The term structured cabling is often used by experts in networking. What does it mean and why should you know it? Also, how do you run the Cat5e and Cat6 ethernet cables in structured networks? And what are the ideal (maximum and minimum) lengths to run the said cables? These are some of the questions we are discussing today.
Be sure to read the blog.
Structured Cabling refers to a large infrastructure that hosts multiple smaller networking devices. A structured network is one where network cables are connected together to form one integrated network. It is designed in a way that accommodates all types of devices such as telephone systems, IP security camera systems, computers, etc.
A structured cable network has some cutoffs. It starts where the service provider terminates the cable in the RJ45 pin, and it goes around wherever the network owner runs the cable within their own domain.
Cat6 and Cat5e cables are often used for structured cable networks. Because these cables are ideal for business LAN networks, it is convenient to just install them and remain carefree about their performance. In any case, these cables also have limits to their lengths. Beyond a certain max length, you cannot run the Cat6 or the Cat5e cable.
Let’s look into structured data cabling and Cat6e and 6 max and minimum lengths in detail.
Structured Cabling with Cat6
Cat6 cable is a fine cable for structured cabling. It provides a lightning data transfer speed of up to 1 GBit/s over 100 meters. The cable comes with bare copper and copper-clad aluminum conductors which expands the options to choose from.
Cat6 cable is also available in multiple jackets and multiple colors. Having a multitude of jackets and colors is crucial for setting up an easy-to-manage structured network.
You can use the different colored cables to distinguish them from one another based on their use. This simplifies maintenance and possible replacements.
Setting up a structured network with the Cat6 Ethernet cable is fairly easy. The key points to remember are the length limitations of the cable, terminating it, and the factors which impact the run length of the cable.
First, let’s talk about the run length of the cable. Technically, there is no limit on the run length of the cable. Run it as long or as short as you want. But if you want good results, you need to run it at certain lengths: 100 meters will translate into up to 1 GBit/s data transfer speed and 50 meters into up to 10 GBit/s speed with the Cat6 cable.
There are other factors that affect the performance of the cable which will be discussed at the end of this article.
Structured Cabling with Cat5e
Just like the Cat6 cable, the cat5e cable is also a stellar choice for structured cabling. Before the Cat6 and 6a cables were rolled out, the Cat5e cable was the only solution used in all sorts of business networks.
Disregarding the extenuating factors that can affect the speed and performance of the Cat5e cable, it gives you 100 MBit/s transmission speed over 100 meters. You can amp it up to 1 GBit/s by running the cable at up to 50 meters.
It is pertinent to mention here that this cable is also available in a multitude of colors and variants. This plays a vital role in establishing an impeccably structured cable network.
More on the other factors that impact the cable performance in the last part. Be sure to read till the end.
Futureproof Structured Cabling Networks
One thing about structured cabling networks is unmatched. These networks are future-proof. Timeless. You set it up once and can rest assured forever because any new technology that comes along can be integrated into structured networks.
This quality is most desirable in business settings. Because such networks are set up by hard work and investing hefty sums, it is not something you do every day. It is a once-in-a-lifetime investment. Therefore, it must be done perfectly.
Cat5e and Cat6 Max Lengths
The max length of the Cat5e cable is 100 meters at which the cable can support fast ethernet applications. Although you can run the cable at even longer lengths, it is not recommended because the cable performance beyond this length will deteriorate exponentially.
Similarly, you can also run the Cat6 cable at up to 100 meters maximum without crippling its potential. At its max length, the Cat6 cable supports gigabit speeds.
How to Determine the Right Length?
There is no hard and fast rule to determine the right length of the cable in a structured network. The best way is to always keep the length of the cable below its maximum limit. For almost all Ethernet cables, including the Cat5e and Cat6, the maximum run length is 100 meters.
If 100 meters of the cable does not reach anywhere in your structured network, you can use an ethernet switch to keep the integrity of the signal intact.
The Other Factors
Well, the length of the cables is not the only factor that affects the performance of the cables in structured networks. Cable shielding, interference, the temperature of the cable environment, etc also affect its speed and general performance.
For instance, if you run the Cat6 cable at 50 meters, it will still perform poorly if it is unshielded and in a crowded network. Similarly, Cat 5e cable running at 100 meters in a crowded network also does not guarantee that it will support its max speed.
The sweet spot in these situations is to balance the cable shielding, cable density, and run length of the cable so as to keep its efficiency at a maximum and signal integrity intact. We hope this blog was valuable to you and that you enjoyed reading it.