Do I Need Plenum Cable?

One Stop Cables

Posted on September 24 2020

do i need plenum cable

For builders and contractors, selecting the suitable cable for the building might be an overwhelming task for you. Appropriate cable length is of importance when setting up a networking system for business setups and homes. For old buildings, finding plenum space, but for new constructions, it's a little bit easier.

Varieties of bulk Ethernet cable options are steadily produced these days, with new products being released into the electrical market. These products may vary in specifications or other different variations, but one thing sure is that alternatives are becoming steadily abundant as time goes on. However, people usually have one thing in mind when purchasing category cable. And that is whether to use plenum rated, or Non-Plenum rated cables. By referring to plenum or non-plenum, we are not making an emphasis on the cable itself. Plenum rating is actually a term that refers to the jacket that encloses the cable.

When you plan to purchase cables for a building project, buying cables in large quantities is inevitable. You may be confused with the variety of options you have for plenum and non-plenum cables such as Cat6 plenum bulk cables, Cat5 Ethernet cables, or bulk PVC cables. 

Before you purchase a cable, it is advised that you consider when and for what purpose you need plenum cable.

This article will assist you with the information needed to make the right decision between purchasing plenum vs non plenum cable.


Plenum Cable

Plenum cable got its name from the HVAC industry. It applies to the building's spaces in the ceilings or floors that allow the circulation of air to aid in cooling and heating functions. This space between a standard ceiling and a drop ceiling is referred to as a plenum space. 

Because it doesn't long for smoke and fire to travel quickly through plenum spaces, a "plenum-rated" must be used. The presence of oxygen in Plenum spaces means that fire can quickly spread once it gets into these spaces. With any accompanying smoke quickly dispersed throughout the building through its HVAC system.

To ensure safety in these spaces, the plenum-rated cable is surrounded with materials that are flame-resistant, for example, Teflon. Other cable types produce toxic and can produce harmful smoke when burned.


Non-Plenum Cable

Non-plenum cable, also called polyvinyl chloride cable is somewhat cheaper than plenum cable. Non-plenum cables can be gotten at half the price of plenum cables, which encourages many projects to use them to save costs. Companies may opt for plenum cable as a way of ensuring safety and to cut on the liabilities that fire may bring, in this case, plenum cable will prove to be the better investment in the long run. Larger buildings with fewer people such as distribution centres and warehouses usually opt for non-plenum rated cable, while schools and hospitals will tend to choose plenum cable for safety purposes.


How to Know Whether a Cable is Plenum Rated

Plenum rated cables are UL (underwriters' laboratories)-approved for non-conduit setups seen in environmental air spaces. Many commercial projects have opted for this alternative since they are safe and flexible cables.

Plenum cables are specially coated with fire-resistant jackets and are non-toxic for use in the event of a fire outbreak. Additionally, that extra protection tends to promote the life span and quality.

 Communications Multipurpose Plenum (CMP), which is the term on plenum cables that are used in buildings, brings to remedy for all low voltage issues.


Purpose of Using Plenum Cables

Plenum rated cable is made with special insulation that cuts down on smoke and fire. It is ideal for installation in air handling spaces. Most large commercial buildings return air to the AC unit through the ceiling.

Moreover, the space meant to handle the circulation of air is filled with oxygen. Improper and ineffective installation of cable might be risky. Using plenum cables is a good step towards safety.

However, using plenum spaces may risky in the event of a fire. Once fire gets to the plenum space, smoke and fire are hardly contained.

In the United States, plenum cables are made from materials that are regulated under the NFPA (National Fire Protection Association standard). The standard NFPA guarantees that the cables installed in plenum spaces are designed to ensure fire safety, and this standard must be kept in mind during the installation of air conditioners and ventilating systems.

When is Plenum Cable Used

New Construction

It is recommended to create additional space for plenum cables in new buildings. Plenum cables may tend to be costlier than standard non-plenum cables. But it will prove to be worth the investment in the long run, especially in the event of a fire.

 IT centre

The use of Plenum cables in computer rooms for networking enables the cooling of servers, switches, routers, etc. through the space under the floor.



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