Copper Patch Cables

In-Depth Look at Stranded and Solid Ethernet Cable

As we know, Ethernet patch cable can be divided into unshielded and shielded Ethernet cable (also referred to as UTP and STP cable) according to whether it is to be shielded. Except that, the Ethernet patch cable can also be divided into into stranded and solid Ethernet cable that have different features and advantages. Since these two kinds of Ethernet patch cables are very commonly used, do you have a good knowledge of them? When designing your wired network, have you ever hesitated over making a decision about which one should be choose to deploy your network? In this paper, it will mainly make an in-depth study of the stranded and solid Ethernet cable and seek the most proper one for you to manage your cabling network.

Stranded and Solid Ethernet Cable Overview

The stranded Ethernet cable is made up of multiple smaller strands of wires which are twisted together to form a single conductor, typically used for patch cords/cables connecting workstations, from wallplate outlet to patch panel and from patch panels to individual workstations. While the solid Ethernet cable is just composed with the single solid strand of copper for each of the 8 conductors that is designed for permanent and semi-permanent installations in longer distance horizontal and backbone cable runs, PoE (power over Ethernet), and HD applications. To better understand the difference between the stranded and solid Ethernet cable, the following figure shows their internal structures.

Stranded vs. Solid Ethernet Cable

Stranded and Solid Ethernet Cable Comparison

From the figure above, we can easily learn that the stranded Ethernet cable consists of multiple twisted strands of insulated bare copper conductors, but the solid Ethernet cable features solid insulated bare copper conductors. Why the strands of wires in the stranded Ethernet cable are designed to be twisted together? Compared to the non-twisted solid Ethernet cable, can the stranded Ethernet cable benefit from this special design?

In fact, the twisted feature of the stranded Ethernet cable is designed with the aim of protecting the cable from bending or damage, which provides high flexibility. For a given conductor length of the cable, the more times each strand is twisted around the central conductor, the higher the overall flexibility of the cable and the better the protection will be. Considering that the internal structure in each type of the stranded Ethernet cable are different, if you want to choose a highly flexible stranded Ethernet cable to make your cabling network, you’d better to choose a specified one to meet the detailed requirement of your network.

As for the solid Ethernet cable, what are its features and advantages, and when and where should or shouldn’t it be used for cabling network? In general, the conductor of this kind cable usually features the diameter varying from 22 and 24 AWG wire gauge. For instance, the solid Cat 6 Ethernet cable utilizes 23 AWG copper wires that is larger but more proper for the new and emerging fast Ethernet applications than the solid Cat 5e Ethernet cable with 24AWG wire gauge. As the solid Ethernet cable is easier to be broken if it is over-flexed, bent, or twisted beyond the cable recommended specifications, all the solid Ethernet cables should be seriously made with the minimum bend radius for performance standards and correctly installed to maximize the performance of the cable. Besides, it is not recommendable for daily connecting use due to its fragility, but suitable for permanent and semi-permanent applications.

Conclusion

With the diversity and popularity of the Ethernet patch cable for Ethernet network, there is no doubt that the copper transmission medium will support higher and higher data transmission rate and frequency. Like the two Ethernet patch cable mentioned above, the solid Ethernet cable is less flexible but cheaper than the stranded Ethernet cable, which also performs not so good as the latter one. If you want to make a permanent and semi-permanent cabling, then the solid Ethernet cable is a good choice for you that will save you a lot. But if your cabling network is deployed for daily use, then you are strongly suggest to choose the stranded Ethernet cable.

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