If you want to buy an ethernet cable, your contractor will probably encourage you to invest in Cat6. It is a multi-wire cable with twisted conductors that people use for data transmissions. You have four twisted pairs (Copper Wire), a bandwidth of 250MHz, and speeds that can reach 10Gbps. You probably guessed that Cat6 is better than Cat5, at least where data transmission is concerned. But what about electrical transmissions? How much current can Cat6 carry?
Cat6 Current Rating
Cat6 Cable Amp Rating
|6 W||50 ft||5V||1.88 A|
|6 W||50 ft||12V||0.52 A|
|6 W||50 ft||19.5V||0.25 A|
|6 W||50 ft||24V||0.25 A|
|6 W||50 ft||48V||0.13 A|
|6 W||50 ft||51V||0.12 A|
|6 W||50 ft||56V||0.11 A|
If your contractor selected the Cat6 cable because they thought the conductors could safely transmit electricity, the line might have a gauge of 23 or 24AWG. Depending on the distance, this could give you a maximum amp rating of 1.2 to 2.2A.
If the cable’s gauge is printed on its jacket, you can use the information to find the amp rating. If you don’t know the gauge, talk to a specialist.
Finding the current rating of a Cat6 cable is more difficult than you think. This is because most people do not use Cat6 wires to transmit electricity. Many contractors rely on the NEC’s tables to identify the correct electrical cables for different projects, especially newcomers.
The NEC reveals the different wire sizes and their related current ratings. However, those NEC tables do not include ethernet cables like Cat6. Therefore, your local electrician is probably just as ignorant about this subject as you are.
You need to consult a contractor specializing in PoE, preferably an expert who has used ethernet cables to transfer electricity. They can provide proper guidance regarding the current rating of an ethernet cable and whether or not you can use it for the application, you have in mind.
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Use of Knowing Current Rating in Cat6 Cable
The current rating serves the same purpose in an ethernet cable as it does in electrical wiring. The current rating is measured in amps. The amps reveal the volume of current a conductor can carry.
The amp rating matters because any conductor can transmit electricity, but you cannot trust it to do so safely. For instance, you cannot rely on a 24AWG wire to transmit the same current as a 14AWG line.
The 24AWG wire will melt. You can blame this reaction on the resistance in the conductors. Every conductor has a resistance that opposes the flow of electricity.
Heat is the byproduct. It is produced whenever a current moves through a cable. The higher the resistance, the more heat generated, the greater the chances of the cable melting.
Small gauges have more resistance than larger gauges. Therefore, the 24AWG wire in the example above will melt because it has to transmit more current than its amp rating allows, generating more heat than the conductors can withstand.
This is why the current rating is so important. If you know the amount of electricity a cable can safely carry, you can pair it with applications whose energy requirements fit its limitations.
If a Cat6 cable can carry a maximum of 2.2 amps, you can limit its use to applications whose electrical requirements don’t exceed 2.2 amps. It is a question of safety.
If a small Cat6 cable melts because you paired it with a heavy-duty appliance, you will start a fire. It isn’t a simple question of convenience. You are better off using conventional electrical wiring instead of ethernet cables.
Can I Use Cat6 Cable To Carry Power?
You can use Cat6 cables to carry power. Ethernet cables carry electricity, but in tiny amounts. They transmit that current at high frequencies and only because it is necessary to send data.
You wouldn’t expect a rational human being to use Cat6 cables to transmit large volumes of current, especially in scenarios utterly unrelated to the cable’s primary task as a tool for data transmission.
However, things have changed. In the last few years, it has become relatively common for individuals and companies to transmit data and electricity using the same cables.
You find this practice in large corporations that rely heavily on advanced computer systems. The concept is called ‘PoE’ (Power over Ethernet). The idea is to use the same medium to meet your data and electrical needs.
But that raises a question. Why would anyone use Cat6 cables to transmit electricity? The answer is simple. Most of the devices that use Cat6 lines require a power source.
According to Versa Technology, the original solution involved installing Cat6 cables as well as electrical wiring to accommodate the electrical and data transfer needs of the device in question.
But after a while, contractors realized that this solution was redundant. It was a waste of resources. What is the point of installing two different types of wires when the same cable can perform both tasks?
Questions of this sort gave birth to PoE. The technology can send 15 – 90W of power over Cat5e, 6, 6a, 7, and 8. This approach saves money and space. You can drastically reduce the number of wires crossing your floor, ceiling, and walls by using PoE technology.
Devices that can use Cat6 cables to meet their power requirements include VOIP phones, ATMs, IP cameras, and security card readers, to mention but a few.
As you already noticed, these are not heavy items. Their electrical consumption is incredibly mild. You cannot use Cat6 cables to operate freezers and electric cars.
A time will probably come when people can transmit hundreds of amps across ethernet cables like cat6. But until that day come, be careful. Keep the following in mind:
- Pay attention to the wire size. Wire size affects the resistance.
- Deploy separate fuses for individual wires in a setting with a centralized power source.
- Use different connectors that can warn people that your cat6 cables transmit electricity. At the very least, you should include a label.
- The distance matters. If you increase the distance, you raise the resistance and heat generated. You must limit PoE transmission distances to 100 meters, especially if you have substandard Cat6 wires.
- Cat6 cables are perfectly adequate for PoE. Some people think they need specialwires to use PoE technology, but that is not true. Cat5e is more than adequate, which tells you that Cat6 can work.
- Pay attention to the temperature ratings. Look for cables whose rating exceeds 60 degrees C. The temperature rating reveals the amount of heat the insulation can accommodate. To operate larger devices with heavier electrical requirements, you need wires with higher temperature ratings.
- Don’t just look at the cables. Consider the conductor sizes. Two ethernet cables may look the same even though their conductor sizes vary.
- You can overcome the 100M distance limit by using a PoE extender. PoE extenders have been around since 2005.
What Voltage Can Cat6 Carry?
You can conclude that PoE technology supplies power at a voltage ranging from 47V to 57V (DC). This is the IEEE 802.3 standard.