What are Keystone Jacks?

What are Keystone Jacks

These tiny parts are essential for any high-end entertainment system, state-of-the-art computer unit, or data-hungry telecommunications network office. A keystone jack is a type of connector. These ports are always female and are commonly mounted on a wall plate. 

These standard electrical jacks are low-voltage connection points for various uses. They are easily exchanged with others of the same size and have flexible tabs that allow plugs to be snapped into the mounting plate. This makes them a keystone to different electrical and electronic device set-ups.

Keystone jacks come in a variety of different designs. Each has its own specialty application. The flexibility of these jacks is what gives them an advantage. You can even mount different types of these jacks to the same patch panel. 

The term keystone originated to identify these particular shapes of jacks. They are similar to the standard RJ-11 wall mounts that are often used for telephone lines, dial-up computer modems, and fax machines.

Not sure what types of keystone jacks your data center needs? C&C Technology Group has the solutions you need for your data center.

Related: Network & Cable Testers: A buyers guide

Different types of Keystone Jacks

Some jacks will perform better in specific situations depending on what you plan to use your jack for. Knowing the differences can help you pick the best jack for the job. 

You can obtain a variety of jacks with the keystone format. Here are just a few examples: 

  • 6P6C (RJ-11) modular jacks (telephone)
  • 8P8C modular jacks (computer networking)
  • RCA jacks (audio/video)
  • 4-pin mini-DIN (S-Video jacks)
  • HDMI jacks (high-definition video and audio)
  • Speaker terminals
  • 3.5mm TRS connector (miniature stereo headphone jack)

While all of these jacks will do the same thing, the different sizes each can help or hurt your project, so be mindful of how much room you have to work with.

RJ-11 AND RJ-12 KEYSTONE JACKS

The RJ-11 and RJ-12 keystone jacks are perfect for use in phone, modem, and fax lines. These jacks can help to extend or streamline the installation of these types of communication lines. 

The RJ-11 and RJ-12 are easy to install and come in a “toolless” variety where you don’t need to purchase special soldering tools. A small plastic clamp in the back and lets you insert the wires, clamp them and pull them firmly into the socket. High-grade RJ-11 and RJ-12 jacks both contain a plastic key that locks the connection into place

That might sound confusing, but these keystone jacks come with wiring diagrams to guide you through the process. 

The RJ-11 and RJ-12 both offer different telecom colors. They are hosting both one long and one short, each with a particular color of wire. Those colors will match up with a specific slot. Pay attention to the long patch of coloring that is considered to be the primary color.

When you go to buy this type of jack, check to make sure it has a secure locking system and the color is visible and matches before buying it

CAT5E KEYSTONE JACKS

The Cat5e keystone jacks offer a punch down-style that is suited for both commercial and residential settings. This specific jack style makes replacing blades a thing of the past, making it easier than ever to switch from keystone jacks to different patch panels. 

With the addition of a phosphor bronze termination contract, the Cat5e keystone jack offers a sturdy unit. This punch-down-style jack can withstand multiple uses

While these keystone jacks are versatile, make sure that any you purchase meets the industry standards. Look for TIA/EIA 568-B code on the package. This code will ensure that your jack will provide the best performance it can.

As an extra benefit, look to see if it also has a 568-A wiring color code. If your jack has both, it will save you the hassle of labeling them yourself and save your technical team time. Even better, no one will have to memorize any codes!

Related: Cat 5 vs Cat 6: What you need to know

CAT6 KEYSTONE JACKS

The Cat6 keystone jack is high-tech compatible. It’s one of the best keystone jacks on the market for both business and personal settings. Without breaking out the big bucks. These jacks are perfect for home entertainment systems and can be used in complex data communication systems. They are even used in UTP Ethernet networks and continue to deliver high-performance speeds. 

Some high-performance Cat6 keystone jacks offer a punch-down variety. They will often have phosphor bronze contacts and strain relief caps. These features help to diffuse any physical pressure on the joints and help the jack withstand many punches without breaking

Cat6 jacks have termination contacts that will securely lock the cables that are connected to the keystone. This locking mechanism helps to ensure that the signal transmission is disruption-free.

Some Cat6 keystone jacks offer gold-plated termination contacts. This provides an extra layer of protection while increasing the sturdiness of the conductivity end of the jack. This added layer, along with its other features, makes it well-suited to be used alongside unloaded keystone wall plates, surface boxes, or angled multimedia wall plates.

Cat6 jacks come in a variety of wire colors to suit your project’s specific needs. Just make sure that when you buy these types of jacks, the ports on the unit have color codes. These colors will help to guide you during installation.

Related: How to Terminate HDJ Jack with Cat6A Jack and Cable

Conclusion

Buying keystone jacks can be complicated if you ignore the details. Make sure that when you buy any of these types of jacks, double-check that it has a compact casing that fits within a standard-sized plate, panel, or box easily. Also, verify the durability of the jack and cables that are part of the installation and confirm that they meet any technical standards.

Keystone jacks overall are not an expensive investment. However, you should be mindful of these parameters will ensure that you have a quality product that won’t suffer from weak performance or bad compatibility problems.
Still not sure what keystone jacks you need for your system? C&C Technology Group has solutions to address key business and operational concerns facing today’s data centers. Contact them today for the solution you’ve been looking for.

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