A Smart Approach to Reduced Diameter Cat6 Patch Cables
28-AWG Cat6 patch cables have become very popular for their cable management benefits. Reduced diameter Cat6 cables are smaller and more flexible than standard Cat6.
This gauge wire is now recognized by the TIA standards institute for use in data networks, under the published standard named: ANSI/TIA-568.2-D.
Before the approval of the TIA, CABLExpress had been taking a very conservative approach in providing this product type to ensure compliance with the standards, and a product that would function in critical network applications.
There were, and still are, a few considerations when evaluating 28-AWG Cat6 patch cables. Let’s investigate the primary concern below:
Higher operating temperatures may cause channel failures (due to hardware ports not functioning properly). The smaller gauge wire translates to increased heat generation compared to standard Cat6 at 23/24-AWG. This is caused by the added resistance of the electrons that are transmitting over the smaller conductor. Bottom line, too much heat can cause channel failures.
Contributing Factors to Higher Temperatures
Power over Ethernet (PoE) is the biggest determinant for temperature increase. It will increase the temperature of the assembly exponentially. The TIA has published an addendum, namely TSB-184-A-1 to specifically address this point.
Other factors include the number of cables bundled together, ambient temperature, and airflow of the environment.
Stay under 30 feet (just under 10 meters), which is the maximum standard patch cord allowance in a channel. This assures compliance with the industry standard for patch cable use.
Ensure every assembly is individually tested to component compliance* (vs. channel compliant, which is easier to pass). This significantly reduces possibility of product failure, whether catastrophic or intermittent.
Use high-quality components, which is the best way to consistently pass individual component testing.
Identify your total channel distance. If the entire channel is at, or very close to, the 100-meter mark, use 28-AWG cautiously. Higher temperatures can reduce the total operating distance.
If PoE will be running over installed 28-AWG Cat6 patch cords, avoid heat buildup by following the guidelines in the TSB-184-A-1 to ensure proper data transmission. The primary aspect of this addendum is about the bundle size and space between bundles with 28-AWG Cat6.
*CABLExpress mini Cat6 products are guaranteed to pass component level testing right out of the box.
Josh Taylor is the director of CABLExpress product management, where he is responsible for all aspects of product design, support, market development, and inventory positions, including the high-performance fiber optic Skinny-Trunk® Solution.