What Is Keystone Jack And How To Select Them?

The selection of the right ethernet cable is a tricky task for every network engineer. Once they take this decision, the next important step is the selection of the right accessories for it. It includes the selection of appropriate keystone jacks as well. One wrong decision will waste the whole investment.

If they choose keystone jacks that are not compatible with the cable, the desired performance of network connectivity will not be achieved. Therefore, they have the same level of importance as the Ethernet cables possess. These jacks are the Ethernet cables connectors. With their help, you connect your devices with the keystone jack plates.

It is very important to understand that what are these keystone jacks and how do they work? Otherwise, you cannot pick the right one for your cables and this could negatively impact your network performance. A network cable is nothing without these jacks.

They are not a very high price product but still, you need to buy them with great care and caution as they are directly impacting your cable performances. In this article, we will discuss their different types and working.

What is a Keystone Jack?

It is always better to understand a product first and then make a decision to buy it. This will help you in buying the right product according to your needs and requirements. So, let’s understand first that what is a keystone jack?

It is a standardized female connector or a plug used for mounting different sorts of low-voltage electrical jacks. Usually, they are used with keystone jack plates and patch panels. They are available with different usages and functions. Every Ethernet cable requires a different sort of a jack to perform well.

Some of the most utilized ones are listed below.

  • RJ45 Jack
  • Keystone Module
  • F Connector
  • 6P6C 6- position 6-conductor
  • 8P8C 8- position 6-conductor
  • Keystone Jack
  • RCA Jack
  • USB Jack

The network devices have a specific port for them. These jacks come with different pin configurations. Normally, these pins are made up of gold microns. They are available in both shielded and unshielded forms such as RJ45. They are usually used with different types of Ethernet cables such as Cat5e, Cat6, and above variants.

The Ethernet cables get punched at the backside of the jacks. It is the connection area of the jack where the connection of the cables is made with them. They come with a specific pattern in which the wires are inserted. Always ensure to follow these patterns while connecting them with the cables. Otherwise, they will not be going to work. Once the jacks are connected with the cables then you can insert them in your network device port where you need them. The above information helps you in understanding the structure of these jacks and their punching method.

Time to Choose a Right Jack

After understanding the structure of the jacks. Now, it is time to select the right jack according to your network cables and devices. You can do this by performing the below-mentioned four steps appropriately.

  1. Choose a Category

The first step is choosing the right category of your keystone jack that is compatible with your Ethernet cable. It must match your cable compatibility requirements. Otherwise, your cable will not give you the desired results.

  1. Choosing Between Shielded & Unshielded Jacks

There are two types of jacks. One is shielded and the other one is unshielded. Now, it depends on your installation environment and which one suits you best.

  1. 180° or 90° Jack

Jacks are manufactured in two different degree designs. One is built with 180° design and the others are built with 90° design. The design degree of the jack determines the way the cable is inserted into it.

  1. Jack Connection

The last step includes connecting the jacks with the Ethernet cables. Ensure that they get punched properly to get the maximum results from your cables.

Which is the Recommended Category to Use?

The first thing to determine while designing efficient network design is to determine which Ethernet cable you will be going to use in it. After that, the selection of connectors becomes easier for you. Just match the cable category with the connector category. It can be Cat5e, Cat6, Cat7, or even Cat8.

The matching specifications and compatibility standards allow you to select the right category. This will narrow down your search for the right connectors for your cables and you can easily choose the best solution for it.

It is also important to understand their compatibility hierarchy. Always the above variant is compatible with its previous variant like cat6 jacks are compatible with Cat5e jacks. The same jacks of Cate can also be used with Cat6 cable. On the other hand, network engineers do not recommend this policy with Cat6a cable and higher variants like they do not recommend using Cat6a cable on Cat5e or Cat6 jacks. It will reduce their efficiency significantly.

Choosing Between Shielded & Unshielded Jacks

As discussed above, there are two types of jacks available in the market

  • Shielded
  • Unshielded

The selection of them depends on the installation environment. Most of the network environments are EMI-free such as homes and commercial buildings. In these environments, most of the network engineers recommend using unshielded jacks as they provide good results them. They come in a plastic body that makes them easy to use in any environment.

On the other hand, in the environments where you feel that EMI is a big factor that can disturb your network efficiency then you should go for shielded jacks. They will reduce the EMI factor significantly and help you in enhancing the performance of network connectivity. They come with an aluminum body that resists against EMI factor.

Selection from 180° Degree & 90° Degree Jacks

They come in two different designs.

  • 180° Degree Design
  • 90° Degree Design

The degree of the jack specifies its back design. As their front design is standardized to get fit in various ports on the devices. Therefore, you need to choose the jack design according to your need where you are going to install it. Mostly, 90° jacks are used as they go straight in the port but sometimes you also need 180° jacks where you are installing them against the walls.

Conclusion

Keystone jacks are one of the most important components of any network. They play a vital role in maintaining the high performance of the networks. Therefore, their selection should be made under the instructions of expert IT specialists.

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