Cat6A Home Networking

Bwlmog

Active Member
Hi all,

I’m hoping someone can help, I’m currently looking at setting up a wired home network. At the moment I have FTTP BT 900mbps internet service and have the following network products;

Ubiquiti Dream Machine Pro
Ubiquiti 16 Switch PoE
Ubiquiti U6LR access point

I’ve been looking at Cat6A seems the best option to provide a degree of future proofing and cost to performance.

All of the equipment will be housed in a 6U data cabinet with patch panels etc. and stored in my loft.

The issues I have are as follow;

What 6A cabling should I be looking to get, the wiring will be both internal and external so may need two types of cabling - any recommendations would be welcomed.

What crimping tool should I be getting as unfortunately the equipment owned all runs in RJ45 so can’t take any other option.

What connectors should I be getting that will be compatible with the cable and crimping tool.

I’ve been looking everywhere and am struggling to figure out what to get. I should add that I’m based in the UK.

All help really appreciated. Thanks in advance.
 

Seb Briggs

Distinguished Member
If done properly you won’t need a crimping tool as the CAt6 cable will be punched down onto the patch panels in the cabinet and punched down onto outlets in rooms.

Unless you are going to use a pro testing device (fluke etc) your cabling may not be CAt6 or cat6a standard as that is the only way of certifying it to that standard.

Taking all of the above into account I’d stick
With CAt6 solid core cable either internal grade or external grade
 

Bwlmog

Active Member
Thank you, could you recommend a decent Cat6a punch panel, I still have an issue in that the AP requires RJ45 but I’m guessing I can buy a normal RJ45 cable and cut one end to punch into the panel?
 

mickevh

Distinguished Member
You may find that a lot of cat6a is shielded, (it may even be mandated in the standards - it's ages since I read them.) If you have shielded cable, there is the additional complexity that all the shields will need to be earthed/grounded for it to work correctly. IIRC Cat6a is also a lot stiffer as it often has (plastic) dividers inside the cable to keep the wire pairs physically spaced out from each other.

At one of the "cats" the standards change so that to actually be cat whatever, the cabling has to be installed into "proper" containment - so not just clipped to anything handy, sunk into channel chased out of a wall and so on. There's a lot more to achieving a particular "cat" - especially the higher ones - than just buying the appropriate cables and connectors.

However, that doesn't mean it won't "work" - gigabit ethernet is well within the performance spec. of even cat5e and you have to do a spectacularly bad job of installing it for it not to work up to gigabit ethernet (poor termination is usually the worst culprit.) Just don't be disappointed if at some future date you try to put 10Gig ethenet down it and it doesn't work or falls down to lower speeds.
 
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Bwlmog

Active Member
You may find that a lot of cat6a is shielded, (it may even be mandated in the standards - it's ages since I read them.) If you have shielded cable, there is the additional complexity that all the shields will need to be earthed/grounded for it to work correctly. IIRC Cat6a is also a lot stiffer as it often has (plastic) dividers inside the cable to keep the wire pairs physically spaced out from each other.

At one of the "cats" the standards change so that to actually be cat whatever, the cabling has to be installed into "proper" containment - so not just clipped to anything handy, sunk into channel chased out of a wall and so on. There's a lot more to achieving a particular "cat" - especially the higher ones - that just buying the appropriate cables and connectors.

However, that doesn't mean it won't "work" - gigabit ethernet is well within the performance spec. of even cat5e and you have to do a spectacularly bad job of installing it for it not to work up to gigabit ethernet (poor termination is usually the worst culprit.) Just don't be disappointed if at some future date you try to put 10Gig ethenet down it and it doesn't work or falls down to lower speeds.
Thanks, I doubt I’ll ever get 10Gig hitting my property but thought since I’m spending the time and money I might as well at least try to add some future proofing in.

Or I just abandon it all and just go mesh.
 

ChuckMountain

Distinguished Member
CAT6 cables also have a plastic divider down which helps maintain the twist of the 4 pairs, which themselves are twisted.

As the others have said better to go with punchdown connectors and then shorter patch leads which are more flexible.

If you don't want or can't mount a socket near the ceiling access point then you can terminate solid cables into an RJ45 connector. You must however get RJ45 connectors that support solid cables so they terminate correctly. Be careful though as the bends can be quite tight to get cables into access points and this is where patch cables are designed to bend and still work at tighter bend radii.

Also, make sure the cable you buy is solid copper and not CCA or copper-covered aluminium which is considerably cheaper and sometimes sold as CAT6 (or CAT 5) cable but doesn't meet any standards and should be avoided like the plague.

I run 10gig over copper (CAT 6) in some cases and even one short run that is still CAT 5 ... :)
 

Bwlmog

Active Member
Thank you, a few people have mentioned Cat 6, am I wasting time, money and effort in going Cat 6A over Cat 6?
 

mickevh

Distinguished Member
...Or I just abandon it all and just go mesh.

If you are willing to go to the trouble of installing cabling, you should get a much better (faster more reliable) infrastructure than by using mesh radio links. Plus you don't have to worry that the mesh nodes are "in range" of good signals from each other which can offer greater flexibilty in where you can deploy the AP's.

