Whenever you connect a WiFi router to your home’s computer, you need Ethernet cables to supply the internet. However, Ethernet cables require sufficient shielding to disperse the crosstalk that results from conductive coupling from one circuit to another.
Crosstalk causes significant interference on the cables running alongside each other, creating errors that prevent seamless data transmission.
The magnetic field around such cables is strong enough to interfere with the transmission. Twisting the Ethernet cables improves the overall performance of two adjacent wires that carry signal and return power in opposite directions.
Do You Need Shielded Ethernet Cables for Your Home?
No. Shielded Ethernet cables are way too expensive for your home network. You will incur high installation and maintenance costs as a result of their fragile shields.
These cables are only suitable for businesses that run high-speed operations such as data centers, Universities, or airports. Unless you have so many devices that connect to one server, it’s best to install the unshielded Ethernet cables. For the best outcomes, ensure that your cables are twisted to reduce the crosstalk.
Below is more information about ethernet cable and some of the differences between shielded and unshielded cable and why I say you don’t need it for you home.
1. Shielded Vs. Unshielded Ethernet Cables
A shielded twisted pair (STP) has four pairs of wires, insulated with polyethylene. These electrical cables contain four insulating conductors, each encased in a typical conductive layer. The shields are either made from a spiral copper tape, strands of braided copper, or any other conducting polymer.
Shielded cables are usually more rigid and thicker than unshielded cables. The shield helps to electromagnetic radiation and electrical noise from affecting the signals.
Unshielded twisted pairs (UTP) are universal copper cables used in simple local area networks (LANS) and telephone wiring. In most cases, the UTP is 100 ohm cable that consists of two to hundreds of unshielded twisted pairs encased by an outer jacket. Since they have no metallic shield, the cables are smaller in diameter and unguarded against electrical magnetic induction EMI.
The differences between the cables are:
- Unshielded cables reduce EMI with twisted pairs only
- UTP cables have smaller bandwidth compared to STP cables
- Shielded cables have braided and spiral shielding configurations
- Shielded cables have a drain wire for effective grounding
Shielded Ethernet cables have delicate foils that are easily damaged during installation.
2. Importance of Twisted Cables
Compared to single conductors, twisted pairs reduce electromagnetic interference between neighboring pairs by canceling out the noise. These cables are especially vital for apartment dwellers that have a network of Wi-Fi connections. The ability to reduce the noise means that your signal won’t dip once your neighbor connects to the internet.
Twisting the cables also balances the main network cable with the return cable, meaning that the current flowing in opposite directions is almost equal. All shielded and unshielded Ethernet cables are twisted for better performance.
Twisted Ethernet cables are beneficial because:
- They can carry both digital and analog data easily
- The cables have connectors that make them easy to install and terminate
- These cables purge noise or crosstalk easily
- They have joints so that you can replace wires without affecting entire network
Increasing the number of twists per meter leads to better protection against interference.
3. Importance of Grounded Cables
All shield cables must be grounded firmly to be effective. Also, the shield must be electrically continuous to improve performance. The goal is to provide a return path to the signal in form of a drain wire.
Since the earth has a negative charge, it attracts the positive electrical charges in your network. Cable splicing is vital in transmitting the electrical charges seamlessly. Home Wi-Fi connections will operate normally without the drain wire since it’s not part of the main cable that supplies power and network.
However, grounding is mandatory in industrial applications because:
- It protects occupants against electric shocks
- It prevents electrical cabinets from energizing
- Protecting the appliances from power surges
- Protection of appliances from lightning damage
The ground wires have splices or joints that ensure fast replacement of damaged cables.
4. High Speed and Performance
Since properly installed STP cables suppress crosstalk and EMI, they ensure high-speed performance and integrity. Unshielded twisted pairs reduce some of the interference but are not effective in highly networked environments. STP cables such as CAT 6 are the best choices in areas that have a high risk of electrical interference.
For domestic internet use, you can get decent speeds if you install Fiber-optic service that delivers the fastest and most reliable connections. Since the home network speeds can reach up to 100 Mbps per second, the unshielded Ethernet cable will suit your requirements. The CAT 6 shielded cables are used in the following applications:
- Computer networks that reach 1 Gbps
- The main data supply cable that connects several buildings beyond 100 meters
- Businesses where workers share printers and documents
Before you invest in Ethernet cables, it’s best to determine your requirements.