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By Steven deSteuben, Mar 7 2017 03:06AM

Are you getting ready to wire up your new office or gathering quote for your next installation? Be sure to ask the question from your vendors what they are planning to do to meet the NEC 2017 Requirements for "power limited" cabling that would effect all POE installations.

At the time of this writing only Massachusetts has adopted the NEC 2017 requirements. However, many other states have started the process to merge over to these standards. Soon enough it will be required for all installations.

What is this new requirement and how does it affect POE installations?

To summaries what you are about to read, We suggest if you are going to use POE++ devices in the future then you should select a Cat 6 or Cat 6A cable that has a PL rating for the max wattage of your POE Devices.

POE devices receive power over the Ethernet cabling (POE). Depending on the the equipment this voltage that is sent might be 24V - 48V. Until recently the wattage of these devices was rather small. Because of that there was no real requirements in terms of POE devices, at least not technically. However, starting in 2017 the NEC has realized that there are much more power hungry devices out there, or soon to be out there, on the market. This increase in power and wattage means the cablings carrying this power will produce more heat and will have a potential fire risk. This is particularly the case the larger your bundle of cables is in the ceilings, in your cable trays, and in the racks.

That extra heat from the cabling could do a few things. First, it could actually melt your Ethernet cabling, causing it to short out and fail. If you have higher wattage in the cable, and it shorts out on the metal basket tray, or inside a peice of metal conduit, it could actually start a fire. Second thing that could happen, is the cabling could heat up to a point that it begins to heat up something in the wall, or ceiling around the cabling, causing the other material to catch fire, or melt.

Nec 2017 725.144 require cabling carrying the new POE++ devices to have a either a cable with a rating stamped on it that says "PL" (power limited) followed by its designed wattage, or you must prove to the inspector the wattage calculation of your devices, and the burn / melting temperature rating of your cabling. This is a combination of the fire rating of the cabling and the AWG (gauge) of the cable.

Regardless of the above ratings you will then also be limited to the number of cables in your bundles based on the type of cable.

For example. If your new network will have POE ++ devices with 70 watts of power, you will need to consider the type of cabling being installed. If your contractor wants to save money and use a cat 5e cable that is very very cheep, it may have 26 awg copper in the cable. (some are even worse and are actually copper clad aluminum which is very very bad) Assuming you have 70 watt devices and you are using cat 5e 26awg cabling, you would be limited to no more then a 48 port patch panel because your bundle of cable would be too large otherwise. In a typical medium sized office space with 2 48 port patch panels a minimum requirement of cabling would Cat 6 with 23awg wiring.

There are of course many more factors involved. Also, one should consider not just what is required at the point of installation, but what would be required if the devices on the network were later upgraded to poe++ devices.

Consider too what could happen with some AHJ (local inspectors). It is possible that in order to be safe, he may conclude that he simply can not verify what type of device will be plugged in down the line, therefore he may simple require you to assume in your cable selection that you have the most powerful device on each line, thereby requiring the LP rated cabling, or Cat 6 23awg cabling in smaller then 48 bundles.

Making the wrong choice of cabling could cost you in the long run if it were to catch your building on fire, or if it simply prevented your construction project from passing the electrical inspection.

We hope this information has helped you ask the right questions of your cabling vendor. At Nashua Data Solutions we have always looked out for NEC requirements, and we are committed to do so for you and your companies needs in the future.

By Steven deSteuben, Nov 9 2016 03:06PM

We do get asked a lot about "what the correct wiring method (or pinout) is for Cat 5e or Cat 6." Related to this is a question we get often as well. "Does it matter which color goes where, or does it just have to be the same at both ends?"

Sometimes you have to make a repair to a cable on your own. this will help you do that.

We always suggest using T-568B for wiring. This is the current insdustry standard. I can't remember when the last time someone asked us to use T-568A.

All the wires are required for 1Gbps (Gigabit Ethernet) and for Voip / POE.

