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Getting the right keystone jacks

Make sure they fit
When selecting keysone jacks there are a few factors to consider. First make sure that your keystone jacks fit your wall plates or patch panels. Buying them all from the same manufactuerer will usually ensure compatibility, but sometime you will still run into issue where specialty jacks are only designed to fit certain plates.

Cable arrangement
The second thing to consider is the cable arrangement. Especially when using surface mount raceways and jacks, you will need to make sure you have enough clearance for your cabling. Some keystone jacks feed the cable in from the top, some from the back, and even some from the side. Make sure that you have the appropriate entry point, or a versitle jack that can accommodate different scenarios.

You also need to pay attention to the type of IDC (Insulation displacement connector) used. Most CAT5, Cat5e and Cat6 keystone jacks use 110 style IDCs, but you definitely don’t want to get stuck with only a 110 punch down and Krone keystone jacks. There also are tool-less keystone jacks, but they are usually only used for small projects. If you are installing more than a few keystone jacks, it is worth it to get the proper tools.

Always match the existing standards
Virtually all keystone jacks will have directions to wire based on EIA/TIA 568a and 568b standards. There is an endless debate over which you should use in what situations. If you are adding to an existing network, make sure that you match the standard already being used in the building.

If you are starting a new project, go ahead and read up on all the arguments and pick a side. (or flip a coin) Just make sure that you are always consistent in the standard that you use for your terminations. It is true that wiring 568a on one end and 568b on the other will create a crossover situation but that should NEVER be done on an in-wall installation. If you need a crossover connection, use a crossover patch cable. All wall installations should be straight through.

Other considerations
There are other considerations that are essentially a matter of taste/convention. Some keystone jacks arrange the IDCs in one long line, most split the IDCs into two rows of four, try a few out and see what you like best.

Some have caps for the IDCs some don’t If you are in a high dust environment the caps might be nice (or you could just flip the jack over) many companies have specific conventions on the color of the keystone jacks, if your organization doesn’t have a plan in place, a little planning in advance can save you hours of troubleshooting time in the future.

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