A managed fleet of AP's with ("proper") cabled backhaul links between them is no less a "mesh" system - plenty of so-called "mesh" systems are capable of using cabled backhaul links. There's no good definition of what a "mesh" system is - often it's a term attached to any product that avails a fleet of "managed" AP's whether they backhaul over Wi-Fi or wires.

BTW - AVF "mantra" for cabling is to "always install two (or more)" along any given route. It's highly unlikely that a UTP lobe will fail in service (I've worked with thousands over my career and can count the failures without running out of fingers) but if you do get a failure, and there's an alternate in situ, you stand a chance of geting up and running again relatively quickly. If you only have a single run and it dies, you are off the air until you rip and replace. And it's surprising how often one finds a use for "just one more" later on. Cable is cheap compared to the hassle of installing it.
 
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mickevh

Distinguished Member
Thank you, a few people have mentioned Cat 6, am I wasting time, money and effort in going Cat 6A over Cat 6?

I doubt it's significantly more time, but will be so if you buy shielded cable as you're got to provide earthing. If it's unshielded then I imaging it much the same. Though I've seen reportage from those that do this professionally that the higher cats are a "bit harder to work with" as the cable is mechanically stiffer due to the dividers. UTP should not be kinked, crushed or knotted so you have to ensure it doesn't tie itself in knots as you install it and ensure changes of direction are "curved" and not "bent" (there's a minimum bend radius specified, though IIRC pretty small at something like no less than 4x the sheath diameter.)

The biggest driver is more likely to be the cost difference. If cat6a is "not much more" than lower cats, then you "might as well" as ethenet certainly isn't going to be "worse" over it. So it's a bit of a value judgement as to what the cost differences are. But don't forget to factor in all the earthing required if you select UTP that's shielded.

Following is a link to my favourite "UTP DIY" site (it has lots of useful information and pictures about the pin outs and so on) and I don't doubt there's plenty of videos on YouTube showing how to do it.

(If anything offers you a choice of "A" and "B" pin outs, use B. It doesn't really matter as long as the pin outs are the same both ends of any cable lobe - UTP is all wired "straight" - but "B" is meant to be a bit better on interference numbers.)
 
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ChuckMountain

Distinguished Member
Thank you, a few people have mentioned Cat 6, am I wasting time, money and effort in going Cat 6A over Cat 6?

Having a quick look at the suppliers I have used all the CAT6a cable seems to have some sort of shield. With shielding as @mickevh stated you need to ensure it is terminated and grounded correctly, if not you could introduce more issues than you solve. You need to make sure then all the parts including the patch cables and sockets\keystones are shielded which adds to the cost.

Imho I would stick to CAT6 UTP (unshielded twisted pair) cable as it's easier to get right and cheaper. Plus you won't get any advantages from the cable. Ethernet runs at a given link speed it does not vary like WiFi or VDSL broadband so it's not going to make it 10% quicker by swapping cables.
 

mickevh

Distinguished Member
Incidentally, there's a few AVF's who have posted some "write ups" - some complete with pictures - of their adventures in UTP cabling. You might care to have a search and see if you can find any.
 

ChuckMountain

Distinguished Member
Incidentally, there's a few AVF's who have posted some "write ups" - some complete with pictures - of their adventures in UTP cabling. You might care to have a search and see if you can find any.

Yep, I have just redone my cabling in an orange colour scheme ... :smashin:

Should take some photos :D
 

Arfa

Active Member
Thank you, could you recommend a decent Cat6a punch panel, I still have an issue in that the AP requires RJ45 but I’m guessing I can buy a normal RJ45 cable and cut one end to punch into the panel?
Can second the plan for a cat6a patch panel. Just done this myself on an install, was a breeze to punch down. Went for this stuff from Cable Monkey:
and this cat6a panel:

Cable was U/FTP, i.e. foil screen on each pair. Mainly because they didn't stock any unscreened cat6a, it was on par with prices for cat6a elsewhere and I figured it could be handy in case any runs get a little close to mains cables or anything noisy. Could be handy for whatever super-fast standard is next around the corner that's even more sensitive on interference... Sure cat6 will do you 10gbe up to 50m ish, but for the difference in price and fraction more effort, it'd be daft not to lay cat6a to future proof things.

The patch panel is simple to punch into and handle earthing the screening/drain wire. Their cat6a wall socket modules are decently priced too. Any other small patch leads you need, just buy them in cheap, not worth the hassle of buying separate stranded cat6a cable and crimping RJ45 plugs on it (generally advice says solid core wire is only good for static installs and not patch leads).
 

Bwlmog

Active Member
Thank you, really appreciate you taking the time to respond and glad to hear that it all went well. I’ll take a look at the links now. My main concern is the AP that has to be connected by RJ45 but I suppose I could compromise that and have it running off a RJ45 directly into the switch. May look a little untidy but it’s all going in the loft anyway so it’s not really going to be seen.
 