We have seen it work with just Orange and Green, however that is not technically correct, and it will only be a 10/100 connection with now Power Of Ethernet which most IP phone will require.

The order does matter. The pairs are designed to twist around each other. So if you swap the colors around and make your own pattern, it would likely work. But it would not be correct. If you pick a random pattern you will not get the same speed, and preformance that you would using a standard pattern.

Related to this question, is how do you terminate a Keystone or wall jack. The pattern for this has to do with the particular brand. The pins will line up exactly as you see here, but the termination will vary from brand to brand. The brands we use, have a pattern that makes sense. You will have to look really close at the part you purchase for its pattern chart, and follow the T-568B pattern.

A third question we get often is: " can i use a T-568A cable in wiring that was done for T-568B" The anwser is yes you can. As long as the patch cable is using A on both sides, and as long as the building wiring is using B on both sides. it will be the same in the end. This also works with a B pactch cable in Buildings wired for A

I hope this has helped you with your repair.

If you need further assistance we would be happy to have one of our Network CableTechs come and fix whatever your building wiring needs are.

Nashua Data Solutions

603 821 0441

By Steven deSteuben, Jul 21 2016 09:02PM

We get many calls a year from customers who highered an electrician to run their data network. We do work with many electricians and they are very good. However, there is a group of them who do not seem to know much about the importance of a computer network, and how to run them correctly.

Just the other day we did a job for a client who had his house built recently. Somehow in the process of this, he was under the understanding that his electrician was going to be running all the data and phone lines for him. The electrician ran the wires to each room, though some of these locations were less then ideal. In the end the electrician apparently has no intention of terminating them in the electrical room. So when he signed off on the job, the wires were run, and terminated into plate covers. However, there was still no terminations on the other end. He did not leave any labels on either end of the cables.

So we came into a bundle of 50 cables for phone data and coax, with no labels. They were not even grouped together per room. This meant that our first job was to tone out all the cables, find them in the network room, and label both ends. Then we had to build a network rack, and terminate these cables. Lastly we need to then test all of them. The cost to the homeowner was nearly 60% of what we would have charged them anyway had we did the whole job.

Beyond that, Those wires were run together with electrical wires. This meant that the phone lines all had a hum in them from the A/C Current. Whoever it was that ran these did not understand the effects of AC current on Tel/Data cabling. This also effected the overall throughput of the network. That ac hum created interference on the data side as well. The cabling did certify however it was much lower performance then it should actually have seen.

one company last year had hired a kid who was on summer break to run cables for their new network. He had no experience running cables. But they all figured, how hard could it be? It took him all summer and he never completed the project. When the client ultimately called us in, most of what he had run was not up to building codes and had to be removed. Not only did they waist cable but they also had to pay for it to be removed. The cost of highering someone with no skills is very high in the end.

We always suggest that you select a company that knows computer networking. Some cabling contractors do not really understand these items too. In one commercial job we did a repair on, the contractor has run speaker wires in bundles with fire alarm cabling. This meant that all the speakers in the building has a slight ax hum to them from the fire system. To prove this we put the fire panel into test mode and then turned it off. The hum was gone. the only three options were, 1) keep the slight hum 2) install a filter at each speaker through out the building, 3) run new cabling that avoided those fire cables.

Nashua Data Solutions takes great pride in their work. We have specialized techs who know and understand IT and computer networking. This adds a value to the work we preform. We understand what the end result is, and what sort of things need to be avoided in the installation. We will always try to do the best quality job. Our quoting process is very complete. We try to keep our work on our pricing. This means that the majority of our estimates are right on the mark with the final invoice, less any customer changes along the way.

Feel free to give us a call and see how we can help you properly plan your next project

Nashua Data Solutions

(603) 821-0441

By Steven deSteuben, Feb 11 2016 06:34PM

This is a question that has been asked for many years. Over the years the answer has changed, and likely it will change again in the future. However, in todays technology market, our prefrence is for the TV. Let me explain why.

