Peplink Balance One - Shielded cables

To avoid toasting our Peplink Balance One router we would like to add shielded cables to modems (and to ground) using surge suppressors

Does the Balance One supports shielded cables?

The Balance One is a plastic-cased device with no means to effectively bond it to ground potential. While I can’t be positive (I don’t have one close at hand to look at) I don’t think the RJ45s are the type intended to be used with shielded cable. That’s not to say shielded cable would “hurt,” of course. You could certainly use them. But because of the design of the Balance One they’d not offer much protection.

But the real question is as to why you feel you need this. There are other ways to achieve the same result. If, for example, you are running the router on a good UPS (highly recommended) you’ll be well protected from power anomalies – and the better manufacturers actually provide a significant amount of insurance against damage to equipment. So, that’s’ the “power side.”

But we also want to protect the data “pipe(s)” coming into the building. In general, we’ve found the best solution is to use media converters and create “light gaps.” The photo which follows shows a cable modem to which is connected a ethernet-fiber converter. The blue fiber pair goes to an identical media converter located in a rack adjacent to a Balance router. If anything “bad” happens to the modem it’ll stop right there. There is a coaxial surge protector outside the building connected to a low impedance ground. However, we do not judge these devices alone to offer sufficient protection.

As to ethernet surge suppressors, their quality varies a lot. One of our clients/customers is a WISP and they use such devices as you’ve described to protect their systems on towers which are up to 390’ in height. Real “lightning magnets.” They work well – until they don’t. Their highest value infrastructure is protected by light gaps --as I’ve described.


Hello Rick, this is a great idea, it requires two media converters per “trunk”, but it would definitely work.
Why do we want to protect on the data side ? Power adapters in the rack are all protected by UPSs, however we got the Balance One toasted two time as for a surge coming in from the modems. We cannot protect VDSL inputs as this would drop signal, therefore we can only work on the modem output, that is ethernet cables running to the Balance One.

Thanks for sharing your thoughts

In my experience, network equipment is as likely to get toasted via telco lines (e.g., DSL), CATV circuits, etc as via the AC utility. Some like you have a good start on doing what needs to be done.

Yes, to make the “light gap” you need two media converters and a length of fiber optic cable. Not inexpensive but “works.” In such a situation, we’d consider the [relatively inexpensive] media converter to be a “throw-away” - however the outside coaxial (cable internet) or twisted-pair (DSL) suppressor may work. You never know. A lot depends on its design and the degree to which it has a low impedance bond to ground.

Edit to add: There is a place in networking to use shielded cables. Absolutely. My point is only that in the situation you describe it may not “get you where you want to go.”

Grounding and Bonding and surge protection are 3 different things.

Grounding is required for surge protection to work (surges need a place to go).

Bonding is required to keep ground voltages the same between different equipment in your rack which promotes stability and prevents CPUs from locking up.

Since the Peplink ONE has no grounding connection, I took some empty STP-RJ-45 plugs and soldered grounding wires onto them. I plugged 2 into my balance one and connected the wires to the bonding strip in my metal equipment rack. This should bond my Balance One with the other equipment.

The light gap idea suggested above is a good one and one I should implement. I lost my Peplink 30 to a surge from the CATV line when the grounding wire came lose outside the house.


I have loved your ability soldering the plugs! Thanks for bringing back your thoughts :slight_smile: