Inline Coupler vs. Punch Down Keystone Jack
It is very important when you are performing some DIY on your home electrics what wires do what. I mean, if you didn’t you could ruin your home network for good, requiring a trained technician to fix your sloppy work. One thing that always has people asking questions when they are doing some electrical DIY is about the use of inline couplers and punch down keystone jacks.
Both are very similar but have their differences, which can lead to some confusion among the casual consumer. To help you out when it comes to understanding these two coupling systems, we’ve written this article explaining what’s what, allowing you to make a decision as to whether you want to use an inline coupler or a keystone jack.
So What Is an Inline Coupler?
Let’s start off with the simple stuff before we go comparing the two. An inline coupler is exactly what it says it is: a block that runs along the line allowing cables to be coupled together. This allows you to connect two male heads together when you’re dealing with RJ45 or Cat5 cables.
When you use an inline coupler they will not do any damage to your network and are very easy to install. All they require you to do I clip the two ends in and you’re good to go. The only real issue you can suffer from is signal degradation if you’re using low quality couples. However, if they are high-quality and you’ve paid a fair bit of money for them, they should not ruin the connection.
So What Is a Punch Down Keystone Jack?
A keystone jack is a way to connect an Ethernet cable to a panel of some kind, whether that be a patch panel keystone panel or faceplate. They use a snap-in design that makes them easy to plug in and out of panels if different connections are required. When using panels, the connections are sometimes known as ports.
All the keystones are replaceable regardless of the way the jack is built and this makes them a versatile tool that won’t require a custom builds for the panels they go into. Some keystones will have female jacks on both ends, whereas others may have one female end with the other end being a used to hardwire signal cables. This is why you can also use this cable without a panel. You’ll just have to hard-wire the RJ45s yourself.
So Which One Should You Use?
Well it really depends on your personal preference as well as your own skill set. The inline couplers are a lot easier to install and only require you to pop the two Ethernet cables into each end. The issue here is that you can lose some signal power and they are more expensive than keystone jacks. The reason inline couplers can reduce the effectiveness of the connection is because they add resistance. The more resistance the connection has, the more signal degradation. However, with a standard home network this won’t be noticeable.
If you are looking to use keystone jacks, you’ll have to have a bit more technical knowledge because you may have to punch (hard-wire) the cables in yourself. This means you will need a punching tool and will need to learn how to strip and cut RJ45 cables. This makes the connection better with minimal loss and keystone jacks are a lot cheaper. However, they are prone to human error and, if installed incorrectly, could lead to more issues.