LAN cable certifiers are the go-to method of testing twisted pair cabling, but are they always the right choice of cable tester? And when should you use a transmission tester instead?
Cable and network performance testers, such as a transmission tester, are used in many of the same situations as a certifier, but the right choice of tester will always depend who is providing the warranty (cable manufacturer or cable installer) and what is required by the building specification.
From our own customer research, we know that most cable installers are testing and documenting installations for their own needs, more than at the request of their customers.
For an installer, proving the performance of the cabling/network with a field tester provides them security and peace of mind, should questions arise after the project is complete. They want to have documentation that eliminates any questions that the materials or workmanship do not meet expectations. They cannot afford to let projects go untested - even when the customer is not asking for test reports.
This is why cable certifiers are so often used, as they the best tool to guarantee installed cabling meets the stringent performance requirements defined by the ISO/IEC and ANSI/TIA standards bodies. They find faulty components, sources of installation mistakes, and help ensure that the materials are genuine products and not poor quality.
That said, if a contractor is only testing on Layer 1 of a network, conducting simulations to test whether the cable can successfully transmit data from point to point and gathering this information for their own records, then a transmission tester would be sufficient. Taking into account the traditionally high cost of a cable certifier, for some this may be the best choice.
However, there is another option which may meet the needs of many installers and contractors.
A data transmission (performance) tester like our IDEAL Networks SignalTEK CT or SignalTEK NT costs only 15-25% of a LanTEK III certifier, while still testing to industry recognized performance standards. The data transmission testers are extremely simple to use, especially for crews that are not testing day in and day out. They are a great option for service technicians that need to test a few cables or live network drops throughout the week and leaving a certifier on that truck for occasional use is not practical. In fact, we find that many contractors are best served with a mixed fleet of data transmission testers and certifiers.
It is with this in mind that we have developed Test4Less. With a smart mix of transmission testers and certifiers, businesses can benefit from increased productivity and improved cash flow. With Test4Less, they could reduce capital expenditure by up to 57%. Click here to find out more.
In summary, installers should always ensure they have the right certifiers or transmission testers for the project in hand available on every truck or with every crew to ensure profitable and productive operations.