How can you know when to use cable shielding? Whether you have copper cabling or twisted pair cable to consider, there are different applications for cable shielding. There are numerous causes that determine whether or not to use cable shielding – read on to find out when you should utilize this technology.
First, you should understand what cable shielding does. Shields contain electric energy, preventing cable signals from radiating and interfering with other signals. On the flipside, shielding also protects cable signals from external interference.
For the most part, the electrical environment of the area where cabling will be used informs the choice of whether or not to use cable shielding. Anywhere that your copper cabling or twisted pair cable might encounter electromagnetic or radiofrequency interference, cable shielding is a good idea.
Interference makes it so that data travelling over cables is prevented from reaching its destination, meaning that computers have to work harder to try and re-send it. This will ultimately slow down the entire network, a frustrating situation for everyone.
If you are working with copper cabling you also need to think about grounding. Cable shielding, used on cables connecting equipment from two separate circuits, can create a ground loop that interferes with data, or worse, creates damage to the system. If this is the case, fiber optic cable may be a better choice as it only transmits light, preventing an electrical connection and ground loops as a result.
Fiber optic cables usually cost more than copper cabling and shielded twisted pair cable, but when you consider the overall cost of upkeep and maintenance, plus downtime, you may find that it is a more economical choice in the long run. Fiber optic cables take the question of whether or not to use cable shielding right off the table!
If you determine that cable shielding is necessary for your installation job, you then have to decide what type of shielding to use. Shields are available in a variety of materials, each suited for different purposes.
If you are unsure of whether or not cable shielding is the right choice, it does not hurt to speak with a cabling professional. Experts in the field understand all there is to know about cable installation, including the benefits of each type of cable, and whether or not shields are required.