Cat 5e, Cat 6 & Cat 6A Cable: which is best for your network?
One of the most common questions asked when it comes to industrial and commercial network design and data cable installation is, which category of cable is best suited to my needs? In the following we describe the differences between Cat 5e, 6 and 6a cable, and why you might choose one over the other.
All three categories of cable look the same from the outside and they all have the same RJ-45 end, which can plug into the Ethernet jacks on your computers, routers and switches. This, however, is where the similarity ends, as each has distinct differences that can impact on which one you decide to install.
Firstly, there is a noticeable difference in price, with each category costing more per metre than the previous category. However, just because later categories are more advanced in terms of performance, doesn’t necessarily mean you have to install the more expensive cable; this very much depends on the current and future demands placed on your network.
About 15 years ago, when it was first released, Cat 5e cable (the ‘e’ stands for ‘enhanced’) was the first glimpse of the potential of a 1 Gigabit network, although at that time, the hardware required to support it was prohibitively expensive for the average user. Over time, as the cost of the hardware decreases, 5e has become the minimum standard in data cable, eventually rendering Cat 5 obsolete.
Made up of 24 gauge twisted pair wires, the 5e delivers 1 Gigabit network speed at distances up to 328 feet. While Cat 5 was potentially capable of 1 Gigabit speeds (dependent on the network connections), 5e incorporated improvements in isolation between the wires, reducing the level of ‘crosstalk’ — the interference between the wires — and increased the frequency of the cable up to 100MHz.
Although Cat 6 cables have been around for just for a few years less than Cat 5, historically the 10 Gigabit cable has been used for the backbone of networks, with 5e being run to individual workstations. This is not only due to cost but also because the bandwidth of the Cat 6 can only run to 164 feet. Beyond this distance, the bandwidth can rapidly decrease to 1 Gigabit, the same as the 5e.
Physically, the Cat 6 is made up of either 23 or 24 gauge twisted pair wires, with 2 plus twists per centimetre (as compared to 1.5–2 in the 5e). The frequency in the Cat 6 has increased to 200MHz, which can also potentially increase crosstalk. For this reason, the Cat 6 cable has an internal nylon spline and is contained within a thick exterior sheath. In some cases, this can eliminate crosstalk completely.
The Cat 6a (‘a’ stands for ‘augmented’) is the most advanced version of data cable, anticipating a future where the 10G network is the standard. It not only has a bandwidth distance of the full 328 feet of Ethernet cable, but its frequency has doubled to 500MHz, which further improves its range. That said, Cat 6a is also the most expensive of the cable options.
Which cable should you choose?
Generally, the consensus seems to be that Cat 5e 1GB cable is currently adequate for a network where most servers are based in the Cloud, but may not support network demands in the future. Again, this is very much dependent on your business or industry’s needs in terms of network design and use.
Cats 6 and 6a clearly future-proof your network in terms of faster data speeds, greater range and reduced crosstalk, but gaining these benefits relies on your router being gigabit-compatible and your computers being gigabit-capable. It’s also important to point out that data speed is not the same as Internet speed. Upgrading your data cable to 6a is not going to have an impact on the speed of your internet; rather it will improve data transfer, upload and download times. Therefore, the choice of cable really boils down to what you’re using your network for, and how you think you’re going to use it in the future.
Before making any decisions about data cable installation or upgrade, talk to an expert Caslec electrician and we’ll help you find the right solution for your business or industry’s network needs. Call us on 1300 659 273 today.
How to reduce your business’ energy use & save money
Keeping costs down is a concern for any business. Effective management of costs means increased cash flow, and that can only mean good things for the company. As it turns out, one of the most effective ways to cut costs for your business is to keep your energy use down.
Who’s Your Supplier?
If you are looking to reduce your energy costs, you might want to consider changing suppliers. Check out some of the deals being offered by suppliers in your area, most of which will have negotiable tariff rates. Do a bit of research and talk to a consultant or two about your particular business’ energy use, so you can work out a plan that not only meets your needs but reduces your costs.
