When it comes to installing hard-wired network systems for your home or workplace, there are many considerations to be made in terms of the place of installation and cable types to be used. Wireless connections are often an easier choice but if there is the need for multimedia sharing and increased bandwidth, hard-wired solutions are best. 

When it comes to wiring, there are typically two types of cables that are most popular. To know which one to use depends on several factors such as regulations, cost, and internet needs. The cat5 and cat6 cables in their variants are the most used.

Here are some differences between the cat6 plenum cables and the cat5 to consider in your wiring:

Cost Considerations

Cat5 cables are cheaper than cat6 and run at less than 10-gigabit speed. Cat6 Plenum is more expensive, as they meet the standard of UL910. This is the strictest fire standard, which means they are more durable. 

Cat6 cables also offer maximum performance because transmission errors happen less frequently, especially if the data is being transmitted over longer ranges. They also have higher speeds on longer lengths. All these functional advantages result in the increased price range of the cat6 plenum cables.

Cable Jacket Material

Cat6 plenum cables use low smoke PVC or FEP materials: fluorinated ethylene polymer or low-smoke polyvinyl chloride. These components not only have electrical properties but also a superior chemical resistance supporting temperatures that vary from as low as -25 to as high as 125 degrees Celsius. They are also resistant to all kinds of chemicals. 

The conductor on cat5 is thinner at 24 AWG most of the time, while cat6 has 23 AWG. It is important to note that as the AWG number goes higher, the copper material gets thinner.  

The network speeds supported by the two cables also vary. Cat6 supports 10 GB or 10,000mb/s of network speeds from 100-165 feet. The higher-end is achieved when there is low interference from other cables. Cat5 has lower speeds, which is fine if you never need to get to 10 GB performance speed.

 Plugs

When it comes to plugs for cat5 or cat6, it might often seem as though there is no difference between the two because the difference is usually very subtle. The Cat6 plug has staggered holes, while the cat5 has straight pins. The cat6’s staggered pins are often called high-low connectors.

Since the cat6 tends to be thicker, the RJ45 plug requirements are higher. Using a cat5 plug on cat6 wires will be harder although most people often do. Cat5 is also not splined, while cat6 is. The spline usually separates the conductor pairs at the center of the cable construction. Splines keep twisted wire pairs in the right order and separate. This increases performance and minimizes “cross-talk” inside cables. Splines are part of why it’s difficult to put in the right plug.

Places Of Installation 

When it comes to installation, plenum cables are usually placed in the plenum spaces of the buildings. Plenum spaces are the pathways in buildings providing airflow and circulation for heating and air conditioning systems. Because there is a constant flow of fresh air these spaces such as under raised floors or above-suspended ceilings are high hazard areas for fire to spread. 

The use of plenum cables helps to prevent the cables from being damaged and facilitates the spread of fire due to exposed cables. The right cables will also help to avoid legal issues if a fire was to break out. It’s best to consult the NFPA National Electrical Code or any other related code in your area or country.

Cat6 plenum cable is designed to help restrict the spread of flames to less than 5 feet while also limiting the amount of smoke emitted during a fire because it is made up of FEP or PVC. Cat5 cables can be used around the building or house. The major difference is that while Cat6, plenum cables can be used in plenum spaces and other spaces, cat5 can only be used in non-plenum areas.

The choice of whether to use the cat5 or cat6 plenum cable will be dependent on the above-mentioned factors. It all comes down to what will serve your home or office best and ensure the safest environment and the fastest most reliable internet access.

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