How to buy the right Ethernet Cable for a Home Network?

High-quality ethernet cables are a must-have for all home networks. Even more so with the rising number of people working from the comfort of their homes. But most people who establish home networks are not precisely networking engineers and therefore need guidance to buy the right ethernet cables.

If you too are looking for a DIY guide to buying the right ethernet cables for your home network, hop on because we are discussing everything about it from the definition of ethernet cables to the factors you should consider to buy the right one for your home network. 


What is an ethernet cable?

An ethernet cable, also known as networking cable has four twisted pairs of conductors which carry broadband signals between a computer, router, modem, and other wired internet capable devices.  These cables are also used for in a variety of commercial applications such as connecting ATMs, IP Cameras, etc. 


What are the categories of ethernet cables?

Ethernet cables, like any other electronic device or accessory has more than one variants, which are particularly called, categories.  The category of the cable defines its specifications and design purpose. For instance, Cat8 is the latest ethernet cable with a whopping 40Gbps data transfer rate, it is designed for data centers. 

The following are the different categories of ethernet cables to choose from.


    1. Cat5: This is a rather outdated cable with minimum data transfer rate and safety standard compliance. 


    1. Cat5e: Cat5e is the basic ethernet cable you can get for a high speed home network. It supports data transfer speeds up to 100 Mbps over 100 meters and has a bandwidth capacity of 350 MHz.


    1. Cat6: The 6th category ethernet cable is ideal for home networks with a data transfer rate of up to 1 Gbps over 100 meters and a bandwidth capacity of 550 MHz.


    1. Cat6a: the augmented category 6 cable is an enhanced version of its predecessor that is designed for business networks. However, it is also used in home networks with a high performance requirement. It has a data transfer rate of 10 Gbps and a bandwidth capacity of 750MHz. 


    1. Cat7: Category 7 cable is exclusively designed for business networks which require high performance and reliability. 


    1. Cat8: As mentioned, this is the latest category of ethernet cables which finds its use in data centres. 


How to choose?

When you are choosing an ethenret cable for your domestic use, consider the following factors to make and informed and wise decision. You need to assess your unique requirements and what a certain cable has to offer. 


Start with the Cable Conductor

Conductor is the most important part of bulk ethernet cables. You must choose it wisely to save additional costs of replacements or recurring maintenance costs.  You can choose from the following two options: Bare copper and copper-clad aluminum. We have a bonus tip about the best conductor at the end.


Choose the Cable jacket wisely

There are different types of cable jackets that are designed for specific uses. A communications multipurpose plenum (CMP) jacket is designed for indoor open spaces. The riser-rated jacket is also designed for indoor uses but in contained spaces such as within walls, elevator shafts, etc. PVC is the third type of jacket and it is used in outdoor installations. 



Ask yourself, how long a cable you need? Do you need a bulk ethernet cable which is a 1000 feet long or a patch cable that are available in multiple lengths? Whatever your requirement may be, keep in mind one thing: Running cables at longer than 100 meters will result in a decline in their performance, so buy bulk ethernet cables, but run them as per the recommended length. 


Do you need Shielded or Unshielded?

In home networks, the cables are not too dense and shielding is not necessarily required. However, if you have multiple networking and electric wires installed in your server room or entire network, you should get shielded cables. They are designed to protect the signal transmission from EMI and external noise. 


Which ethernet cable do I need?

For home networks, we recommend this Cat6 cable bare copper. It is ideal for all high speed ethernet applications including PoE and  PoE+/++. Moreover, it is in compliance with all market safety and performance standards. 

Bonus Tip: Always choose cables with bare copper conductors. They are long lasting, relay stronger signals and are reliable.