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With the internet being the sole connector of the world the usage of ethernet cables has highly increased contrastively. Be it indoors or outdoors, in many situations it may get exposed to water, UV rays and other environmental hazards. Hence the question may arise, “Are the Ethernet cables waterproof?”
It can’t be answered with a simple yes or no. There are a variety of ethernet cables categorized based on the structure, durability and standard, from Cat 5, Cat5e to Cat6, Cat6a, Cat7 and Cat8. Each of these has different wire assembly and shielding. Even though most standard ethernet cables are more or less built water resistant, it is safer to use the ones that are designed for heavy duty usage. Besides, it is possible to waterproof the regular ethernet cables.
- Cat7, Cat8 ethernet cables are heavily bodied for heavy duty usage meaning they have comparatively better waterproofing ability.
- Standard ethernet cables aren’t designed to combat environmental stress. Outdoor grade ethernet cables are much more suitable for exposure to water or other weather hazards.
- If using standard ethernet cables at risky sites, waterproofing the connector is a must.
What If The Ethernet Cable Gets Wet?
The connectors of the ethernet cables, no matter what category it is, are prone to expose the wires of the cable to water. Thereby, the wires will get damaged as soon as the ethernet cable gets wet. If water penetrates inside the cable, the cable needs to be replaced as the water does not dry out. Existing water permeates the protective jacket and causes the wires to get permanently damaged.
As a result, the cable won’t work as before once tempered. Then it is more likely to get interrupted internet or no connection at all. Therefore, it is safer to remove the disrupted cable and connect to a new one.
How To Protect Ethernet Cable From Water?
Ethernet cables are easily tempered if the wires are exposed to water or any type of moisture. If you have to use your ethernet cables outdoors, you should take some precautions to protect it from water.
- Waterproof Grommet: The most vulnerable and exposed part of the cable is the connector. You can secure the joint of the cable connector and the device connector using a waterproof grommet to cover the joint. The grommet seals the joint so that no water can get in through it. This is a safe and convenient way to waterproof the cable.
- Conduit: You can waterproof your ethernet cable in this very old fashioned but effective way by running your cable through a waterproof PVC pipe conduit. For the underground connection, it is the most suitable method.
- Silicon seal: Sealing the cable connector using silicon is another way to secure the cable as it prevents any water leakage.
Related Reading: Can I Connect 2 Ethernet Cables Together?
Which Ethernet Cable Is Waterproof?
The ethernet cables most of us use for our home/office are Cat5e or Cat6 which are not suitable for outdoor usage at all. While Cat6, Cat6a are somewhat water resistant, Cat7 and Cat8 are durable enough to use outdoors. Yet, the risk of water penetration through the connector remains.
Cat5, Cat5e ethernet cables have thin low grade plastic casing which may cause the wires to get wet very easily. Cat5 is unshielded, Cat5e is the least shielded among all other ethernet cables.
Although Cat6, Cat6a have individual shielded wire, the wire casing is not enough to protect from water or environmental stress.
Cat7 is the second firmest ethernet cable after Cat8. Not only the wires inside the cables are protected with individual shields but also the cable itself is protected with an uv and radiation resistant jacket made with low density polyethylene or PVC.
Cat8 has the same shielding and protective jacket as Cat7. It is well secured, has a more rigid structure and heavy body. It surely has more durability and capacity to take environmental stress than any other ethernet cable. Even though the body is waterproof, water resistancy of the connector cannot be guaranteed as all the ethernet cables use the same RJ45 connectors which can easily cause the water to get inside the cable.
There’s no one word answer Whether the ethernet cables are waterproof or not.While cables are being made as much durable as possible, yet none are suitable for heavy duty water exposed situations on its own.For stressful surroundings it is better to use specialized ethernet cables for outdoors or waterproof the cable if using standard ethernet cables.