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Thread: Cat 5 / 6 Questions

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    Default Cat 5 / 6 Questions

    I'm embarking on running cat 5 or cat 6 around the house and have a few queires. I want to use it for streaming music, video and data.

    Here are my questions as you can see I'm new to this;

    1. Whats the benefit of cat 6 over cat 5?
    2. Should I be using UTP or STP cable, solid core or stranded?
    3. How far away from mains cables should it be run?



    -Josh.

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    Automated Home Legend Paul_B's Avatar
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    I did some resarch on Cat 6 and for me it just didn't seem worthwhile. I couldn't find any decent faceplates for a start.

    To get the benefits of Cat 6 then cable laying is crucial as is termination it doesn't even like sharp bends. But then I haven't seen any hardware for Cat 6 to take advantage. I wouldn't be surprised if Cat 6 doesn't take off and people go straight to Cat 7

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    Automated Home Legend TimH's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SaikoJosh View Post
    1. Whats the benefit of cat 6 over cat 5?
    2. Should I be using UTP or STP cable, solid core or stranded?
    3. How far away from mains cables should it be run?
    Hi Josh,

    Cat5 vs. Cat6 in a home environment? It will cost you significantly more money for little or no *real-world* benefit. As Paul_B says, you will need all-Cat6 faceplates, patch panels, cables, patch leads etc. and the installation requirements are much more onerous.
    You could quite easily get better performance from a well-installed Cat5 system vs. a badly installed Cat6 one.

    UTP solid cable is the norm for in-wall wiring. Stranded is (usually) used for patch leads as it's more flexible. However in a typical home environment, where you're not re-patching every all the time you could probably get away with using solid cable for patch leads. It's probably not worth the cost of making them though, given that patch lead prices from non "High Street" outlets are pretty reasonable.

    You'll normally be fine with LV cables 300mm (1ft) from mains cables. It is good practice to minimise the length that the mains & LV cables run parallel to each other and if you need to cross you do so at 90 degrees. Note that unless the outside sheath of your Cat5 cable is specifcally rated & certified for running in the same conduit as mains cables you will need a physical barrier between the two. This applies at for in-wall cables, as well as at back boxes at light switches, consumer units etc.

    The pink CBus cat5 cable from Clipsal has the outer sheath rated for mains voltages. e.g. http://www.cbus-shop.com/product_inf...roducts_id=146

    HTH,

    Tim.

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    Automated Home Legend Paul_B's Avatar
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    Discussing stranded or solid core then in a HA environment it maybe "better" to use stranded as it is more tolerant to pulling and curving. Solid core may suffer kinks and even fracture when laying cables if not done well.

    STP or UTP, I never used STP at work but at home I think I am using STP because it maybe running closer to mains than an office environment. Also consider LSOH cable which is low-smoke. Never, ever lay a cable from one house to another as you can't guarntee they are on the same electircal phase.

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    Automated Home Legend TimH's Avatar
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    The problem with using stranded as in-wall wiring comes when you try to punch it down onto the back of the patch panel and into faceplates. These items are designed for solid cable and it'll be hit & miss (mostly miss IMHO) whether you get a proper connection or not. IDC blocks are designed to grip the core of the wire very firmly, if you try and punchdown with stranded cable the individual strands of the wire tend to spread apart and don't make a very good contact with the terminals.

    Here's a page that discusses how IDC connections (i.e. punchdown blocks) work, and why solid wire is important:
    http://www.wppltd.demon.co.uk/WPP/Wi...tallation.html

    In offices the dado style trunking means data and power cables are often run together for long distances and this generally causes few issues. Grounding of the shield in FTP installations must be done very carefully and meticulously as if not it can actually make the installation worse (creation of ground loops, acting as an aerial etc.) Just look under any desk to see the rats nest of mains and data cables. It's not as significant a problem as may be imagined, but it can/does exist.

    Grounding and shielding is very important in an industrial environment where it is likely that larger loads are being switched etc.

    I agree LSOH could be worth considering for a home

    For outside data runs I always specified fibre links. They're totally immune to electrical interference and won't act as a lightning conductor. Also, by the time you've added proper isolators to a copper-cabled system, a fibre link is just as cheap

    Cheers,

    Tim.

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    As regards mains induced interference. As a test I installed 2 of my Abitana omnimedia cables so that they cross over about 3 different sets of mains wires, it made no difference to signal quality. I know the Abitana omnimedia cable is a bit of a hybrid cable being a mixture of Cat5 and I guess Cat7.
    I would always run the Cat5 cable in a seperate conduit as far as is possible.
    Also I've installed Cat5 based structured wiring systems on survey ships where there is a lot of potential noise and cross feed problems, not to metion nasty weather. We used solid core Cat5 stp cable (also low smoke) worked fine. We had some runs of about 40m to 50m. Our main problem was keeping water out of the so called water tight cabinets.
    Last edited by toscal; 19th January 2007 at 11:39 AM.

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    Cheers guys, this helped me out a lot.

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    Quote Originally Posted by SaikoJosh View Post
    I'm embarking on running cat 5 or cat 6 around the house and have a few queires. I want to use it for streaming music, video and data.

    Here are my questions as you can see I'm new to this;

    1. Whats the benefit of cat 6 over cat 5?
    2. Should I be using UTP or STP cable, solid core or stranded?
    3. How far away from mains cables should it be run?



    -Josh.

    josh

    very good questions

    1) the benifits - we passed over CAT6 to CAT7ish - basically CAT7ish is 1GHz cable so you can run TV UHF signals over the cable and HD signals. if you use CAT5 you will need a seperate ct100 cable for TV

    so the benifit is 1 cable fits all data, audio, TV, HD-TV

    have a look at http://www.intelligenthome.co.uk - see LexCom Home - this is a square D product, i have to admit it is a very good package, very flexible - and i think you can good wall plates too



    2) if you opt for CAT5e - use UTP single core cable - this is the industry standard

    3) do your best to keep it 6inches apart, but its not always possible, try not to run too longer lengths touching, its only a problem if you use CAT5 for audio, ALL other services telephone and data have 50hz filters, if you use CAT5 for audio you might be very unlucky and get a little 50hz hum, lets say 1000:1


    i hope this helps


    nicholas

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    Automated Home Legend Paul_B's Avatar
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    Nicholas,

    Interesting, do Cat7 to Cat5 converters exist so you can plug into a RJ-45 patch panel?

    Paul

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    Quote Originally Posted by Paul_B View Post
    Nicholas,

    Interesting, do Cat7 to Cat5 converters exist so you can plug into a RJ-45 patch panel?

    Paul


    paul - i am not sure i fully understand the question - CAT7 is a double screened twisted pair which is presented in RJ45 format, so yes you can plug in CAT5 RJ45 plugs and sockets

    the issue is that CAT7 will run at 1Ghz - CAT5 is just 100MHz

    also fyi - i did some tests with a scope, we tied a CAT7 patch cable about 1 metre long in dozens of knots, twits etc..., and it still passed 100% full CAT7 test - the point - CAT7 cable is very robust, no real issues with bend radius

    nick

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