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My current network setup is cat5 or cat5e cables going from the wall into a patch panel, from there I have Ethernet cables connected to a switch, and the switch is also connected to a router.

Is there some sort of (home grade) patch-panel + switch combo that also supports cat5e? The extra cables seem unneeded, and frankly are messy.

I found some server racks that can do this, but I am looking for something for the home.


Image for illustration of current setup: enter image description here


Edit:

I made a followup question, as this question was answered, and I had a different - although related - question.

  • You don't really need the patch panel if you want to connect your cables directly to the switch – Ramhound Jan 18 '17 at 22:05
  • @Ramhound then how would I convert the network cables coming from the walls into Ethernet port that goes into the switch? – Amit Jan 18 '17 at 22:07
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    You place a connector on them? Your talking $20-30 (max) for the connectors and the tool required to do so. I have no idea the distance between the patch panel and the switch to the router. Although its easier to run a single CAT 5 to the switch/router then it is to run X CAT 5 cables to a switch in a different location. Although neither choice is that difficult – Ramhound Jan 18 '17 at 22:09
  • @Ramhound I was not aware that this was possible. I see no reason for the patch panel now. Thanks! – Amit Jan 18 '17 at 22:11
  • (I would just mount the switch in a horizontal position) to avoid the problems on the below answer – Ramhound Jan 18 '17 at 23:15
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The reason for the patch panel is that horizontal cabling must use solid-core cable that has good performance, but it is fragile, and it cannot tolerate much movement. You terminate the horizontal cable at a fixed location (punch block, patch panel etc.) so that it doesn't need to be moved.

The patch cords used from the patch panel to network equipment, e.g. a switch, and the workstations are stranded cables, which have worse performance, but are much less fragile, and they can tolerate more movement.

The ANSI/TIA/EIA 568 Commercial Building Telecommunications Cabling Standard says that you may have up to 90 meters of solid-core, horizontal cable, and a total of 10 meters, usually five meters on each end, of stranded patch cords. The combination of good horizontal cable performance, and poor stranded cable performance will let the cable plant pass the category test suit, if properly installed. Your cable installer needs to test each cable and give you a full report that contains all the tested parameters of each cable in the cable plant.

  • So if I take the big good performance cables, attach a connector to them, and connect them to a switch, staying still at the same place the patch-panel used to be, would that be OK? No movement for the cables, no patch panel required. – Amit Jan 18 '17 at 22:31
  • That is really playing with fire. It should work if done carefully with the correct components, but you are not following the standard, and the standards are there for a reason. Also, most of the connectors that will plug into a switch are for stranded cabling, and using those on solid-core cable will eventually fail. You need to find the specialty connectors for solid-core cable. You can damage solid core cable twisting it around to plug it into a switch. There is a minimum bend radius and pulling tension, that if you ever exceed, can completely ruin an expensive horizontal cable. – Ron Maupin Jan 18 '17 at 22:37
  • OK, thanks, I was not aware those cables are so fragile. So it's gonna be: long strong cables -> patch panel -> short Ethernet cables -> switch -> router, like in the illustration image? Meaning I should not get rid of the patch panel. – Amit Jan 18 '17 at 22:46
  • I certainly wouldn't get rid of the patch panel. You have a lot more flexibility when it comes to adding or replacing equipment.. It is certainly a lot cheaper to replace a bad patch cable than a horizontal cable run. – Ron Maupin Jan 18 '17 at 22:48
  • I opened a followup question, with more details about the cabling: superuser.com/questions/1169140/… – Amit Jan 19 '17 at 9:26

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