Most of what you can do to reduce your energy usage relies on making a number of simple changes within the workplace. There are probably many habits you and your colleagues have, which are increasing business energy costs. For instance, if you routinely keep computers and other electronics on at night, make it a rule that everything is switched off at the socket when the office is empty. Or engage your commercial electrician to install motion sensors to switch the lighting on and off when staff enter or leave a room. These simple steps will dramatically reduce energy consumption and save on your power bills..
A particularly effective means of reducing the power usage in your business is having an energy efficient electrical installation. If you use a professional team of electricians who really know what they’re doing, you’ll find yourself with an installation that is set up from the start, to be much more efficient in its use of energy. This means that most of the hard work is done for you. Along with concerted efforts to reduce your energy usage, you can
save your business a great deal of money in the long-term.
What do you know about electrical transformers?
You may think that the way of delivering electricity to homes and businesses is pretty standard all over the world, but its voltage and frequency varies between countries or every region within a single country.
Essentially, electrical transformers are used to change the voltage of electricity so that it is suitable for different appliances and locations.
Where are transformers used?
Electrical transformers are commonly installed at the top of power poles or in electrical appliances. Sometimes they can be as small as a fingernail and used in items like radios, or they can be large and heavy devices that are used in power grids. Power grids have very high voltage so that the electricity can be transported long distances, but it must be reduced to become suitable for our homes. The voltage is lowered down through the transformer and then put into local wires at a substation where it may be stepped down again and again so we can use it.
For example, the power from the grid may have a voltage as high as 765,000 volts, which can be lowered down to 7,200 volts through a substation. Then a local power pole transformer may drop the voltage further down to 220-240 volts before it is sent to your home. Larger appliances like water heaters may use this 220-240 volt electricity, but others like TVs and microwaves may need it even lower at 110-120 volts.
How do the electrical transformers work?
Transformers usually have two coils of wire in them, and some have more coils than the other.
When electricity in one of the windings transfers to a coil with fewer windings, the power steps down. And if the electricity in the coil with fewer turns in the wire is transferred to a coil with more turns, the voltage goes up. One coil is connected to an input circuit and the other is attached to the output circuit.
At the end of this article, we would like to mention also another type of transformers known as an autotransformer which is equipped with only one coil. Both circuits are connected to it at different points so that one circuit has more of the coil and more turns in the wire than the other. These transformers are often preferred because they are lighter, smaller and have better overload tolerance and voltage stability.
New led Lighting Systems
LED lighting systems are the new kids on the block & they are growing up. In specific areas, LED systems offer long life, lower electricity costs with low maintenance & no Mercury content as in fluro lamps. They can provide a magnificent illumination impact & an improved image with beautiful colours as well.
As a further example of what is happening with LED lighting technology, & as confirmation of their reliability, check out all the new LED traffic lights that are currently being installed Australia wide. State governments are using this technology due to the proven benefits as noted above.
As another example, the management of the USA Walmart retail conglomerate involving thousands of retail shops across the USA have already replaced their existing high voltage Neon signage with the latest low voltage LED signage. This massive retail network will enjoy substantial cost savings & an improved image to all their outlets.
It’s all happening with LED Technology.
Halogen Downlights – Safety Alert
The usual & very popular 50 Watt Halogen lights are no longer sold in Australia due to the number of fires caused in the ceilings of homes as a result of the heat that is produce from each lamp. Minimise the cause of such fires by installing heat shields over each fixture.
Alternatively, replace those light fixtures with the new technology, LED fixtures. LED’s will reduce the heat that is generated from Halogen downlights & at the same time reduce your power costs.
Call our Installation Dept for further particulars.
Energy Cost Savings
You can reduce your energy costs, especially electricity costs & there are various ways that this can be achieved. For Example, Power Factor Correction, Energy saver lamps & light fixtures, LED lighting installations. You will definitely achieve power cost savings in your company by implementing any one, or all of the above proven initiatives.