AWG, short for American Wire Gauge, is an index which shows the cross-sectional area of a round wire. In AWG, the larger the gauge, the slimmer the Ethernet cable. So, 28AWG cable is thinner than 24AWG cable, which does help in space-saving, airflow optimization and more. This article focuses on 28AWG cable and introduces its benefits.
With thinner wires, the 28AWG slim Ethernet cables improve airflow in high-density racks and can be more easily installed in crowded space compared to 24AWG or 26AWG Ethernet cables. The outer diameter (OD) of a typical 24AWG Cat5e patch cable is about 0.215 inches. The OD of 24AWG Cat6 cable is 0.235 inches and the 0.275-inch OD of 24AWG Cat6a. Usually the larger the gauge, the smaller the wire. So the cords that use 28AWG conductors have a smaller outer diameter. In the following figure, you can clearly see that the OD of a 28AWG Cat5e cable is 0.149 inches. The ODs of 28AWG Cat6 and 28AWG Cat6a cables are respectively 0.15 and 0.185 inches. With such a small OD, what benefits does 28WG cable have? Please keep reading the following article.
Figure1: 24AWG Cable vs 28AWG Cable OD
As mentioned above, the cord size of 28 AWG cables is much smaller than that of 24 AWG wires. Therefore, the use of 28AWG wires can significantly save more space compared with traditional 24 AWG wires. As the figure below shows, there is a big difference in the bundle size between 24 AWG and 28 AWG Cat6 patch cords.
Figure2: 24AWG Cable vs 28AWG Cable Core Size
28AWG cable is thinner than 24AWG cable, which means it can bring more open space. With more open space, it’s good for airflow and equipment cooling, particularly for Network racks.
It’s easier for cable management because of more space for finger plugging access and running cords, thus saving you valuable time and labor. Besides, it also improves the use effectiveness of high-density panels because the patching bulk is reduced.
In 2019, the bigger news about 28 AWG patch cables is that they can be used to support power delivery (also known as "PoE" ). According to TSB-184-A-1, an addendum to TSB-184-A: 28 AWG in bundles of up to 12 can be used for PoE applications up to 30W.
For power delivery between 30W and 60W, all 28 AWG cable bundles should be separated and spaced at least 1.5 inches apart from the outer edge to the outer edge of each bundle, which can further support airflow and the opportunity for heat dissipation. Due to 28 AWG isn't mentioned in the National Electrical Code at 60W, anything above 60W requires authorization from the authority having jurisdiction.
The gauge of the conductors mainly affects the size of an Ethernet cable. The above content has mentioned that 28AWG Ethernet patch cables have many advantages compared with 24AWG cables. 28AWG cables offer the benefits of space-saving, higher-density layouts, easy cable management, cost and time reduction.
It's suggested to know the following information before choosing 24AWG or 28AWG cables.
The 24AWG network cable makes for a stronger conductor which is a benefit when being pulled on during installation or when routed through machines and other equipment.
Copper network cables with a smaller gauge (larger diameter) are typically available in longer lengths because they offer less resistance, allowing signals to travel farther.
The smaller the diameter of a wire, the more electrical resistance there is for the signals it carries.
To take the above into consideration, you may find that the smaller the gauge, the larger the diameter of the wire. The larger the diameter of a wire, the less electrical resistance there is for the signals it carries. So, 24AWG cable is ideal for long runs with more potential damage, because it comes with stronger conductors with lower attenuation, while 28AWG slim cable would be more suitable to enable higher density layouts and make it easier for cable management since it helps save space and optimize airflow.