Twisted Means to an End – Advantages of Category 5 Cable in AV Installations

Category 5 (Cat-5) cables are typically used in computer cables and connectivity products for building and maintaining computer networks, telephone systems, and video applications. The “category” classification identifies the quality of the cable and manufacturing standards as well as installation standards. It consists of four twisted pairs of copper wire terminated by RJ45 connectors. Cat-5 cabling supports frequencies up to 100 MHz and speeds up to 1000 Mbps.

Now, instead of using standard audiovisual wiring, which tends to be bulky and expensive, you have the option of using Cat-5, which functions the same way as standard data network cables. Cost savings are found in smaller interface plates, smaller conduit sizes, and overall installation labor. This provides a viable solution to historical renovation since wall and floor penetrations are minimized which can reduce the impact of installing cabling.

However, when used with audiovisual products such as projectors, there is a cost overhead because transmitters and receivers are required at either end (unlike standard cabling which doesn’t require the transmitters and receivers). The transmitters and receivers convert the video signal to allow transmission over the Cat-5 network cable.

This cost overhead can be significantly less than a project that requires floor boxes and conduit, especially when there are associated architectural issues or high installation costs. A project in a high labor cost area, i.e. San Francisco or New York, can use Cat-5 cables for an overall cost savings despite transmitter and receivers.

The downside is that Cat-5 cables are limited in resolution and cable length – up to 100 feet for standard and 1500 feet for long-distance transmitters.