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When referring to stranded vs. solid cables, we are actually referring to the core material of the cable (copper) and how it is configured. Copper cabling is easier to use and more cost efficient than fiber cables. The wire thickness (gauge), insulation, fillers, shielding, drain wires and outer jacket material may also be a determining factor for proper cable selection.
Category 5e (CAT5e) and Category 6 (CAT6) network cables, whether they are classified as stranded or solid, both consist of four pairs of conductors. The difference is that a solid cable uses one solid wire per conductor, while a stranded cable uses multiple wires wrapped around each other per conductor.
For example, a stranded cable with a gauge of 7/32 means that there are 7 strands of 32-gauge wire per conductor. Solid cables are shown as the gauge of the wire for each conductor, i.e. 24 AWG. Wire gauges represent the thickness of the wire and the higher the number, the thinner the wire. These gauges are based on the number of times the wire has to be "drawn" or stretched to achieve the correct thickness. Therefore, the gauge is the number of times it was pulled.
Stranded cables are made of several smaller wires woven together and are suggested for crimp connectors. Patch cables are typically stranded cables and are excellent for applications that call for a flexible cable that also rolls up well. Use stranded patch cables for connecting workstation network interface cards (NICs) and outlets or between concentrators and patch panels, hubs and other rack-mounted equipment. Suggested for RJ45 plug terminations, stranded cable has a better and more flexible and complete connection than solid cable. Attenuation (signal reduction) is higher in stranded-conductor cable, so the total length of stranded cable in your system should be kept to a minimum to reduce signal degradation.
Solid cabling runs are usually a single run of wire and are best for wall jacks and horizontal runs. These solid-conductor cables designed for backbone cable runs should not be flexed, bent or twisted repeatedly. It’s suggested for runs between two wiring centers or from the wiring center to an outlet. Its attenuation is better than that of stranded-conductor cable, allowing for better performance over longer distances.
Solid conductor cables are ideal for structured wiring within a building. They can be easily punched down into wall jacks and patch panels as they consist of a single conductor. The wire seats properly into the insulation displacement connector (IDC).
It's important to carefully consider what the best cable conductor is for your configuration, depending on your application requirements and installation features. Since attenuation is higher in stranded cables than in solid cables, stranded cable runs should be kept short to lower the chance of introducing even more attenuation into the system. It's best to keep lengths of stranded patch cables under 6.0 meters.
|Stranded vs. Solid Cables||Solid Cable||Stranded Cable|
|Applications that subject the wire to repetitive motion||X|
|Minimized proximity effect||X|
|CosCost-effectiveness (in the right situation)||X|