Choosing the Right Cable for Safety and Success

There’s a lot out there when it comes to helping customers choose the right cable—not to mention a myriad of cable companies touting that they have exactly what you need. So, we’ll make it easier for your customers: they need you. 

Unfortunately, counterfeit cable can easily go undetected by the untrained eye–even when sold by (seemingly) reputable distributors. Just because, well, it’s cheaper. Some even use the markings of trusted certifications on their packaging, but without the required holographic label to ensure its authenticity. Beyond cheap and dangerous, we think that’s just downright evil—but we digress. 

All this results in many consumers purchasing types of category cables that do not pass the rigorous testing and safety regulations of those that we offer–running high risk of burns, electric shock, fires and other hazards. But, never fear: Pioneer is here. In fact, we don’t offer a single SKU that doesn’t meet these national standards that we’re about to mention below. So not only are we ready to help you guide your customers to choosing the right ethernet cable to meet their specific needs, but we’re proud to ensure their safety with every product.

The ABCs of the NEC 

CMP, CMR, CM/CMG, and CMX cables are acronyms noting NEC (National Electric Code) types. These are developed by the United States National Fire Protection Agency to define each type of cable jacket, their uses, and the flame testing that was passed for each. 

CMP (Communications Multipurpose Cable, Plenum)

This cable has a fire-resistant rating jacket which may also be called a plenum-rated cable. Plenum cables are made with a chemical called FEP (fluorinated ethylene propylene) that burns cleanly and extinguishes easily when exposed to fire. These cables are built to restrict the spread of flame from a fire to as little as five feet or less, limiting both the amount of smoke and the amount of toxic fumes produced by it in the process. That’s why they are used for spaces where air travels through commercial or residential buildings, such as in circulation for heating, ventilation, and air conditioning. 

CMR (Communications Multipurpose Cable, Riser)

CMR cable jackets also prevent spread of fire, but instead with a Teflon coating. Unlike CMP cables, they are used in conventional networking and aren’t meant for air ducts—they are used to stop the spread of a fire between floors through vertical shafts or risers, preventing a burning floor from spreading to those that are unaffected. As long as they don’t pass through the plenum, they can also be used in regular networking for room-to-room applications.

CM/CMG (Communications Multipurpose Cable)

These cable types are most often used residentially, and are less expensive than those mentioned above. Commercial usage instances can be found, but are limited mostly due to safety reasons. While made with PVC like the others, they lack any sort of coating for fire protection. That means these cables will burn like any other plastic, emitting tons of smoke and toxic fumes. Their applications are primarily in-room patch cords, for instance, from a wall plate connecting an ethernet port to a computer. Proceed with caution and continue to practice basic electrical safety (so, do not add water). 

CMX Cable (Communications, Outdoor/Residential)

CMX cables have more durability and impact protection when compared with CMR, CM, or CMP cables. Whether buried underground or installed on the side of buildings, the CMX is the best pick because they are made with  LLDPE (Linear Low-Density Polyethylene), due to its UV resistant and weatherproof properties. These cables are meant to withstand harsh sunlight, wind, rain, and extreme temperature changes. However, they are not fire-rated.

Now that you’re safe, below are  a couple of unique cable solutions we offer:

For those wanting to go beyond the regular old category cable:

Go Invisible with Inneos

One of the simplest solutions to not overheating a bunch of wires or punching holes in your wall to hide HDMI cables is something of the future: just go invisible! Inneos’ InvisiCable uses the ultralight, non-conductive technology of hair-thin fiber optic wires so that installers can simply score the drywall, lay in the fiber, tape and paint. No heavy construction required. Learn more about their “In Room” and “Through Wall” offerings here

Fiber? I Barely Know Her

With the need for more and more network devices in any given home (or room), and even more wi fi–consumers will require something beyond the standard cat 5 cables, cat 6a cables and beyond. With fiber optic technology, you can make their homes and offices future proof. Click here for our blog explaining the basics of fiber optic technology.

Go Minimalist: CommScope’s Undercarpet Solution

Another way to make things “invisible” is to take them underground! CommScope’s Undercarpet power installation is an alternative to conventional round cable for the distribution of power, especially in complicated office or retail layouts. Not only can these systems be placed virtually anywhere along the floor, but they can be easily removed and relocated without major modifications to walls, floors, or other structural components of a building. They also eliminate the need for power poles, making the environment sleek and minimal for a pleasing aesthetic. This is particularly useful in modern commercial buildings and retail businesses where frequent changes occur among store layouts, fixtures and installations.

Now that you’re an expert on choosing the right cable click here for all of our trusted cable offerings for any install. 

Check out our full calendar of trainings and events here.