Six ways to spot counterfeit and substandard cable

This is the fourth in a series of posts about counterfeit and substandard cable.

1. UL® number and hologram: None, fake, or illegitimate. If there is no UL® number or hologram, that’s an instant tip-off. Even if there is a number or hologram, you can look up the cable on-line at UL® to see if it’s verified. Sometimes, even if there is a legit UL® number, it’s possible that it was copied from “good” cable. UL also posts alerts on unauthorized numbers on its website.

2. ETL logos. Counterfeiters use them whether they are earned or not. Ask the seller for the ETL test results. You can also check the ETL website for a directory of verified cables.

3. Printing/Legend. Is the printing poorly done on the box and the cable? Are there any typographical or grammatical errors?  Check the UL® logo. It should have the letters UL arranged diagonally (descending left to right) with a circle with a small ® symbol directly below the U. Does the cable legend also have the proper markings?

GigaTrue® 550 CAT6, 550-MHz Solid Bulk Cable, 4-Pair, 1000-ft.

GigaTrue® 550 CAT6, 550-MHz Solid Bulk Cable, 4-Pair, 1000-ft.

4. Color. Does the color match previously bought cable?

5. Jacket/construction. Does the cable look like previously purchased cable? Are the conductors straight or oddly “twisty?” Does the jacket feel like a riser or plenum cable?

6. Weight. If the cable box/spool feels light, compare its weight to cable you know performs up to standard. Counterfeit cable and substandard cable often have undersized copper conductors or copper-clad aluminum conductors that weigh half as much as genuine cable.


2 Responses

  1. Dear bboxadmin,
    I took a tiny piece of known good copper cable and tried to pick it up with a magnet. It did not work. The piece of copper is not attracted by the magnet at all. It is a rather strong magnet from an old disc drive.
    I wonder what is wrong. Magnets have a north and a south pole. Can it be that I am using the wrong pole of the magnet?

    • Hello Gerhard,
      Thank you for your comment. We have mud on our faces! We did our own test just now and you are absolutely correct. The copper should not be attracted to the magnet. We are now in the process of correcting our white paper and flyer. The blog post has been updated as well. We read this information in an article a year and a half ago and unfortunately didn’t test it. Lesson learned.

      The Black Box Social Media Team

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