Cable Management - Cable Supports
Keeping cables secure can be something of a challenge. Running a cable across the floor is one thing, but going up a wall or leaving something hanging from a ceiling is another. Loose, dangling cables are much more likely to get damaged and just look bad. Luckily, there are a number of tools that can be used to keep wall and ceiling cables safe and secure.
Beam clamps are named for what they are able to do; these small fixtures use a screw to clamp down onto beams. The purpose of a beam clamp is to provide a spot to screw in a bridle ring or similar equipment, which is then used to actually hang cables. The average beam clamp has a ⅞” opening with a ¼-20 thread and is available in both iron and steel. Iron beam clamps can support up to a 250 lb. load while the steel version supports up to 100 lbs. There is also an extra wide version with a 3⅛” opening that supports up to 200 lbs.
Bridle rings are one of the most common tools for hanging cables and come in a few different varieties. They are metal loops, available in sizes ranging from ¾” to 4”, made to support anywhere from a single cable to a large cluster of them. Some bridle rings are threaded with machine screws and designed to be used with beam clamps or similar equipment. Other threaded units use wood screws to attach directly into wood. Both threaded bridle rings can support up to a 50 lb. weight load per ring. There are also magnetic bridle rings capable of supporting up to 22 lbs. Bridle rings are also available with plastic saddles, which do not press into heavy cables and increase the cables’ overall lifespan.
Machine screw (left), wood screw (middle-left), magnetic (middle-right), and saddle (right) rings
Bat wings are made to attach to bridle rings, allowing the bridle rings to then be attached directly to drop wire. There are no special tools required to attach bat wings, making them a quick and easy method for installing bridle rings in locations where they would not work otherwise. The bridle ring screws directly into the hole on the bat wing, which can then directly attach to the drop wire.
Cable clips are designed to hold small cables in place, typically either ethernet or smaller AWG coax. They are available in both single and dual versions, meaning they can hold either one or two cables depending on which kind is used. Both versions are available with either a nail or a screw to secure the cable clip. For pre-existing holes in the wall, there are also cable bushings available. Like the other clips, bushings are available in both single and dual variants.
Single nail-in (top left), dual nail-in (top middle-left), single screw-in (top middle-right), dual screw-in (top right)
Single bushing (bottom left), dual bushing (bottom right)
Distribution rings, also called D-Rings, can be used to securely hold cables in place on both walls and ceilings. The size of the opening comes in 2”, 3”, and 5” with both metal and plastic D-Rings available. Each D-Ring simply screws into place and features rounded edges to prevent cables from being damaged over time. There are also open D-Rings available, which make it much simpler to add new cables after the initial installation.
A standard distribution ring (left) and an open D-Ring (right)
Wire Distribution Spools are plastic pegs designed to attach to walls, racks, or any other surface that can use a screw. The distribution spools have a thru-hole which allows a simple screwdriver to be used for attachment. The spools come in both machine screw and wood screw variants, plus a version without a screw for using pre-existing equipment during field installations.
Drive rings are somewhat similar to nail-in cable clips, but are made purely from metal. These rings are made specifically for wood with a small opening to feed cables through. The hole in a drive ring can range from ⅝” to 1½” in size, with a few other options available in-between. Compared to many other cable supports, drive rings are inexpensive and easy to install.
J-Hooks are extremely common cable supports, arguably used more than any other type. J-Hooks are simply metal hooks, shaped similarly to a fishing hook, that are put into place and used to hang cables. A J-Hook can be attached using nails, screws, beam clamps, or a number of other options by using a simple hole to hang them. J-Hooks are available in sizes ranging from ¾” to 4” with a weight load of 30 lbs. Each J-Hook also includes a retainer clip, a small metal bar that goes across the opening and prevents cables from coming out after installation.
G-Hooks are an alternative to J-Hooks, having a more curved shape that supports bending cables better. G-Hooks are available in 1½”, 2”, and 4” with each size being able to hold dozens of standard sized ethernet cables. When J-Hooks seem like they are not cut out for the job, G-Hooks are generally considered the next best option.
Cable (Hook and Loop/Velcro) Ties
Hook and loop is another name for Velcro-style ties. These ties are available in 10-packs as well as large continuous loops where more ties can be pulled off as they are needed. They are available in two different lengths, 8” and 12”, and come in six different colors for easy color-coding options. When planning to reuse ties, hook and loop ties are a great option since they are easily removed and can be reattached indefinitely.
Cable (Zip) Ties
Cables ties (also known as zip ties or nylon ties) are a very simple way to secure cables. Zip ties are available in various lengths, ranging from 4” to 17.5” long, as well as a variety of colors. Zip ties are also made with different tensile strength, which is how much resistance the tie can withstand before breaking. This number is the maximum amount of pounds per square inch the tie can withstand. Calculating the tensile strength of cables is somewhat complicated and best left to engineers, but the general rule is to use zip ties with a higher number when using heavier cable (whether that means thicker cable or multiple smaller cables).