Tuesday, March 15, 2005

How far can I run Cat 5e or Cat 6?

The standards for Cat 5e and Cat 6 call for a maximum run length of 90 meters or 295 feet. While you may make a longer run and get it to work, this is not recommended. Even if problems don't show up immediately, they may come up later as your computers are upgraded to transmit faster or your network is expanded. If you must make a longer run, you can either put a signal repeater in the middle of the line or you can make your long run with fiber optic cable.

If your run is between 295 and 590 feet, the repeater option may be the best option for you. A switch or hub will act as a repeater. Make sure that you locate it in such a way that both runs on either side of the repeater are within the 90 meter standard. It won't do much good to split a 500 foot run into two runs of 100 and 400 feet.

If your run is longer than 590 feet or if most of the run is outside, fiber optic may be your best option. You'll need a media converter or fiber fed switch at each end of the fiber run to convert your network signals back and forth between electrical signals on copper and light pulses on fiber. If you are running fiber optic cable underground, you'll need to protect the delicate glass fibers inside the jacket by running it through a conduit or by using armored fiber optic cable.

UPDATE: Here's some clarification on the 90 meter maximum run length. This is generally cited as the maximum horizontal run length. The max length from switch to node is 100 meters. This 100 meter length, however, includes the vertical drops and all passive links such as the patch cables from the switch to the patch panel and the patch cables from the jacks to the computers (or other types of nodes). Big thanks to Marc at Lockergnome for calling the need for this clarification to my attention.

UPDATE: I have deleted hubs as an option to be used as repeaters. A very helpful email from Steve Anderson of BIP Solutions explains:

Hi, just read the clarification, and thought I should mention that the run length includes hubs as well.

It's to do with the maximum distance between active nodes. Nodes with store and forward will extend the maximum distance.

The limit's imposed by the time it takes for the smallest packet to be entirely on the wire. If a packet is entirely on the wire, and the beginning hasn't been accepted by all other nodes in the same collision domain, then you could have one begin transmitting and corrupting the other packet. The real problem is the original node doesn't know this has happened, so will only retransmit it if requested.


37 Comments:

At May 24, 2009 at 3:05 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

if i may ask u a question plz, what about if i am using a CAT6 cable for an IP camera does what u have mentioned upove also comply?
Thank YOU

 
At May 26, 2009 at 9:06 AM, Blogger Will Hunt said...

Yes, this will be the same if you are running this to an IP Camera. Now, I'm not saying that the Camera won't work if you are running it farther than the 328' because technically you can run LAN cable longer than this and still send and receive data. The only problem is that if you send data over a distance longer than the 328', then you won't be getting the Cat 5e/6 specifications.

 
At September 17, 2009 at 8:49 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

So if I have a run longer than 590 feet, I *could* put a hub or switch about every 295 feet and make that run as long as I want using Cat5e or CAT6?

 
At September 30, 2009 at 2:06 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

jesus H christ... whoever you are, you can't speak english...and obviously you can't read either. It's all explained in detail in the article. Stop asking dumb questions.

 
At November 11, 2009 at 6:09 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just people who are limited in thinking can say for any question thatt is a dumb question.

 
At November 18, 2009 at 6:51 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was told the first day of college that NO QUESTION IS DUMB! yep! I was screaming!

If you don't know something or it is not explained so EVERY ONE understands the answer then it isn't dumb!

The best thing to do is go get two segments of 590 feet and try it with switches instead of a hub, or a repeater. See what you get, you can always use the equipment somewhere to make your home network more awesome.

 
At December 1, 2009 at 11:52 PM, Blogger vinayak said...

you can run cable till 150 metre but ip cam image can't get real time(consistance).to get real time image use switch.

 
At January 19, 2010 at 11:35 AM, Anonymous DavidM44 said...

There is indeed no such thing as a dumb question (dumb people maybe) but clearly there are dumb answers, normally thrown out there by ignorant people. To coin another expression, if you can't say something nice, don't bother saying anything at all.
To all else, keep the questions coming, and the constructive answers too.

 
At January 26, 2010 at 9:44 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

One thing to consider is being able to adapt to new technology, as the article addressed. If you have a long run (close to or above 100 meters) and you can afford to run fiber, then that might be the way to go, but it IS more expensive. In most cases, Cat5e or Cat6 will work just fine and the equipment will be less costly too; the key to remember is to "do it right the first time"...if distance isn't an issue I'd spend the extra money to run Cat6, that'll give you plenty of room for increasing bandwidth requirements.

 
At February 25, 2010 at 1:34 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have to agree that the question in question was in fact a stupid question. It was explained in the article quite clearly that the maximum distances are 90 meters horizontal per segment from switch to node, and that hubs are not counted as repeaters because the packets could become corrupt.

 
At April 13, 2010 at 12:34 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes, it may have been a dumn question by virtue that he hadn't read or understood the previous posts. But I would rather be dumb than rude! What do you think peeps!?

