Ultimate Guide to Plenum Types and Specifications

Plenum ethernet cables are distinguished by their state-of-the-art communications multipurpose plenum (CMP) jackets. These cables are used in horizontal runs in indoor installations. That is the reason behind the term ‘plenum’ which refers to the horizontal open space above dropped ceilings or below raised floors. Plenum Ethernet Cables such as the Cat6 and Cat6a can also be used in outdoor runs. Whether you need to bury them underground or run them from an outdoor pole indoors, these cables are an ideal choice.

The plenum cable jackets are made from LSZH materials which are non-toxic smoke emitting. These materials are also highly resistant to heat and would barely burn much less emit any toxic smoke. This specification makes the plenum cables ideal for all kinds of uses. 

Well given the uses of the plenum cables, you would be wondering what their types are and with what specifications they come. Let’s have a look at the types of plenum cables and their specifications in this blog. 

Let’s dive straight into it. 

Types of Plenum Ethernet Cables

The plenum cables are available in a multitude of types. All categories of ethernet cable such as the Cat5e, Cat6, and Cat6a come with plenum jackets. These cables are why they are called plenum cables. 

Cat5e Plenum Cable

Cat5e Plenum cable features 24 AWG twisted pair conductors at its core. These conductors are twisted to keep the EMI at a minimum. The Cat5e plenum cable can support data transfer at speeds of up to 1 GBit/s over 50 meters and over 100 meters, the speed can reach up to 100 MBit/s.

The bandwidth of the cable is 350 MHz and the cable can handle almost all ethernet applications in residential and small-scale business networks. In networks with a high-performance requirement, it does not suffice. 

Specifications

The Cat5e plenum cable can be used for 100BASE-T, 1000BASE-T, PoE, PoE+/++, and other ethernet LAN network applications that require a maximum data transfer speed of 1 GBit/s over 50 meters. 

The cable features more twists per unit length than the Cat5 cable which translates into better resistance against electromagnetic interference or crosstalk.

The cable is easy to install and long-lasting and comes in two different types of conductors. Namely, bare copper and copper-clad aluminum. The bare copper conductors are much better compared to their CCA counterparts. Also, note that the CCA cables cannot be used for PoE applications. 

Moreover, the Cat5e Plenum Cable is produced in shielded and unshielded variants and you can choose between either one of them according to your requirements. 

Where to Use?

Using the Cat5e plenum cable indoors and outdoors is a wise decision. However, if the cable is run only at up to 50 meters in length, the performance can be enhanced quite dramatically.  

You can use or install the cable in all kinds of settings where its 1 GBit/s speed will suffice.

Cat6 Plenum Cable

The plenum-rated Cat6 cable is perhaps the most widely used one. Not only is this a cutting-edge ethernet cable with a plenum jacket, but it is also a high-performing cable that supports data transfer at speeds of up to 10 GBit/s.

Cat6 plenum cable has a bandwidth capacity of 550 MHz and can effortlessly support all ethernet applications. The cable also has conductors that are more tightly twisted to keep the EMI and crosstalk out of the signal transmission. 

Specifications

The Cat6 Plenum Cable features eight 23 AWG conductors that are twisted in pairs to ensure a signal transmission free from EMI. The EMI is a major problem in commercial and residential LAN and WAN networks. And to protect the signal transmission from it, the cable conductor pairs are twisted more tightly. Some Cat6 plenum cables are produced with shields. The shield could be a metal foil or a wire mesh. It either reflects the incoming interference or absorbs it and keeps it from getting to the cable conductors. 

Shielded Cat6 plenum cables are more expensive than their unshielded counterparts but they are worth it because of their better performance. 

Where to Use?

Well you can use it anywhere? That is true. Cat6 plenum cable can be used anywhere from high-performance LAN networks to simple ethernet wired networks in residential buildings. Cat6 patch cables are also the most popular of all the cables and people use them on a regular basis. 

The CMP-rated Cat6 cables are used in LAN and WAN networks as well as in individual applications. For example, if you only need to connect an IP security camera outdoors, you do not have to establish an entire network. You can simply run the plenum-rated cable from the camera to the DVR. 

Similar applications of the cable are to be found everywhere in the modern world.

Cat6a Plenum Cable

The plenum-rated Cat6a cable is a better and an enhanced version of the Cat6 cable. ‘A’ in Cat6a stands for augmented which means that the cable has been specifically designed to keep EMI out of the network in heavy-duty networks. Examples of such networks are server rooms and even regular offices in corporate buildings.

The cable was introduced essentially as an improved version of the Cat6 plenum cable. It is also one of the most used in business LAN and WAN applications. 

Specifications

The cable features 23 AWG conductors twisted in pairs. The twists are tighter then they are in its preceding Cat6 plenum. It therefore delivers much better performance in crowded networks. 

You could say, it is designed for ethernet applications in spaces where multiple wired data communication cables run in parallel to each other. 

Where to Use?

You can use the cable anywhere. Its plenum jacket is safe and its 23 AWG bare copper conductors are highly efficient. The cable is also easy to install. 

It will last longer and will require minimum maintenance. Cat6a plenum is therefore the most sought after plenum ethernet cable on our list. 

Bottom Line

In short, any twisted-pair ethernet cable with a plenum jacket is a plenum ethernet cable. Examples are Cat6 plenum, Cat5e plenum, Cat6a plenum. We hope you enjoyed this blog. 

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