What is Indoor Outdoor Cable

Fiber optic cable that is capable of surviving the outdoor environment and meets the flammability requirements for use inside buildings offers many advantages to the end-user, as well as the installer and distributor. The use of only one type of cable between and within buildings can save many labor hours and reduce material costs by eliminating the need to splice outdoor cables to flame-retardant indoor cables.

Indoor outdoor cable assemblies are designed for general outdoor applications, yet they are riser rated and can be used indoors without the restrictions imposed upon loose tube cables, or non-UL approved cable. Indoor outdoor cable, is like many other terms in the wire and cable industry in that the definition depends on the specifics of the subject in question. In general, “indoor” implies that the cable has at minimum an NEC Fire Resistance Rating so that the cable is not subject to the typical 50-foot indoor length limitation that applies to outside plant (OSP) cables. “Outdoor” generally implies that the construction of the cable is such that it will withstand certain environmental extremes typically only experienced outdoors. Beyond that, the specifics of the design must be examined to determine the suitability of any cable for an application requiring indoor outdoor performance.

Indoor -outdoor Fiber Optic cables are designed to meet both the stringent environmental requirements typical of outside plant cable AND the flammability requirements of premise
applications. Ideal for applications that span indoor and outdoor environments, Indoor/outdoor cable can eliminate the need for building entryway splice points, saving both time and money.

Indoor/Outdoor cables combine the flame resistance and safety features of an indoor riser or plenum cable with the durability that is critical for OSP use. The result is a unique, dual-purpose cable that can save time and money by allowing OSP applications to flow seamlessly indoors, using a single cable and no splices.

When referencing unshielded twisted pair (UTP) cables, indoor/outdoor is a special designation of cable intended for limited indoor/outdoor use. This cable was designed for the purpose of connecting the Network Interface Device (NID) located on the outside of a building or residence to the inside services, which may be a small telecommunications closet or simply a wall outlet. This cable typically has a minimum NEC Fire Resistance Rating of CMX plus an additional UL rating of “Outdoor”. Other fire resistance ratings are available as applications warrant. The materials used in Indoor/Outdoor UTP cables provide better low temperature properties and UV protection than their strictly indoor counterparts.

Indoor/outdoor UTP cable is not intended for typical outdoor applications for which OSP cables are designed. As with most UTP cables, Indoor/Outdoor cables lack a grounding mechanism for handling the electrical surge that can occur from a lightning strike or contact with another power source. This is a safety issue and should not be taken lightly! The NEC and NESC both require that electrically exposed cable be enclosed in a metallic covering that is grounded at each end. They further require that any communication cable entering a building must have
the individual conductors terminated in a UL Listed Primary grounding device called a building entrance protector (BEP). This is a safety valve for those occasional instances where the
power surge actually makes its way past the shield or conduit and travels along the conductors. Secondary devices of the type used to protect electronic equipment inside a building are not suitable for BEP use and are not allowed by code.

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