I have a project where I'm wiring my home for ethernet. I have four bedrooms upstairs, all of which are getting two ethernet connections each, and then a few rooms downstairs as well. I was thinking of a few options, tell me what's best. Obviously cost is an issue, and it's probably more in labor than anything else :)

First option: Wire the bedrooms directly to the patch panel in the basement, meaning that I have two LONG runs from each bedroom to the basement. Then I'll have a single switch and patch panel, but probably very high in labor costs.

Second option: Wire each bedroom to a patch panel/switch in the attic, and then run a single cable to another switch in the basement. In this case I'd have two switches, and two patch panels. My worry of course, is about the throughput from a single cable to cascade or bridge the two switches together. I don't mind running two long cables from that switch down to the basement, but how do I use them in conjunction to get better performance? Any budget switches you'd recommend here for that uplink purpose?

That's about it... if there's a third option, I don't know it, so any help is greatly appreciated!

migrated from serverfault.com Jan 23 '12 at 17:01

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    Per the faq, Server Fault is a community for professional systems administrators that are managing systems or network in a professional capacity. Wiring your home does not fall into this category. – MDMarra Jan 23 '12 at 16:45
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    For any kind of cabling project, may I suggest doing some research into Structured Cabling, and making your work match the relevant standards/practices as closely as possible? Also include excess capacity (more cables than you think you'll need) -- You will thank yourself later. – voretaq7 Jan 23 '12 at 17:03

Bottleneck is not a problem

Obviously having two switches creates a bottleneck. However in order to saturate that one link connecting two switches, you need to have 2 data streams at more than 50% of gigabit speed. This rarely happens in home networks.

Shopping recommendation for a switch is off-topic here, but I can give a generic advise: Just buy 2 brand-name gigabit dumb (unmanaged) consumer switches, 12 or 16-port. If and when you'll run into throughput issues (say 5 years from now), you can always get switches with 10Gb uplink module, and connect the switches using that link. These switches are very expensive today, but you surely don't need them now, and who knows what technology will be available in 5 years?

Another idea

Another option would be to pull two cables from attic to basement in parallel, and install two 8-port switches in the attic. This way, even if you get two power users upstairs, you just connect them to separate switches. You effectively double your throughput here. Note that consumer-grade switches rarely have more than 3gbps switching speed, so having two switches in the attic and one in the basement is not much different in terms of maximum speed than having one switch in the basement.


Both options will work and you should never run into an issue where you saturate a single network cable as long as you:

  1. Use quality cable. Cat5e or Cat6
  2. Use 10/100/1000 switches
  3. Keep your runs lengths under the recommended maximums (90 meters or 295 feet for cat5e and Cat6)

Another option that you could have is using access points and do it all wireless. That adds another level of complication but it may be cheaper in the long run.

Also any electronic device in your attic I would worry about heat issues. Just something to think about.

Hope this helps!

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    It may be somewhat cheaper, but the speed of transmission and quality will suffer. Not to mention the problematic diagnostic of wireless networks. – Hubert Kario Jan 23 '12 at 17:39

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