It’s true. We live in a wireless world. Each and every day, the vast majority of us use mobile devices that require no cords to be plugged into sockets in order to operate. However, it’s important to remember that – ironically – all wireless devices require wires at some point. How else can we charge our phones? How else can we attain Wi-Fi connections if not for modems connected to electrical sockets?
Even in a world where wireless devices are all the rage, the need for wires remains. And the patch cord is one of the most commonly used wires in our world. A patch cord, which is also known as a patch cable, is cord that has RJ45, TERA or GG45 connectors on both ends. They are used to connect a device to something else – usually a power source.
Patch cords can take on the form of RCA or HDMI cables which are commonly used to connect home televisions to cable boxes, Blu-ray disc players and stereo systems. Your laptop computers and PCs often use patch cords to connect the devices to wall outlets. Patch cords can also be used to connect a switch port or a server to a structured cabling system.
What are the differences between patch cords and Ethernet cables?
While the two are similar, there are differences. Patch cords are commonly used to connect traditional devices such as telephones and audio/video equipment to power sources. But they can also be used as Ethernet cables which are typically used to connect devices within a local area network, like PCs, routers and switches.
By definition, Ethernet is a protocol standard that defines the way that bits of information travel over a particular medium. The two most common Ethernet cables are traditional copper cables and fiber-optic cables. The twisted pair or coaxial cable and category cable (Cat5, Cat5e and Cat6) also belong to the Ethernet cable family.
“An Ethernet cable resembles a phone cable but is larger and has more wires,” explains Bradley Mitchell on Lifewire.com, “Both cables share a similar shape and plug, but an Ethernet cable has eight wires and a larger plug than the four wires found in phone cables. Ethernet cables plug into Ethernet ports, which are larger than phone cable ports. An Ethernet port on a computer is accessible through the Ethernet card on the motherboard.”
Patch cords and Ethernet cables are often referred to interchangeably.
However, main differences between the two also include their lengths and their purposes. Ethernet connections are generally designed for speed and long distances. These are often called the “backbone” or “long haul” in the world of cabling.
“Similar with Ethernet cables, there are fiber patch cable and Ethernet patch cable, like LC fiber patch cable or Cat6 RJ45 patch cable,” informs Chloe Wang of Fiber Optic Solutions, “And patch cables are often used for short distances in offices and wiring closets. Ethernet patch cable can link a computer to a network hub, router or Ethernet switch, which is useful for constructing home computer networks.”