How can you tell a CAT6 cable is externally rated? It is a requirement for a project I'm working on.

Many thanks, Vlad

  • 4
    "externally rated"??? Direct burial? Areal? Fresh or Salt water submersible? If it's not etched onto the cable and/or printed on the box/spool, then it doesn't do it.
    – Ricky
    Commented May 27, 2014 at 1:09
  • I assume it's areal.
    – user2559
    Commented Jun 3, 2014 at 8:51
  • Did any answer help you? if so, you should accept the answer so that the question doesn't keep popping up forever, looking for an answer. Alternatively, you could provide and accept your own answer.
    – Ron Maupin
    Commented Aug 10, 2017 at 0:23

1 Answer 1


No common usage cable is rated for exposure to the natural elements. If it isn't going to be used inside of a home or environment-controlled switching office, it either needs to be specially ordered, or carried inside of conduit which is tailored to the task. Not to say that it won't work, but rather that it isn't designed to perform under that duress. Even a small amount of water can attenuate a signal if it somehow finds its way into the core, and there are numerous ways in which the cladding of a non-hardened cable can be breached.

Short answer: If it looks like the stuff you would plug into your home device, don't use it outside. It needs to be protected.

  • Hi James, do you have any references for the statement about water on the outside of the cable causing attenuation? This company's website seems to indicate that typical cat5 can survive the elements with no major concerns. Commented Oct 15, 2014 at 7:27
  • @Mike Thanks for the feedback! It is definitely indicated that there are cases in which individuals have buried their cat-5, unshielded, outside of a conduit, with no ill effect. Unfortunately, that isn't guaranteed, because the cable is not manufactured to withstand that level of duress. Commented Oct 16, 2014 at 18:35
  • @Mike The fact of the matter is that it all depends on local weather and wildlife. If you live in an even-tempered area, free of seismic activity, with little to no vermin, you would potentially be able to see the cable perform fine. Humidity, extreme (hot or cold) weather, wildlife, and shifting terrain can cause serious issues. Any combination of weather could compromise the integrity of the non-guaranteed sheathing. At short distances, you might even be fine at that point, but not in the long-term, and definitely not for long-distance runs. Commented Oct 16, 2014 at 18:39
  • Thus far neither of the comments above respond to my question in the comments about signal attenuation Commented Oct 16, 2014 at 19:22
  • @Mike I appreciate that you're looking for more concrete evidence, but I'd be hard-pressed to obtain any real figures measuring dB loss or noise experienced on lines in various weather cases. That being said, having the cladding sitting directly in water isn't necessarily the problem so much as the other potential factors in an unprotected, outdoors installation. Any amount of moisture on bare copper will cause corrosion. It doesn't take many alternating hot and cold days or squirrels chewing the cable to allow moisture to saturate the core of the twisted pairs. Commented Oct 23, 2014 at 3:00

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