Ethernet cables come with different types of jackets, conductors, shielding, etc. And it is important to choose the cable with the right specifications for your unique networking requirement.
One of the important specifications that determine the performance of your cable is the cable jacket. Whether you choose a plenum or a non-plenum jacket will determine how your network functions and for how long.
So, in this article, we will discuss what a plenum and non-plenum jacket is, what their types are, and in what sort of environments they are used. Read on to learn more.
What is Plenum and Non-Plenum?
Simply put, Cat6 Plenum Cables have a fire-retardant jacket to help prevent fires. An Ethernet cable that is plenum-rated prevents the spread of fire and smoke, which could save lives and it is important for these cables to not emit toxic smoke because they are installed in indoor spaces where air can circulate freely, such as dropped ceilings or raised floors.
Plenum cables are manufactured in accordance with the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) standards, which state the cable is to be used in plenum spaces, or those parts of a building that are not normally occupied. Plenum-rated cables are also used in areas where there is an increased risk of exposure to fire and smoke, such as areas near exits or in cable trays.
Non-plenum cables are defined as those that are not allowed to be installed in the plenum spaces of a building. They are installed in non-plenum spaces which are outdoors and riser-rated spaces. A riser-rated space is an indoor vertically rising space such as the inside of walls, elevator shafts, etc. In indoor runs, these cables are mostly used within the walls and between floors.
Communications multipurpose riser jackets and PVC are the two types of riser jackets.
Why is Plenum cable important?
Plenum cable is a type of network cable that has been designed to contain the spread of fire. It is widely used in commercial buildings, offices, and large industries. Compared to the other types of cables, these cables have special fire-resistant properties (LSZH) which make them different from others.
They are widely used because of their superior features. They are easier to install and are also quite flexible. Plenum cables are more expensive than the other types of cables. They are available in different shapes, sizes, and colors.
What is the Difference Between Plenum and Non-plenum Cables?
One very important factor is the fire safety rating. Plenum cables are rated to be used in the plenum spaces of buildings where oxygen is present. Non-plenum cables are not rated for use in plenum spaces, and they should only be used in their designed spaces, where they are protected from open flames. Plenum cables are tested to ensure that the insulation is not flammable, the jacket is fire-resistant and smoke-free. The jacket is typically made from a fluorinated ethylene polymer that has a low smoke generation rate, meaning that if the cable does catch fire, the smoke generated is low in amount and toxicity.
Non-plenum cables are only rated for use in areas without oxygen, such as between floors and outside a building, but not in the plenum. The jacket on non-plenum cables is typically made from PVC and if they do catch fire, they can emit toxic smoke.
How to Choose the Right Cable?
Plenum Cable: When you have to install plenum spaces, you need to buy plenum cables. As mentioned, a plenum space is any indoor space with air circulating freely. These cables are highly resistant to heat and temperature and have self fire extinguishing features. These features make them safe for indoor spaces. And on top of that, if they catch fire, they do not emit any toxic smoke.
Because these are Premium Quality Cables, you can choose them in non-plenum spaces as well. However, you should choose non-plenum cables for non-plenum spaces to avoid the extra cost.
Non-plenum cable: If you need cables for non-plenum spaces, you have two options to choose from. Riser and PVC. For outdoors a PVC jacket is ideal. It gets the job done and does not come at a hefty price. And for indoor non-plenum spaces, go for a riser jacket. These are also not too expensive and are made in compliance with the safety and performance standards.
If you want the right cable, do not choose the cable based on price, but the right material that would fit your needs.