For those willing to run Ethernet cable in between buildings outside, it can be attractive to use the cable that is readily available at their home. But, before using the cable for that purpose, it becomes important to know whether they are suitable to be used that way.
The Ethernet cables which are used in general are not waterproof and must not be kept outside. The plastic covering is resistant to a little bit of water but their connectors easily allow water to get inside that will cause damage to the interior wiring of the cable. If you want to run the Ethernet cable outside, it is advised for you to choose an outer-grade Ethernet cable.
What is the need for running Ethernet cable outdoors?
For sharing a network connection in between two buildings that are separated outdoors, it wouldn’t be a good choice to use wireless connectivity such as Wi-Fi. Wi-Fi is undoubtedly a convenient option and can help you in setting up everything easily to run in lesser time. But, a wired network connection that uses Ethernet can offer higher speed, high reliability and also has lesser susceptibility to the interference of electromagnets.
You might also notice that the distance between both buildings is too much to be covered by a wireless connection. The range offered by Wi-Fi signal isn’t always the best, but just one run of Ethernet cable can reach up to 100m in length before starting the run to avoid concerns related to signal quality. If the buildings through which you want to share the network connection are not so far from each other, you can try using a wireless connection at first.
The access points of wireless connections in the present days have a high range, for Wi-Fi too. So, keeping one of them near the outdoors can work wonders for you. You will also get access points for outdoor wireless networks, but if you still find the need to run an Ethernet cable outside, you can follow this way. At first, you should give a try to wireless option because a wired network connection is always better for long-term use but, you might have to put in a lot of effort to prepare the complete setup properly. If you see that the wireless isn’t working the way it should, you can give the next try to Ethernet cables. There are just a few steps to follow to make sure that the Ethernet cable remains safe.
Are waterproof Ethernet cables the same as Weatherproof Ethernet Cables?
There is an obvious point of difference between anything that is weatherproof and a thing that is waterproof. You must keep this in mind before you place anything outside.
Those devices are considered waterproof which are designed to remain underwater and must have an official rating of IP 7 to show. Many such devices can be kept outside but the manufacture of these devices is not so high. These devices can be water-resistant even in the most unfavourable conditions of weather. In case, a device that is not water-resistant technically is submerged in water, water will get through the device and cause severe damage to some of the integral components within. In a waterproof device, no water can get in or get out.
There are weatherproof devices on another hand and these devices are easier to find. These devices offer high resistance to weather effects including heavy rainfall, but you cannot submerge them under the water. These devices are not just cheap to buy because they don’t have to undergo thorough testing methods, but in many cases, it is not enough for the device to be waterproof. Also, in a few countries which are prone to torrential rainfall regularly, an outdoor kept device has to be weatherproof.
- IP Ratings
IP rating refers to International Protection Rating but at times, it is also considered as Ingress Protection Rating. It comprises the alphabet “IP” after which there are two numbers. The first number categorizes the protection level offered against solid materials like hands, dust, and nails but, the second digit indicates the protection level against different moisture forms which range from strong water jets to droplets of condensed water.
If any one of the two digits gets replaced by X, this is an indication that no enclosure has been provided for the categorization. It is not likely for everyone to remember the meaning of every IP rating, particularly because of the large number of combinations so, just remember that with higher digits comes higher protection.
Is it safe to run ordinary Ethernet cable outdoors?
It is completely safe to run the ordinary Ethernet cable outdoors either for connecting it with an outer wireless access point or providing network connectivity to another building that is completely separate from yours. You must be informed about the cable type that you are putting to use, and make sure that it has enough protection against the weather to prevent unnecessary damage.
Normal Ethernet cable that is used within the building for providing a wired connection to all devices at once will not work so well for outdoor usage. It degrades fast and if water gets within, there can be permanent damage that can lead to ending the life of that cable. The connector sitting at both ends of the Ethernet cable is not waterproof at all and there are chances of water herring into it to cause a lot of damage to the wiring within.
You won’t find waterproof connectors and are not even recommended because other alternative options are easier to find and use, particularly if you want to run the cable outdoors. The plastic covering that gives protection to the interior wiring is better because it offers a lot of protection to the cable. However, if the amount of water used is very small then, it might not cause any problem but, it can’t be suitable for getting submerged underwater due to not being completely waterproof. Also, it isn’t completely weatherproof and outdoor rated that means, it is not ideal to be used outdoors. So, you shouldn’t expose it to outdoor elements too much.
Are there other alternatives that can be used?
You might be wondering if there are other choices if you can’t use the ordinary Ethernet cable outdoors. You might continue using the normal Ethernet cable that is readily available to you, but ensure that you have placed it in a kind of conduit like a plastic made pipe that is made weatherproof. You mustn’t keep the cable within the conduit and leave it outside to trail across the ground. You must bury it to adequate depth in the ground while preventing the obstructions like power lines or other things that can result in electrical interference and cause adverse effects to the cable.
Another thing to remember, even if you use a weatherproof conduit, is that they are imperfect and can lead the cable to experience failure during weather extremities. Below freezing temperatures can lead to the conduit not holding up the way it actually should. A viable option can be using a specific Ethernet cable designed to be used outdoors. But, the concern about these cables is that they have come at a higher cost. However, it is worth it for you to invest in the purchase of these cables if you want to avoid frequent replacement of damaged cables. Though there are some cheap outdoor rated cables available in the market and these cables have a PVC coating but it is always better to use the cables which are made of LLDPE because they keep the cable protected against moisture.
These specially designed cables are made in such a way that you can place them outdoors without even having to use a conduit. If you don’t want to use a conduit, you must ensure that the protective layer is UV resistant to make sure that the cable is safe from exposure to sun damage. A cable having LLDPE will have higher chances to offer the right anoint of protection against all elements. It will be better and sage for you to use the outdoor-rated Ethernet cables if you want to run the cable outdoors. It might cost you a little more and you will be required to put in too much effort to make sure everything is well placed but, you will be assured that the cable you are using can provide a good level of protection.
Ethernet cables are not usually waterproof. However, if you want to run these cables outdoors, you must get the outdoor-rated Ethernet cables to keep them safe and protected against damage caused by weather and other outer elements. There are different types of outdoor-rated Ethernet cables available so, you can get the one that suits your requirement and lies in your budget.