Connecting your devices via an Ethernet cable has various advantages. Compared to other network cables, it is more affordable and easy to maintain. But the best part is the speed.
If you are planning to connect your home devices via an Ethernet cable, you are probably thinking about how long can an ethernet cable be?. Or what is the maximum distance it can cover.
To be precise, the ideal length of a single Ethernet cable is 328 feet or 100 meters. This is the maximum distance it can cover without losing signal strength. If you use a cable longer than the specified length, there can be various problems like dropped signals, slow speed, reduced performance, and more.
Extending this limit will result in decreased speed. So what do you do if you have to expand your network? We will find that out in this post, along with other important details.
How Far Can you Run an Ethernet Cable Be?
A single Ethernet cable can cover a maximum distance of 328 feet or 100 meters.
Using an Ethernet cable longer than 328 feet, will weaken the signal and also reduce the overall speed of your network connection. Just so you know this limit is recommended by manufacturers.
An Ethernet cable longer than 328 feet will still work, but it will have a lot of connectivity issues. These problems will increase if you further push this limit.
The point at which your connectivity drops will vary from cable to cable. This is why it is recommended you do not exceed the limit of 328 feet for a single run of Ethernet cable.
Why Does the Limit Matter?
Ethernet cables are different from fiber cables. They cannot maintain signal strength over vast distances. They come with a limit because they cause signal loss over longer distances. The main reason behind this drawback is the thickness of the cables. Compared to fiber, Ethernet cables are thin.
If you try to extend the Ethernet cable network beyond 100 meters, it will lose signal strength.
Some of you might consider using fiber for your home network. But it is going to be overkill and a lot more expensive. To extend your network connection over 328 feet, you will need to rely on other methods.
Does Using a Longer Ethernet Cable Reduce speed?
Longer runs of Ethernet cable will not reduce your speed. If you are using a Cat5e cable with 1 Gbps speed, you will receive the same speed, irrespective of the length of the cable.
But if you are using a Cat5 Ethernet cable, you are likely to experience reduced download and uploads speeds. The longer the cable length, the lesser the speed. This is because Cat5 is an older version of Ethernet.
This is why you are recommended to use the latest form of Ethernet cable like Cat6 or Cat5e with 1 Gbps speed.
Guide To Measure the Length of an Ethernet Cable
For a stable connection and decent speed, you need to make sure that your Ethernet cable doesn’t exceed 100 meters. To determine the length of your Ethernet cable, you can measure it using the following methods.
1. Use a Measuring Tape
This is probably the easiest way to measure your Ethernet cable. But using a basic tape is ideal for measuring 10 meters in length.
It is not practical to use tape to measure the full run of an Ethernet cable. In that case, you will need a measuring tape that is longer than 100 meters.
2. Use a Pre-made Ethernet Cable
It is possible to get a pre-made Ethernet cable. The length of a pre-made cable can be found in the product description.
With pre-made cables, you don’t have to put in any extra effort to measure the length. But at the same time, these cables are extremely expensive. So everyone can’t use pre-made cables, especially when they need cables of varying lengths.
3. Check the Footage Markings
Longer Ethernet cables usually come with footage markings on the exterior shielding. These markings are included to let you know the length of the cable that is in the box.
To measure the length of the cable, you will need to know the markings on both ends of the cable. Although this is a reliable method, it is not recommended.
4. Use a Cable Tester
One of the best ways to measure an Ethernet cable is to use a cable tester. This is the easiest method recommended by professionals.
These cable tester tools can do more than just measuring cables. They are often equipped with useful features that help you know the speeds across the run and export the results and record them. Other than that it also helps you to certify the cable.
How to Extend an Ethernet Cable?
In some cases, you may feel the need to extend the length of your Ethernet cable. The good news is that it is possible to expand the reach of your Ethernet cable using a few additional types of equipment.
You cannot exceed the length beyond 100 meters for a single run of Ethernet cable. But you can use a network switch to expand the overall reach. It doesn’t require you to install the switch closer to your device or router. It can be placed anywhere in the middle.
Just make sure that the cable running between the switch and the router, and the other cable connecting your device and the switch are both less than 328 feet.
Alternatively, you can also use small Ethernet extenders in place of a network switch. But this is cannot be a permanent fix.
The best solution is to get a reliable network switch as it will get the job done easily. Also, network switches are affordable.
Can You Run an Ethernet Cable Outdoors?
As already discussed above, the single run of an Ethernet cable is 328 feet, regardless of the location, it is being run.
To answer the question, yes, you can run an Ethernet cable outdoors. It can be used to connect two buildings to your network. The only thing to keep in mind is to use a weatherproof and durable cable.
Ordinary Ethernet cables that are used indoors are not designed for outdoor installation. If you try to use a home Ethernet cable outside, it won’t last long. This is because ordinary Ethernet cables are thin. Also, they are not weatherproof.
If you are using an ordinary Ethernet cable outdoors, it is recommended you enclose it inside a protective conduit. In this case, you can rely on a weatherproof PVC pipe.
For further protection, you can choose to bury the pipe underground. But you will need to make sure that it is not installed close to any electrical wiring. This could result in electrical interference.
However, the best option is always to invest in a high-quality, weatherproof Ethernet cable. That’s because even PVC conduits are not enough in weather extreme conditions.
From the above discussion, we know that Ethernet cables are designed to run a maximum distance of 328 feet or 100 meters.
If you have to extend your network connection, then you are recommended to use a network switch. Trying to extend the length of your Ethernet cable beyond 100 meters is likely to result in connectivity issues. It can also reduce the overall speed due to signal loss. This is why you should use a network switch to extend the overall reach of your Ethernet cable.