My wife and I have just purchased a new home (built in 1999) and will be moving in after Christmas. I am considering hiring someone to pull network cabling throughout the whole house. I am going to ask for Cat6 cabling to be run to every location where there is a cable TV jack -- which is every single room in the house.

I have never done this before, nor have I ever built a home network more elaborate than a couple switches and maybe a dozen cables just thrown on the floor. My question is, when contracting someone to build a permanent installation, are there any things in particular that I need to be aware of? I realize this a pretty open-ended question. I've done some research, but because of time constraints (a few days, maybe 2 weeks) I don't think I can learn everything I need to learn on my own in order to be pro in time for this job.

I'm happy to answer any questions if I've not provided the right kind of information.

closed as off topic by studiohack Dec 20 '11 at 17:29

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migrated from serverfault.com Dec 20 '11 at 15:10

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    Just don't be cheap, run dual cat6 ports to each room. You'll love it the day you're using IPTV and want a access point or HTPC hooked up at the same time.. – pauska Dec 20 '11 at 14:50
  • @pauska: Maybe a stupid question, but does that mean running 2 strands of Cat6 instead of just 1? – John Dibling Dec 20 '11 at 14:59
  • Correct - two separate cables with 5 pair of copper in each. Installation cables are usually in pairs now anyways. – pauska Dec 20 '11 at 15:02
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    This would have been on topic on the DIY site, but it's already been asked there - diy.stackexchange.com/questions/7270/… – ChrisF Dec 20 '11 at 17:35
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    @studiohack: According to this site's FAQ, not only is this question not off-topic, it is specifically mentioned as being on-topic, "personal and home computer networking". Please re-open. – John Dibling Dec 20 '11 at 20:28

Choose a good location for the hub. Whether this is in an office or in your garage or a closet, it should be secured yet easily accessible. Putting it near (but not right next to) your circuit breakers may make sense, but make sure to keep the wiring separate as power and ethernet are not buddies.

Run, as pauska said, at least two wires of Cat6 to each jack. Sure wireless is convenient, but for those machines that are stationary, having a hardwired connection results in a more secure network as well as a significantly faster network. Personally, I'd make sure each bedroom had at least two lines, the living room has at least 4, the office has 6 or 8, and the LAN party room as at least 48, but that's just me, and not everybody can have a LAN party room.

Just like you'll never place the switches right next to the circuit breakers, you will not put the network jacks right next to the power outlets. Make sure they are separated by at least a full stud section (16 inches). Do not run the power and ethernet on two sides of the same stud. You can run the ethernet near any coax (cable) as the current should not be enough to cause problems there. Telephone wiring is also OK to run near. However, as telephones can be plugged into ethernet jacks, I'd replace all the telephone wiring with network as well. Just because you can.

  • The hub? Are you talking about the patch panel? – pauska Dec 20 '11 at 15:30
  • With a home network you'll have at least a switch, patch panel, UPS (probably) and maybe a media server in your closet. Though they don't have to be next to each other, it is definitely easiest to have the switch and patch panel near each other. I was using Hub to denote anything and everything you'll want to keep in this network nexus. – music2myear Dec 20 '11 at 15:49
  • Should I have one wire coming out of the "hub" for each connected jack? – John Dibling Dec 20 '11 at 15:55
  • Yes. Your patch panel consists of two sets of jacks you'll connect. One of the sets will correspond to ports on your router/switch, the other set will correspond to wall jacks throughout your house. You'll connect ports on your switch/router to wall jacks throughout your house this way. So the cables from the wall jacks will need to go from the jacks back to this hub for connection to the patch panel. This is why the patch panel is best located at a central location in the house to keep these cables as uniform and short as possible. – music2myear Dec 20 '11 at 16:01

Buy your own cable instead of having the contractor do it. Unless you go with someone who does a lot of Ethernet installs, (which do if you can, they can catch some of the gotchas that music2myear mentioned like don't route near power cables) the contractor is unlikely that they will be able to get a better price for the cable than you can.

Also there is a common design for wall plate called "Keystone" this allows you to mix and match "keystone modules" and put whatever you want on the wall plate, so you could replace your existing cable wall plates with one that has cable and two Ethernet jacks.

A good resource for buying cable in bulk (it comes in 1000ft boxes for around $100, go to your local best buy and try and figure out how much 1000ft of cable would be :) ) is monoprice.com, and as was said in the comments, for runs longer than 25ft you should buy solid instead of stranded. You can also buy the patch panel, all of your wall plates, keystones, and a lot of short cables to connect your switch to your patch panel there too.

  • Fantastic links, thans! – John Dibling Dec 20 '11 at 20:37

You've had a lot of good answers so far as to routing the wires ,hubs etc. so I won't address that. I may have some tips as to the actual mechanics of the wiring.

If you are planning to have it done by a contractor, be prepared to pick one that is experienced in this field ,but be prepared to pay big bucks. On the other hand ,you can do a lot yourself depending on your handyman skills.

Retrofit wiring can be tricky and depends on the type of house, like bungalow type or 2-story. If you have a basement with access to the ceiling ,that would be a good place to consider. Start with a central location for the hub and "fan out' to the respective rooms. Another place is a centrally located closet to keep your wiring lengths to a minimum. The attic is another starting point. You either feed up- or down into the room walls ,depending on your starting point. Well you got my drift :)

Electric -and electronic- wiring is/was part of my background and on occasion I had to hide wiring behind lightweight crown molding or 3/4 or 1' redressed quarter round molding if no other option was available. Cold air return ducts are another option to get cables from one area to another without drilling or hacking into walls. Wall boxes obviously have to be retrofitted as well ,but damage can be minimized will careful planning and cutouts. These are just some tips -there must be many more :)

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