ducts, you should go for CMP cable jackets.

Look at Wire Material

Within your Ethernet cables, the wires that transfer data between devices in your network may contain various materials. You should find cables that have oxygen-free copper wires, which are composed of the purest copper you can get. This is because copper conducts signals within the wires well, but its effectiveness diminishes the more other materials are mixed with it. Since you don’t want signal loss in your cables, you should avoid copper-clad aluminum wires, as they are the least pure of the options available on the market. Through comparisons between copper-clad aluminum vs. copper wires, it is clear that the former cannot transmit electrical impulses efficiently.