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I've just moved into a new house, and am considering installing network cable into the walls. My main reasons for doing this are:

  1. To get as much off the wireless as possible
  2. It'll make streaming HD video to my TV faster and more reliable, and
  3. I'm a geek and I want to put network cable into my walls.

I won't be able to get rid of a wireless connection, nor would I want to, but I would like to be doing my main, heavy duty computing on a wired network.

My current approach is going to be to buy the (Cat6) cable myself, and have it professionally installed. I don't think that will be a big or expensive job - there are plenty of electricians with experience or laying cables, and that will just make the whole job quicker and less painful.

I'm going to route all the cables to my garage (which is directly connected to the house), onto a patch panel, and connect that to an unmanaged ethernet switch. This will also have the ability to route my telephone to any RJ45 port in the house.

I'm going to install at least two RJ45 sockets in most rooms, but probably four in the living room as I have more appliances there. Also, if I am doing to stream HDMI over ethernet, then that needs two cables, and cannot be run through a switch, so having the extra ports makes sense. I'd have four in my bedroom for the other end of the HDMI over ethernet stream.

I've read that Cat6 can be quite hard to install, especially bending it around wall corners, because the cable has a hard spline, but I believe that the short term pain of installing it will be outweighed by having a fast cable which should be a safe bet for the medium to long term future.

I've not found too many articles on the internet about people installing their own networks at home. I'm trying not to make this question open-ended, discussion based or opinionated so it doesn't get closed, but I'd be interested to know what other Superusers thought, if I've missed anything out, or if theres any advice from their own experiences.

I live in the UK, if that matters.

Some questions I'd be interested to hear peoples experiences on:

  • Is Cat6 with its spline worth the effort over Cat5e?
  • Are there any issues with running HDMI over ethernet?
    • Do the streaming devices respect HDCP?
  • Would there be any issue with mixing Cat6 and Cat5e on the same network/switch?
  • Would it be ok to add extra switches in the rooms onto the installed cable at a later date?
  • What unexpected issues have people come across when installing their own network at home?
  • Is it actually worth the effort over an encrypted 802.11n network?
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closed as not a real question by random Jul 11 '11 at 21:48

It's difficult to tell what is being asked here. This question is ambiguous, vague, incomplete, overly broad, or rhetorical and cannot be reasonably answered in its current form. For help clarifying this question so that it can be reopened, visit the help center.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

I appreciate that you took the time to ask on the chat if your question would be valid here. You might want to add some real "questions" though, which people can use for their answers, for example: "What should I take care about when routing Cat6 cables?", etc. – slhck Jul 11 '11 at 21:21
You've got to be more direct and not throw out so many questions following on from each other. – random Jul 11 '11 at 21:49
Sheesh @random. Too many questions? Yea, he's got a lot of stuff to consider, but come on, it's kinda the nature of what he's getting into. This is a perfectly valid question. Further, it may invite some good information that my be suited to a wiki, but will doubtless be a source of information for others with similar questions. – music2myear Jul 11 '11 at 22:08
I'll happily change it to community wiki if it's reopened. – Noel M Jul 11 '11 at 22:16

To be honest, installing Cat 5e will probably suffice for most network standards (and distances) you are likely to encounter in the small business/home network environment and, as you have hinted, Cat 6 is not so much fun to install due to its stiffness - although the hard spine is not mandatory and you can get Cat 6 cable without one, but you have to be more careful with the bend radius. 5e will give you 'gigabit' speed and is fine for HDMI.

One issue you may face anyway is that terminating & testing Cat 6 'to spec' is not as straightforward as Cat5/5e, so although any electrician can install and terminate it, you may not end up with a Cat 6 certified installation anyway.

I'd cost up both options with someone who can confirm in writing they can terminate and test to Cat 6 spec (and give you a written report) and then compare the two. If 10Gig speeds do not figure heavily in your future plans then 5e would probably suit you fine.

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You can use cat5e, it'd be cheaper and probably fast enough.

I installed a cat5e network in my house when I first moved in 10 years ago and it still works fine. I'm a ex PC/phone network engineer. I'd suggest not going to any sparky to install but go to some local company that does it all the time. Or find someone like me who'd do it on the side.

It's easy to damage or twist Cat5 or 6 to a degree where it'll impead the speeds and it needs terminating properly. You can also jumper you phone to the patch panel as I did and loop some jumper wire on 2/3 ports on the blue pairs. It'll present your live phone line so you can patch it to 2 or 3 places at the same time.

Also you can now get different inserts to go in face plates for TV etc. to broaden your scope of what you have in the sockets in each room.

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