FireFold Blog

STP vs UTP Cables: Comparing Each and When To Use Them

When you install phone or network wiring, you’ll need to choose between two major options, STP vs UTP cables. Shielded twisted-pair cables contain a hidden metal coating, and their unshielded counterparts lack this feature. These wires have the same capabilities and maximum length. Nevertheless, several important differences affect reliability, setup time and various expenses. The best choice largely depends on where you plan to install new cables.

Advantages of STP

  1. A metal shield protects wires from radio and electromagnetic interference. This enhances dependability and boosts data transmission speeds in buildings that contain microwave equipment, HVAC systems or radio transmitters. It blocks interference from motors in various devices, such as power tools and vacuum cleaners. The necessity of STP cabling varies depending on the size, quantity and proximity of these machines. Wire manufacturers also design UTP products to resist interference. Nonetheless, they can’t match the performance of shielded wiring.
  1. When people install and maintain them properly, STP cables greatly reduce crosstalk. This means that they stop signals from passing through the outer coating and inadvertently entering nearby wires. On the other hand, UTP wiring only offers basic protection. The importance of this feature differs based on the number of wires in a tight space. You’re more likely to experience problems with crosstalk if your building contains numerous networked devices and/or provides little room for new wiring.

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Advantages of UTP

  1. You don’t have to pay for the metal shield, so it costs less to buy UTP cabling and related hardware. Furthermore, workers can install unshielded wires more quickly and easily. You’ll save money on labor and won’t need to hire a contractor with STP expertise. The majority of buildings feature preinstalled UTP wiring. When you look up current prices, remember that modern data cables will raise your property’s resale value.
  1. Unshielded wires don’t rely on grounding to the same extent as shielded cabling. This improves reliability and decreases the amount of time it takes to install them. If you forgo STP wiring, you needn’t ground each cable at both ends. Don’t choose shielded cabling unless you’re willing to perform all of the necessary grounding tasks. An improperly grounded shield collects signals; it actually worsens crosstalk and electromagnetic interference. In this situation, you’d have better results with UTP wiring.
  1. You won’t need to devote as much time or money to maintenance if you select unshielded cables. Fewer problems develop when someone mishandles these wires or runs them through excessively tight spaces. Metal shields remain fairly fragile and somewhat rigid. When the shielding in any portion of a wire suffers damage, its resistance to interference will significantly reduce. Workers need more training to handle STP products safely, and they’ll require extra time to perform repairs.
  1. Unshielded wiring weighs comparatively little. These cables are substantially more flexible and have compact dimensions as well. Such advantages make UTP products less difficult to install, transport and maintain. They’re versatile and able to fit in rather small spaces. You can put more unshielded wires in a narrow passageway. However, keep in mind that crosstalk could become a problem. The limited size and weight of UTP cables decrease their expense because they cost less to ship. Suppliers save money on transportation as well as packaging materials.


Airports, medical centers, and factories often benefit from STP wiring. These facilities possess numerous machines that produce considerable amounts of interference. Shielded cables also come in handy when installers must run wires next to fluorescent lights, microwave ovens or powerful motors. These cables prove useful in outdoor settings as well. For instance, some people connect outdoor surveillance cameras to STP wiring. This protects the video feed from interference generated by vehicles and power lines. It also stops criminals from using jammers to interrupt communications between cameras and indoor monitors or recording equipment.

People use UTP cables in the vast majority of homes and offices. Unshielded phone and network wiring performs well in most buildings. If you don’t have major concerns about interference, it’s wise to avoid the cost and complexity of STP wiring. You might be tempted to buy shielded cables when you have extra cash in the bank. However, this won’t yield any real benefits if no serious interference or crosstalk problems exist. You would only gain a system that’s harder to maintain and modify. At the same time, don’t make the mistake of buying UTP cables if your plans for the future could boost interference levels.

The bottom line is that unshielded wiring offers the best solution in most situations. It cuts costs without sacrificing speed or dependability. Nonetheless, it’s crucial to remember that powerful magnetic fields could cause a UTP network to run slowly or fail. Always take the time to carefully evaluate all potential sources of interference. If you’re still not sure what type of wiring you need, please contact us for expert advice.