Can I Use Cat-5 Cable For My Honeywell Alarm System?

Yes, Cat-5 cabling can be used when wiring devices to the keypad bus on any Honeywell VISTA alarm system. In addition, it can be used when connecting devices to the polling loop of such panels as the VISTA-128BPT and VISTA-250BPT. It is not recommended to use Cat-5 cabling for power wiring.

The VISTA-128BPT Security Panel:


Using Cat-5 For ECP Wiring:

The four-wire connection to the VISTA panel's keypad bus is called ECP wiring. ECP stands for Enhanced Console Protocol. This is the language VISTA panels use to communicate with keypads, receivers, relay modules, cellular communicators, and for the non-polling loop panels, hardwired expanders.

When using Cat-5 wire to connect devices to the panel's keypad bus, the following is recommended:

ECP Wire Color Corresponding Cat-5 Wire or Combination
Red Wire Orange Stripe, Brown Stripe, Brown Solid
Black Wire Green Stripe, Blue Stripe, Blue Solid
Yellow Wire (Panel Data Out) Orange Solid
Green Wire (Panel Data In) Green Solid
Rate this as equivalent to 20 AWG in resistance and capacitance

Each panel type has specifications for the wire run limits of the ECP bus, based on the current being drawn and the wire gauge. Whether you're using Cat-5 or regular low-voltage wiring, you must adhere to these limitations. Below are tables for each Honeywell panel type (non-polling loop and polling loop) with their respective limitations.

ECP Wire Limits for Non-Polling Loop Panels (VISTA-21iPLTE, VISTA-20P, VISTA-15P And Equivalents):

Wire Total Current Drawn By All Devices On a Single ECP Wire Run
Size 50mA or Less 100 mA 300 mA 500 mA 600 mA
22 AWG 900' (274m) 450' (137m) 150' (46m) 90' (27m) 75' (23m)
20 AWG 1400' (427m) 700' (213m) 240' (73m) 140' (43m) 120' (37m)
18 AWG 1500' (457m) 1100' (335m) 350' (107m) 220' (67m) 170' (52m)
16 AWG 1500' (457m) 1500' (457m) 550' (168m) 350' (107m) 270' (82m)
The combined length of ALL wire runs to the panel's ECP bus shall not exceed 1500' (457m) when unshielded quad conductor cable is used (750' (228.6m) if shielded cable is used). This is due to the capacitive effect on data lines when quad cable is used.

ECP Wire Limits for Polling Loop Panels (VISTA-128BPT, VISTA-250BPT, and Others):

The TURBO panel's documentation divides these devices up based on either Unshielded or Shielded wire, and by device type. Therefore, we have a table below for each device type when using unshielded cable, since we're talking about Cat-5, which is unshielded. You can find full details about ECP wiring limits on page 4-3 of the Install Guide.

Alpha Keypads
AWG Total Length
22 450' (137m)
20 700' (213m)
18 1100' (335m)
16 1750' (533m)
The total of all wire runs connected to the ECP bus cannot exceed 2,000' (609m) when unshielded cable is used (1,000' (304m) if shielded cable, or unshielded cable in metal conduit is used.) This is regardless of what types, or how many ECP devices are connected.
Any keypad, including touchscreens, can be daisy-chained. When multiple keypads are connected on a single wire run, the acceptable length of the run must be divided by the number of devices. For example, the wiring for two Alpha Keypads on a single 22 AWG run must not exceed 225' (68m) in length.
Touchscreen Keypads
AWG Total Length
22 150' (45m)
20 240' (73m)
18 350' (106m)
16 550' (167m)
ECP Relay Modules
AWG Total Length
22 125' (38m)
20 200' (60m)
18 300' (91m)
16 500' (152m)
These devices must be home run to the panel. Do not daisy chain relay modules, and never daisy chain unlike devices (a keypad tapped off of a relay module, for example).
ECP RF Receivers (5881/5883)
AWG Total Length
22 220' (67m)
20 N/A
18 550' (167m)
16 N/A
These devices must be home run to the panel. Do not daisy chain RF receivers, and never daisy chain unlike devices (a receiver tapped off of a keypad, for example).

Using Cat-5 Wire for Polling Loop Connections:

The polling loop allows for a great amount of flexibility in using serialized wired devices. The modern polling loop uses serial numbers to identify individual devices on the loop. A Honeywell can have a total of up to 12,000' (3,657m) of wire connected. For scale, there are 5,280' in a mile. You can read full details of polling loop wiring limitations here.

When using Cat-5 Wire for Polling Loop Connections, we recommend the following combinations:

Connection Cat-5 Wires Used
Polling Loop Positive Orange Stripe
Orange
Brown Stripe
Brown
Polling Loop Negative Green Stripe
Blue
Blue Stripe
Green
This can be rated as equivalent to 18 AWG

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