When shopping for Cat5e or Cat6 network cables, make sure you are comparing apples to apples. One of the most common tactics of the “low cost leaders” is to use aluminum instead of copper wire. This can lead to network issues from using inferior materials to transmit the signal. The problem is further heightened because there are no visual differences between a CCA cable and a pure copper cable. ShowMeCables guarantees that all of our patch cables are pure copper and are ready for Cat5e, Cat6, Cat6a or Cat7 networks.
Creating a Copper Clad Aluminum Cable
Looking to cut costs, manufacturers started using aluminum wire dipped in a thin coating of copper. This technique created an aluminum core cable surrounded by a thin layer of copper. If you have ever purchased coax cable, you may have purchased cable that is copper clad. If you scrape the center conductor, the gold copper will flake off and expose the silver metal core. Consumer ignorance, slick marketing and an identical appearance have allowed copper clad aluminum patch cables to become more common in the marketplace.
The Dangers of Using CCA Cables
The performance and safety of CCA cables are radically different. In fact, aluminum network cables violate TIA and IEC standards for Cat5e and Cat6 cables.
Aluminum patch cables, often marked as CCA or CCE (for Copper Clad Ethernet), has higher attenuation than pure copper cables. This results in a greater loss of data, as packets have to be re-transmitted. The more data that is re-transmitted, the slower your network performs. Plus, these problems are compounded by every foot of cable you use; the longer the cable, the worse the performance. Is the hit in network performance worth saving a few cents?
CCA cables also have a 55% higher DC resistance. This increases the amount of energy that is transferred into heat and reduces the amount of power that can be transferred. This issue makes them unusable for power over Ethernet (PoE).
These cut corners also affect installers because aluminum wire creates installation issues. Due to the lower tensile strength, aluminum cables can be damaged when being pulled. Single conductors can break, making the cable useless, or the whole cable can snap. Aluminum also has a lower bend radius than pure copper cables. This means you can’t bend it as much before it fails. In short, copper clad cables are more fragile than pure copper cables.
Real World Issues
If you think that all of these stats don’t matter in the real world, then check out our burn test video posted above. When we apply heat, the cable becomes brittle and breaks. A pure copper patch cable responds totally differently. Notice how it retains its shape. In fact, the jacket is more likely to catch on fire before the conductors are damaged. Pure copper patch cables provide the best performance and safety for your network. Don’t risk your data and network safety by choosing aluminum patch cables.
Choose ShowMeCables for all of your networking needs. All of our ETHERNET patch cables are pure copper and will keep your network running smoothly.