Data Cable Buying Guide
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Data Cable Buying Guide

Knowing how to buy the best Data Cable is a useful skill for anyone who uses a computer. The right types of Data Cable can enhance your online experience. There are a variety of Data cable sizes and styles to choose from and knowing more about them will help you decide which Data cable to buy.

Types of Data cables

CAT 5

Category 5 cabling, also known as Cat5, is an older type of network cabling. CAT5 Data cables can handle most high-speed Internet connections for example it can support up to 100Mpbs Internet speed with a 100 meter cable

Since Cat5 is an older type of cabling, you probably won't see them very much in the store, but you may have gotten some with an older router, switch, or other networking device.

CAT 5e

Category 5 enhanced cabling, also known as Cat5e, is an improvement on Cat5 cabling. CAT5e types of Data cables can support Internet speeds up to 1000Mbps and can have a cable length of 100 metres. It also cuts down on crosstalk, the interference you can sometimes get between wires inside the cable. Both of these improvements mean you're more likely to get fast, reliable speed out of Cat5e cabling compared to Cat5.

CAT 6

Category 6 cabling is the next step up from Cat5e, and includes a few more improvements which also are being recognized as the best type ofData cable for any application. CAT6 types of Data cables be used with Internet speeds up to 10 gigabits and can have a cable length of 90 meters. Though they were made for high-speed Internet, they can be used for lower-speed setups, too. But you probably won't use these speeds in your home, and the extra interference improvements won't make a huge difference in regular ueage, so you don't exactly need to rush out and upgrade to Cat6. But, if you're buying a new cable, you might as well, since it is an improvement over its predecessor.

Construction

Types

UTP

The best Data cable for most projects at home suc as network and telephone system is UTP Data cable. UTP stands for unshielded twisted pair and it means that the cable isn't shielded from interference. The cable consists of a few basic parts: Pairs of wires (Typically 4 pair except in CAT 3), a piece of twine , and a outer sheathing of insulation. Some types of cable such as CAT 6a/ 6e, outdoor cable may contain additional pieces such as a dividing spline, a water repelling gel/coating, a braided armor coating or other parts.

STP

STP stands for shielded twisted pair; the STP Data cable features interference protection, and it should be used in setups where there are many competing signals. It's much more rigid than UTP cables. Instead of having the pairs covered in a outer covering, the pairs are covered in a plastic covering (typically clear), then that covering is covered with a metal foil not unlike that used in coax cable. An un-insulated metal drain wire runs the length of this foil material and the whole thing is then wrapped in another thicker insulation. At either end of the cable when doing a run the drain wire must be attached to a ground in order for the shielding to work. The shielding on the cable pretty much eliminates external interference from typical industrial sources. That is the reason why STP features interference protection.

Data Cable Coating

PVC

PVC cable (or CMR cable) is the most common and least expensive type of indoor Data cable. It is flexible and can be easily routed through the exposed areas of an office. The biggest issue with PVC covered cable is that when burned it releases a toxic smoke. For this reason most local fire codes prohibit PVC covered cable from being used in air handling spaces. Generally it's acceptable to use PVC cable for in wall installations though, however you should check your local fire codes.

Plenum

Plenum rated cable (often called Plenum cable for short), is network cable that has a covering that burns without toxic smoke. Therefore, plenum-rated cable is best for use in plenum airspaces (large ceiling areas that share airflow with inhabited rooms) to reduce the risk of harm in the event of a fire.

Teflon Tap

A Teflon tape cover actually goes between the outer cover and the cables themselves. The tape can act as a second line of defense after the Data cable cover.

Gel-filled

These gel-filled cable contain a clear gel substance inside the jacket that encases all the wires. This helps prevent water from directly contacting the wire and corroding it in the event it contacts water. Although gel-filled cable is as same as regular wire that can be directly buried, the gel will keep the moisture out and the cable will last much longer. Besides, the gel is not harmful to the environment and will not harm skin upon contact. The gel itself is perfectly fine to work with but you should be prepared to clean up after the project is complete. This is because the gel can actually be quite messy.

Direct burial

Direct burial cable is another term for gel-filled cable. They both refer to the same thing and have the same characteristics. Direct burial cable is gel-filled and can be directly buried in the ground without conduit

Armored coating

Data cables with armored coating are designed to keep the cable safe underground or in environments where the Data cable is being abraded by other items regularly. It's not necessary for in-home installations but should possibly be used when using Data cable for construction.

UV-protected

UV-protected cable (sometimes called "UV cable") possesses a jacket that is resistant to the ultraviolet (UV) rays produced by the sun. Regular indoor cable like PVC and plenum should not be used outdoors because it will deteriorate within a few years from exposure to ultraviolet radiation. For added protection, you can consider UV cable with gel-fill because it protects against both ultraviolet light and moisture.

Shielded

Shielded Data cable is necessary when you're close to strong electrical interference. Nearby generators, electrical motors, and radio stations are sources of this interference and can disrupt signals passing through unprotected cable.

Stranded and Solid Core Cables

Stranded wire consists of a bundle of small gauge wires compressed and insulated with non-conductive material while solid wire consists of a single strand or core of wire that is insulated with non-conductive material. In general, Data cables used in home networking are usually stranded rather than solid. Typically you will find stranded wires in situations where the wire needs to be routed through tight spaces or experiences frequent flexing/vibration. Solid wire consists of a single strand or core of wire that is insulated with non-conductive material. Typically you will find solid core wire in situations where the wire is not designed to be continuously flexed. They transmit signals more easily and are best for long runs, but are not flexible. Too much bending can lead to broken wires. They are commonly used inside walls and where a network is installed during the construction phase of a building.


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