A plenum ethernet cable is a type of cable made from supreme quality polyvinyl chloride and specially designed for installation in plenum spaces of the buildings. Cat5e Plenum cable, Cat6 Plenum cable, and Cat6a Plenum cable are a few types of plenum cables.
Before moving any further, first, you must know what the plenum spaces are.
In all buildings, there are spaces between the floors that are designed to facilitate air conditioning and air circulation systems through pathways for either heated/conditioned or return airflows at greater than atmospheric pressure. As oxygen is present in more significant quantities in plenum spaces of the buildings, these spaces are at constant risk of fire eruption. Therefore, you need an ethernet cable that comes with a jacket that can withstand these extreme conditions.
The CMP in plenum cables stands for Communications Multipurpose Cable. Cables with CMP-rated have their jackets made from supreme quality polyvinyl chloride (PVC). When exposed to blaze, these cables emit no smoke or hazardous elements as their coat is non-toxic. Also, these cables are fire-resistant. It means that if a fire erupts, these cables halt the fire progression. Also, due to their thick coatings, they provide excellent protection against all types of crosstalk and EMI.
Due to their supreme quality jackets, you can use plenum cables in riser and outdoor spaces too. However, as they use supreme-quality PVC material, they cost relatively more than riser and PVC ethernet cables.
Types of Plenum Cables
Following are the kinds of plenum cables:
Cat5e Plenum Cable
Belonging to the 5th generation of the ethernet cables, a Cat5e plenum cable possesses data transfer rates of 1Gbps and 100Mbps over lengths of 50 meters and 100 meters, respectively. Though TIA/EIA requirements for bandwidth capacity are 100MHz, manufacturers are making this cable with a bandwidth capacity of up to 350MHz.
Cat6 Plenum Cable
Belonging to the 6th generation of the ethernet cables, a Cat6 Plenum cable possesses data transfer rates of 10Gbps and 1Gbps over distances of 50 meters and 100 meters, respectively. Though TIA/EIA requirements for bandwidth capacity are 350MHz, manufacturers are making this cable with a bandwidth capacity of up to 550MHz.
Cat6a Plenum Cable
The “a” in the Cat6a Plenum cable stands for “augmented.” Though it also belongs to the 6th generation of ethernet cables, its features have been augmented to provide a mammoth data transfer rate of 10Gbps over a distance of 100 meters. In addition, though TIA/EIA requirements for bandwidth capacity are 350MHz, manufacturers are making this cable with a bandwidth capacity of up to 750MHz.
When to use Cat5e, Cat6, and Cat6a plenum cables?
You can use plenum-rated cables for installation in the plenum spaces of the buildings. However, you are only authorized to use plenum-rated cables in the plenum spaces.
Due to their supreme jackets, you can also use plenum ethernet cables in the riser spaces and outdoor spaces. But it can’t be turned otherwise.
If you need a cable for residential installation, the Cat5e plenum cable is sufficient for your needs. However, if you need an ethernet cable for gaming purposes, you will use a Cat6 plenum cable.
Likewise, you will either use a Cat6 plenum cable or a Cat6a plenum cable for commercial purposes. For data centers, Cat6a plenum cable is the only choice.