Riser vs Plenum Which to Use Blog 2

Cat6a Riser vs Plenum: Which To Use

Planning to buy Cat6a Ethernet cable but don’t know which variant to buy? If yes, you need not worry as we’ve got your back! In this article, you will learn the difference between all 3 variants: Cat6a Plenum Cable, Cat6a Riser Cable, and Cat6 PVC cable. All you need to do is to stay with us till the end. 

Cat6 Ethernet Cable – An Overview

Cat6 Ethernet cable is basically a 6th generation ethernet cable. It supersedes 5th generation Cat5e cable and is superseded by 6th generation augmented Cat6a cable. 

Data Rates & Bandwidth 

Cat6 cable has taken connectivity to a whole new level. It offers maximum data transfer rates of 10 up to a distance of 100 meters of 328 feet. 

As far as bandwidth is concerned, the TIA/EIA standards for bandwidth capacity for 6th generation ethernet cables stand at 550 MHz. Here at Smartech Cables, our Cat6 ethernet cables — be it Cat6a Plenum Cable, Cat6a Riser Cable, or Cat PVC cable — offer a bandwidth capacity of 750 MHz that is almost 50% more than industry standards. Thanks to this far higher bandwidth capacity, the signal quality remains intact and you enjoy optimum connectivity. 


The most important part of any ethernet cable is the conductor. Cat6 cable comes with as many as 8 conductors that are tightly bundled together in 4 twisted pairs. The conductors are classified into 2 types: 

  • Pure Copper Conductors
  • Copper Clad Aluminum Conductors (CCA) 

Pure copper conductors are far superior and exhibit much, much better performance than their CCA counterparts. Pure copper conductors offer as much as 55% less attenuation than CCA. Attenuation is loss of signal strength and higher attenuation means poor connectivity. Furthermore, pure copper conductors provide excellent protection against crosstalk (both next-generation crosstalk and alien) and electromagnetic interference. Another factor that makes bare copper conductors superior is that these conductors have less DC resistance. It means more energy is transmitted into signals and less is transmitted into heat. 

Therefore, if there are no budget constraints, you should always opt for ethernet cables that have pure copper conductors. 

Now comes the time of explaining the difference between riser and plenum cables. So, let’s begin! 

Cat6a Plenum Cable vs Cat6a Riser Cable 

The only thing that distinguishes Cat6a Plenum Cable from Cat6a Riser Cable is jacket material. 

A plenum cable comes with a CMR-rated jacket. CMR means Communications Multipurpose Cable, Plenum and it is the highest rating when it comes to jacket materials. Cable with CMR-rated jackets has fire-retardant properties. It means they halt fire progression and emit no hazardous elements during the burning phase. These cables are also UV resistant. 

A Cat6a Plenum Cable is specially designed for installation in the plenum or horizontal spaces of the buildings. Plenum spaces are horizontal spaces that are designed to facilitate air flows for air conditioning and heating. Due to higher atmospheric pressure, you are only authorized to install a plenum-rated cable in these areas. It is pertinent here to mention that you can use plenum cable in riser and outdoor spaces, too. However, it can’t be revered. 

A riser cable comes up with a CMR-rated jacket. CMR stands for Communications Multipurpose Cable Riser and it is the 2nd highest jacket rating for the ethernet cables. You will run a Cat6a Riser Cable in the riser or vertical spaces of the buildings. These spaces are also high-risk spaces. CMR cables also have fire retardant properties and they are UV resistant, too. A CMR-rated cable halts fire progression and emits no hazardous elements. You can use this cable for outdoor spaces, too. However, it can’t be otherwise. 

When to use Cat6a Plenum Cable?

You will need a Cat6a Plenum cable if you need to run it in the plenum or horizontal spaces of the buildings. As mentioned in the above paras, you can also use this cable in riser and outdoor spaces (however, we recommend against doing it as this cable is much more expensive than the other two variants). 

When to use Cat6a Riser Cable? 

You will need a Cat6a Riser cable if you need to run an ethernet cable in the vertical or riser spaces of the buildings. 

This is all you need to know about the Cat6a ethernet cables right now. 

If you need one for your business or office, reach out to Smartech Cables now. All of our ethernet cables including the Cat6a ethernet cables exceed industry standards. Also, we offer free shipping on orders above $99. The cherry on the top is that our cables carry a warranty of 10 years (provided you use the right cable in the right place). Our prices are highly market competitive. Rest assured, when you shop from Smartech Cables, you get the best value for your money. 

Author : Frank Tyger

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