Selecting the Best Cable for Your Next Installation

Stu Tisdale

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On May 24th In IP Solutions, IP Surveillance Video, IP Tech Tips, Wire and Cable
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Cable selection blog header

One of the great benefits of using IP-enabled security devices is their compatibility with various types of cables such as Cat5e/6 UTP, copper coax, and fiber optic links.  This provides security installers with a range of options when it comes to the cables that are used for specific devices weather they need to be newly installed or they already exist in the building. As each type of cable has its potential benefits and drawbacks, this blog post provides some tips about choosing the right cable for the right installation.

Cat5e/6 UTP

Cat5e/6 UTP is most commonly used for new device installations. A benefit of Cat5e/6 UTP cable is its versatility and the ability to transmit Ethernet connectivity as well as Power over Ethernet (PoE) to remote cameras, access control readers and other devices.  The most significant limitation of Cat5e/6 is the EIA/TIA imposed maximum distance of 328 feet (100 meters) that the cable can be run from the network switch to the remote device.  In some cases this distance may not be adequate for some device installations.

A simple way to achieve greater distances with Cat5e/6 cable is through the use of an Ethernet and POE Extender such as the Veracity OutReach Max module. This device connects in-line with Cat5e/6 cable, and will extend the connectivity and PoE distances an additional 100 meters.  This device draws its power from the PoE feed, therefore no separate power supply or connection is needed mid-span.  The module requires no additional programming, it only needs to be plugged in to significantly extend the available distance of Cat5e/6 UTP for a particular cable run.

Veracity OutReach Max

The Veracity OutReach Max

Copper Coax Cables

Copper coax cables such as RG-6 and RG-59 are often found to be previously installed in existing buildings. This is because these cables were typically used for older analog CCTV systems. If properly terminated and tested, coax cables can provide both Ethernet connectivity and PoE to remote devices. Additionally, copper coax cables work at significantly longer distances than Cat5/6 UTP cables.  A standard CCTV Camera can operate with the use of an RG-59 coax cable at a distance of 700 to 800 feet while RG-6 can reach to 1000 feet without the added cost of an amplifier or extender.

However, a drawback to the use of copper coax cables is the need to use media converters for all network connections. Virtually all remote devices such as IP cameras and network switches use RJ-45 connector jacks and sockets. This means that the connectivity at each end of an IP connection must be Cat5e/6.  If using non-UTP cable, media converters will be needed to convert the communications and PoE (copper cables only) from one type of cable to another. While there is a cost for installing the media converters, you should also consider the time saved by not having to remove the old cable, which many jurisdictions require, and running new cable. This should be considered as part of the overall cost of the job.

Fiber Optics

There are several benefits to using fiber optic links for Ethernet connections.  Using Fiber Optic Cable completely eliminates electromagnetic interference (EMI) and radio-frequency interference (RFI), which could degrade the performance of the circuit or stop it from functioning all together. Fiber Optic Cable can transmit over several miles or more making it ideal for use in long distance connections. Additionally, Fiber Optics have a huge potential bandwidth provided that the fiber is properly terminated and tested.  As for availability, there are millions of unused or “dark” fiber optic links that have already been installed in locations which can be readily used for security devices and applications provided the customer will allow such usage. On the negative side, fiber optic links are not able to transmit PoE because the glass they are made of will not conduct electricity. This means that additional cabling will be necessary to provide power to the security devices being used. As with the coax cable detailed above, media converters will also be needed to connect Cat5e/6 UTP jumper cables from the remote camera or device and the network switch port to the fiber optic link being used.

As with any project, having the right tools for the job is key to achieving the best possibly results. If you are unsure about your cable selection when it comes to your next installation, ADI’s Systems Support Group is available to help. You can contact the ADI Systems Support group at 1.800.ADI.SYS1