Small Diameter Patch Cables and PoE

Power over Ethernet (PoE) is growing in both popularity and capability, along with the needs of users.

The networks themselves seem to grow exponentially too as more and more devices and buildings become smarter during this Internet of Things revolution.

On one hand, user demand for higher network speed and better data transfer is ushering in the transition from Cat 6 to Cat 6A – a cable with a noticeably thicker diameter. On the other, IoT and smart buildings need more power to bring devices like IP speakers, wireless access points, and the like to life, which PoE-ready Cat 6A provides.

That means bigger cables, and many more of them, flooding into your cable managers where space is already extremely limited; plus, more heat from the power flowing through them.

Small diameter patch cables are the solution to space, and now they’re a solution for PoE too. But there are things to be mindful of, namely safety, which we’ll get into in a bit.

Small diameter patch cables to the rescue

Before we do, let’s look at how the advent of these small diameter patch cables has saved the day.

The cable managers in your telecom room probably already felt like they were bursting at the seams with wiggle room reduced to essentially zero. And that was before Cat 6A came into play!

CommScope® heard the collective yelp from network professionals around the globe and developed Cat 6A patch cables that cut diameter dramatically without hindering performance.

Imagine going from a cable the size of your old landline (remember those?) to a patch cable the diameter of the one that charges your smartphone. That’s no small feat, ‘eh?

It was done by decreasing the jacket size, and the amount of insulation, to the bare minimum as well as by reducing conductor size.

But what about the PoE element? Isn’t a lot of the heat mitigation being removed in the process?

Small diameter patch cables and PoE: what you need to know

Heat mitigation is an incredibly important consideration when it comes to PoE.

With less copper mass in a patch cable, 23-gauge down to 28-gauge, heat builds up more quickly as power runs through it. The thinner jacket size of a patch cable means the heat rating is going to be lower as well. And as temperatures rise, you start to run into issues like signal loss and generally diminished performance.

That’s not the worst of it though.

Heat trapped in larger and larger bundles of cables can build to dangerous levels. Fire becomes a very real risk with catastrophic consequences.

While the operating temperature for CommScope’s MiNo6A patch cables goes all the way up to 140°F (60°C), you don’t want to test the boundaries. To allow for proper heat dissipation, limit those 28-AWG patch cables to 24 in a bundle.

As important as bundle size is, though, it’s just as essential to make sure you’re using cables from a reputable brand. Sourcing patch cables from a tried, trusted and true company like CommScope is critical.

Will you spend a bit more? Probably, but this isn’t the place to pinch pennies or cut corners. You’ll be relying on this network and the safety of these connections for the next decade or more.

Think about it this way, when you average the cost of patch cables out over the life of your network, you’re looking at less than a penny a day.

Dig deeper into PoE here and then learn more about patch cables by registering for our August 25 Lunch & Learn.