Thinking about running ethernet cables outside but not sure whether your ethernet cables are waterproof or not?
Well, you are not the only one. It’s a common but less discussed issue.
As a result, people always get confused about whether they should use ethernet cables outside or not. If they use it then which ones are the best for outdoor usage.
However, don’t worry. Because today I am going to discuss are ethernet cables waterproof? , if so then which ones and all the related queries. So, stick here till the end.
Let’s start by answering whether your ethernet cables are waterproof or not?
Are Ethernet Cables Waterproof?
The answer to this question is a little more complicated than a simple yes or no. However, most of the ethernet cables are not waterproof and they are not outdoor ethernet cables. But there are a few things you need to understand.
Firstly, regular ethernet cables do have a plastic coating outside, which can protect them from light rain and water splashes. So, they are water-resistant to some extent.
But the ethernet connectors are not waterproof. Moreover, sunlight and small damage to the outer plastic coating of the cables can make them exposed to water and result in serious damage to your devices.
Secondly, It is important to consider the type of Ethernet cable. Currently, there are two main types of Ethernet cables:
- Fiber Optic
Now let’s consider two things about the cables
1. Water Resistance
Regular copper Ethernet cables are more water-resistant than fiber optic Ethernet cables. Because copper Ethernet cables have a plastic coating that helps to protect them from water. Moreover, there are several types of copper ethernet cables like CAT5, CAT6, and CAT7. Almost all of them have different variants in which some are waterproof as well.
On the other hand, Fiber optic Ethernet cables do not have a plastic coating, so they are not as water-resistant as copper Ethernet cables. Though Fiber optic is completely weatherproof. But the devices connected to it are not. So, if anyhow water enters into the cable and flows to the connected device then the device will be fried.
There are some water-resistant Fiber optic Ethernet cables as well. They have a water-resistant gel inside. But these cables are pretty expensive.
2. Water Proofing
If we talk about waterproofing, fiber optic is much superior to copper cables. But they are quite expensive.
The most common type of Ethernet cable is the Cat 5 cable. This cable is typically made of copper and is not waterproof. However, there are some newer types of Cat 5 cables that are made of fiber optic cable, which is waterproof.
Another common type of Ethernet cable is the Cat 6 cable. This cable is also made of copper and is not waterproof. There are also some newer types of outdoor Ethernet cable Cat6 that are made of fiber optic cable.
So, we can say most ethernet cables are not waterproof while some copper and fiber optic ethernet cables are just water-resistant. As a result, they are not suggested to use outdoors.
However, if you have old ethernet cables lying around and want to use them then you need to make them waterproof, sunlight, and damage resistant. But how?
Well, let’s find out.
How To Protect Ethernet Cable Outside
There are several ways to protect Ethernet cable from water and external damages outside. Here are two of the most efficient ways
1. Using A Durable Plastic or Metal Pipe
It is a homemade yet one of the most efficient ways to make your regular ethernet cable an outdoor ethernet cable. You just need
- To use a right length durable plastic or metal pipe.
- Then you need to run your ethernet cables inside the pipe from one point outside to the other point.
- Lastly, bury the pipe inside the ground.
Before applying this make sure that there is no leak or small damage on your pipe. If you can apply this properly, it will definitely protect your ethernet cables from water and UV rays.
However, this method is not suitable for all weathers. Because pipes can get damaged in lower temperatures. So, if you live in an area where extreme snowfall is normal then avoid this.
2. Use A Conduit
Another way is to use a conduit. It works like the pipe method. But these conduit is designed using materials that protect the cable from water, UV ray, or extreme weather.
The process of installing a conduit is the same as the pipe. Anyway, they can be installed above or below ground.
If you prefer this method then this woods conduit can be a great product to consider.
Though both of these methods are great to use. However, there is still a chance of the conduit or pipe getting damaged and submerging your ethernet cable in the water. But what can happen if your cable gets submerged in water?
What Happens If A Ethernet Cable Gets Wet?
Apart from damaging your connected devices, water can cause a variety of problems with Ethernet cables. Some of them are
- Firstly it can cause shorting out the connectors. As a result, your network will go down.
- Secondly, it can corrode the wires which can lead to a loss of signal and high attenuation.
- If ethernet cables stay inside water for too long then it can cause permanent damage to the cable. As a result, the usage life of the cable also decreases.
- Water can also weaken the insulation of the ethernet cables resulting in electrical interference from the nearby cables.
- Lastly, water might cause data transmission issues and significantly downgrade your connection speed.
So, you can realize how significant the damage can be. So, if a cable does get wet it may need to be replaced as soon as possible.
As a result, if you don’t want to take the risk then I would suggest using a waterproof cable.
