Home » Networking » Types of Cable

There are many different elements that go into the complex infrastructure of a home or business security system. While some of the more prominent features, such as motion detectors and control panels, are widely known, the most important element of all wired systems is often misunderstood. The cables used to connect your security system act as the lifeline for the entire infrastructure. Because of its importance, it’s imperative to hold a solid understanding of the most common types of Networking and security cable available. It’s only with this knowledge can you ensure your system is properly established for optimum monitoring and reliability while staying safe and legal.

Although there are many different types of cables, let’s take a few moments to discuss three of the most commonly found. With this information you can move forward in confidence, knowing you’ll implement the best security system for your needs.

Plenum Cables

Throughout the cabling industry, the phrase “plenum” is used a lot. But what exactly does it mean? In the most fundamental sense, plenum cables are those that feature specialized insulation with a low smoke and low flame point. The word plenum actually refers to the empty space within construction where heated or cooled air rests. Therefore, a plenum cable is one that’s designed to be used in these extreme environments. For example, in office buildings, there is negative space between the ceiling and the roof. Basically, if you’re installing any cables within the “air handling” space of a structure, then you’ll use a plenum security cable.

While some buildings aren’t required to use plenum cables, in many structures, the use of these cables in air handling space is mandated by law. While this is used as a safety measure to prevent electrical disasters, such as a fire, these cables tend to be on the more expensive side. Due to its extreme testing and high-quality materials, you’ll pay more, but also receive some of the highest-rated cables in the industry.

Shielded Cables

Out of any cable, shielded cables are probably the most well-known. In fact, if you take a look at your lamp cord, it probably features a shielded cable. In the most fundamental sense, a shielded cable is an electrical cable with several layers of insulation over a primary conductive core. There are generally four layers in a basic shielded cable, which include:

1st Layer | Center Core (primary conductor)
2nd Layer | Dielectric Insulator
3rd Layer | Metallic Shield
4th Layer | Plastic Jacket

The primary goal of a shielded cable is to safeguard its transmission of electrical signals against elements, such as electromagnetic radiation. The quality of signals are maintained as noise from other electrical sources are filtered. In some cases, the third layer (metallic shield) can act as a return path for electrical signals; however, this is not the case in all shielded cables.

Twisted Cables

Also known as a twisted pair cable, this form of cabling is exactly as it sounds – two conductors within a single circuit are twisted together. The primary purpose of such a design is to eliminate as much electromagnetic interference, or EMI, as possible. For example, should these cables run alongside other electrical devices known to emit radiation/interference, the twisted cable inhibits this interference from degrading the quality of its signal. Should your security system be connected to a LAN, it’ll likely feature twisted cables to maintain optimum signal strength.