Should you use Cat6 Riser instead of Cat6 Plenum?

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Cat6 is the cable that is used in almost all kinds of ethernet LAN networks. It comes in two main types that are defined by the type of jacket. The Cat6 plenum and Cat6 riser are its main types, distinguished by the CMP and CMR jackets, respectively.

Which one should you use and should you use the Cat6 riser cable instead of the Cat6 plenum? Which factors determine the type of cable you need to use? These are the questions we are answering in today’s blog. You are most welcome to join us as we walk you through the nuts and bolts of both of these cables. Let’s begin.

What is the Cat6 Cable?

Category 6 of twisted pair ethernet cables is known as Cat6. It features 4 twisted pairs of pure copper conductors. These conductors are twisted to keep EMI out of the signal transmission.

Cat6 Ethernet cable has a data transfer speed of up to 1 GBit/s over 100 meters and over 50 meters, it can transmit data at up to 10 GBit/s speeds.

Why Use Cat6 Cable?

There are many reasons to use the Cat6 cable. The most important one is its performance. Cat6 cable has a phenomenal performance. In both residential and commercial LAN and WAN networks, the cable can deliver gigabit speeds effortlessly.

It simply never lags in speed. You can also use it for high-performance applications such as in server rooms and data centers. Both Cat6 plenum and its riser counterpart are ideal for applications of such diverse caliber.

In any case, use the Cat6 cable because it is affordable, long-lasting, high-performing, and easy to maintain – to mention a few reasons.

Types of Cat6 Ethernet Cable

As mentioned earlier, the Cat6 cable has two main types that are defined by the type of its jacket: plenum and riser. The plenum-rated cable is ideal for all kinds of installations. It can be used indoors as well as outdoors.

Let’s have a detailed look at the types of Cat6 ethernet cables.

Cat6 Plenum

The plenum jacket is the main highlight of this cable. It is ideal for all kinds of installations as mentioned. Because the jacket is made from LSZH (Low Smoke Zero Halogen) materials, it can be used anywhere in a building.

Cat6 Riser

Cat6 risers can also be installed in all kinds of spaces but plenum. A plenum space is any indoor space with free-flowing air in it. HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning) ducts in raised floors and suspended ceilings are the main examples of plenum spaces.

Shielded Vs Unshielded

Shielded ethernet cables are the ones with an extra layer or two of protection against EMI underneath the cable jacket.

These are another two kinds of Cat6 cables that are debated quite frequently. Whether you need a shielded cable or an unshielded cable depends on the type of wired network you have or need.

For LAN and WAN networks with crowded cables, such as in commercial and data center applications, the cable must be shielded. The shielding on the Cat6 will ensure a smooth and reliable transfer of data without the signals being interrupted.

Similarly, in networks where there aren’t too many cables, the unshielded variants can work perfectly fine. For less than three cables running in parallel, you need the unshielded Cat6.

Which Cat6 Cable to Use?

Now, which cable do you need to use? Should you use the shielded Cat6 cable or the unshielded one? The plenum Cat6 or the riser? You will need to use the cable that best suits your needs. For instance, for indoor open spaces, you can only use the plenum-rated cable.

And for outdoor use, you can choose between the plenum or the riser. Depending on your performance and budget, you can choose the best option that suits your needs, as we mentioned.

Indoor vs Outdoor

Indoor and outdoor installations are different and both installations need different types of cables. Having said that, there are ethernet cables that can be installed in both types of installations.

For example the Cat6 plenum. This cable is highly resistant to flame, humidity, and other types of harsh environmental conditions. This jacket can therefore be installed in both indoor settings as well as outdoor.

The Cat6 riser cable also is installed in both types of installations. But in indoor runs, its installation types are limited. Meaning that it can not be installed in indoor plenum spaces because it can emit toxic smoke in case of a fire hazard.

Then there are direct burial cables. These cables are specifically designed for outdoor runs where the cable needs to be buried underground. These cables have special LLDPE jackets that are filled with protective gel. The jackets are highly durable in harsh conditions and ensure an everlasting performance of the cable.

Should You Use Cat6 Riser instead of Cat6 Plenum?

Whether you should use the Cat6 Riser cable instead of the Cat6 plenum depends on certain factors. There is one condition, however, in which you cannot use the riser instead of whatsoever. In other conditions, you have the choice to choose between either one of the two.

In indoor plenum spaces, you cannot use the riser cable instead of the plenum, whatsoever. But in indoor enclosed runs and outdoors, you can use the riser instead of the plenum. Note that the plenum is more durable than the riser. But it is more expensive as well, therefore, people prefer using the riser instead of it.

Final Verdict

If you are not restrained by budget, you should use the plenum cable. And if you are working with a limited budget and you also want an easy-to-install cable, you should use the riser cable instead of the Cat6 plenum. To reiterate, note that you can only do so in non-plenum spaces.