Most Ethernet cables are not designed to be submerged in water. If you need a cable that can withstand heavy rain or submersion, you’ll need to look for one that’s specifically designed for that purpose. But which one to use?
Which Are The Best Outdoor Ethernet Cables?
Choosing the best outdoor ethernet cable is not as easy as you think. As we live in different locations and environments. So, the necessary requirements of the outdoor ethernet cable are also different.
Let’s find out what you should look into before choosing the best outdoor ethernet cable for you.
Things To Consider For Choosing The Best Outdoor Ethernet Cable
To find out the best outdoor ethernet cable, you need to consider a few things.
The first thing you should consider is waterproof. Because out of all the outdoor elements water damages your cables most.
As a result, try to choose an ethernet cable with at least an IPx6 waterproof rating.
When choosing the best outdoor ethernet cable, the outdoor environment you live in is also an important factor to consider. Because apart from rain and water, extreme sunlight and snow can also damage or degrade your ethernet cable performance.
Yes, you can use a conduit or pipe. But there might be situations where you can not bury the cable or pipe in the ground. So, choosing an all-weather ethernet cable is a wise idea.
3. The Type Of Cable Jacket
Ethernet cables come with different types of jacket materials, and some jackets are better suited for outdoor use than others. Look for a cable that has a jacket made from a material that is not only waterproof but also resistant to corrosion and UV radiation.
Because corrosion and UV radiation can significantly damage the outer jacket of your outdoor ethernet cable. As a result, the inner copper or fiber optic will be exposed to water and damage your cable.
So, try to choose an ethernet cable with an LLDPE jacket.
4. Type Of Insulation
Ethernet cables come with different types of insulation. As you will be using the cables outside. So, there is a high chance that other outside cables will cause electrical interference.
To avoid that you need to find an ethernet cable with insulation that can withstand electrical interference.
5. Type Of Connectors
When choosing the best outdoor ethernet cable you should also consider the connectors. Because the ethernet cable connectors will also be exposed to the outdoor environment. As a result, they can also get damaged by rain or extreme weather.
So try to choose cables with weather-resistant connectors. Moreover, if you need to connect two separate cables together outside then check out our article on ethernet connectors.
These are some of the most important things to consider before choosing the best outdoor ethernet cable. Moreover, you should also consider cable length. We already have a detailed article on ethernet cable length. Check it out for more details.
Now let’s have a look at which cables I prefer for outdoor use.
As a network engineer, I have run a lot of ethernet cables outside for many clients and myself.
For most of my outdoor projects, I have chosen Outdoor Ethernet Cable Cat6 by VIVO Black. This cable never disappointed me. However, this is only available in 1000 ft. bulk quantity. So, purchasing this for a few feet of outdoor connection can be overkill.
Now if you need a smaller length cable then I would suggest Maximum Cat 6 Ethernet Cable. I am personally using it and it is providing great support for the last few years.
Well, by now you should have got a grasp of are ethernet cables waterproof. Now, let’s have a look at some frequently asked questions.
1. Are All Cat6 Cables Waterproof?
No, not all Cat6 cables are not waterproof. In fact, most Cat6 cables are not waterproof, and most cables will not hold up in a wet environment. Cat6 is typically made with a variety of materials, including plastics, metals, and rubbers. While some of these materials are more water-resistant than others, none of them are waterproof. This means that if you are looking for a cable that can be used in a wet environment, you need to find a Cat6 cable that is specifically designed for that purpose.
2. How Do I Know If My Ethernet Cable Is Waterproof?
Most Ethernet cables have some form of waterproofing, but not all cables are created equal. If you are not sure if your Ethernet cable is waterproof, check the packaging or contact the manufacturer. But if that’s not possible then first check the cable jacket. The cable jacket should be made of a water-resistant material like PVC or rubber. Moreover, the thicker the jacket, the more water-resistant it will be. Lastly, check the connector type. A waterproof cable must have some sort of thick rubber coating around the connectors.
3. Is Cat5 Cable Waterproof?
No, a regular Cat5 cable is not waterproof. However, this is a common question that is asked by many people, and the answer is not a simple one. The truth is, the Cat5 cable is not waterproof, but it is water-resistant. This means that it can withstand some exposure to water, but it is not meant to be submerged in water. If you are looking for a cable that can be used in wet environments, you should consider using a Cat5 cable variant that is shielded and specifically designed for this purpose.
I hope I have simply explained Are Ethernet Cables Waterproof or not. If you have any confusion, please let me know in the comments.
Lastly, if you want to purchase any instruments mentioned here then you can purchase them from a trusted source like Amazon. Otherwise, you can get faulty products and end up with worse network performance.
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That’s it for now. Have a great day!