Among the handful of differences in ethernet cabling one of the most important factors regarding physical cable construction is whether the conductors are solid or stranded. When you hear “solid” or “stranded” conductor mentioned, it is a literal reference to whether the conductors are made up of one single solid wire or multiple copper wires which make up one conductor. This difference in conductor plays a significant part in cable performance and which installs/applications would require one over the other.
Let’s review some of the pros and cons of solid versus stranded conductors to better understand where you should install each cable type.
Solid Wire Pros:
The major advantage of a solid conductor is its ability to transfer data over long distances with very little signal loss, or attenuation. Solid cables are more rigid and durable than their stranded counterparts, making them ideal for more both in-wall and outdoor installations. They’re also easier to punch down into traditional wall jacks and patch panels since there’s only one piece of wire to work with.
Solid Wire Cons:
The most glaring disadvantage of solid conductor cabling is its inflexibility. Solid conductor runs are really meant for backbone installations where a cable will stay in place without being handled much. They are not at all ideal for installs where the cable needs to bend often or where there will be more than usual environmental abrasion or vibration.
Stranded Wire Pros:
Flexibility tops the list of advantages of stranded wire, which is commonly used for patch cables. They can endure continuous flexing, and even vibration/handling, before breaking down or failing. A major factor to consider when budgeting for stranded ethernet cabling is to know the strand count, which can vary depending on the manufacturer. The higher the strand count, the more flexible the cable.
Stranded Wire Cons:
The minute gaps left in stranded wire make it to where it’s not ideal for reliable data transfer over long distances. It is much more suitable as a short-run patch cable as opposed to more permanent or outdoor runs. The fine strands which make up each conductor also makes stranded wire a bit more difficult to terminate compared to solid wire. Cost is also a factor to consider, as it’s more expensive to manufacturer stranded wire.
If you need any help deciding between solid versus stranded ethernet cabling for your next install, contact our NavePoint sales and service team at 888-505-1363.
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