Projector Woes.

In the older days we would install a controller in the wall much like a decora light switch. This would control the functions of the Automatic Screen and the projector. While this did work, the issues we faced with that is that every projector and screen worked differently. Therefore it was hard to configure, and keep working, when items were upgraded. Second issue that comes up with projectors, is that they typically are not very bright. Yesterday i was watching a rerun of StarGate SG1 from one of the first seasons. They hit a button on a remote which turned all the lights off in the room and turned on the projector which then showed the video of what was going on. When they were done with the video they hit a button on the remote and the lights came back on. When the lights turned on everyone in the room blinked and strained from the bright blast of light. This is not how we want to present video's with the technology we have today.

TV's are far brighter, and far more clear then projectors are. The quality of the video does not degrade nearly as fast with the light in the room. For example, in one classroom we setup there were windows on both sides of the room facing the stage. When they used to hava a projector they needed the blinds drawn all the time. Now with 2 70" TV in the class room they do not need the blinds drawn, nor do they need to lower or turn off the lights.


TV costs have come down conciderably in the last few years. Because of this it has made the transition from Projectors to TV's much easier to make. One good projector might cost about $1000 and an automatic Screen might cost about $350-400 where a 70" TV might be in the $1500 range. The cost almost ballances out in the end. Ofcourse every room has its own challanges and some would argue the screen size of a $1000 projector could be 120-160" verse the smaller 70" TV. To make up for that some rooms have added 2 70" tv's - one for screen sharing and one for video feeds from the remote office. This was never an option in the projector world, atleast not without a video controller to enable split screen, or two projectors.

In the end our prefrence is for TV's because they look better running and off, and the cost is really quiet close anyway.

Give us a call today to see how we can make over your conference room.

(603) 821-0441

By Steven deSteuben, Nov 19 2014 12:20AM

*** update ***

If you are going to use POE on your computer network we suggest Cat 6 or Cat 6A in order to comply with the new NEC National Electrical Code and NFP Fire regulations. For more details on this please see a newer post on this topic.

Arguably this is one of the most common questions we get. Understandably there is much confusion in market about which cable is better and why. Some installers even argue against each other and often strongly defined their stance on which cable is best. In fact we do expect we may get a few emails from this post from other cabling providers who feel differently for one reason or the other. Nashua Data Solutions has installed all three types of cables. If you have a preference for one over the other, we will be happy to base your install on whichever you prefer to work with.

That being said, here are some helpful bit of information which can help you to decide which is right for you.

Ultimately all three cables will use an RJ-45 End which will be able to plug into the same Ethernet jack on your Computer, Routers, and Switches. Each has its proper place, and application, which best suites its design.

The first most notable difference from one to the other is Price. For budgeting purposes, and for the sake of this discussion, plan on Cat 6 being roughly 30% more then cat 5e and Cat 6A 30% more then Cat 6. Plenum adds about 30% over Non-Plenum and Shielded cabling (STP) also adds roughly 30-40% over Unshielded (UTP) That means if your Cat 5e install were to be quoted at $10,000 then the same job with Cat 6A might be $16,000. Understandable, cost itself might be the #1 limiting factor when choosing a cable type for many clients.

However, when price is not the only factor, consider the following Technical differences.

Cat 5e Has been around for over 15 years. At the time it came out it gave the first glimpse of the 1gb networks as a possibility, although it was not typical to find hardware reasonably priced that would support those speeds. In the past few years, hardware costs have came down and allowed Gigabit networking to become easier to afford. From our perspective, the absolute minimum network should be a Gigabit network. Cat5e cables are typically 26-24guage twisted pair wires, which can produce a Gigibit network at distances up to 328ft, including patch cables at both ends.

