How to choose from for your Network Cable: 24AWG、26AWG、28AWG、30AWG、32AWG?

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When purchasing or ordering Cat5e or Cat6 or Cat6a or Cat7 Network Cable, you may be asked what’s the gauge you need?

Or you may notice an AWG specification printed on the outside of the cable jacket, such as 24 AWG or 26 AWG or 28 AWG or 30 AWG, 32 AWG.

But what is AWG? How to choose AWG for your Network Cable?

What is AWG?

AWG (American Wire Gauge) is a standardized system used in the United States for describing the diameter of the individual conductors (wires) that make up a copper network cable.

But please note that different countries have their own standardized systems, for example, the British Standard Wire Gauge (SWG).

How to choose a suitable AWG for your Network Cable?

24 AWG (American Wire Gauge)

  • Definition: 24 AWG is a standard wire gauge size. In the AWG system, lower numbers indicate thicker wires.
  • Diameter: Approximately 0.0201 inches or 0.511 mm.
  • Applicable Products: Commonly used for Ethernet cables, such as Cat5e, Cat6, and even Cat7 for structured cabling in buildings. Given its thickness, it’s suitable for longer runs and is preferred for Power over Ethernet (PoE) applications.

26 AWG

  • Definition: Slightly thinner than 24 AWG, the 26 AWG is also a common size in network cabling.
  • Diameter: Approximately 0.0159 inches or 0.405 mm.
  • Applicable Products: Frequently found in Ethernet patch cables and sometimes in structured cabling where flexibility is more of a concern. Can be used in both residential and commercial installations for shorter runs.

28 AWG

  • Definition: Even thinner than 26 AWG, the 28 AWG offers greater flexibility but less signal-carrying capacity over distance.
  • Diameter: Approximately 0.0126 inches or 0.321 mm.
  • Applicable Products: Often used for more specialized applications such as very short patch cables, connections in high-density network installations, or for devices that don’t need long cable runs.

30 AWG

  • Definition: 30 AWG is a very thin wire, which is typically used in situations requiring high flexibility.
  • Diameter: Approximately 0.0100 inches or 0.255 mm.
  • Applicable Products: Common in very thin patch cables, ribbon cables, or as internal wires within devices. Not typically used for standard Ethernet runs due to its limited capacity over distance.

32 AWG

  • Definition: This is one of the thinnest wires used in electronic applications.
  • Diameter: Approximately 0.0080 inches or 0.204 mm. (Please note that “32A AWG” seems to be a typo; the standard nomenclature would be “32 AWG”).
  • Applicable Products: Due to its thinness, it’s used in specific applications like very fine ribbon cables, specific internal electronic connections, or certain specialized patch cables. It’s not standard for long Ethernet runs.

Considering:

  1. Distance: Consider the length of your run. For longer distances within buildings, 24 AWG is more suitable. For shorter, more flexible connections, you might opt for 26 or 28 AWG.
  2. Power over Ethernet (PoE): If you plan to use PoE, thicker wires (24 AWG) are generally better as they can handle more current.
  3. Environment & Installation: High-density environments might benefit from thinner cables due to flexibility, but always ensure they meet performance requirements.
  4. Performance Needs: Always match the wire gauge with the performance category (e.g., Cat5e, Cat6) you need.
  5. Cost & Futureproofing: While initial costs might be lower for thinner cables, consider the long-term benefits of using a thicker gauge for durability and performance over time.

Always ensure proper installation practices to maximize the performance and longevity of your chosen cables.

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