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Which Ethernet Cables Suits Your Home The Best
A key component in any wired home network is - wires! More precisely, cables. When it comes to home, Twisted-pair Ethernet cable is the most common type of home network wiring used today. Twisted-pair Ethernet cables are useful to connect:
DSL routers or modems to hubs or switches
DSL routers or modems to wireless access points
DSL routers or modems to computers
Computers to hubs or switches
Other devices (like network printers) to computers, switches, or hubs
What is the difference between a wire and a cable? A wire is a single conductor that can be solid or stranded. Two or more insulated wires grouped in a sleeve or jacket form a cable. While purchasing network cables, you will probably need Cat5e cables or Cat6 cables, UTP straight-through Ethernet cable with RJ (registered jack)45 connectors.
Types of Ethernet Cables and Connectors
1. Twisted Pairs and RJ-45 Connectors
Twisted-pair Ethernet cables include eight copper insulated wires in a plastic sleeve. Out of which, two wires are twisted together in a pair for a total of four pairs. Then these four pairs are twisted ...
... together to form the cable. The twists and pairs affect specific performance characteristics of the cable like crosstalk, electromagnetic interference (EMI), and attenuation.
Crosstalk takes place when an electrical signal transmitted over one wire negatively affects the electrical signal transmitted over another wire. Attenuation is when there is a gradual loss of intensity of an electrical signal as it travels through the wire. EMI is a noise or unwanted electrical signals generated between the wires by the various electrical signals transmitted.
A clear plastic jack, an RJ-45 connector, is present on both the ends of the twisted-pair Ethernet cable. An RJ-45 connector looks very similar to a telephone jack (which is known as an RJ-11 connector).
2. Twisted-pair Ethernet cable with RJ-45 Connectors
It has common names - Ethernet, UTP cable, or Cat5. Ethernet is a signaling and wiring standard covering many cabling technologies; Cat5 is one of the several available categories, and UTP is one of the possible types.
Categories of Twisted-Pair Ethernet Cables
There are various categories of twisted-pair cabling, but only three are commonly useful for Ethernet networks:
- Cat5 Cables
Supports speed up to 100 Mbps at 100 MHz, with a maximum cable length of 328 feet.
- Cat 5e Cables
Supports speeds up to or 1 Gbps at 100 MHz, with a maximum cable length of 328 feet.
- Cat6 Cables
Supports speeds up to 1 Gbps at 250 MHz, with a maximum cable length of 295 feet (90 meters).
Unshielded Versus Shielded Cables
Twisted-pair Ethernet cabling can also be unshielded (standard) or shielded (not so common). The unshielded twisted-pair (UTP) cabling can be useful in both large enterprise networks as well as small home networks. It is relatively inexpensive and more flexible than shielded twisted-pair (STP) cabling.
STP cabling is expensive and less pliable than UTP cabling. It is useful in industrial environments and other noisy environments prone to high electromagnetic interference (EMI). The individual pair of wires in STP cables are wrapped in foil or another metal shielding. And the outer metal shielding may also cover the entire group of twisted pairs.
3. Straight-Through Versus Crossover Cables
In most cases, you will use straight-through twisted-pair Ethernet cables to connect the devices on your network. Sometimes, crossover cables are necessary to connect two computers together directly (if one of them has a network adapter that is more than a few years old), to connect very cheap (or old) network switches that do not have an uplink port, or to connect some types of specialized network devices.
The difference between a straight-through and crossover cable is subtle but essential. Two of the four pairs in a crossover cable are attached to the RJ-45 connector in a different order than in a straight-through cable, such that the transmitting and receiving wires are reversed.
Length and Color of Networking Cables
When choosing cables for your network, you need to consider length and color:
Length: Twisted-pair Ethernet cable comes in standard lengths - 3, 5, 7, and 10 feet. Longer lengths than these are available, and you can also have custom cable lengths made. How can you find out which length of cables you require? You need to measure the distance between your different network devices and your network switch or router. Do not forget to include enough length to run cables along the walls, under rugs, as necessary.
Color: Twisted-pair Ethernet cable comes in all varieties of colors. Blue is possibly the most common, but you can also consider white, gray, or any other color that does not clash with your walls and carpet. And you might want to stick with a single color for all the cables on your network. This decision is purely based on your individual tastes and preferences.
I hope this article helped you to decide which ethernet cables are perfect for your home. Make sure it fulfills your requirements and purposes. The length and the speed are the primary factors to take into consideration while choosing the ethernet cables for your home.
Jennifer Truong is the owner of SF Cable, a California based online retailer of all kind of cables, wires, cords, and other related accessories for computers and other consumer electronics. SF Cable is well known in the market for providing high-quality products at low prices by sourcing them directly from manufacturers. Jennifer has extensive experience in the cable industry and has been instrumental in the growth of SF Cable and in establishing it as one of the leading providers of cables online.
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