Use 28AWG Copper Patch Cords in Data Center

Posted on by FS.COM

Most people use copper patch cords with 24AWG copper conductors today. AWG, short for American Wire Gage, is an index which shows the cross-sectional area of a round wire. But 24AWG copper patch cords arouse many challenges like the limited space for management and restricted airflow. This article will introduce patch cords with 28AWG conductors to deal with those challenges.

Comparison Between 24 AWG and 28 AWG

The most obvious difference between 24AWG and 28AWG patch cords is the cable diameter. The outer diameter (OD) of a typical Cat5e cord is about 0.215 inches. The OD of Cat6 cable is 0.235 inches and 0.275-inch OD of Cat6a. Usually the larger the gage, the smaller the wire. So the cords that use 28AWG conductors have smaller diameter. The OD of a Cat5e cable is 0.149 inches. The ODs of Cat6 and Cat6a cables are respectively 0.15 and 0.185 inches. You can see the differences clearly from the following figure.

24awg and 28awg comparison

Benefits of 28AWG Cable
Space Saving

As mentioned above, the cord size of 28AWG cable is much smaller than that of 24AWG wire. The use of 28AWG copper patch cords can significantly save more space compared with traditional 24AWG patch cords. As the figure below shows, there is a big difference of the bundle size between 24AWG and 28AWG Cat6 patch cords.

When putting a bundle of 24AWG Cat6 patch cords in a vertical cable manager which has a finger opening of 1 inch, it’s hard to fit through the finger opening of vertical manager. While you can easily fit through 28AWG Cat6 cable bundle.

When plugged in a patch panel with 28AWG cords, more space between cords can be saved. For example, the space opens to 0.4 inches with the use of 28AWG Cat6 patch cords. But the space reduces to 0.315 inches when using 24AWG Cat6 cable. It indicates that 27% open space can be saved by using 28AWG cords. The increased space between cords can also bring some other advantages as follows:

  • A better view of port, especially on high-density panels
  • Easier cable management because of more space for finger plugging access and running cords
  • Better airflow and equipment cooling, particularly for large switches
  • More effective use of high-density panels because the patching bulk is reduced
28awg & 24awg cat6 installation
Achieving High-density Layout

A very common telecom room consists of two racks. One is used for horizontal crossconnect and the other is used as a network rack for housing the switch and power source. For instance, a crossconnect rack contains 9x2RU flat patch panels, each containing 48 ports and 10x2RU horizontal managers for a total of 38 rack units. A network rack contains 2x2RU horizontal managers, 1x2RU flat patch panel with 48 ports, 2x2RU horizontal managers, 1RU fiber tray and other devices. The total rack space surpass 30 rack units. Actually these horizontal managers are commonly used to manage 24AWG patch cables, which causes some rack space waste. The reason of low rack utilization mainly lies in patch cable size.

Using 28AWG patch cable is useful to increase rack utilization and save more space in the same rack layout. On the crossconnect rack, we can use a high density panel with 48 ports in 1RU instead of 2RU. Therefore, half rack units are reduced. We can also use angled other than flat patch panel since 28AWG patch cable enables better port visibility and easier management. In that way, we can avoid using horizontal managers to feed cords to each panel from above and below. Instead, we can use a single 3RU horizontal manager to get cords to the other side of the rack. So far we have saved 26RU rack space and 9 horizontal managers. On the network rack, we can also save rack space by using a high-density angled patch panel and a 1RU horizontal manager.

From this case we can see that the use of 28AWG cable can make the existing telecom room pathways less crowded. In the layout of 24AWG cabling, patching is too dense. Users often spend more time on cable installation and maintaining. When using 28AWG cable, less space is occupied and the layout is simplified. In a result, it’s good for saving material cost and system installation&maintaining time.

Power over Ethernet Application

PoE technology has been increasingly utilized these years. 28AWG patch cords can support the highest PoE levels today. When connecting PoE with copper patch cords, the number of cables per bundle should be restricted considering the temperature rise. For 24AWG wires, the maximum cables of a bundle is 96. When using 28AWG cable, because of its smaller size, more heat can occur since the cables are closer together. So 28AWG cable must be grouped in smaller bundles such as 24 or 48 cables per bundle to stay within the recommended temperature rise. For 802.3af and 802.3at standard, 48x28AWG cables can be bundled together. But for 802.3bt standard with higher power level, 24x28AWG cables is the maximum per bundle.


28AWG cable can solve some troubles in current telecom rooms and data centers. It offers the benefits of space saving, higher-density layouts, easy cable management, cost and time reduction. Now come to FS.COM and find your 28AWG cable.

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