ChuckMountain

Distinguished Member
Cable was U/FTP, i.e. foil screen on each pair. Mainly because they didn't stock any unscreened cat6a, it was on par with prices for cat6a elsewhere and I figured it could be handy in case any runs get a little close to mains cables or anything noisy. Could be handy for whatever super-fast standard is next around the corner that's even more sensitive on interference... Sure cat6 will do you 10gbe up to 50m ish, but for the difference in price and fraction more effort, it'd be daft not to lay cat6a to future proof things.

I still think it becomes a bit of a false economy, if you don't have shielded patch leads and other bits in the way you end up with half screened and half not screens cables. There are plenty of cables that run next to mains and suffer no ill effects as the frequency ranges are completely separate. 10Gb over Ethernet uses a lot of power and generates quite a lot of heat in the switches and modules and while switches might become cheaper the physics of it means the heat isn't going away anytime soon.

The patch panel is simple to punch into and handle earthing the screening/drain wire.

What did you attach the ground wire on the patch panel to?
 

mickevh

Distinguished Member
With the caveat that I'm not a qualified electrical engineer...

I doubt mains electricity running at 50/60Hz is going to offer much, if any, "interference" to 100/1000 mbps ethernet which has a symbol rate (rate of change of voltage on the lines) of 125,000,000Hz. Symbol to symbol, mains is going to look like DC. I suspect it's radio frequencies that are going to be a bigger issue and the amount of that that's going to be hitting data cables in a domestic premises is surely minimal.

In my professional capacity, I've had plenty of cabling run through electrically "noisy" environments such as plant rooms and so on in offices and factories using bog standard UTP and I've never had any issues. I find it hard to believe a bit of stray RF in a SOHO environment is going to provide any great challenge.

The "thing" about not running UTP and mains near, and parallel, to each other is about the mains potentially inducing voltages/currents in the UTP and constituting a shock hazzard. The foil shields simply add an extra pathway for such unless it's earthed.

In my experience, with UTP, poor or corroded termination, tends to be the biggest cause of problem (plugs more so that sockets) and I count the number of problems I've had over several decades without running out of fingers.
 

mickevh

Distinguished Member
Thank you, really appreciate you taking the time to respond and glad to hear that it all went well. I’ll take a look at the links now. My main concern is the AP that has to be connected by RJ45 but I suppose I could compromise that and have it running off a RJ45 directly into the switch. May look a little untidy but it’s all going in the loft anyway so it’s not really going to be seen.

There's a couple of ways to crack that: It depends on the cable routing and where you can "hide" things...

You can run stranded (aka) "patch" cable and not terminate it onto a patch panel (stranded just doesn't work into a PP as the knives in the IDC blocks will tend to sever the strands rather than grip them or at the very least cause a lot of micro-arcing which can effect transmissions.) Unless it's a huge length cable run, patch cable is probably fine.

If there's somewhere suitable to "hide" stuff nearer your AP,you can put a kind of inline coupler on the end of the solid core line and take a patchcord the rest of the way. These are a bit smaller than a full 85mm faceplate and some have mounting lugs for screwing them to something handy, but they are still a bit of bulk. Here's an example of such a thing (I'm not recommending this product or vendor, it's just the first one I found (and it's not cat6a.))


Equally, you could use such thing at the "patch panel" end to dress off a stranded cable run onto solid core "tail" to take into the PP.

Even easier, there are "special" RJ plugs designed to be crimped onto solid core cable - for something that's not going to physically move much once it's installed, such as an AP, they should be fine.
 
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Arfa

Active Member
I still think it becomes a bit of a false economy, if you don't have shielded patch leads and other bits in the way you end up with half screened and half not screens cables. There are plenty of cables that run next to mains and suffer no ill effects as the frequency ranges are completely separate. 10Gb over Ethernet uses a lot of power and generates quite a lot of heat in the switches and modules and while switches might become cheaper the physics of it means the heat isn't going away anytime soon.



What did you attach the ground wire on the patch panel to?
Yeah, probably a bit overkill, but only cost me an extra £100 in kit for the house install (mainly higher cost of wire and patch panel). In the grand scheme of things, no biggie for something that's going to sit in the house for several decades and as it's a labour intensive job, I don't want to repeat it, so I wanted to use the best kit I could.

As for earthing: I've got some cat6a patch cable ready. The wall plate modules are cat6a and hooked up to ethernet drain wire. At t'other end, the drain wire and foil is earthed to the patch panel. Then the patch panel is earthed to an earth bolt the comms cabinet, which is in turn earthed to the power distribution panel and the mains earth. So, fully screened top-to-bottom and earthed.

Not got full 10Gbe kit yet to utilise it all, but looking into it to shift data between a file server and my video editing rig as I'm up against the 1Gigabit limit.
 

ChuckMountain

Distinguished Member
Not got full 10Gbe kit yet to utilise it all, but looking into it to shift data between a file server and my video editing rig as I'm up against the 1Gigabit limit.

Yes the cost can mount up a bit, have a look at MikroTik they do some good gear at very reasonable prices. Do watch heat though on 10Gbe cards as they all come with big heat sinks. SFP+ can be cheaper with either DAC or optical cables and use a lot less power but get identical speeds :)
 

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