Some users still set up their home network using an Ethernet cable to connect one dedicated computer to the internet. In fact, hardwired access through Ethernet ensures more uninterrupted network signals between your modem and connected device.
However, people usually stress over electrical issues through these wired connections, such as power surges, electric shocks, short circuits, and other hazards. Can it be hazardous to use an Ethernet network?
To have a clear idea, let’s get deep into the working of Ethernet cables.
Does Ethernet Cable Carry Electricity?
The short answer is YES.
Generally, Ethernet cables pass a small amount of electricity [mostly 12V] through them at extremely high frequencies to send data packets. Hence, some power is crucial for the wires to achieve steady internet transfer.
The Ethernet cord consists of four wires of two sets each. One set passes power, while the other relays network data. Electrical current transfers to the power cables via a small device called an injector or midspan.
The electric current occurs when the power supply and the Ethernet cord meet to transmit network data. However, the voltage passing through an Ethernet cable is typically not high at this stage. This low voltage usually goes unconsidered as an electrocution hazard.
Thus, Ethernet data cables pass significant power to connected devices. Also known as Power-Over-Ethernet, it allows each powered device to operate seamlessly via Ethernet wires.
What is Power-Over-Ethernet?
Power over Ethernet or PoE technology transmits electric power and data connection through twisted-pair of Ethernet wires to end devices. Besides, power current and data signal pass separately over an Ethernet cable, which creates no interference.
Hence, PoE uses little current for running connected devices with less electricity requirement. This small amount of power is sufficient for the Ethernet to operate efficiently and safely.
However, the amount of voltage and electrical current varies based on the type of Ethernet cord you’re using. Using a low-voltage Ethernet will impact the performance of your connected equipment. On the other hand, a high-voltage wire can damage sensitive internal components. So make sure you choose a connected network cord that supports your powered device for optimal performance.
So the key is to connect an Ethernet cable that transmits the right amount of power. Ideally, you can use an IEEE standard Ethernet cable that passes electricity between 44 and 57 volts.
Moreover, the newest PoE ethernet cables can also carry up to 90 watts of electricity. [source]
Can You Get A Shock From Ethernet Cables?
Although rare, short circuit problems can still occur in devices connected to a wall outlet, such as a mouse, desktop, router, keyboard, headphones, and game consoles. If they fail, the electric current can pass through the Ethernet wires.
You can unplug the end devices while troubleshooting the Ethernet cord to be cautious.
However, there’s nothing to worry about this electricity source. Ethernet cables pass a shallow amount of electricity which won’t shock you.
Is It Safe to Use Ethernet Cable During Thunderstorms?
All thunderstorms aren’t strong enough to cause electric shock. Hence, people usually don’t unplug powered devices from power sources and wall outlets in thunderstorms.
However, the risk of power passing through Ethernet is higher during thunderstorms with a few lightning bolts. Direct lightning power can travel to the Ethernet cable through the primary source. So a flash of heavy lightning could cause a more powerful voltage spike that can overload and damage some connected electrical devices.
In this condition, the connected devices might also give you a shock. Thus, there’s no harm in being careful and unplugging your devices.
Do You Need a Surge Protector for Ethernet?
If you can’t unplug your connected device, a surge protector for Ethernet wires can be a one-stop solution. Make sure to install a surge protector near a wall outlet. It’ll add an extra layer of protection for your end devices.
However, is it necessary to use a surge protector to secure Ethernet cables and connected devices?
You actually don’t need surge protectors for Ethernet network connections. Ethernet cables already have built-in tiny transformers on the ends, which separate and protect the wires from the power traveling through end devices.
These transformers protect your connected devices from an electrical surge. Besides, it ensures a stable internet connection.
So an extreme power surge can damage the Ethernet and powered equipment only if transformers blow out. Well, it hardly happens!
Is Using Damaged Ethernet Cable Hazardous?
Of course, yes. Using a worn Ethernet cable with exposed wires can be risky, like any regular wire. So replacing a damaged cord is always a good idea. It will help mitigate the chances of accidental fire causing bigger damage.
Ethernet cables are low-voltage wires which pass considerably less power than other electrical devices at your home or workplace. Hence, it’s unlikely that a more powerful current could transfer through the Ethernet cords at any given time.
Overall, there’s less possibility of electric hazards with Ethernet connections in the long run.
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