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What is Cat5e Plenum Cable and Why Do You Need it?

by Team Techvilly

Cat5e is the enhanced version of the 5th category ethernet cables. These cables are different from the basic Cat5 cables because the conductor pairs are twisted tightly in them. Tighter twists in the conductor pairs ensure better resistance against electromagnetic interference. Cat5e cables are available in multiple variants that are differentiated by conductor and jacket types.

The jackets available with the Cat5e cable are plenum, riser, and PVC. Conductor types available with the cable are bare copper and copper-clad aluminum. In this blog, we will walk you through the details of the Cat5e plenum cable with pure copper conductors. Let’s get right into it.

Cat5 Enhanced

When you hear enhanced category 5, you must wonder what it is. Well, as we mentioned, it is called enhanced because of its better performance in crowded networks. In dense networks, the cable is better able to withstand electromagnetic interference and crosstalk.

This is due to the tightly twisted conductor pairs of the cable. The cable provides a 100 MBit/s data transfer rate over 100 meters. This speed can be further increased up to 1 GBit/s by running the cable at up to 100 meters. Moreover, the bandwidth capacity of the cable is also quite decent at around 350 MHz.

When this cable was first introduced, it was used in both commercial and residential networks with high-performance requirements. But now, with the introduction of more and more ethernet cables, the Cat5e plenum is used in residential and only small-scale commercial networks. But please don’t follow what others are doing without understanding your own networking needs first.

Plenum Jacket of Cat5e Cable

As mentioned, the Cat5e cable comes in a variety of jackets. However, the plenum-rated jacket of the Cat5e cable pure copper is the most durable and long-lasting. With these features comes more significant costs though. As compared to the other cable jackets, this cable is a little bit more expensive.

But because the cable lasts for a long time, the cost is a fair investment. Other than lasting for a long time, the plenum jacket of the Cat5e cable has another role. That is the safety of your network, and with it, the lives of the people and animals living in the building.

The plenum jacket is made from LSZH (Low Smoke Zero Halogens) materials that are highly resistant to heat and do not emit toxic smoke in case of a fire event. CMP (communications multipurpose plenum) jackets are also tested rigorously for resilience against flame propagation along the cable jacket.

In any case, the Cat5e pure copper cable with the CMP jacket is ideal and safe for use in HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning) ducts and conduits.

Cat5e Shielded or Unshielded

Shielding in the Cat5e cable is a metal foil, wire mesh, or both. This shielding allows the cable to maintain its speed and keeps the signal transmission from electromagnetic interference.

The other type of Cat5e cable is the unshielded one. In this type of cable, the additional protection against EMI is not integrated into the cable. If you use an unshielded cable in a crowded or dense network, it is likely to suffer interference from other cables in the network. So you must use shielded cables in networks with a higher cable density.

But which Cat5e plenum cable do you need? The shielded or the unshielded?

Well both of them are quite remarkable given their cost. However, you will need the shielded Cat5e cable where more than three cables are running in parallel to each other. In other cases, you can make do with the unshielded bulk Cat5e as well.

Is it Worth it?

Well of course it’s worth it. Why else would it be used so readily?

Cat5e pure copper plenum is one of the most affordable ethernet cables in the industry and comes in a multitude of types to choose from. It is long-lasting as well.

In both residential and commercial networks, it can be used for almost all fast and gigabit ethernet applications.

Which Cat5e Cable do I need?

As we pointed out in many instances before, the Cat5e cable comes in various types. Many factors define these types. The shielding, jacket, and conductor to name a few.

The Cat5e cable you need depends on your requirements. If you need the cable for a commercial network, small or large scale, you need to get the shielded one. For residential purposes, you can probably use the UTP Cat5e but it is much better if you use STP for this purpose as well.

Final Thoughts

In short, Cat5e is an enhanced version of Category 5 ethernet cables with better resistance against interference, faster speeds, and greater bandwidth. Its affordability, long-lasting features, and high performance make it ideal for use in both residential and commercial networks.

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