This Week's Lineup of Bulk Cables

November 21, 2013 at 4:25 PM


If your job or application requires buying cabling in bulk, then you understand that the term “bulk cable” covers a lot of ground. There are several different types of bulk cable, various ways to use them, and multiple avenues to order from.

Bulk CableSpoolAlthough a factory-terminated cable assembly will suit just about any connectivity application, you still want to be mindful of exceptions. Sometimes the connector on a cable is too big to pass through a narrow conduit or too difficult to fish through a wall or a ceiling.  Or the pinning is non-standard, and an off-the-shelf product won't work. Sometimes you won't know the proper length of the cable until you get to your location, so you will be forced to terminate the cable on site. To help you determine what you need, here’s a look at a couple of bulk cable types L-com offers and some ordering advice.


Fiber Optic Cable

fiber cableFiber optic cable is one of the most commonly ordered bulk cable types. Since fiber cable can be run to extreme lengths, it is impossible for anyone to carry factory-terminated cables in all the lengths that may be required.  Also, ordering bulk fiber cable isn’t the same as ordering for standard fiber optic specifications. When ordering fiber optic bulk cable, there are several factors to keep in mind. 

Short fiber cables for patching are generally duplex, with two counts of fiber, or occasionally simplex with one fiber. As you run longer cables or higher counts of cables, it is usually desired to bundle several fibers into a single jacket for convenience and protection when pulling through a conduit.  L-com offers two types of cables bundled in this way: breakout style and distribution style. 

Fiber Distribution cable

The biggest difference between breakout style and distribution style is where the Kevlar strength member is used. In breakout style cables, each internal fiber optic cable has its own Kevlar layer within each jacket.  This can increase the strength of the entire cable and provide additional strength to each fiber if the outer jacket is stripped away for termination.  Usually, due to the thickness of each fiber, breakout style cable has a fewer count of fibers in it compared to distribution style fiber. 


Distribution style cable only has one Kevlar layer around all of the fibers within the outer jacket.  The advantages of this is that the outer diameter of the whole cable is reduced dramatically, so you can fit it in tighter conduits and carry a higher count of fibers in it. The individual fibers are faster and easier to terminate since you don't have to trim back the Kevlar on each fiber cable.


Whichever style works best for you, fiber optic cables are unique in that you do not need to order in specific "put ups" or order lengths. While there is usually a minimum order length, you can order the bulk fiber cable to whatever length you are likely to need.  Note that terminating fiber cables generally requires special training and equipment.


Bulk Ethernet Cabling

Double Shielded: Foil plus Braid - SF/UTP LSZH - 24 AWG Solid Conductor - LSZH Jacket - Category 5E

Often, bulk Ethernet cabling is used in horizontal runs from a server room to individual drop points at workstations.  Because of the sensitivity of the twisted pairs within the cable, it should be spooled carefully in the manufacturer's factory. Once it is pulled off of the spool for use it should not be re-spooled.  For this reason many distributors can only sell the bulk cable at whatever put up it was spooled at originally, which is usually 1,000 feet.  


There is much to know about Ethernet cabling, such as jacket material, shielding and flexibility, but most important is whether the conductors are stranded or solid.  Solid conductors are more popular in horizontal runs because they are much easier to terminate in IDC jacks at the drop points, while stranded conductors are more flexible and best suited for use as patch cables.


There's more...

In addition to the many variations of Fiber Optic and Ethernet bulk cable; there is also bulk cable for USBRG and Low Loss coaxVGA and SVGA  applications and more (all of which L-com carries!).

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