Do I Need Riser Cable?
Posted on October 02 2020
Riser cable is a cable that runs between the floors in non-plenum areas. They derive their name from its function; the riser cable rises up to each level. What makes riser cable most important is that it is the backbone of a building that transmits data, video, and audio signals.
Riser cable is also seen as CMR (communications riser), which is the fire retardant rating on riser cable that allows it to be installed in the walls. The insulation of Polyolefin (PO) and Flame-retardant PVC are usually the conventional materials these cables jackets are made with. These compound types protect the cable against the spread of fire and performance at intense temperatures.
This cable type is used in regular homes or commercial buildings for the installation in walls. It can be installed story to story and also serves for general purposes such as computers, router, switch and so on. It is perfect for long runs because most of these cables will have solid conductors.
Riser cable comes in various categories including, Cat5e, Cat6, Cat6e, Cat6a, Cat7a, and Cat8 cables, and each category is designed with their unique capabilities and offers different speeds and applications.
Choosing any of the Categories cables to install your Ethernet network is mostly decided by cost, speed performance, and connection distance. They all use RJ45 connectors to tap into your network via computer, server, router, or other hardware. Below we will explain each category to let you know which riser cable you need for each situation.
Cat5e (Category 5 enhanced) is the upgraded version of Cat5, it is the cheapest, but has the least performance. It can support data transfer speed of 1 Gigabit per second (Gbps) at 100 MHz to a maximum of 328 feet. The wires in the cable have improved insulation to reduce interference and less chance of reduced transmission. Cat5e may provide acceptable performance for most applications, but also leaves less possibility for an upgrade in the future.
Cat6 is costlier and performs better than Cat5e, but like Cat5e, it is also limited by distance. It can support data transfer speeds of 10 Gbps at 250 MHz and leaves little possibility for crosstalk interference. However, the 10 Gbps speed it offers can only go up to 164 feet. Regardless of this limitation, the Cat6 cable is more enhanced to support the fast speed of Gigabit Ethernet networks. The Cat6 is tipped to replace HDMI as the video and audio transmission cable standard in the future.
If you need to get a reliable long-term Gigabit Ethernet network, then the Cat6a (Category 6 augmented) is the ideal choice. The Cat6a may be costlier than the Cat5e and the Cat6, but it offers better performance to the hardware you'll connect to your network. Like Cat6, it supports 10 Gbps transmission speed but can go up to 328 feet at 500 MHz. It also has less crosstalk compared to Cat6.
Cat6e cannot be compared to Cat6 because it is not an actual standard. Cat6a would draw a correct comparison to Cat6 instead.
Cat6e may not be technically recognized, but Cat6e products are still manufactured. Thus, Cat6e is an enhanced version of Cat6. Cat6e typically doubles transmission frequency from 250MHz to 500MHz or up to 550MHz. It also has grounded foil shielding that enables data transmission of up to 10 Gigabit Ethernet at a maximum distance of 100 meters.
Cat7 cable supports up to 10 Gigabit Ethernet and transmits a signal at a frequency of 600 MHz, and is backward compatible with Cat5, Cat5e, and Cat6 cables.
Cat7 requires fully shielded twisted wires/screen shielded twisted pair (SSTP) or screened foiled twisted pair (SFTP) wiring, this entirely cuts down on crosstalk and significantly improves noise resistance. This way, it delivers the user with higher speed performance even with extended cables.
Cat8 differs significantly from the cables mentioned above. Cat8 can support a speed of 25 Gbps to 40 Gbps at a frequency of up to 2000MHz. Cat8 cables also require shielded cabling. The Cat8 cable has similar physical appearances to the cables mentioned above categories and shares backward compatibility with the previous versions. Therefore, it does not result in problems when used with a standard Cat7 connector. The Cat8 can be terminated in non-RJ45 connections or RJ45 connections.
Benefits of Riser cable
If you are going to use Riser cable, the following are the benefits you'll get:
- It is fire-resistant, which prevents fire from spreading between floors.
- It fits for the floor to floor connection with a vertical run.
- They are of a self-extinguishable type.
- Twisted-pair, HDMI, coaxial, and DVI cable versions are made in riser version.
Disadvantages of Riser cable
Riser cables do not follow strict fire requirements. Hence plenum cables are always an alternative.