Category 6 cables, also known as Cat6, are a type of ethernet or LAN cable. It is comprised of four twisted pairs of sheathed copper wire cable and can support some of the highest data transfer speeds among all of the cable types.
Even better, Cat6 is compatible with both older and newer network types, making it one of the most versatile cable types around. Though it may look like a simple thing, there is a lot more to know about Cat6 cables.
What are Cat6 Cables Used for?
Before you buy Cat6 cables from a trustworthy vendor like RS, you need to know where you can get the best use. As it turns out, Cat6 cables are versatile in both the business and residential sectors. For the most part, Cat6 cables are used for connecting a device (mostly computers) to a hub like a switch or a router.
Cat6 cables then transmit data across that network while also providing access to the internet. Cat6 cables can also be used for connecting computers to devices like scanners, printers, cameras, and even industrial machinery. It can also work for both outgoing and incoming LAN connections, particularly on patch panels.
Shielded vs. Unshielded Twisted Pair
The setting is an important factor when choosing the right Cat6 cable. One type may be better for an industrial setting while another is ideal for an office building. The electromagnetic interference can differ drastically from one location to another. Doing that involves knowing more about shielded vs. unshielded Cat6.
Shielded Twisted Pair (STP). If standard twisted pair cable isn’t quite what you need, shielded twisted pair will be the better option. The shielding is a foil shield that goes around the twisted pairs. There is also a layer of PVC or low smoke zero halogen as well. These are stiffer and more expensive, which presents installation problems. It is also important to know that couplers and jacks require shielded cables.
Unshielded Twisted Pair (UTP). Unshielded is pretty much the standard Cat6 cable type and doesn’t have the foil shielding. It is possible to block some of the EMI, but isn’t going to work as well in areas with heavy interference in the way that STP will.
Outdoor Cat6 Cabling
For the most part, Cat6 cables are used indoors. That said, they can be used for outdoor purposes but you need to have one of the waterproof types. Picking just any Cat6 cable could wind up creating issues, including damaged Cat6 cables.
Just keep in mind that the additional outer sheath, which provides waterproofing, which makes it both stiffer and wider. The strength is greatly improved, but the bend radius is greatly reduced, so keep that in mind if you need more flexibility in your setup.
The Difference Between Cat6 and Cat5/5e
You will commonly run into Cat5 and Cat5e cables as well. Though they may seem very similar, there are actually big differences. For starters, Cat5 is completely obsolete, replaced by Cat5e. Cat6 can run at 1-gigabit data transfer speeds, making it superior versus Cat6.
On top of that, Cat6 is able to perform up to 250MHz while Cat5e can only reach 100MHz. Though Cat5e is a bit more budget effective, the improved protection and data transfer speeds make the investment in Cat6 a necessity. Some setups may get away with using Cat5e, but it delivers superior performance in almost every way. At the end of the day, budget winds up becoming an important thing for businesses and projects. Staying within those parameters might mean using Cat5e instead of Cat6 cables.