Rules & Standards on Ethernet Cable Installation

Written by g.d. palmer
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Rules & Standards on Ethernet Cable Installation
Most home Ethernet systems use standard CAT-5 cable. (ethernet cable image by .shock from

While wireless networking has become more common than cabled Ethernet, there are still several reasons to prefer cable. Unlike wireless Ethernet, cables don't suffer from unexpected interference. Cables also lose less data than wireless signals and provide a higher security level for home and business networks. Running Ethernet cable can be tricky, but understanding the associated installation standards can make the process faster and simpler.

Use CAT-5

Several types of Ethernet cable are available, but the standard home and business networking cable tends to be CAT-5. Short for Category 5 twisted pair cable, this type of cable comes in both ordinary CAT-5 and CAT-5e (enhanced) types. CAT-5e is the newer cable, and offers higher efficiency and better signal quality. Some high traffic networks may need to use CAT-6, but most small networks will do well on CAT-5. It's best to avoid using CAT-3, or telephone cable, which can transmit only 10Mbps.

Avoid Wire Stress

According to industry expert Steve DeRose, CAT-5 and higher Ethernet cables must never be pulled with more than 11.3kg. of force because high levels of strain on the cable can damage the individual wires inside and reduce efficiency. Pulling too hard could even ruin the cable. It's also important to avoid stapling or nailing through the cable, and to make sure that all fasteners are relatively loose. It's also best to avoid bending or kinking the wire to pass it around a corner. If a bend is required, make sure it's a gradual one that won't put much strain on the cable.

Keep Conduits Clear

When running Ethernet cable inside conduit, make sure the conduit is never more than 40 per cent full. This prevents the cables from compressing one another and causing damage. Avoid tight bends in conduit, and always install a pull elbow, or openable plate, periodically along the conduit. This allows workers to pull cable through the conduit without the danger of it getting stuck or kinked as it passes through a bend.

Avoid Interference

DeRose recommends against untwisting wires more than ½ inch to make a connection. The twists in Ethernet cable wires serve a purpose: they cancel out interference between the wires. Untwisting them can increase interference and "noise" over the Ethernet. Avoid running wire within 6 inches of electric wiring, and take care to keep cables clear of fluorescent lighting and intercom wiring, which can also cause interference.

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