Understanding Riser and Plenum Jackets of Bulk Cat6a Cable

Bulk Cat6a 1000ft cable is the most recommended and used ethernet cable in local area networks with a high-performance requirement. In fact, it is used more commonly than the Cat7 and Cat8 cables because these cables have limited capacities over long distances whereas the bulk Cat6a cable can transmit data at up to 10 GBit/s over 100 meters. It also has a whopping 750 MHz bandwidth capacity, ideal for almost all ethernet applications.

But what about the jackets of the cable. What are they like and what do you need to know about them?
These are the types of questions a user might have before buying either the Cat6a Plenum or the riser cable. So in this blog, we will explain everything you need to about the jackets of the Bulk Cat6a Cable.

Let’s get right into it.


What is a Cable Jacket?

Let’s begin from the very beginning. A cable jacket is an outermost sheath on any cable. In ethernet cables, it is the sheath that protects the interior of the cable from the atmosphere and ensures the proper functioning of the cable.

Generally, ethernet cables come in three types of jackets. Namely, plenum, riser, and PVC. However, the Cat6a bulk cable comes in only the top two types of jackets. The plenum and the riser. These cables are called Cat6a Plenum and Cat6a Riser, respectively. This cable is produced only in the top two types of jackets to ensure its high quality and safety. More on cable safety later. This cable also comes only with pure copper conductors for the best possible performance.


What is Plenum Jacket?

A plenum jacket, also known as CMP (communications multipurpose plenum) is made from LSZH (Low smoke zero halogens) materials. These materials are highly resistant to heat, humidity, etc, and are also highly resistant to fire. In fact, they possess characteristics of self-fire extinguishing. And in case they are in a fire hazard the tiny amounts of smoke emitted from them is non-toxic.

So these qualities make the plenum jackets to be installed in indoor spaces. Particularly in the HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning) ducts to ensure the safety of the inhabitants of a building in a fire hazard.

Cat6a Plenum Pure Copper Cable is integrated with this jacket which is why it is installed in indoor open spaces where air can flow freely.


What is a Riser Jacket?

Cat6a Riser Pure Copper Cable features a Riser also known as CMR (communications multipurpose riser) jacket. It is designed to prevent the propagation of flame vertically because the Bulk Cat6a riser cable is installed in indoor vertically rising spaces such as elevator shafts, between floors, and within walls.

This cable jacket, like its plenum counterpart, is highly resistant to heat, humidity, and dust. However, should it catch fire, it can emit tiny amounts of smoke that is toxic. So whenever it is installed indoors, it must be ensured that the space is enclosed and no air is flowing freely.


Why does the Cat6a Cable Jacket matter?

The Cat6a cable jacket is the primary boundary between the pure copper conductors of the cable and the atmosphere. It is pivotal for the proper functioning of the cable and for containing the interior. Additionally, the jacket is also important for the durability of the cable in extreme environmental conditions.

Moreover, if the cable jacket is not made according to the industry standards, it can cause a fire hazard. Ultimately, it is also important to install a cable with the appropriate jacket in different settings.


Difference Between Cat6a Plenum vs Cat6a Riser Pure Copper?

Well, both cables have the same 23 AWG conductors made from pure copper. The main difference is that the Plenum cable can be installed in any space due to its exceptional and all-encompassing safety measures. Whereas the Cat6a Bulk Riser Pure Copper Cable can only be installed in indoor riser and outdoor spaces. Because plenum spaces are open and it is against the safety precautions to install the riser cable in such spaces.


Can I use the Cat6a Plenum Cable in Riser spaces?

Sure. Cat6a Plenum cable, as mentioned, can be installed anywhere in a building on account of its impeccable safety features. However, it might not be a cost-effective solution for some people to install it in riser and outdoor spaces.

Perhaps that is the reason why we see more and more riser cables used in both riser and outdoor spaces.