Understanding the Importance of Proper Low Voltage Cabling in Data Centers
Twenty-plus years ago, it was common for most data center cables to run under raised access floors. These open subfloors minimized alien crosstalk and allowed cooling fans to pump chilled air across cabinet rows.
Copper-building wires feature connections known as RJ45 (also referred to as an ethernet port or Internet jack). These connectors allow cables to interface with devices from computers and routers to security cameras and VOIP phones.
The old saying goes, “A chain is only as strong as its weakest link.” Proper low-voltage cabling is essential for technology infrastructure to run smoothly and securely. Unfortunately, many businesses don’t follow cabling best practices and end up with a technology network vulnerable to failure.
The most common form of low-voltage cabling is copper, although various options suit specific needs. Some companies also use fiber optic cable, which can deliver gigabytes of bandwidth per second and is immune to electromagnetic interference.
When choosing a cabling option, it is essential to consider how the cable will be routed in the building. For example, it is a best practice to avoid crossing cable paths near electrical power wires. Running a data cable parallel to an electrical line creates a magnetic field that can disrupt the signal, causing communications to fail or slow to a crawl.
Using suitable connectors on cabling is also essential, so it’s a good idea to partner with a company specializing in cable management. These experts can provide certified technicians who lay tidy and fully customized cabling that accounts for present and future technology infrastructure challenges. In addition, they can install the proper connectors on each cable.
As technology infrastructure expands, so does the need for low-voltage cabling. From landline telephones to high-speed internet connections, the steady, consistent power required to operate technology systems is provided by low-voltage cabling.
Data centers are complex technical facilities, and cabling is integral to the facility’s overall performance. The wrong cable choice can lead to many problems, from slowing down hardware to consuming excessive energy. Whether your business needs to upgrade an existing data center or build a new one, understanding the importance of proper low-voltage cabling will help you plan your network correctly.
When selecting the right cables, consider your bandwidth needs and the size and power requirements of the hardware you intend to connect. Copper cables, like stranded ethernet, are standard. Still, other options like twinaxial, single-mode, or multimode fiber optic wires can deliver more bandwidth over longer distances.
It’s also essential to ensure your cabling doesn’t restrict airflow. In addition to reducing the risk of fire, a lack of proper cooling can cause equipment to overheat, leading to downtime and wasted energy. Remove any unused or abandoned cables that may be blocking airflow under raised access floors or within cabinets. Also, deploy and monitor temperature sensors to ensure that all of your cables operate at a safe temperature.
Choosing the right cables and having the proper cabling infrastructure to support growth will save data centers money. For example, copper cables are up to six times cheaper than their fiber-optic counterparts. They also require less energy to cool, saving on power costs.
A well-designed cabling system for easy expansion and growth will allow for future upgrades without disrupting current operations or risking outages. Ideally, it is in the end user’s best interest to plan for expansion during the initial cabling implementation. This allows the pricing to be negotiated on a project basis and saves money. It is also easier to manage when moves, adds, and changes can be done on a case-by-case basis.
An excellent low-voltage cabling system will have connectors that allow the cables to interface with different devices. These are called RJ45 connectors or ethernet ports on devices like computers, routers, and VOIP phones. These connectors will help minimize alien crosstalk and allow for optimal signal strength. Another important consideration is the type of cable used, passive or active twinax, as this will determine the signal strength and distance. Active copper cables use particular components to boost signal strength, whereas passive twinax cables do not.
While landline phone usage is declining, data communication systems like Wi-Fi remain popular and rely on low-voltage cabling for consistent signal strength.
The best way to ensure your company’s information and services are streamlined and efficient is with quality cabling installation. While many cable options are available, choosing the right one for your needs is essential.
It’s also essential to plan. This can reduce costs and minimize downtime caused by cabling issues. By mapping out your cabling, you can determine what type of cable you need and where it should be placed. If you want to expand your infrastructure in the future, it’s wise to leave space for this expansion. This will save you money in the long run and prevent expensive moves, adds, and changes later.
Keeping cable bundles organized helps maintain airflow, keeps equipment cool, and makes it easier to identify pathways.