Understanding Insulation in Ethernet Cables

Understanding Insulation in Ethernet Cables

Various components are used to manufacture quality ethernet cables including Cat6 cable. One such component is insulation in ethernet cables and it serves a very important purpose. In this article, you will learn what is insulation in ethernet cables and why it is important for optimum connectivity.

What is insulation in ethernet cables?

Insulation is the material that separates all 8 conductors from each other and prevents direct contact between the same. The insulation also saves your Cat6 cable or Cat5e cable from direct contact with the outer atmosphere. Now the question here arises that why insulation is used for the aforementioned purposes?

Well, 2 elements that mess with your signal most are electromagnetic interference (commonly known as EMI) and crosstalk (such as alien-crosstalk). These two elements compromise the quality of your signal and hence whole connectivity is disrupted. This is where insulation comes in handy as it keeps your conductors safe from these 2 elements and the quality of the signal safe.

Usually, insulation is wrapped around each conductor individually. It means all 8 conductors of your cable, be it pure copper cable or copper-clad aluminum, are insulated for the purpose of optimum connectivity.

What type of material is used to create insulation?

Usually, your Cat6 Cable or Ca6a Cables are insulated with PVC or polyethylene; both of these elements are halogen-based. Here at New York Cables, we use LSZH or low smoke zero halogen PVC that does not emit any perilous gas or acid combination when it comes in direct contact with the fire. Such is the quality of the LSZH that it is rapidly becoming a necessity and requirement in many areas. Some other key advantages of using LSZH are as follow:

Cables that come with light smoke zero halogens are extremely lightweight. This comes in handy during installation purposes as it reduces overall cable weight significantly.

The world is rapidly moving towards safer and greener sources as climate change is threatening the very survival of human existence. Against this backdrop, the LSZH cables have a very little environmental impact as they emit no perilous elements at all. This is the very reason that people who care for mother earth always opt for LSZH cables such as Cat6a cable or Cat5e cable.

Besides, LSZH cables are very cost-effective as compared to other cables and the former carries a very little price tag.

Are insulation and cable jacket the same thing?

Usually, people confuse cable jackets with insulation and think both are the same and serve the same purposes. Well, it’s not the case as both are separate things.

While insulation is mostly made up of the same material in all the cables, the jacket isn’t. The jackets of the ethernet cable are available in 4 main types. These are:

  • Plenum
  • Riser
  • PVC
  • Direct Burial

For instance, a Cat6 Cable with a CMP-rated jacket is called Cat6 Plenum Cable whereas a Cat6a Cable with a CMR-rated jacket is called Cat6 Riser Cable. Likewise, a Cat5e Cable with PVC jacket is called Cat5e PVC cable.

Now, you must mention that the jacket rating decides where you can run ethernet cables. A plenum-rated jacket cable is used in plenum spaces, a riser-rated jacket cable is used in riser spaces, a PVC-rated jacket is used in an outdoor installation, and a direct-burial cable is meant for underground installations.

However, just like insulation sheathing, cable jackets also prevent crosstalk and EMI. However, plenum-rated cables are fire-retardant and UV-resistant, riser-rated cables are also the same, but PVC isn’t. However, PVC cables are sunlight-resistant and also have excellent protection against some chemicals.

Specification Cat5e Cat6 Cat6a
Cable Jacket Plenum, Riser & PVC Plenum, Riser & PVC Plenum & Riser
Wire Gauge 24-AWG 23-AWG 23-AWG Highly Twisted
Frequencies 350 MHZ 550 MHZ 750 MHZ
Installation Temp 0°C to 60°C 0°C to 60°C 0°C to 60°C
Pairs 4 Twisted Pairs 4 Twisted Pairs 4 Twisted Pairs
Package Easy Pull Box Easy Pull Box Wood Spool
Colors Black, Blue, White, Red, Green, Yellow Black, Blue, White, Red, Green, Yellow Black, Blue, White, Red, Green, Yellow
Standard Compliance ETL, FCC, CE, CSA, ISO/IES, RoHS FCC, CE, CSA, ISO/IES, RoHS ETL, FCC, CE, CSA, ISO/IES, RoHS

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