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How Do I Choose the Best Cat-5 Cable?

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  • Written By: G. Wiesen
  • Edited By: Shereen Skola
  • Last Modified Date: 04 September 2016
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When choosing Category 5 (cat-5) cable for computer networking, it is important to consider the length you need, as well as various special conditions. Choosing the right length of cable is vital, to help you avoid the need for bridges or adapters that can reduce signal strength and complicate your system. Consider shielded cat-5 cable if you are using it near a device that emits Radio Frequency (RF) waves, which can interfere with the signal in the wires. You might also look for cable that is wrapped in a coating to protect it from the elements, such as plenum-rated cable that is fire retardant.

One of the first considerations to keep in mind is the length of cat-5 cable you are going to need in your network setup. Measure out the distances between computers, workstations, and other devices that you need to connect through this type of wiring. If you are running the cables through walls or around objects, be sure to compensate for extra distance you may need in order to accommodate these obstacles. While you can use adapters and connecters to expand upon the initial lengths of cat-5 cable you choose, it is typically best to use a single wire whenever possible for a strong signal.

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It is also important to consider the secondary components of the cat-5 cable you choose, such as the materials used in its design and any outer coating it may have. Gold plating is often used for these wires to provide as strong and accurate a signal as possible, since gold is an excellent conductor. You might also look for a cat-5 cable with an outer layer that acts as shielding. These shielded wires are protected from RF signals and other energy sources that can create interference in the cable. If you plan on running cables through walls with other electrical wiring, then shielded connections can be beneficial.

You can also look for a cat-5 cable that is coated for additional protection from damage. There are wires that are designed for burial and rated for underground use, which means they are protected from water damage and other effects from outdoor elements. A plenum-rated cat-5 cable is designed to be flame retardant due to its outer coating. These cables can be especially useful for interior use within walls in a home or business, since they can prevent fires due to exposed wires or electrical malfunctions. Such wires are not absolutely necessary, but they are ideal for use in areas that may be exposed to intense heat.

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