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Cat5e Cable FAQ

We are obviously asked alot of questions about our data cabling installations. Below are the most common Cat5e cable FAQ that we receive. For further information or project team are happy to answer or arrange a free survey to assist further.

What is Cat5e Cable?

Cat5e cable is a data cable that is classified as a twisted pair data cable. Thus it is constructed of 8 separate cores split in to 4 pairs of colours. The pairs are twisted together and hence the category of twisted pair. The Cat5e cable pairs are a solid and a white/solid combination. Furthermore the colours are Blue, Orange, Brown and Green

What is the maximum Cat5e speed

Cat5e cable has a maximum bandwidth frequency of 100Mhz. Megahertz are the rate at which a signal can change states. In data cabling networking this is the change from 1 to 0 or 0 to 1

Will Cat5e do Gigabit Ethernet speeds

Cat5e has a maximum capability of 1 Gigabit Ethernet. The older standard of standard Cat5 had a limit of 100Mb transmission. However this category of cable is not manufactured anymore. In addition it is rarely seen in old installation, In rare cases older phone systems may be wired in standard Cat5 and would not be suitable for Gigabit ethernet

Can Cat5e support 10 Gigabit Ethernet

Cat5e is not specified or recommended for 10 Gigabit Ethernet. Therefore Cat6a is the minimum category recommended for 10 Gigabit Ethernet. This is allowing for the permanent link design standard of 90m

Cat5 vs Cat5e

Cat5 was the original new category in the data cabling index. However since 2001 Cat5e has been the standard. Cat5 was limited to 100Mb transmission. Cat5e was implemented to achieve 1 Gigabit Ethernet. Cat5 is no longer manufactured and rarely seen even in older buildings.

Additional Information can be found in this Article 

How much is Cat5e Cabling

As in all cases of structured cabling installation the overall price will depend on many factors. These can include the building type, ease of access, number of outlets, the location and the programme of works among many others

We have written a more in depth Cat5e cable FAQ with an explanation of cabling costs in this Article

Cat5e vs Cat6

Cat6 is the advanced category of data cable to Cat5e. The main difference between cat5 and cat6 is that Cat6 by comparison has a bandwidth of 250Mhz so in essence two and a half times the capacity. However at the standardised 90m permanent link distance they both only have the capability to transmit 1 Gigabit Ethernet speeds. However Cat6 is capable of 10 Gigabit Ethernet up to 55m although this isn’t a standard length for data cabling design considerations

Additional Information on Cat5e vs Cat6 can be found here

How to differentiate Cat5 and Cat6

The easiest way to generally tell the difference is on the sheath of the cable. The cable marking will have code numbers and other digits. However it will also note of the cable is Cat5e or Cat6. In  addition Cat6 cable will have a plastic central divider between the 4 pairs. Cat5e will not have this. However this is dependent on different manufacturers so not always 100% the case

Do Cat6 cables work with Cat5

All data cable categories from Cat5e through to Cat8 all have an element of a connector called an RJ45. This is for both he Module or Jack (the Female end) and the Plug (The Male end). Therefore each category is backwards compatible with the others. I.e a Cat6 cable will plug into a Cat5e module. In addition Cat6 cable can be terminated onto Cat5e ends.

However in any data cabling installation the overall link is only as good as its weakest part. Hence cat5 and cat6 are compatible but its not the desired solution. Therefore if using different categories the link will only work as good as the lowest grade element. This is sometimes seen however when companies are moving and want to retain parts of their existing infrastructure and instead plan to upgrade at a later stage due to budgets

Further information on this Cat5e cable FAQ can be found here in this article

Can you use Cat6 connectors on Cat5e cable

Simply yes you can. However you would be using a more expensive connector and only achieving the lesser performance standard. You can also use Cat5e connectors on a Cat6 cable. However in this case you lose the performance of the cat6 cable and only attain the lower standard overall.

Is Cat7 cable compatible with Cat5

In a similar manner to Cat6 cabling Cat7 is backwards compatible with Cat5. However as before the overall link will be as slow as the weakest part. I.e Cat5e. Therefore its not recommended to combine these two categories.

