Cat5 cable is basically a data line. Cat5 is industry slang for Category 5 which is cable commonly used for computer network wiring and telephony. It looks like phone line but has the larger Ethernet plug (RJ45) and connects computers to a network device such as a router or to other computers.
There are three variations of wiring the cable for different data connection types – straight-through, crossover and roll-over – but all three connect in to one common thing: a computer.
And since these wires are capable of conducting electricity, they are vulnerable to this kind of backdoor surge energy and therefore endanger your computer if not protected.
Chances are you have a cat5 line connected to your PC. And chances are you do not have a cat5 surge protector protecting that line.
But you should.
Computers and other electronic devices will experience a surge when the voltage running through the cable spikes. A surge sends a lot more voltage than normal through the wire. This kind of sudden change can do serious damage to computers or other electrical equipment when it occurs.
Most of the time the things that cause surges are natural events like lightning, the air compressor on a refrigerator kicking in or a temperature controlled air conditioning unit automatically coming on.
If your computer is in a space in which any of these events is likely, installing a Cat5 surge protector is more than a safety precaution; it’s a necessity.
Data lines have greater capacity to pass data along nowadays and because of that Cat5 is a little out dated. Its current classification is Cat5e and it can handle Ethernet speeds up to one gigabit (1000Mb) per second. Much faster than the former speed of 100Mbit/second.
The Cat5e cable is backwards compatible, too – which means it can be used for any Cat5 cable function, though Cat5 cable cannot often be substituted for Cat5e.
How Does The Cat5 Surge Protector Work?
There are many environmental factors that require installing a category 5 or inline surge protector; among them are lightning strikes, discharges from static build up, electromagnetic interferences, radio frequency interference, surges coming in through ground lines and even more dangerous, faulty wiring.
Any of these can send damaging electrical surges through your network and fry all silicon components of a computer.
Needless to say it’s a costly repair. Inline surge protectors safeguard all RJ45 connector plugs for modems, phones and answering machines and fax machines.
Most quality models use a self-resetting switch to offset surges by diverting them to an earth ground line. Without this protection, you could lose your modem, motherboard, ports, network interface cards and all LAN gear associated with these connections.
Worse, these surges can cripple businesses relying on these connections to complete transactions.
Even though data lines do not convey power, they are still conduits and are prone to surges when there is no other path.
This includes data line paths like serial ports and other parallel ports. This threat is real and requires attention just like other “standard” power surge paths.
Many computer surge protectors have Ethernet connections built-in and therefore all you do is run your modem line into the surge protector and run a secondary line from the surge protector to your computer.
For business solutions where the Ethernet networks are centralized in an outdoor environment, the SPD is installed near the access service.
In both cases, you want the SPD as close to the access point as possible.
What’s the Best Cat5 Surge Protection Device?
You want one well suited for all data line connections (Ethernet, Coaxial and phone lines). This covers all your backdoor avenues. Especially with Cat5 lines you want something that protects 10/100/1000 Base-T Ethernet lines.
MOVs are a standard in surge protection and it’s the same for data lines. Thermal fuses also act as precaution buffers to cut power in the event of a surge event. Some devices continue to let power through when they fail. Fuse protection ensures that power is cut and stops continued connections.
Some devices offer lightning protection. Do not believe in this. Nothing will protect your equipment from a lightning-based surge. The intensity is just too much for a series of MOVs to protect you.
Your secondary line of defense is a good warranty. Connected equipment warranties include damage caused by lightning strikes and offer as little as $50,000 in protection insurance.
Of course the device should meet UL 497 and CSA certifications and exceed Telcordia GR2908-CORE specifications.
These are all Industry standards along with the inclusion of the 1999 National Electric Code.
When you talk about devices that protect more than just data, prices will vary wildly from manufacturer to manufacturer. In the case of single service devices, prices become more approachable in terms of comparing. They run as low as $17.99 up to $65.00.