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How to tell if Cat5E is Stranded or Solid?

post #1 of 14
Thread Starter 
I need to terminate some Cat5e cables. How do I tell if they're stranded or solid? I have the heads for both.
post #2 of 14
Peel it and see? Bend it rapidly back and forth a lot (if it breaks, it was probably solid)? Read what it says on the jacket? That's what I'd do...
post #3 of 14
U know what STRANDED means right? the cable is composed of several/multi fibers, u can see this when u peel it off. Solid, there is one, a single solid wire.

We pros know by just handling the cable as the solids are stiffer, but of course if ur newbie u don't know the difference. ^)
post #4 of 14
Thread Starter 
I don't know what I'm looking at to determine if it's solid or stranded. How do they look differently?
post #5 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by Superfluous View Post

I need to terminate some Cat5e cables. How do I tell if they're stranded or solid? I have the heads for both.

Forget what everyone else threw out there, this will give you the breakdown in the different types:

Bulk Cat5e Cable (Cat5 cable) is primarily available in 3 different types, each type has a specific application. Bulk solid Category 5 cable, the most commonly used, is comprised of a Riser Rated (CMR) PVC jacket and solid core conductors.

Solid
core conductors allow the cable to be run long distances while maintaining performance, but reduces the number of times it can be flexed before breaking. This makes solid cat 5 cable perfect for permanent installation applications (long runs from patch panels to wall plates) where the cable will not move much once installed.

Stranded is comprised of a PVC jacket and stranded core conductors making it very flexible. This flexibility allows it to be flexed many times with no negative effects on performance making it perfect for building patch cables.

Plenum
(CMP) also has solid core conductors, but is built with a low smoke, fire retardant jacket that make it safe for use in plenum air spaces (check your local building codes for requirements).

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Category_5_cable
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Category_6_cable
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Category_7_cable
post #6 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by Superfluous View Post

I don't know what I'm looking at to determine if it's solid or stranded. How do they look differently?

Really? Strip the individual wires - there are 8 inside the jacket. If there's one piece of relatively thick copper = solid. A bunch of hair-like strands (ha!), it's stranded...

Stranded cable is much more flexible, which is why it's used in the first place...
post #7 of 14


Generally, category cables used in-wall will be solid core wires. Category cables used to make patch cords will be stranded.
post #8 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by KingLeerUK View Post

Generally, category cables used in-wall will be solid core wires. Category cables used to make patch cords will be stranded.

Except that solid picture is not the best example, it has that slit in the middle!

OP, if u still don't know what ur looking at, just google man, this stuff is really like water vs soft drink.
post #9 of 14
Thread Starter 
That picture helps. When I googled stranded vs solid cat5e, the pictures that came up didnt show any differentiation.
post #10 of 14
Stupid Q: Why do you need to know? U said you already have the materials, so... is your next question should you crimp/punch them a certain way if stranded or solid?
post #11 of 14
OP said he had plugs for both. Plugs for stranded don't necessarily work reliably for solid, and vice versa, with a few exceptions.
post #12 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by MrBobb View Post

Except that solid picture is not the best example, it has that slit in the middle!

OP, if u still don't know what ur looking at, just google man, this stuff is really like water vs soft drink.

What slit? That is a computer graphic picture drawn by someone probably using a Wacom tablet. The black stripe is there to show a light glare.
post #13 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by gregzoll View Post

Forget what everyone else threw out there, this will give you the breakdown in the different types:

Bulk Cat5e Cable (Cat5 cable) is primarily available in 3 different types, each type has a specific application. Bulk solid Category 5 cable, the most commonly used, is comprised of a Riser Rated (CMR) PVC jacket and solid core conductors.

Solid
core conductors allow the cable to be run long distances while maintaining performance, but reduces the number of times it can be flexed before breaking. This makes solid cat 5 cable perfect for permanent installation applications (long runs from patch panels to wall plates) where the cable will not move much once installed.

Stranded is comprised of a PVC jacket and stranded core conductors making it very flexible. This flexibility allows it to be flexed many times with no negative effects on performance making it perfect for building patch cables.

Plenum
(CMP) also has solid core conductors, but is built with a low smoke, fire retardant jacket that make it safe for use in plenum air spaces (check your local building codes for requirements).

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Category_5_cable
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Category_6_cable
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Category_7_cable

Further proof that you can't trust Wikipedia...
post #14 of 14
OP, if you purchased the wire bulk, I'm 99% sure that what you have is solid. Stranded Category cables in bulk is rare. You can generally only find stranded in pre-terminated patch cables because it is nearly impossible to do a proper crimp on the end by hand and still pass all the EIA/TIA tests. Plus, anything over 5M (in general) should always be solid due to the extra resistance of stranded wire over its length. (Typically only 80% of solid)

Best,

Carl
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