By Ciaran Gillespie, Solutions Engineer
An RJ45 crimper is a very important device within a security installer’s toolkit. Whether you are a hobbyist, DIY installer, or a seasoned professional, choosing the right tool for your needs will eliminate any headache when it comes to terminating Cat5/6 cabling.
There are many types of crimping tools available to suit all budgets and skill levels. For example, if you’re a DIYer, only crimping a few connections, you could comfortably use the cheaper tools that are readily available online.
On the other hand, if you are a professional installer with 100s of cables to crimp, using these cheaper tools may cost you in the long run due to time inefficiencies, frequent breakages, and poor terminations. In addition, they may be more uncomfortable to use for a prolonged period, risking injury.
Suitable for hobbyists / DIYers
The first crimper I’m reviewing is from the ‘Hi-Spec 9 Piece Network Cable Testing & Wiring Maintenance Repair Tool Kit’ which can be purchased from Amazon. This includes all the tools needed for a beginner to get started with network installation and testing. This kit includes:
- RJ45 Crimping tool
- Punch Down tool
- X2 Screwdrivers - Phillips and flathead
- X3 Cutting tools
- Cable tester
- X6 RJ45 connectors
The crimping tool in this set is fine for light use - the body is made of metal but some plastic components may wear down over time. The handle is a hard plastic, so crimping many connections could become uncomfortable. Additionally, there is no ratchet mechanism, so this could result in inconsistent pressure applied to the crimps.
This crimper does include a cable cutter and stripper, however, I would use these with caution, as the stripper does tend to cut a little deep, damaging the cable within. The cutter is awkward to use in its position and doesn’t cut cleanly, so I would recommend using a separate cutter and stripper with this tool.
The rest of the toolkit is a nice touch, especially the included cable tester and punch-down tool. They are decent quality and fine for someone who is just starting in the world of installing network cables.
Suitable for Professional
If doing network installs in a professional setting, you may wish to invest a little more in tools. This can improve your comfort, reduce errors, and make your work more efficient.
An example of a professional-grade tool is the Knipex crimping tool. They are made with professionals in mind, with a lever ratcheting mechanism providing consistent, easy crimps with no additional strain or fatigue on your hands. The soft rubberized grip also provides a layer of comfort for those repetitive crimping tasks.
This tool is manufactured from high-quality materials, meaning it will truly last after heavy use. Knipex tools also come with a lifetime warranty, providing an extra piece of mind for someone using these tools every day.
Although this tool does include a more accurate cable stripper and cutter, it’s still recommended that, as a professional, you purchase high-quality additional tools for this purpose. A quality cable stripper can drastically speed up the termination process, as this is generally the most time-consuming part. It’s important to strip the cables with no damage to the internal wire pairs.
The cost of the Knipex tool alone is more than the whole 9-piece network wiring kit above, so it’s not recommended to purchase unless you’re doing many terminations. The quality of the Knipex model is superior, providing more comfort and a lifetime warranty. For a DIYer or network beginner, the 9-piece kit is a great place to start, as it provides everything you need. The longevity of the tools may suffer in a professional setting, but for light use, they will work just fine.
Additionally, check out our guide on how to properly terminate ethernet cables.