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I am venturing in to the world of shielded network cable and am installing some cat6a in to a cat6a patch panel which has an earth cable. How do I physically connect that earth cable to ground? Should I just connect it to an Earth Bonding Plug and then plug that into any socket?

Thanks!

PS If you are not from the UK, our plugs are a bit different to yours. In fact, British plugs are better than all other plugs.

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  • This is something I've only ever researched in theory - but one thing I did learn is that a lot of the advice is wrong. I'd start here - emcstandards.co.uk/cable-shield-grounded-at-one-end-only so at least you're ready for it when it comes ;)
    – Tetsujin
    Jun 16, 2021 at 10:08
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    General FYI: While the British Plugs link is highly informative, it really has no relevance to the question being asked (might I suggest removing it from the question and adding it as a comment as an FYI?)
    – JW0914
    Jun 16, 2021 at 12:26
  • Maybe I'm confused on what the question is... It appears to me that a proper shielded CAT6 connector has metal grounding tabs built right into it. I would presume that the ground in the cable is connected to the ground in the connector when the cable is built, and that the grounding in the connector contacts the metal frame of the switch, which then carries the ground into the mains grounding wire. If the switch itself is double insulated instead of coming with a grounded power cord, maybe you need a different switch, since shielding/grounding seems to be in your list of requirements.
    – FreeMan
    Jun 16, 2021 at 14:58
  • @freeman I think in large commercial installations the ground path from a patch panel to a reference point is explicit, not relying on attached equipment like switches. But in a small installation where the patching is all in one place , your suggestion seems like the obvious approach so a good answer, perhaps better than my Answer, would be "don't attach the earth cable to anything". It would help if OP told us what standards (whether self-imposed, or imposed by code or customer contract) he is working to.
    – jay613
    Jun 16, 2021 at 15:59
  • I mentioned the differences in UK plugs as they are earthed by default, whereas most countries do not do this. I felt it relevant as this might help when earthing the patch panels. I am using enterprise cat6a kit and since patch panels are not powered, they do not benefit from a power cable. Jun 16, 2021 at 21:32

3 Answers 3

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Those earth bonding plugs are designed for use in ESD control, they contain a 1 megohm resistor which is desirable for ESD control purposes but makes them useless for shielding or safety earthing purposes.

The only significant difference between British plugs and others is that they contain a fuse which provides better protection for the flex and/or allows higher current socket circuits.

I'm not convinced the patch panel needs to be grounded at all, but if I was going to do it and there were no conviniant ground terminals available I'd just use a regular plug.

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Typically a patch panel would be grounded via its physical connection (screws) to a metal rack that would be part of a designed bonding and shielding system.

Here is a great article on all the ways the ground path gets from the cable shield to the building's system.

If you have a free-floating patch panel (eg mounted on piece of plywood) that comes with a ground strap, the answer to "where do I connect it?" lies in, "where did you design it to be connected?". This doesn't have to rise to world-class data center standards. Is there a water pipe nearby? Or an electrical box that you could strap to with a screw? That might be good enough, and probably is if you don't have anything more sophisticated in mind.

Should you use a commercial Earth Bonding Plug? I don't see any reason why you should or shouldn't. If there are local construction codes or if you are working in a commercial environment where other people will be maintaining your work, there may be reasons to do it one way or another.

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Ask your electrician to advise. If it is a domestic installation, they will likely tell you to connect a 10mm earth cable directly to the house earth and then to the patch panel, ideally with no joints in the middle. If it is a commercial installation, it will go from the patch panel to the building earth system. Either way, the consumer unit side should be done by an electrician.

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