Ask Holly – LAN and PoE cables - Cat5e / Cat6
Updated: Mar 3, 2020
This month we’re introducing a brand-new feature run by our National Sales Co-ordinator – Ask Holly! Holly is a fountain of knowledge on all things cable and electrics and will be taking your questions on a topic of the moment in our bi-monthly feature. This month we’re talking LAN/PoE Cables (Cat5e/6/7/8)
As most of our readers will know, the LAN (Local Area Network) cable connects computers, printers and other such devices. A PoE cable is a Power over Ethernet cable. The PoE cable provides power and data connection. The cable is often used in cameras and certain types of telecoms. Ever wondered what the different cable MHZ rates are? Perhaps you’re wondering if a specific Cat cable type has been manufactured? Holly is on hand to answer your burning questions!
Q: Hi Holly! Can I use Cat5e or Cat6 PVC cables externally?
A: There is an option if you need to use ethernet cables outside, for example for a block of flats or large building. You can install either Cat5E PE or Cat6 PE (Polyethylene) or PE for short. Some also refer to this type as Duct Grade. PE is a water-resistant compound that is black in colour and offers UV protection. Cat5E PE or Cat6 PE cables would be suitable for clipping to outside walls, fences or external ducting. Cat6 cables are the best for this in my opinion as they have been designed for this purpose, however these are usually more costly. I would never recommend that you can use standard Cat5E or Cat6 PVC cable externally. This is because PVC is not water resistant or UV protected.
Q: Do Cat5e and Cat6 LAN cables have solid conductors?
A: Both cables come with solid copper conductors as standard. Stranded versions are however available and can be used for items such as patch leads where flexibility is required. A cable with solid conductor capabilities is ideal for structured wiring and uses one wire for each conductor. Stranded patch cables on the other hand are better to use if the cable will need to have more elasticity in order to avoid damage.
Q: I see that Cat5e is rated to 100MHZ, Cat6 to 250MHZ, Cat6A to 500 MHZ and Cat7A 1000MHZ. What exactly does this mean?
A: MHZ stands for megahertz. Put simply, it is a unit of frequency at which a signal can change state. The megahertz is the rate that a wave cycles in a single second. Each cable is assigned MHZ so it’s easier to determine which is required.
Q: Do you advise using Cat5e and Cat6 cables with CCA conductors?
A: As a reputable cable distributor, we would advise not to use or install the CCA cables. Whilst they might offer great financial savings they do come with risks. Firstly, they will not pass the 90m fluke test set out in the Cat5E and Cat6 LAN standards. If you are lucky you may get somewhere between 45-60mtrs. The cores are constructed from solid aluminium therefore snapping is a common occurrence once the cables have been flexed a few times. High resistance is also a problem. For these reasons we would recommend sticking to the full copper Cat5e and Cat6.
Q: Is Cat6 cabling better than Cat5e?
A: Cat6 PoE cables came out a short time after Cat5e and offer 10-Gigabit Ethernet, though this is limited. Cat6 cabling is more advanced in that it offers faster connection, but they do come in at a higher price. They’re compatible with Cat5e cabling which is still a good option if you need a lower price point. However, Cat6 cable provides a better overall performance compared to Cat5E.
Q: Does Cat6E exist?
A: Unlike Cat5E there were no enhanced versions of Cat6 manufactured. The predecessor to Cat6 is Cat6A.
Q: Is Cat6 backwards compatible?
A: Yes, Cat6 cables are backwards compatible. They can be used with 5/5e and 3 cables. Cat6 installation can require more attention than Cat5e as any twists can cause loss of quality. This is important to note if you are installing both cable types.
Q: Are Cat5e and Cat6 shielded?
A: We stock shielded versions of both our Cat5e and Cat6! This helps to reduce EMI (electromagnetic interference). However, the standard UTP type is unshielded.
Q: Does Category 8 exist and what is it used for?
A: Yes Category 8 cable does exist, and Securi-Flex have the first stock arriving in March! Cat8 is defined up to 2000MHZ and only for use in data centres where distances between switches and servers are short. (roughly 30m) It is not intended for general office cabling.
Q: Why should I choose LAN or PoE cables through the Securi-Flex brand?
Securi-Flex stock the 5 types of LAN cable, from Cat5E to the latest version Cat8. We have a wealth of experience in LAN and PoE cables and our SFX cables are both high quality and CPR compliant – we pride ourselves on great customer service too so don’t forget you can contact us to find out more about what we do.