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Cat5e Cable FAQ

We are obviously asked a lot of questions about our data cabling installations. Below are the most common Cat5e cable FAQs that we receive. For further information, the project team is 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 into four pairs of colours. The pairs are twisted together and, hence, the category of twisted pair. The Cat5e cable pairs are a solid and 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 100 MHz. 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 installations, 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 allows 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 is rarely seen, even in older buildings.

Additional information can be found in this articlearticle 

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 of the building and the programme of work, among many others.

We have written a more in-depth Cat5e cable FAQ explaining 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 has a bandwidth of 250Mhz, two and a half times the capacity of Cat5e cabling. However, at the standardised 90m permanent link distance, they can only 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 best way to 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 if the cable is Cat5e or Cat6. In addition, the Cat6 cable will have a plastic central divider between the four 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. The RJ45 design is for the 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 it’s not the desired solution. Therefore, if using different categories, the link will only work as well as the lowest grade element. This combination of different systems is sometimes seen when companies are moving and want to retain parts of their existing infrastructure and 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.

Can I use Cat6 instead of Cat5?

The question should be, which is better suited to my requirements, Cat5e or Cat6 cabling?

You can use a CAT6 cable instead of a CAT5e cable in almost all situations. However, there are unusual cases where it is only sometimes valid. In a laboratory installation, we installed Cat5e cabling as the central plastic divider within Cat6 cables would have let pathogens escape the contained areas by travelling along the plastic core.

The question is, do you wish to or even need to?

Read more in the article Can I use Cat6 instead of Cat5?

Is Cat7 cable compatible with Cat5

Similarly 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, it’s 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 a standard UTP cable with a foil shield surrounding the inner cores. Thus, the shielding provides 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 with an extra layer of protection against outside damage. The potential damage could be crushing, an impact or being cut, such as during digging. Armoured cable is generally called Steel Wired Armoured (SWA), and the cable is constructed of strands 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 an External Cat5 Cable?

External Cat5 cable is a cable with a Polyethylene (PE) sheath. This cable sheath is standard in black. By comparison, internal cables are either PVC, LSOH or Euroclass sheathings. The PE sheath protects 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 extra protection, an armoured cable can be used. These, however, are more expensive and bulkier in size.

How far can you run a 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 to CCTV and Computers, WiFi, Telephones, etc. The 90m allows for 5m patch leads at 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 can transfer HDMI signals over its cable. Transmission is achieved via a transmitter and receiver that plug into each end. However, it is recommended that a minimum of Cat6 and even Cat6a cabling 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 eight lights confirm if the eight cores (4 pairs) within the cable 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 types of testers show a chart of tests that show the performance of the cable and any effects of poor installation or poor terminations. Thus, the actual impact of installation and whether it can transmit as it should. A group of charts and calculations are given on a single page per cable, and a summary of 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 receive PoE require greater power, the amount of power required to be sent via data cabling increases. 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 a Cat5 cable together?

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

  1. A through coupler
  2. An inline joiner

The through coupler is achieved by plugging in two RJ45 plug ends into each side. This coupler 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 between the two cables.

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

An instruction video of how to undertake either extension can be found on our YouTube 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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