Shielded Vs Unshielded Cat 6 Cables

High bandwidth is a necessity for the smooth functioning of offices. This means that some offices might have to upgrade their existing systems to suit the changing demands. Network systems are becoming common even in factory environments, and this has led to an increase in the demand for shielded Cat 6 cable – like the ones you can find at RS Components.

Most new areas of installations through which the network cable runs experiences Electro-Magnetic Interference or EMI. Under such circumstances, Cat 6 cables with improved cable twist to handle gigabit Ethernet and reject noise may not suffice. A shielded Cat 6 cable is the best choice for network installations with high EMI.

Shielded Cat 6 cables are high-performance cables that make sure that the data within the cable is protected from EMI, leading to higher speeds and better data transmission.

Shielded or Unshielded Cat 6 cables?

The demand for higher speeds and better data transmission requires a cat 6 cable. It will make sure that you can receive up to 1 Gbps Ethernet transmission. Furthermore, Cat6 is essential for 1000 Base-T style networks.

But how do you decide which type of cat 6 cables you need? Although the choice is essentially between unshielded twisted pairs (UTP) and shielded (or screened) twisted pairs (STP or ScTP), a lot depends on where you’re installing the cable.

The general rule is that you will need shielded cable if your cable is running through an area of high electromagnetic interference or radio frequency interference (EMI/RFI). Output by power line structures, large magnets, or radio antennas is an example of this. If you are in a situation like this, you’ll need a shielded cat 6 cable.

Shielded CAT6 cable comes with an outer foil shield around each pair or all pairs. Additionally, modular jacks, outlets, and patch panels are also protected by a metal housing.

Unshielded Cat 6 UTP cable is resistant to mild types of EMI/RFI – for example the interference from proximity to fluorescent light or small motor. However, a shielded cat 6 cable is necessary where the interference is strong. It is also important that the shielding must drain, or else the EMI might build upon it and reduce the signal strength. Drainage is done at the connection site through a shielded coupler or jack connected to the ground.

Shielded cable is heavier than the unshielded cable and so you should also consider the area through which the cable will run. It can become quite heavy if you are run a lot of cables in one area. While undertaking office cabling remember that heavy cables that run above a ceiling or behind a wall can cause structural damage.

Major differences between shielded and unshielded Cat 6 cables

  • Shielded cable is costlier than unshielded cable.
  • Shielded cable is more difficult to install due to as it has more weight and volume.
  • Shielded cable is stiffer and hence less flexible. Unshielded cables are more flexible.
  • Shielded cable has a larger diameter and so takes up more space in conduit. Unshielded cable takes lesser space and provides faster transmissions in the absence of EMI.

The choice of the cable depends on the location of your office or factory, the presence of EMI, the strength of your office building, and the need for higher bandwidth.

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