RJ45 Connector Buying Guide
RJ45 network connectors are used as part of an Ethernet (wired internet) connection. They are used as a method of connecting devices to active equipment by terminating the connector onto the cable itself. All RJ45 products consist of 8 wire connections.
"RJ45" or RJ45 connector can be used to describe both male RJ45 plugs as well as female RJ45 sockets. The plugs, often referred to as modular connectors, can be found on the ends of Ethernet patch cables. The sockets, or jacks, are used in Patch Panels, Surface mount boxes or Wall Plates. The Patch cables are then used to connect the active devices to the network.
These sockets and plugs are categorised by performance potential as defined in Local and International Standards. Both are available for Category 5e, Category 6, Category 6A etc. and should be matched to the specific network cabling being used.
Different types of RJ45 Connector
There are many types of RJ45 connectors available, with the primary significant distinction being their gender. What are the various types of RJ45 connectors and how can you tell them apart?
In essence plugs are male, whereas sockets or jacks are female. The main function of the plug is to connectorise the wires of the Ethernet cable. The purpose for sockets is to pass the electrical signal to the device it's sharing the signal with. They are made to join securely and create a strong connection - both electrical and physical.
Female Connectors or RJ45 Sockets
An RJ45 female connector is a socket that is designed to allow a male RJ45 plug to be connected into the socket. They are typically incorporated into active equipment such as computers, switches and routers which then allow a patch cord to connect them directly into the ethernet cabling system, typically into Patch Panels, Surface mount boxes or Wall Plates. These can be unshielded or electrically protected by a metallic shield.
Male RJ45 Connectors (RJ45 Plug)
RJ45 Male connectors allow cable to be inserted in the rear and then crimped to ensure a secure electrical connection is made. They are typically constructed of clear plastic and have gold plated pins. Just like the sockets (female connector) these can be unshielded or electrically protected by a metallic shield typically used in higher speed networks.
Cables Used with RJ45 Connectors and Plugs
Like the RJ45 connectors, cables used in ethernet cabling systems are categorised by performance. Example Category 5E, Category 6, Category 6A, Category 7 etc. They consist of 8 wires, 4 pairs twisted together. They are commonly referred to in the industry as Ethernet or network communication cables.
These cables can be unshielded or shielded for added immunity properties. In general, the higher the category number infers its increased capacity to carry data. The data transfer speed is referred to in terms of Gigabytes/Second (GBS).
In summary, RJ45s, regardless of category or shielding are designed to a specific standard determining size, performance and interoperability. Whilst all components will connect to each other, it is best to match all components to ensure you get the best out of your network.
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