What Kind of Ethernet Cables Should I Be Using at Home?

No two Ethernet cables are created equally, but that doesn’t mean you can't use one or the other in your home. The key to choosing the right kind of Ethernet cable is knowing what makes each one unique and what you need for your home. The most common Ethernet cable used today is the 10 Mbps, but that doesn't mean it's right for everyone.

If you've struggled with cable selection in the past, this is the blog for you. Here, we'll discuss some different types of Ethernet cables and what they can bring to the table for you. After that, it's up to you to decide which is best for your needs.

Types of Ethernet Cables
Ethernet cables are sorted in numbered categories. These categories, based on unique specifications, are an indicator that helps people determine which kind of cable will be best for their individual needs. Some of the most commonly used specifications are cat5e cables, cat6 cables, and cat6a cables. As the category, or "cat," number gets higher, so does the speed.

Physical Differences
Now that you know there are different types of Ethernet cables, it's time to get into physical differences. That speed difference is made possible by wire twisting and isolation. Twisted pair is actually the basis for every Ethernet cable out there because it helps eliminate interference between wires. The main difference between cat5e, cat6, and cat6a cables is the number of twists per foot, in some cases a spline to further separate pairs and the thickness of the sheath. Cat6a cables have more twists when compared to cat5e and cat6 cables, which is what allows them to carry greater speeds. In addition, cat6a cables have a thicker sheath and a spline, which provides a barrier to prevent interference.

Solid or Stranded
The final differentiating factor between these Ethernet cables is whether the actual copper in the wires is solid or stranded. A solid wire is for permanent installation, between ports in patch panels, keystones and any other punch down style connection. On the other hand, a stranded cable is more flexible and is used for patch cables, which patch the shorter distances between electronic hardware and/or permanent installations. Stranded cables are more flexible, have a tighter bend radius and are terminated in plugs designed to be plugged and unplugged many times over the cable's lifetime.

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