 
At August 13, 2010 at 11:40 PM, Blogger HTD2010 said...

Hey guys, thanks for the info. True, hubs are not the ideal passthrough for something like this. I avoid them like the plague when I need distance. Routers and switches make great passthrough when you need to drop and spit your cables. That means you can either lengthen one line or break one into many. Here's an extra tip: if you split a line, you will lose speed; if you use a switch, the lag is short. A switch is a passthrough with boost, but it doesn't alter packets; routers store and resend packets as necessary with more tagged on about who sent\needs what; switches store a small piece of data or a couple of bits about which line needs what, then sends the request on through, when the packet matches the request, it sends it to the proper line, and refills the requests; the difference is that you can build in parental controls and VPN with routers just by setting up new ip addressing, and switches just pass through data without giving a damn what address you have (you can set addresses at the server side). If distance is a real issue, use a small switch. $50 will get you some extra length. If you're serving multiple hosts, you can use a router, but you won't get as much length and you'll lose in speed. I wasn't sure the exact standards, for Cat5, but I knew it was around 90m. if you place a switch about every 90m, you shouldn't have a problem (if only one of them splits). But if you want to do some splitting, use a router where you need the main split, just after your last switch (at the far end of the line. It will get a powerful signal, and the only lag will be the router if you don't exceed 100mbs. If you use Wireless n or a 300 mbs router, you need to use cat7 and cut the distance to about 70m for a consistent, solid line. This is great for prime wireless router placement and can save on cabling.
Check out my blog "Zeroes and Ones" for other issues. Just started it a short time ago.

 
At December 9, 2010 at 11:38 AM, Blogger Will said...

We recently put in a run of cat6 cable that had a physical distance of 315' as per the markings on the wire jacket. Now, when we tested it with the Fluke meter, it identified the wire distance as 418' and came up as a fail. When investicating the fail information it gave the wire length for each pair showing between 403 and 418'. Any thoughts?

 
At January 11, 2011 at 1:45 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Will,

The wires inside the jacket are twisted to mitigate crosstalk in the wires. This twisting will cause those wires to be longer than the jacket.

 
At January 13, 2011 at 9:55 PM, Blogger 144pom 2 said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

 
At January 13, 2011 at 10:12 PM, Blogger 144pom 2 said...

Users in this customer site have being experiencing intermittent problems. A few times a day, some users lose network connections to the server or the internet. Power supply is clean and constant. Recently, a telephone technician had upgraded the cable from Cat 3 to Cat 5.
1) What equipment or hardware/software tools/utilities may be helpful for me ?
2) What kind of potential problems will i look for ?

 
At January 31, 2011 at 12:05 AM, Blogger ammy said...

Hi,

Thanks for sharing such a wonderful info on CAT Cable. Please keep on posting more on these.

 
At June 19, 2011 at 10:05 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"I was told my first day of college that no question is dumb."

The year was 1982, the place was UW-Madison, the class was Contemporary American History, about 350 students in a large auditorium. The student mix was the most diverse I'd ever seen in one room--oweing to the professor's reputation--and included undergrad and grad together with war veterans from Vietnam and Korea.

At one point the prof made an analogy to Watergate as Nixon's Dunkirk. The hand went up in the front center and the student asked "what is Dunkirk?" The 349 others simply could not control themselves, me included, I'm sorry. The prof was kind, explained, and we moved on.

No such thing as a dumb question? Maybe, but the questions asked reveal quite a bit about the person, their level of ignorance, for example. I've heard George Washington quoted as having said "better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to open one's mouth and remove all doubt."

 
At June 30, 2011 at 6:26 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Please forgive me as I chuckle. You're actually quoting a bible verse. Yes george washington was a great president and amazing human. However he took his notes from the everlasting word of thruth.

 
At August 4, 2011 at 2:03 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You folks have covered cat cables very nicely save one.

I have a flaky max length cat5 run under ground conduit.

I'll ask the question this way: If that cable was to be replaced with, say, cat7 would it work better than the cat5 at lower speeds used for IP cameras.

The emphasis is always on going faster and making systems future proof. In this case would there be an improvement in end point signals at slower speeds.?

 
At September 14, 2011 at 12:44 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

144Pom 2: Interesting problem. I wonder if your 10/100 NIC's were autosensing down to 10 when you had Cat3 and then went up to 100 with the Cat5 cabling? But then your other infrastructure devices or some bad cable terminations couldn't reliably handle the faster transmission speeds? You LAN may now be flooded with packet errors & retransmits that eventually saturate the network. Try using Wireshark with a passive ethernet tap at your server to see what's happening with your traffic. Also, Qcheck is a good free tool to check actual LAN connection performance between nodes. Finally, a 30 day free trial of PingPlotter Pro could help you spot where a bottleneck might be. Good luck!

 
At October 4, 2011 at 6:31 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

If you need to have a repeater outside where power isn't available, check out the OUTREACH Max XT.

