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CAT 6 Installation and Fire Codes

Posted on 2007-04-05
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Last Modified: 2013-12-29
I'm in California, and I am planning on running some CAT 6 behind the sheetrock and probably feeding it up the ceiling and back down the walls. What kind of cabling should I use?  I was thinking of using Plenum (which I think is a law) CAT 6 with a rigid outer layer (would this be called solid?). There are so many options, which is best to use?
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Question by:dignified
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thur6165 earned 300 total points
ID: 18863671
Plenum is required to use in air ducts because it is produced with a plastic that does not cause toxic gases when it catches fire.  It wouldn't hurt to use it everywhere if you want to be sure you meet code.  solid vs. stranded,  this is more of a networking code than anything else.  Stranded, the copper core is created from several smaller strands of copper making the cable more flexable and is used typically when making patch cables.  Solid, is one solid piece or copper core and is usually used between runs terminated at patch panels.  rigid outer layer sound more like shielded twisted pair(STP) which you want to stay away from, you want unshielded twisted pair(UTP).
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by:Rob Williams
Rob Williams earned 200 total points
ID: 18869370
Just to add; a plenum is an air space used for return air to a heating/cooling system. In a large number of systems today they simply install "egg-crate" grills in the ceiling and draw the air from above the ceiling requiring no duct work for the return. Thus the space above the ceiling is the "plenum". Plenum cable when burned does not give off toxic gasses (at least not as much a regular) and is therefore required by fire codes, almost everywhere, when used in ceiling spaces.
Plenum cable, because it is not used for patch cords is only available in solid, and CAT6 specifies UTP automatically. So CAT6 Plenum should pretty well define what you need. I agree with avoiding STP. If you need the protection from EMF used metal conduit, properly grounded by the electrician.
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Author Comment

by:dignified
ID: 18959571
In the end, I just got some stiff CAT6 UTP. It isn't as fat as some of the cabling but it says "solid" on the box.  I am only running them 50 ft or so in the walls and I plan on terminating them at patch panels.
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Expert Comment

by:Rob Williams
ID: 18970131
Thanks dignified.
Standard solid cable is fine within the walls. Plenum is only required when it passes through "return" or "supply" air space such as above T-Bar ceilings if used as a plenum. Big fines here if you get caught not using the right cable.
Cheers !
--Rob
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