Cat5e UTP vs FTP

UTP stands for unshielded twisted pair and FTP is Foil Twisted Pair. Therefore FTP is similar to standard UTP cable with the addition of a foil shield surrounding the inner cores. Thus providing additional protection from external noise inference.

Although the additional shielding provides additional external protection it doesn’t affect the overall cat5e cable performance. Thus both UTP and FTP are still capable of 100Mhz and 1 Gigabit transmission.

A more detailed Cat5e cable FAQ explanation on Cat5e UTP vs FTP can be found in our knowledge centre HERE

What is Armoured Cat5e Cable

Armoured cables are standard data cables that have an extra layer of protection against outside damage. This could be crushing, an impact or being cut such as during digging. Armoured cable is generally called Steel Wired Armoured (SWA) and is constructed of strand of steel wire surrounding the inner cable. Thus it is these steel wires that offer the additional protection. The performance of the internal Cat5e cable remains the same as standard cables.

What is External Cat5 Cable?

External Cat5 cable is a cable with a Polyethylene (PE) sheath. This is standard in black. By comparison internal cables are either PVC, LSOH or Euroclass sheathings. The PE sheath provides protection from external environmental elements such as temperature and moisture. However it doesn’t offer additional structural protection, only the same as internal cables. Thus for additional protection an armoured cable can be used. These however are more expensive and bulkier in size.

How far can you run Cat5 cable for CCTV?

The basis of structured cabling is that there is a standard data cabling specification that applies to all Technology. Therefore whatever the technology it will run the same over standardised cabling. Thus the maximum distance of 90 metres for Cat5e applies for CCTV as well as it does for Computers, WiFi, Telephones etc. The 90m allows for 5m patch leads each end. However a 100m direct link is also allowed so this could apply to a direct link to a CCTV camera.

Can I run HDMI over Cat5?

Cat5e has the ability to transfer HDMI signals over its cable. This is done via a transmitter and receiver that plug into each end. However it is recommended that a minimum of Cat6 and even Cat6a is used for the connection due to their additional bandwidth and speed capability

What is used as a Cat5 Tester?

A Cat5 tester can be a simple continuity tester where 8 lights confirm if the 8 cores (4 pairs) have been terminated in the correct order. However these testers give no feedback about the transmission capabilities of the cable. In addition there is no feedback about the quality of installation and terminations of the ends. Therefore all data cabling should be tested with a Cable Certification tester such as a Fluke DSX. These type of testers show a chart of tests that show the performance of the cable and any effects of installation or poor terminations. Furthermore the actual effect on the cable and whether it is capable of transmitting as it should. A group of charts and calculations are given on a single page per cable and a summary Green Tick Pass or Red Cross Fail is noted.

More details on Structured Cabling Testing can be found HERE

Can you run PoE over Cat5?

Yes Cat5e is capable of running PoE over its cable. Thus the power and the signal are transferred over the same cable. However as devices that are powered by PoE are requiring greater power supply thus the amount of power is required to be sent via data cabling. Thus as power increases the possibility of noise interference increases. Therefore with modern PoE systems Cat6a is used more and more due to its shielded and better noise to signal protection

A general article on PoE can be found here which covers it in more depth

Can you join Cat5 cable together?

In many cases it is recommended not to join any data cables but rather replace with a new dedicated link. However in some cases it is more sensible to join. There are 2 main ways to join a cat5e cable

  1. A through coupler
  2. An inline joiner

The through coupler is achioeved by plugging in two RJ45 plug ends into each side. This then creates an extension. In contrast the inline joiner is a single block with two termination points similar to a module. The cables are “Punched Down” on either side of the joint box. Thus creating a permanent joint.

The coupler solution is known for large transmission loss through the joint and will in a large amount of cases fail once tested with a Fluke tester. The inline joiner in nearly all cases will pass as good as a new cable. Therefore the coupler is usually only recommended for a quick fix until a pennant replacement is done

An instruction video of how to undertake either extension can be found on our You Tube Channel

How to join Cat5 cable together with a coupler

How to join Cat5 cable together with an inline joiner




For further articles in addition to Cat5e cable FAQ please visit our Knowledge Center HERE

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