Okay, so I know that the maximum length of a CAT5e cable is not supposed to exceed 328 feet/100 meters. However, all the ready made cables seem to stop at a maximum length of 100 feet. Is that a matter of 328 feet being the theoretical maximum length and 100 feet being the practical maximum length or can I link a few together for 300 feet?
I am getting ready to link a couple buildings together for my boss (a small retail store, shop, and storage) and
we're doing it on the cheap. I plan on using the standard 4 port Linksys BEFSR41 off of a cable modem, and then running about 200 feet of cable into a switch in the middle building, and then from that switch going 100 feet or so into another switch in the last building. I've had 2 50-foot CAT5 cables joined with a coupler running over the roof of my house for a couple years now and never had any problems. I'm actually kind of surprised the plastic has held up this long. Anyways, please let me know if there are any flaws in my plan as well as any advice you might have.
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These lengthts should be fine. As far as I can see you end up with about 300 feet which seems good.
The max length of a cable is dependent on many things. Attenuation and speed being the two main factors. Attenuation in standard ethernet cables should be able to go over 300 feet, but you will have "late collisions".
As has been pointed out on this forum in the past, running bare unshielded/ungrounded signal cables outside could put users in danger of lightning strike.
The fact that you have been doing it for a while without problems may be more attributable to your luck level than anything.
You might want to consider burrying the wire or else getting a good conductive non corroding conduit, like galvenized pipe, and grounding it with a healthy ground.
You have a cat5 surge protector?? Because if your taking about a power surge protector (ie plug into wall) then that'll stop you from having to throw the breaker back on when the lightning rips down the cat5 and destroys every piece of hardware attached to it. I think they arrest in both directions anyway LOL.
I agree with the comment that you may just have been lucky.
By putting network cabling outside the building, especially on a roof, you are greatly increasing the risk of drawing electrical energy (i.e. lightning) into the switch then possibly through it and to other cables, assuming the switch doesn't melt first.
A simple network lightning protector is a good cost-effective solution. The Enable-IT 260LP is one that I've seen work well and a search on Google will bring up many others.
You can also use Ethernet extenders instead of cheap hubs to get past the 100m (328ft) limit rather than chaining together inexpensive hubs/switches. Sometimes the cheaper units will work but don't give you the full bandwidth and you can often power extenders on both ends. Some vendors repeater-style extenders can be daisy chained together and powered by PoE from one end as well.