Best Ethernet Cable – Stranded vs. Solid Core
Which Ethernet Cable is best?
Choosing the best type of Ethernet cable for your network can be intimidating and complicated at first. Luckily, the answer is simple to determine. Solid core and stranded core cables have specific applications, so understanding the difference between solid and stranded is important.
Let’s start with how Ethernet cables are made.
Stranded Ethernet cable uses strands of copper as a conductor and is generally used indoors for short distances and flexibility. The core of each wire within the Ethernet cable resembles a rope, made from flexible strands of copper conductor. This makes stranded cable ideal for patch cords, patch panels to outlets, and for those who need to travel with cords. The downside to stranded cable is the high attenuation, leaving heavier duty jobs to the solid strand cables.
Solid cables are a different animal. Having a solid core allows these cables to run longer distances and carry heavier duty signals, such as Power over Ethernet and HD. Additionally, solid cable is cheaper to manufacture. The drawback; solid cables have limitations in the amount they can bend and the manufacturer will specify bend radius limitations to ensure proper functionality. Most long distance/outdoor/heavy duty jobs utilize solid core cable.
So, which is better? It depends on the job. Typically, a normal end user will be using patch cords to connect to a router, wall outlet, or network switch. Most Ethernet cables that can be purchased in consumer electronics stores are stranded cable, and suitable for use at home or at work. These cables cost slightly more to manufacture, but will be much more functional and durable. Solid core cable is normally used by contractors or technicians for specific jobs, such as running cable longer distances or direct burying it outside.
The Problem with Patch Panels
The Typical IDC Patch Panel
Many common patch panels appear to serve their purpose well. However, they can cause frustration down the road. During installation, the technician should always consider future maintenance as if they were the one who will be maintaining the rack. With a typical IDC Patch Panel, if a port goes bad, it can be quite cumbersome to deal with it. On a fully populated panel, access to the back of the panel will be extremely limited. Often the only option is to call a port dead and move on, without the ability to replace it. This means the technician needs to untangle the cable in question and relocate the termination.
Unloaded Patch Panels
With an unloaded patch panel, maintenance becomes much easier. Each port can be populated with the appropriate keystone jack. This means that the cables coming in can be terminated to a modular keystone jack or coupler. In the future, if a port goes bad, a cable can be easily disconnected, the keystone jack or coupler replaced, and the issue is resolved with minimal work.
Utilizing the convenience of keystone jacks makes an unloaded patch panel, (such as this one), much more robust. The initial setup might be costlier but in the end, time is saved and the panel is easier to deal with in the future if a problem were to arise. Utilizing keystone couplers to populate the panel allows for easy manipulation and maintenance.
Patch panels with built in cable management simplify matters even further. Keeping the incoming cables neatly tied to the cable management tie downs keeps the clutter away from the back of the panel and makes troubleshooting a breeze.
What is Wirehider?
At Timberwolf Supply, we carry Premiere's Wirehider product line with Cover Lids, Latching Duct and Raceway On-A-Roll. Each product is a specific solution to cable management, allowing for professional and clean installations in any industry.
Wirehider is a non-metallic surface raceway for running cables with a self-stick surface mount. The unique soft vinyl flaps keep cables in place, unlike the competitors. Our most popular Wirehider comes in a convenient clear-view option that allows installers to maintain visibility on their job. Just snap a latex paintable, fire retardant and fade resistant cover lid over the raceway to finish the job with a clean, professional look.
Pair Wirehider with various T, right angle, ceiling drops, and other miscellaneous adapters and no job will go unfinished.
Raceway On-A-Roll was made with convenience in mind, allowing the installer to custom cut any length from a roll. Simply fold and snap the cover to find a complete raceway that fits anywhere, carrying the same benefits as Wirehider.
Our Latching Duct offers a simple and easy one piece solution that comes in pre-cut lengths for convenience. Latching duct is also compatible with mating accessories.
Check out our selection of WireHider Products!
- Marc Reinecker
- Tags: Wirehider