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Safety first is more than a cliche when it comes to cabling

By Donna Donnawitz
September 12, 2012
I remember being a teenager and working on a personal cable installation for a project my parents let me do one summer. I had a severely limiting budget and thought, "Hey, why don't I just cut costs by spending less on cables?" So I went out and got the cheapest CAT 5 cables I could find and went with them in the project. After a few hours running the experiment, I thought I smelled something burning and had to immediately turn everything off. Turns out, the bargain-basement cables were getting so hot that their outer lining was beginning to melt. If I would have let the system keep running, it would have been a long day of sparks, flames, sirens and tears, something nobody wants to deal with. Alas, that's the cost of cheap cables.

While consumers often can get away with inexpensive cabling systems, businesses cannot afford to cut corners within their wiring infrastructure, a hard-learned lesson for many. The standards that govern cabling manufacturing, safety and installation requirements are extremely complex and, therefore, rather easy to circumvent because not every cable sold is officially certified by standards bodies. If you buy a cheap cable, you could be getting one with a loose internal wire or shaky connection with the wall, creating major risks. If there is one area company's can't skip, even in today's economy, it is safety.

To understand the complexity of cabling standards, consider a recent Cabling Installation & Maintenance report that details the core elements of adjustments to the National Electric Code for cabling systems. The news source lists at least 11 different cabling types that are addressed with the revised standard and are covered throughout the entire code, with the first change coming in article three and the last cabling-related adjustment happening in article 840. Knowing and following the codes regarding the cables you use is vital to ensuring safety.

One shortcut to accomplishing this is to use high-quality cabling systems that are certified to meet industry standards. You are probably thinking you can barely afford new optical cables, let alone more expensive fiber and copper systems, but strategic supporting technologies can enable better cabling. For example, implementing fiber to Ethernet media converters can allow you to more strategically use fiber and copper throughout the network setup, freeing funds to spend on better cabling systems that ensure safety and consistent performance.

Perle has an extensive range of Managed and Unmanaged Fiber Media Converters to extended copper-based Ethernet equipment over a fiber optic link, multimode to multimode and multimode to single mode fiber up to 160km.


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