I have a dish up on top of a 500ft high tower, which requires power over ethernet.. that thing sure beats sticking a router 250ft in the air with a whole bunch of long extension cords running up to power it. :)

 
At February 7, 2012 at 9:37 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It can be done. I made a successful run just over 400 ft with a 10/100 trendnet switch (green) and wap54g on the other. Buried outdoor cat5e. Runs at consistent 100Mbps on the wire, wireless runs great no hiccups at all. Guess I'm lucky :P

 
At April 8, 2012 at 7:52 PM, Anonymous Bill Stiver said...

I must say that finally I think I have found solutions to my problems. I ran about 550' of Cat5e cable to a location in pvc conduit and also laid direct burial power cable in the same ditch. I think all I need to do now is dig up the mid point and tie into the power and Cat5e to install a chep switch in a weatherproff enclosure.

My only other problem is using cat5e for a security camera about 900' ft from the DVR. I ran it in conduit and also burind the power in the same ditch, using a power adapter at the camera and passive baluns at the camera and DVR. I still get signal loss, but am looking at trying an active balun at the camera. Still guessing on this problem. Suggestions? Thanks, Bill

 
At April 12, 2012 at 11:09 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It will work 100% if you use ACTIVE

 
At April 28, 2012 at 8:54 AM, Blogger Jim Thomson said...

Video Management Software, including web based open platform from Milestone and Seetec, free Iphone and Ipad viewing software, Apple Mac compatible viewing software.cat5e armoured cable

 
At September 24, 2012 at 1:04 PM, Anonymous Don S. said...

I'm think I'm running 300 feet maybe more of CAT 6 with Cat 5E jacks from a switch in my home to my garage but do not get any signal. If I mount another switch halfway between will this help get a signal?

 
At April 29, 2013 at 8:01 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sounds like you either have a break in the cable, or something's not right with the punchdown into one or both jacks/plugs. I've run into issues like this before & just repunched my ends...I make a habit now of hitting the punch tool at least twice.

 
At May 31, 2013 at 12:25 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Guys I found this very interesting because I was looking at running a CAT 5 for 100m with POE to a Bullet2.Thanks once again.

 
At June 25, 2013 at 11:32 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi...

I just upgraded my fios from 60/30 to 150/75 Mbps. The line between my drop/fiber optic box and my router is about 150 feet. When I plug into the router at the far end of that cat5e line (the 150'), I get 90/35 Mbps. When I plug the router into fiber optic box in the basement directly, and the computer into the router directly (all in the basement), I get 155/75. I've used a line tester on the 150' cable and all 8 wires are connected properly, I just get such a huge loss. I'm wondering what you fine folks think this is most likely caused by.

 
At September 25, 2013 at 12:35 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

hi, i have been running a cable of approximately 125m underground(CAT6)and it has been working properly. but all over the sudden, it cant work and i have tried to put another cable which is longer for fear of cutting it and it again fails to work but it keeps skipping some replies after pinging the server. can i think the problem is distance for the older cable.

 
At October 27, 2013 at 9:21 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

the lose in your speed may be from your routers throughput. i know when cable companies give their highest internet speeds 100mbps+ they give you an AC router and a special modem i'm not sure what fios dose

 
At November 5, 2013 at 12:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I wanna know if i can use cat 6 cable with ethernet extenders for ip phones for a distance upto 500m -1000m ?

 
At December 29, 2013 at 11:38 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Actually, cables are twisted so that they reject signals from the outside known as "noise" or I guess you could say crosstalk from other nearby cables

 
At April 16, 2014 at 2:56 PM, Anonymous Laying Cable said...

Great post! Been reading a lot about laying these kind of wires. Thanks for the info!

 
At June 11, 2014 at 9:03 AM, Blogger Curtis Kappenman said...

There are some great posts here. One thing that I am not hearing mentioned is the influence of outside electrical interference on the overall working length of the cable. Good cabling practice suggests that the network cable not be laid in parallel to any AC wires. The specified spacing between network and AC lines is a minimum of 12 inches. This distance requirement increases as the voltage of the AC wires increases. A short run next to an AC line is usually not a concern unless it is of high voltage. Also seek to keep as much distance as possible from any fluorescent lights as the ballasts emit a good amount of magnetic noise.
Some of the posts mention longer than normal runs in trenches that also contain the AC lines. This is a situation that, if unable to avoid, would best be done with shielded network cable to help minimize the interference. Also any electrical noise generated by any machinery or equipment in the area of the cable must be considered when determining the best way to run any cable.
As was mentioned previously, long distance runs are best done with fiber. The price of fiber and the simplicity of terminating the fibers with some of the modern connectors is making fiber a very viable option for making long runs feasible.
I hope this information is helpful to some.

 
At October 15, 2014 at 6:54 AM, Anonymous IP Camera Outdoor said...

If your run is longer than 590 feet or if most of the run is outside, fiber optic ... ipoutdoor.blogspot.de

 

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