Category 5e and 6 Cables for Nuclear Power Plants

CableLAN Nuclear supplies the Category 5e and 6 cables you need in today’s nuclear power plants!

In selecting a cable for commercial applications, one need only to define the performance level, Category 5e or Category 6, the required flame test performance, “riser” cables or “plenum”, and a jacket color. These cables are readily available, in a variety of colors, from stock. Unfortunately, commercial cables often may not be suitable in a nuclear plant. Why? Because the great preponderance of commercial Cat 5e and Cat 6 cables use PVC insulation and jackets, which are usually forbidden in nuclear power plants. Moreover, the nuclear power plant user is committed to a different flame test, IEEE 383 or IEEE 1202, although some plants may have other flame test considerations.

So what can a nuclear power plant user do? Here are some choices.

Category 5e

For IEEE 383 flame test, Category 5e applications, we recommend using cables made with polyolefin insulations and low smoke, zero halogen jackets. These PVC-free cables meet all the electrical performance levels of Category 5e and are the same size and dimensions (i.e. 4 twisted pairs of #24 AWG solid copper, approximately 0.25 inches in diameter). CableLAN supplies this cable (part number LZSHCAT5EBK383), manufactured under a 10CFR50, Appendix B QA program, to many utilities across the company. We stock the cable with a black jacket, but other colors are available.

There is one other consideration. “Standard” Category 5e cables have a rated pull strength of only 25 pounds. Utilities may want to consider a cable with higher pull strength, making installation easier and more reliable. These cables, also with a black jacket, are available from stock at CableLAN.

Category 5e cables can also be provided with an overall aluminum/polyester tape shield and drain wire. If you use this cable design, you must also determine how you are going to ground the shield. Since Category 5e (and Category 6 for that matter) cables are terminated into 8 position, 8 pin RJ-45 plugs or jacks, and the cables contain 8 conductors, you must either procure a completely shielded system (jacks, patch panels, plugs, patch cords) or find a way to terminate the shield outside of the RJ-45.

Category 6

As speeds increase, structured wiring components are designed for even higher performance, known as Category 6. A Category 6 cable also is made with 4 twisted pairs of solid conductors, with #23 AWG rather than #24 AWG conductors. Because the electrical performance is very demanding, the cables require very precise lengths of lay, different for each of the 4 pairs, and may be separated by a dielectric “X-shaped” spacer, with one pair in each space of the “X”. The insulation is usually FEP with, in commercial cables, a PVC jacket.

As with Category 5e cables, the PVC jacket eliminates using commercial Category 6 cables in most nuclear plants.

In 2014, CableLAN introduced the first cable that met the Cat 6 electrical requirements using low smoke, zero halogen jacket materials that meet the IEEE 383 and IEEE 1202 flame tests.

Both Cat 5e and Cat 6 cables are stocked at CableLAN. We also stock Cat 5e bulk stranded, patch cable, plenum rated non-PVC Cat 6 and 5e cables and custom length patchcords.

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