23 Apr Smart networking for your home and business.
Wired and wireless lead the field, but Powerline and fibreoptics are gaining popularity everyday. Wired technology comes in many varieties and has the advantage of segregating technologies; security; higher noise immunity – using well screened cables; and is simple to use and easy to install.
By far the most popular wired technology is Ethernet using Category 5e or Category 6 cables. Other cables are used including old style Category 5 which is still being sold in the marketplace, often as Category 5e. To ensure that the correct category is purchased, download the ITEC Guide on Datacomms at www.eca.co.uk or contact the ECA Technical Department on (020) 7313 4800. These cables come in three sub categories: unscreened twisted pair; foil twisted pair; and screened twisted pair.
Unscreened twisted pair cables are low cost but with the density of electrical cables in a home, it is sometimes difficult to provide adequate separation and electrical interference in the data signals is often inevitable. Screened and foil screened twisted pair cable offer better noise immunity, but there are vast differences in quality between different screened and twisted pair cables.
Practical advice for anyone installing these is to always choose a good quality cable. This will ensure a much better performance.
The frequency ranges of different categories of cable are given in the following table:
|US TIA 568||IS0/IEC CLASS||MAX BANDWIDTH|
|Category 5||Class D||100 MHZ|
|Category 5e||Class D||100 MHZ|
|Category 6||Class E||250 MHZ|
|Category 6A||Class EA||500 MHz|
|Category 7||Class F||600 MHZ|
|Category 7A||Class FA||1000MHz|
Ethernet cable is also used to carry Internet Protocol (IP). Internet protocol has become increasingly popular over recent years and is widely considered a likely candidate to eventually become the most popular cross-discipline technology.
Where a lot of kit currently on the market is made-to-measure and only works with equipment produced by the same manufacturer, Internet Protocol allows such boundaries to be overcome. Offering enhanced flexibility for networks, Internet Protocol allows kit made by many different manufacturers to work together.
With the introduction of high definition television, we have also seen the introduction of HDMI cable. As with ethernet, there are several types of HDMI cables and choosing the correct cable is important as some systems will not run on older HDMI versions. Undertaking HDMI terminations is relatively difficult and it is best to buy pre-terminated cables.
Standard HDMI Cable
For resolutions of 1080i or 720p video plus surround audio
Standard HDMI Cable with Ethernet
Same as standard HDMI cable above plus a dedicated Ethernet channel for Internet connection sharing and device networking
Standard Automotive HDMI Cable
For motor vehicles equipped with onboard HD video systems
High Speed HDMI Cable
For video resolutions of 1080p including 3D and 4K
High Speed HDMI Cable with Ethernet
Same as High Speed HDMI cable above, plus a dedicated Ethernet channel for Internet connection sharing and device networking
Universal Serial Bus (USB) has been around for some time but is gaining in popularity due to its ability to connect up to 127 devices – it was, at one time, restricted to short cables connecting USB devices to a PC. USB ports are now fitted to most new consumer electronics devices and to cope with the need to link up USB devices. Installers are wiring USB network cable into the walls of houses with outlets matching the general house accessories in style and finish.
There are many different types of USB cable around, but in general a USB cable consists of one pair of twin twisted cable and one two core wrapped in foil double screened and sheathed.
Some electrical power sockets are often fitted with built in USB charging points, but it is never clear whether these sockets breach the UK building regulations. Whilst the jury is still out on these sockets, installers should be aware that there is some controversy here. These sockets usually do not form part of the USB network.
When it comes to installing televisions and audio equipment, there is always a need for aerial connections or set top box connections. The most popular aerials are UHF/Digital, Satellite and FM Radio. Aerial cable comes in many different qualities, with better quality aerials generally achieving better results and less grainy pictures caused by electrical and other noise.
Satellite systems generally will not work with standard aerial cable and require CT100 high quality aerial cable.
For most of these cables, there are no specific guidelines regarding installation. The exceptions are Ethernet cable, for which the recommendations of BS EN 50174 should be followed alongside the generic guidance given in BS 7671; and home telephone cable which should be installed in accordance with BS EN 50174 part 2.
For other types of cable, such as USB, the generic advice given on installing cable in BS 7671 should be followed, as it should be for aerial cable installation. It should also be noted that there is little danger of electric shock from aerial cable, other than if hit by lightning, therefore advice in BS 7671 needs only to be followed to prevent damage and interference in the cable.