The 28-AWG cable (also known as Slim-Net) is a patch cable that is significantly smaller than the traditional 24-AWG cable and is made with thinner 28-AWG stranded copper conductors. Nowadays, these cables are gaining popularity because of their smaller size which had solved various space issues of high-density Telecom Rooms (TR) and data centers. These cables are low cost cables and are easier to manage. These cables offer many advantages over traditional thicker 24-AWG/26-AWG cables, but had some disadvantages too.
The new 28-AWG cable’s smaller diameter offers great manageability and layout benefits, but at the same time this reduction in size led to various shortcomings that are discussed as following.
Advantages of 28-AWG cable
Various advantages of 28-AWG patch cable are discussed as follows:
- Reduced space
With 4.1 mm diameter, these 28-AWG cables offer 50% less cordage than 24-AWG/26-AWG cables. This reduced size greatly increases the extra space in cable managers and pathways.
These cables are less bulky and more flexible as compared to 24-AWG. Their flexibility makes them easier to route through the cable management as compared to stranded cables.
- Improved airflow
The thinner 28-AWG covers less space in front of patch panels and network equipment, resulting in better airflow and equipment cooling. This greatly helps to reduce damages particularly in large chassis switches.
- Easier management
Due to more space between patched 28-AWG cables, they are very easier to handle and install. You also get improved port number visibility on high-density panels. The space for fingers, plug access, and routing cords makes 28-AWG cable easier for cable management.
- Low cost and improved high-density layouts
These cables contain less copper in its conductor, so they are definitely less costly than traditional 24/26-AWG cables. The layouts are also improved because of less space consumption. Many large offices TRs generally follows two-rack configuration with 28-AWG which contains one rack for horizontal cross-connect and another rack for network switches.
- Improved rack utilization
The rack utilization is also increased that led to more available space in same rack. You can put more high density 1U or 2U patch panels on same rack units.
Disadvantages of 28-AWG
Here enlisted are some disadvantages of 28-AWG:
- Shorter distance
Because of reduced diameter, the 28-AWG suffers from excessive heat loss that lowers the transmission distance of the cable. This cable does not support 100 meter channel that is a specified channel by 568-C.2 standard. It has a shorter channel. It is advised to keep the length of the patch cable as short as possible.
- Increased Heat loss
Heat is an important factor in 28-AWG copper cable. The smaller wire has more resistance, so this cable is susceptible to larger heat loss than the traditional one. The heat loss adversely affects the data transmission and cable length.
- RJ-45 connector not supported
The RJ-45 connecter is not supported by this cable due to its smaller gauge size. Due to thinner and smaller wires, the RJ-45 connector will fit loosely under the gold-blade contact.
- Lack of standard
This 28-AWG cable is not in compliance with the TIA 568-C.2 standard which is a specified standard for 24/26-AWG wires. The performance of the cable degrades due to more insertion loss.
Applications of 28-AWG
28-AWG cables are generally used in various Telecom Rooms (TRs) and data centers. Because of their smaller size and better space utilization, these cables are replacing the traditional 24/26-AWG cables in TRs and data centers. They are capable of solving various space issues in high-density TRs where space within the TR or data center is a major real asset.
In verdict, 28-AWG cables offer a great replacement for traditional 24-AWG cable by saving the space, reducing the clutter and improving the airflow in TRs and data centers. It is a low cost solution that provides better high-density layouts. Although this cable does not comply with 568-C.2 standards, still it is a good alternative for a traditional cable.