Computers and Technology

Ultimate Guide to Cat5e Cable Types and Specifications

Cat5e cable is the most popular kind of wiring used in computer networks. This cable can transmit data at speeds of up to 1000Mbps (1 Gigabit per second). Its also used to connect a network of Ethernet devices over distances up to 100 meters. This blog is the best guide for you if you want to about ultimate guide to cat5e cable types and specifications. 

What Is Ethernet Cable?

Before talking about what Cat5e cables are, let’s talk about Ethernet. Ethernet is one of many LANs (local area networks). A group or cluster of computers is connected over a network sharing files, internet connection, etc. The most common way an Ethernet connection is created is through twisted-pair cables. 

These cables are usually called Patch cables (because they patch your computer into the network). The most common cables used to create an Ethernet connection are Cat5e, Cat6, and Cat6a. 

These cables are mentioned in order of their specifications. When comparing them, you can think about Cat5e as good enough, but not the best. Cat6 is better than cat5e, and cat6a is even better than that. They all support up to 1 gigabyte per second (1 Gbps) transfer speed over 100 meters/328 ft distance between devices on the network.

What is Cat5e Cable?

Now that we’ve talked about what Ethernet and twisted pair cables are, let’s get into category 5e (Cat5e). Category 5e is an enhanced version of Cat5, and it goes up to 1 gigabyte per second (1 Gbps) transfer speed over 100 meters/328 ft distance between devices on the network. 

Like we mentioned earlier, even though Cat5e can go up to 1 Gbps, it is not as good as the other twisted pair cables – especially for longer distances. It does, however, meet all current standards and works just fine for most applications that do not require extended distances or increased bandwidth.

Different Types of Cat5e Cables

There are many different Cat5e cables out there, but to keep things easy, we will cover three main ones: Unshielded Twisted Pair Cable (UTP), Shielded Twisted Pair Cable (STP), and Coaxial cable. We will cover each of those below, but first, let’s go over the requirements for a Cat5e cable.

Cat5e Plenum Cable:

Plenum-rated Cat5e cable consists of 4 twisted pairs (8 wires total) 24AWG(American Wire Gauge) stranded copper wire with a plastic insulation coating. It is the type of cable used in most internal computer networks seen in homes and offices, it has good signal transmission properties, but its sheath cannot be recycled for safety or other reasons. The maximum recommended length of Cat5e plenum cable is 328ft(100m).

Cat5e PVC Cable:

PVC jacketed cables are easy to identify by their milky-translucent color. PVC stands for Polyvinyl Chloride, which is the material used to coat the wire to protect the wires inside. These cables can have a maximum length of 328ft, but their performance will degrade after 100m.

Cat5e Outdoor Cable:

An outdoor rated Cat 5e cable consists of 4 twisted pairs (8 wires total). Shielded 24AWG(American Wire Gauge) stranded copper wire with a plastic insulation coating. This type of cable is very similar to the plenum-rated Cat5e cables; however, it has thicker semi-conductive shielding, enabling it to be used for direct burial in areas where moisture could cause a short circuit. Outdoor-rated Cat 5e cables cannot exceed 100m in length and should not be run inside walls because their sheath is nonrecyclable.

Requirements for Category 5e Cable

Electronic Industries Association (EIA) specification number EIA/TIA-568-C defines Cat5e. It is an enhanced version of Cat5, and it goes up to 1 gigabyte per second (1 Gbps) transfer speed over 100 meters/328 ft distance between devices on the network. 

Types of Cat5e Cables

Unshielded Twisted Pair Cable (UTP): 

Unshielded twisted pair cable is the least expensive type of Cable. It consists of 8 wires wrapped together in a single sheath or jacket. The conductors used in UTP cable are copper, and it is a solid wire, meaning that the whole wire has a single strand of a conductor. It does not have any additional shielding to help prevent cross talk between pairs.

Shielded Twisted Pair Cable (STP): 

STP cable consists of 8 wires wrapped together in a single sheath or jacket, with each pair individually shielded by foil and braided metal strands. The conductors used in STP cable are copper, and it is a solid wire, meaning that the whole wire has a single strand of a conductor.

Coaxial Cable: 

Coaxial Cable consists of 2 conductors (wires), one which carries the signal and ground. Unlike UTP or STP, coaxial Cable uses a single center wire to carry the signal.

Conclusion

All of the cables listed above are good enough to transfer data – but not all are great for transferring data. It is therefore consider “good enough,” but it may not be the best type of cable. Cat6 and cat6a both offer higher speeds than 1 Gbps, along with increased protection against crosstalk/attenuation.  

FAQs

How long can Category 5e Cable be?

Category 5e is an enhanced version of Cat5, and it goes up to 1 gigabyte per second (1 Gbps) transfer speed over 100 meters/328 ft distance between devices on the network. Like we mentioned earlier, even though Cat5e can go up to 1 Gbps, it is not as good as the other twisted pair cables – especially for longer distances. It does, however, meet all current standards and works just fine for most applications that do not require extended distances or increased bandwidth.

What kind of Cable uses a coaxial connector?

Coaxial Cable consists of 2 conductors (wires), one which carries the signal and ground. Unlike UTP or STP, coaxial Cable uses a single center wire to carry the signal. 

What kind of cables are shielded?

Shielded twisted pair (STP) cabling provides extra protection against electromagnetic interference (EMI), which reduces crosstalk which allows data signals to be transmitted at higher speeds. STP Cable has a thicker insulating jacket than UTP and a foil shield around each wire to help protect it from EMI, crosstalk between pairs in a cable, and from general noise from surrounding devices/environments, which can interfere with data transmission on the line.

Are all Cat5e cables the same?

The short answer is no. To run a cable, you need it to meet certain specifications, and there are different Cat5e cables for different uses.

What is the max speed of the Cat5e cable?

The maximum speed of the Cat5e cable is 1Gigabit per second, but this specification does not guarantee the actual speed of the network.

What are some of the factors that affect speed?

Distance: The longer a signal has to travel, the more likely it will become distorted or damaged by interference. Signal degradation due to long cables is one major concern for users when deciding how long their cables should be. 

For slower networks (10/100 Mbs), any standard Cat 5e cable will do. However, you need Cat 6 cabling to get optimal performance with Gigabit speeds. Cable length restrictions prevent you from using ordinary Cat 5e cables throughout your entire building if you plan on getting Gigabit speeds everywhere.

Number of Walls – If there is a signal loss in the cable (due to attenuation ), it quickly becomes even more severe when that signal has to pass through several walls.

Building material – The quality of the insulation of your cabling will vary depending on if you’re running cables inside or outside of your building. Some types of insulation are better suite to one environment than they are to another.

– Voltage Level of Equipment – This varies based on what equipment you are using, so check with the manufacturer’s recommendations for this information.

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