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Flat Ethernet Cables: What to know before buying

Published on 2. February 2023
Flat Ethernet Cables

Flat ethernet cables are one of the newest cable kinds that are gaining popularity today. This sort of cable is becoming increasingly common in residential and workplace networks.

It is not just popular with ordinary users, but also huge organizations are starting to ship them with their network components.

When considering whether or not to buy a flat ethernet cable, many people want to know how good it is. In our text we are going to give you an extensive view.

Furthermore, we have a look at the advantages and disadvantages and at the myth of flat patch cables being worse than round ones.

What is a flat ethernet cable?

Before we start: What is an ethernet cable? They are cables that carry broadband signals between your router, computer, modem or any other wired internet-capable device.

They are usually categorized into two; flat and round ethernet cables, depending on their shape.

Flat ethernet cables are a form of flat copper wires with twisted wires arranged side by side rather than in a square shape.

When they were first introduced, they used coaxial cables. This proved difficult to use and they were changed to the copper cable design that we see today with the twisted pairs. They use some of the smallest gauge-size wires on the market.

The cables are often created with 32AWG size wires making them very thin and instead of the rounded pairs being wrapped in a circular shape, they are laid out neatly in a row. This arrangement enhances protection for any crosstalk that may occur.

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What is it used for?

Flat ethernet cables are extremely popular because of the convenience they offer. They can easily be used where conventional cables are used.

They can be plugged into PCs, network switches, routers, modems, faxes and other devices that need such connections.

Due to their flat shapes, they can be placed along flat surfaces like carpets and office walls when ethernet cabling is done.

Some of the most popular patch cables are in Cat5e and Cat6 cables categories which will give you high speeds, so they are ideal fast ethernet cables.

Can you bend flat Ethernet cables?

You can bend a flat LAN cable as long as the bend has a diameter smaller than an inch, roughly the size of a quarter.

They are very flexible, although kinking them can break internal components. To find out more about the cables in our PATCHBOX cabling system, click here.

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Are flat LAN cables any good?

Flat LAN cables are great for convenience and short runs. Round cables have a better performance against crosstalk on longer distances. 

But flat cables are technically developed, kept up with round cables, and pass the same ISO/IEC and TIA standards. Additionally, flat ethernet cables provide greater electrical quality of conductors.

Download & Upload speed

The speed of a flat ethernet cable depends on its cable category. 

Cat.5e cables have less upload and download speeds compared to Cat.6a which have superior and faster speeds. Our flat Cat.6a cables provide up to 10 Gbps, but we also offer Fiber Optic cables.

Modern flat fiber cables are designed to overcome the limitations and features of flat cables and are more advanced.

PoE: Power over Ethernet

Flat ethernet cables are compatible with PoE. Power over Ethernet technology is used to transfer power to power devices using ethernet cables that are usually used to transfer data. 

When utilizing this technology, the devices do not require a separate power connection or cable other than an Ethernet cable. 

PoE does not require any special wiring to operate, it uses the same ethernet cables like Cat.5e, Cat.6a, and the RJ45 connectors that are used for regular local area networks (LANs). 

The flat Cat.6a of PATCHBOX are compatible with PoE, while the unshielded ones even manage PoE++ (802.3bt type 3).

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Flat vs. Round patch cables: Which are better?

In many situations, flat patch cables are extremely convenient and offer plenty of advantages

They can be installed under the carpet or along office walls and furniture with ease because of their shapes. 

Especially in network racks this feature can come handy. They have reduced weight and volume compared to round ethernet cables and a higher density of cross-section connectivity of wire to cable.

LAN cables are made from flat copper wire and have side-by-side twisted pairs. Flat cables are not shielded and therefore can be susceptible to electromagnetic interference (EMI) over longer distances (about 100m). 

As you only need max. 2,5m when using a PATCHBOX, you don’t have to worry about crosstalk. 

Unlike conventional cables, flat cables also do not have insulation to attenuate the heat created over the wire. 

Since they lack insulation and shielding, they’re more inexpensive, lighter, and roll up or package much easier than round cables. 

Advantages & Disadvantages of Flat Ethernet Cables

The advantages of flat patch cables are obvious: Higher comfort, which you have especially for short distances. The wires within the conductor are not twisted. As a result, the electrical quality is constant. 

Because they are not shielded or insulated, they can already be obtained at an affordable price. 

Basically, there are hardly any disadvantages, at least if the cable is to be laid over a short distance. Because exactly here lies a weakness of this cable type. 

For longer distances, it is susceptible to interference or has a lower speed than other cable types.

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Flat Cat.6a ethernet cables: the best for network cabling in your rack?

As flat patch cables are more flexible and bend-friendly they are perfect for good cable management in a network rack. 

They are less bulky, take up less space and are lighter when being bundled.

By pulling the retractable cables of your PATCHBOX you can patch wherever you want in your rack without having to crimp your cables. Our fast ethernet Cat.6a cables support up to 250 MHz

And if you are searching for extra long ethernet cables, check out our PATCHBOX Long Range.

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