Cat 6 Cables came out only a few years after cat5e. This cable gave the ability to have a 10 Gigabit network. For much of the 2000's Cat5e was run to the workstations and Cat6 was run as a backbone from router to switches. However, the 10 Gigabit network on cat 6 cables is limited to 164' including patch cables. After that distance its ultimate speed is the same as cat 5e - 1 Gigabit. Beyond the speed / distance factor Cat 6 has a tighter twist in the cables, which helps prevent cross talk which can cripple a network. Those tighter twist, then, allows for two way communication on each pair of wires, where Cat 5e does not allow this same feature, because it would generate higher Cross talk, then resulting in further rebroadcasting of packacts.

Some other companies have challenged us and disagree with that fact. Some may argue that its the switch and computer that do the two way communication and that the cable is not responsible for this. While that is true to a degree, the cabling is very important to this process. If when the computer is attempting to negotiate its ip address with DHCP and it's link speed with the switch, the speed and performance of the cable is what determine which functions the switch can send. For example if you get a Cat 3 phone cable from the mid 90's and plug it into a gigabit switch and computer, you can not expect that the two way traffic will actually function, give the computer 1gbps speeds on cat 3 cable. The quality of your cabling has everything to do with the quality of your network performance. I have seen computers some how negotiate for a 1gbps link while on cat 3 cabling, but it will never actually do that speed because of many reasons. Just one of those reasons is that the Cat3 cabling had very little if any twist to them, which allowed so much interference on the line, that TCP/IP traffic was very difficult at any speed.

Quality cable is very important.

We have noticed that in certifying our cable installations, Cat5e cable has a tendency to have a higher delay and sku then Cat 6 cable. That means that even though both Cat5e and Cat 6 can do 1 Gigabit networks Cat5e may have a longer delay for the signal to get from one side to the other which will give the appearance that it runs slower. The cat 6 Cable we use is 23 gauge. (there are some cat 6 cables on the market that are the 24 gauge) Sometimes Cat 6 will have a plastic piece in the middle of the cable that splits the pairs apart, supposable to further limit cross talk. In our experience though, we have not been able to prove this plastic separator actually serves any functional purpose. We have installed test cables side by side, some with and some without that center plastic piece. There is not noticeable difference, even on our meters. Interestingly, cable manufactures have started to remove this part from many of their product lines, as they too have noticed no significant difference.

Cat 6a While also being 23 gauge, is considerable thicker then Cat 6, which in turn is considerable thicker then cat 5. Partly this is due to the extra thick plastic around the wires themselves, and partly do to the tighter winding of the pairs themselves, creating more copper per inch. Also, shielded Cat 6a should have sheilding around each pair of cables and around the whole set of cables, further helping it isolate EMI in your building. Cat6a will do 10 Gigabit per sec network for the full distance of Ethernet (328ft) Cat6a also reduces the cross talk among the pairs which further reduces the delay in the cables.

Our feeling is this: If you are looking for a cable which will provide for you in the future, Cat 6a would give you the best performance at the full distance. If however you have no cables over 120-150' then Cat 6 will also give you the option for 10Gigbit networks. For many of our clients, Cat 5e is perfectly fine. Many companies are placing more and more servers on the cloud. This means that if everything you do is on the cloud, and you require very little internal networks, Your limiting factor will not be the type of cable but the speed of your internet. Quite likely Cat 5e will achieve faster connections then your internet speed, making cat 5e the choice of most of our clients.

Some of our clients have higher demands for internal speed. Applications like video and audio editing / processing, AutoCAD, SQL Databases, File transfers, and even Roaming profiles on Domain Controllers will all benefit greatly by having Cat 6A cables with the 10Gigabit Networks.

The choices comes down to what you will do in the end, how long you will be at the current building, and of course your budget.

We would be happy to explore the cabling options for your current for future projects. Please give us a call or email to talk about what your next cabling project is. Give a chance to price your job out. I am sure you will be pleasantly surprised at our highly completive pricing.

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