Ask An Installer: Categorical Question

Q. I have a question regarding the "Ask an Installer" column in the September issue. In his answer, the installer recommended putting in Cat-5e cable in a new home installation for sending video and audio to multiple rooms. Wouldn't it be better to install Cat-6 rather than Cat-5e, given its high-speed design for 1- and potentially 10-gigabit Ethernet? Although the question was directed at audio and video, would Cat-6 better future-proof the wiring installation? Dave Jasany Mooresville, NC

A. Tom Ramirez, Installer, Custom Theater & Audio, Murrells Inlet, SC says: As you point out, the question was directed at audio/video distribution, and that's the key here. Planning for the future using Cat-6 in a network environment is certainly a great idea. But that application is a far different topic than simply using Cat-5 for A/V cabling in your system to get signals from point A to Point B. When baluns are used on Cat-5, you're just converting an A/V signal into a form that can be sent down Cat-5 over long distances (up to 1,000 feet). You can turn a run of Cat-5 into virtually any A/V cable as long as you use the proper balun on each end. Can you do the same thing with Cat-6? Sure, if your budget will allow for it. But in most cases, it would be overkill in this application. The low cost of Cat-5 combined with its ability to be used as a multi-cable/problem solver is what makes it attractive, and will probably keep it around for a while.

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