Importance Of Quality Keystone Connectors?

For such a basic, but yet intergral part of a surveillance system, is the qualitative difference between a $1.50 Cat6 keystone connector and a $8 connector worth paying the premium price?

You will find out if it doesn't work.

but, when?

We buy ICC connectors 99.99% working. We bought ebay saved few dollars had to dump bags out, 1/3 was garbage. Good thing we caught it on our first project when certifying for our quality control. When certification is required then 8$ is a must. I believe if you buy from reputable company they should be good since no one wants to hear complains or give refunds for bad quality. ... that my 2 cents from experience.

I used ICC products in the installation where the customer did not have a standard and we did not have any problems. We didn't certify them though so I do not know if they would have passed a cert test. I'm sure there are some quality differences but I couldn't tell you what they are and it's hard to sift through the sales-y responses you'll get from the manufacturers.

In my experience, there really is not a compelling reason to use premium (L-Com, etc) keystone style connectors for attaching surveillance cameras to a network.

Maybe if we're talking about connecting network backbones it makes sense, but those $1.50 commodity priced units never introduced chaos into the systems I worked on.

However, as a general rule, we tried to eliminate wire breaks of any kind that didn't terminate in a switch or a camera.

Hey Brian,

With this client, I'm sensing that there might be some incertainties with the agreed camera locations. Hence, I decided to terminate the camera ends with keystones/electrical boxes and use patch cables to allow for changes in camera placement.

You mentioned that you try to eliminate wire breaks on the camera side. Is it common to experience issues on the camera end using keystone connectors? Are the potential issues environemental i.e. dust, temperature, humidity?

Hello Jerome:

Are the potential issues environemental i.e. dust, temperature, humidity?

Anytime the conductor is exposed, oxidation occurs. Not 'might occur', but 'does occur'. The extent this affects network function and performance depends on environment, but keeping the transport as linear as possible is a best practice.

Ethan mentions issues like cross-talk/ alien cross-talk that is mitigated by the twist intervals in UTP cable. Anytime this protection is disrupted, there could be low-level problems.

This totally ignores the biggest potential problem: poor terminations in the keystone block by the installer. The more opportunities for installation errors to occur, the more they will occur (or whatever adage works there)...

Hmmm.....Looks like my logic might of failed me. :o/

As a business model, I think I rather get paid to relocate cameras because the client changed their mind, rather than rectifying network issues on my dime.

What does happen when you have to relocate a camera? Do you run a new cable, or do you terminate with a keystone and continue from there?

If your wire breaks are only in the camera and at the switch, this would imply that you are installing 8P8C connectors onto the cable. Typically, installing these connectors on solid conductor cabling is discouraged, unless the 3 finger types are used which are specifically designed for solid cable. Then, there is the issue with solid cable making the tight bend demands often found in odd port configurations in cameras. This is typically why Axis will supply a weather rated cat5 patch cable. Also, with these type of connectors, much more skill, expertise, and finger dexterity is required to get a properly terminated connector, much more than that required to install a keystone-type connector.

This also implies you are negating the patch panel in the closet as well.

If you're doing enough cables that you plan to certify and warrant the cabling system, you must use a specified connector/cable combination, and performance will matter. I've seen $1.50 connectors fail certification tests routinely.

However, in surveillance, this usually isn't done, unless it's a very large system (though I did have one multi-site customer that wanted every cable certified, even though it was only 2-4 at each site). Moreover, surveillance generally isn't badly impacted by cheap connectors simply because it's not as high density as most LAN deployments. Cables are more sparse and the cumulative ill effects of cheap components are less.

Cheap connectors will have worse insertion loss, return loss, and crosstalk (NEXT and ELFEXT) specs, and when you have two hundred cables in a bundle all active you will see ill effects on network performance. But since in video you're seeing 4 or 8 or 30 tops, it's really not much of an issue.

That being said, I still recommend NOT using the buck fifty specials. ICC connectors are pretty reliable (it's taken a lot for me to say that because ten years ago they gave me nightmares on cabling projects, but they've come a long way) and should run $4 tops. Even Leviton (which I preferred) 5e jacks are only about $5 online. Spend the extra $3.50 and have some peace of mind.

I want to thank everyone for sharing their valuable knowledge/experience on this topic. I apologize for such a basic question, but when you are just starting out you just don't have a good sense of what the quality/price ratio should be on certain items.

My membership to IPVM has proven to be an invaluable learning tool. For larger components such as a switches, cameras, or VMS software, there are numerous reviews and tests on which to base my decisions. However, for more basic components such as cables, connectors, & tools, there is less info available. Plus, since I live at what seems to be the end of civilization in northern coastal Maine, I'm pretty much on my own when it comes to technological resources.

There is no certification required, but I want to build a reliable, good-quality project for my client, so I ended-up ordering ICC connectors to go along with the beautiful General Cable I just received.

Thanks again.

Jerome, thank you!

These 'basic' questions are great resources for many others. I am sure a month or a year from now, someone else will search for the same topic and your discussion will help solve their problem.

Thanks again and keep your discussions / questions coming!