Ways to Extend USB Cable over Long Distances

If you come across a situation where there’s a need to extend a USB cable over 25, 50, 100 feet or even longer distances there are a few solutions available on the market to choose from today. It’s all about inherent maximum cable length limitations of the cable type as well as the quality of the cable solution we select.

Before we get into USB extension options you need to understand the underlying UBS cable length limits.

  • Maximum length of a cable between USB 2.0 devices is 5 meters or about 16 feet.
  • Maximum recommended length of USB 3.x cable is 3 meters or about 9 feet.

With USB active cables aka repeaters the max length limit depends on whether a regular USB cable with an active cable or not. For the active cables the maximum active cable length for USB 2.0 is 98 feet and the maximum recommended length for USB 3.x is 59 feet. If you are using a regular with an active cable, then the maximum length for USB 2.0 is about 82 feet and the maximum recommended length for USB 3.x is about 49 feet.

Say you need to connect a USB microphone or web camera from a conference room table back to the wall mounted TV sets that are 75ft away or so. We’re really picky on what USB Extenders we stand behind. If we were going to use one for 75-100ft we would only go with Hall Research unit like this one: http://hallresearch.com/page/Products/U2-160 It’s relatively economical ($150) and high performance, compliant with USB 2.0 specifications. It extends any USB 1.1 or 2.0 device from the Host up to 50m (164 ft) using twisted pair cable (quality Cat6 cable recommended, shielded if the circumstances warrant it). It can be used in the applications like extending USB peripherals i.e. web cameras, keyboard, mouse and printer etc. to a distance of 50m.

U2-160_huge

Our favorite brand when it comes to USB extenders Ircon. You may not have heard of the brand but they make solid products that are re-branded by many folks like StarTech, Crestron, Vaddio and others. In our experiences it’s the best one and will work great for you for extending USB 2.0 for distances 75-200 feet.

USB Ranger® 2201

If you have a need to extend USB 3.0 up to 328 feet (unlikely use case scenario for an average consumer) there’s a solution for you. Consider the USB 3.0 Spectra 3022 which supports USB 3.0 5 Gbps throughputs up to 328 feet over OM3 multimode fiber optic cabling. It’s plug-and-play solution compatible with the mainstream operating systems and features two locking USB ports and a locking power connector.

Spectra 3022-usb-extension-for-machine-vision-applications-diagram

Note: Although it is AIA USB3 Vision compliant it is NOT backwards compatible with USB 2.0/1. It’s not cheap either as it retails for around $800-$900.

You can also extend a USB connection with wireless USB.

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