24AWG vs 26AWG vs 28AWG Ethernet Cable, How to Choose?

Posted on Nov 17, 2023 by

Ethernet cables are not unfamiliar to us. However, most of us may be familiar with terms like Cat6 or Cat6a, the wire gauge, often denoted by the American Wire Gauge (AWG), is a crucial yet often overlooked aspect of Ethernet cables. If you have ever shopped for Ethernet cables, you'll notice that not only can the length of the cables vary, but the cable size can be different as well. How to choose among 24AWG vs 26AWG vs 28AWG, these three common wire gauge Ethernet cables, please keep reading.

AWG Affects Ethernet Cable Performance

First and foremost, quickly grasp What Is AWG? AWG (American Wire Gauge) of the cable refers to the conductors (wires) inside the cables. The thickness and diameter of cable conductors determine the cables' AWG size, while the AWG sizes and cable sizes have an inverse relation. Simply speaking, a lower AWG number indicates a thicker wire. For instance, a 28AWG cable is thinner than a 24AWG cable.

The wire gauge will affect the signal quality, heat, airflow, and space of the Ethernet cables: Thicker conductors with lower resistance can carry signals over longer distances with less signal loss, while thinner cables provide more room for airflow solving space-constraint issues. Cables with different wire gauges are deployed in different applications.

24AWG vs 26AWG vs 28AWG, How to Identify?

It's quite simple to clarify the 24AWG vs 26AWG vs 28AWG cables based on their appearances.

  • 24AWG cables are obviously the largest in size among the three. The majority of cable you find with this AWG size will be solid core cable, making them suitable for longer distances. The maximum distance you can run Cat5e, Cat6, and Cat6a Ethernet cable is up to 328 feet (100 meters).

  • 26AWG cables are another popular cable size in the market. This AWG size of cable is often found in stranded cables. They come with a little more copper than 28AWG cables and a little less than 24AWG cables, making them a great choice for short cable runs. Another popular use of 26AWG cables is that they can also come shielded and stranded together, like 26AWG Cat6a patch cables and Cat6a bulk cables.

  • 28AWG cables are becoming more and more popular in the market. This is because of the smaller wires inside this type of cable making them a lot thinner than your standard size ethernet cables. You'll often find this cable having stranded conductors. The wires being so thin makes this cable also suitable for shorter runs. These cables tend to be one of the most flexible cables in the market which is important for patch panels and networking enclosure installations. Because of the smaller size of the 28AWG cable, less copper is used in construction. So at longer distances, performance will not be as good as 24AWG and 26AWG.

24AWG vs 26AWG vs 28AWG

24AWG vs 26AWG vs 28AWG, What's the Difference?

  24AWG Ethernet Cables 26AWG Ethernet Cables 28AWG Ethernet Cables
Diameter 0.0201 in / 0.5105 mm 0.0159 in / 0.4039 mm 0.0126 in / 0.3200 mm
Characteristics · Thicker conductors with lower resistance.
· Ideal for high-speed data transmission and applications where signal strength is crucial.
· Thinner conductors compared to 24AWG cables.
· More flexible and easier to work with.
· The thinnest among the three common gauges.
· Highly flexible and space-saving.
Applications Commonly used for long cable runs, Power over Ethernet (PoE) applications, and scenarios that demand high data transmission speeds, such as 10 Gigabit Ethernet (10GbE) connections. Often used in patch cables, shorter connections, and situations where flexibility and space constraints take precedence. Frequently used in patch cables, within data centers, and for short, flexible connections.

24AWG vs 26AWG vs 28AWG, Which Cable Gauge to Choose?

According to the abovementioned differences, you may have a basic understanding of Ethernet cable gauge. The choice between 24AWG vs 26AWG vs 28AWG Ethernet cables depends on your specific networking needs and the applications. In this part, you'll get more specific guidance based on different situations, helping you can make more informed decisions about which cables you purchase. Take these factors into consideration before making decisions:

  • 1. Transmission Speeds: If you require high-speed data transmission over long distances or you're working with applications like 10GbE, 24AWG cables are a solid choice. Their thicker conductors offer lower resistance and support higher data rates.

  • 2. Cable Length: If you need longer cable runs without signal degradation, especially for installations in large buildings or data centers, 24AWG is the go-to choice.

  • 3. Space Constraints: For shorter cable connections or situations where flexibility and space constraints are paramount, 26AWG and 28AWG are preferred. The thinner conductors make cable management easier.

  • 4. PoE Power Function: When transmitting both data and power over Ethernet cables, 24AWG is better equipped to handle higher power loads, which is crucial for devices like security cameras, access points, and phones that rely on PoE.

  • 5. Cabling Budget: 26AWG and 28AWG cables are often less expensive and readily available. If budget constraints are a concern, they offer a cost-effective solution.

24AWG vs 28AWG Slim Ethernet Cable

Find the Right Ethernet Patch Cable Supplier

Whether you require high-speed data transmission, long cable runs, or network flexibility, the choice of cable gauge is important in ensuring optimal network performance. It's not just about the wires inside the cable; it's about the strength and reliability of your network connections.

To find the right copper patch cords, you need to match the cable gauge with the specific requirements of your networking setup, which depends on factors like distance, data speed, and power requirements. By understanding the differences between 24AWG vs 26AWG vs 28AWG cables, you can select the Ethernet cable that best suits your needs and ensures optimal network performance. Whether you're upgrading your home network or setting up a data center, the right cable gauge makes all the difference in smooth and efficient data transmission.

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