Difference between Indoor and Outdoor Ethernet Cable

Ethernet cables come in many types. The types are defined by cable shielding, conductor, jacket material, etc. Another factor differentiating ethernet cables is their use indoors and outdoors. These two types of bulk ethernet cables are defined by the environment in which they are used.

Outdoor Ethernet cables are meant to run long distances in harsh environments. In contrast, indoor cables can run long distances, too but may not be able to resist harsh weather conditions.

This article will look into the different types of network cables. Namely, indoor and outdoor. We will also discuss how you can differentiate between the two types with examples. Be sure to read till the end.


The Different Types of Ethernet Cables

When you are looking to buy new ethernet cables, the first important task is to figure out which one you need. Since there are many ethernet cables, you need to be able to tell which one is which. Also, getting the wrong ethernet cable will potentially sabotage your efforts to establish a flawless LAN network.

To reiterate, ethernet cables are differentiated according to their different specifications. For instance, shielded and unshielded, bare copper/CCA category, and last but not the least, indoor and outdoor cables.

Indoor and outdoor are two types of Ethernet cables that are commonly used for ethernet cable networking. The indoor cables are specifically designed for indoor environments, and the outdoor cables are for outdoors. In some cases, the outdoor cables can be used indoors but not necessarily the other way around.

Let’s first figure out the rather traditional outdoor cable. It is typically thicker and more durable than indoor Ethernet cable. Internet service providers often use these cables to establish a network for their business. Additionally, outdoor cables are also used in home and commercial networks where an outdoor cable run is required.

Then there are indoor cables. What makes them different from their counterparts is that they are less resistant to extreme temperatures. Because these cables are designed for indoor environments, they do not need ultra-strict weather protection. Compared to outdoors, indoor environments are milder when it comes to weather; thus, the cables do not need to have the thickest jackets.


What is an indoor Ethernet Cable?

An indoor Ethernet cable is primarily used for connecting devices to a network inside a building. Because of the nature of the cable, it is designed to be used in areas not subjected to harmful outdoor conditions.

The cable is typically used in offices, homes, schools, and other similar environments. For instance, if you need to connect your PCs to the LAN network, you will run an indoor cable through the ducts to the server room.


What is an outdoor Ethernet Cable?

An outdoor Ethernet cable is commonly used to connect devices in harsher environments and is usually run along pavements, in backyards, etc. For example, if you need to connect a couple of cameras outdoors, you will use one of these cables. This type of cable is particularly effective for long-distance network connections, and in some cases, it is used for temporary installations.

They are made from a PVC cable jacket, but other types of jackets, such as plenum and riser, can also be used. Another popular outdoor cable is direct burial. It comes with an LLDPE (linear low-density polyethylene) jacket that is filled with a gel to protect it from microbes when buried underground. You can install this cable outdoors in the harshest environments and bury it underground without worry.


How is an Outdoor Ethernet Cable Different?

The main difference between the two cables is the outer jacket.

The indoor Ethernet cable is a relatively less thick material that is fairly flexible and easy to run through thigh ducts, walls, and ceilings. The indoor Ethernet cable is made to be run through walls, ceilings, and other tricky spaces. The cable is used for short-range connections and doesn’t need to be used outside of a building structure.

The outdoor Ethernet cable, however, is made of a thicker plastic that allows the cable to run outside a building. This cable is made for long-range use and is often used to connect to a nearby cell tower. The cable is also made to withstand extreme weather conditions.


Outdoor and Indoor cable Jackets

To differentiate between the two types of cables, you need to recognize the type of your cable jacket. As mentioned earlier, there are three types of cable jackets. Plenum, Riser, and PVC. Let’s take a look.

Plenum Jacket: If your ethernet cable features a communications multipurpose plenum (CMP) jacket, it is designed for the outdoors. But the best thing about this jacket is that it can also be used in indoor plenum spaces. It is recommended for indoor spaces where air can freely circulate, such as raised floors or dropped ceilings.

It is an excellent cable jacket for outdoor use with features like extreme resistance to climate, water, etc.

Riser Jacket: It is also called a communications multipurpose riser (CMR) jacket. They find their best use in indoor vertical rising spaces like within walls and elevator shafts. It is resistant to fire but can emit toxic smoke, which limits its use in indoor and outdoor use. For example, it can be installed in enclosed indoor and outdoor open spaces, but if you think it will pose a threat if it catches fire, it should not be used outdoors.

PVC Jacket: This jacket is made of a high-quality plastic called Polyvinyl Chloride. Cables with a PVC jacket are mostly used outdoors. Because they are resistant to harsh weather conditions but not fire-resistant, they also emit toxic smoke in case of catching fire; that’s why they are not recommended for indoor use.

Direct Burial: Ethernet Cables with a direct burial LLDPE jacket are the most rugged and long-lasting. These jackets are designed exclusively for cable runs where you wouldn’t dare install a plenum or a riser. If, for example, you need to live in an extremely hot or cold environment, you would want to bury your cables to protect them from the harsh weather. And this is the type of cable you want to use for such projects.



In a nutshell, indoor ethernet cables have jackets designed with milder environments in mind, whereas outdoor ethernet cables come with jackets designed for ruthless weather conditions and harsh environments.

Need more info or advice? NewYork Cables’ professional customer support team would love to hear and answer your queries. Get in touch with us now. If you are looking for indoor or outdoor ethernet cables at competitive prices, check out our products.