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I'm busy with renovations in my house and in the process of running CAT6 cable to different areas in my house where I need it. I'm new to networking so I'm not sure of the best way to do this.

I have an ADSL line in a bedroom where my modem and router are, so this will be the "central" point of my network.

Let's say I need 4 cables run to one point in my house, another 4 to another point and 1 to my home office where my PC is.

Now that's 9 runs of Ethernet.

How would a patch panel come into this setup? The panel would be in an area other than the central room where my ADSL line is?

I have a separate modem and router.

The router has 4 LAN ports and no, that will not be enough to accommodate all the stuff I plan to hook up in my house.

I've recently started reading up about how to wire all this up and it looks like I'm going to go with a 16 port patch panel and a 16 port switch (not PoE for now).

I didn't realise that by just plugging in a router into any port on the switch automatically gives internet access to all other devices connected to the switch.

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Well... You probably already started on a layout of your plan... but here is my take on it:

I would not just put the patch-panel in bedroom because the ADSL comes in there.

I would put it in a central place in the house where it is easiest to run all cables to the other places needed. There are 9 now but maybe more in the future and it might be hard to do from the bedroom. Normally you would choose the place where the power-lines and meter comes from (and are distributed throughout the house). There could even be a couple of spare empty tubes which you could use to run the cables through.

On the patch-panel-rack you could mount the new 16-port switch. If the place of the patch-panel is really central to the house i would also put the router there (assuming it is a WiFi router and you want a strong signal all over the house and not just in the bedroom). You can run 1 cable from the bedroom-modem to the WAN-port of the router (in the patch-room) and from 1 LAN-port of the router to the switch. (I saw you already figured that's the way to connect it.)

If you need a wired connection in the bedroom for a computer you would need to run 2 cables to the bedroom. One from the modem to the router in the patch-room and one back from the switch to the bedroom-computer.

If you can only run 1 cable to the bedroom then you could put the router in there too (near the modem) and run 1 cable back to the switch in the patch-room (and one to the bedroom-computer). I then assume the routers signal is string enough in the bedroom that it can reach the whole house. If not, then you would need multiple WiFi access-points.


The layout mentioned above is the most ideal (and future-proof) and is based on the fact you can run those 2x 4 cables to those two places.

There are layouts possible where you could stack multiple switches. In that case you don't need to run 4 cables to one place. You can run 1 cable from the switch to a room and divide it there with a small switch to 4 connections.

This solution is easier for running the cables (2 cable instead of 8) but will "clutter" the rooms with an extra device in a corner where you will need to device the 4 cables (which is far from ideal).

So if you have the options of running all the cables from the patch-panel i would do so.

A final note: don't skimp (is that the word?) on the number of cables you're going to run. If you need 4 in one room and think you might need another, use 5 (or 6 if you're going for the 2-port outlets).

You could always connect a small 4-port switch to 1 outlet if you need another connection but it will be another device drawing power. Motto with running cables is... think ahead.

PS. Not sure if you already thought about the wall-connection. Often these come in 2 connection on one plate. I would run 2 cables to such wall-connection. If you only want 100Mbps you could run 1 and use it for 2 connection but if you plan on going 1Gbps then you'll need 1 cable per connection. (think ahead)

Another nice read (there are more of such articles on the internet):
How To Wire Your House with Cat5e or Cat6 Ethernet Cable


Edit: (i had this in the comments but the room there became too small:)

How were you going to finish the end of the cables? Normally you would run the cables through the wall and attach them to a wall socket (socket was the word I was searching for:) 100Mbps Ethernet connection only uses 4 wires (of the 8). If you are sure you never need 1Gbps you could "cheat" and use 1 cable for 2 connection. You would finish the 2x4 wires the same way on the patch-panel. This will, however, also limit your internal network to 100Mbps so i wouldn't recommend it. If you really need to, you could always use a splitter for that. That way your installation will still be up to code.

I had a comment about the 16-port switch. I thought it would always have a fan and make a humming sound. If you mean a closet in your bedroom, the sound could be a problem at night. But i found out my knowledge is somewhat outdated. There are fanless 16-port switches now. If you think the noise could be a problem, find a fanless one ;)

If you going to attach mulitmedia devices i would go for future-proofing the installation and go with the 1Gbps version and cat6 cables. Maybe look into cat7 but that might be overkill (and too expensive and not necessary) for a home-installation. In that case make sure your switch is 1Gbps and your patch-panel is also certified for it. Even though your router might not be 1Gbps, the devices on the switch will be (among each other).

Also a note about your title: it is not strictly necessary to use a patch-panel (you could just plug the cables in the switch) but it is highly recommended. That way you know what the cables are (in relation to the field-points).

If you're going to do the installation yourself you also might want to read up on the industry standards for installing ethernet-installations. For instance for the wiring T568B (or T568A, not sure what the norm is nowadays for home-installation) and how to punch the cable onto the patch-panel (not stripping the cable too much).

Edit #2:

Ok, so you're going for 1Gbps. Then the whole "1 cable 2 connections" isn't an issue. This is for people who really can't run 2 cables (pipe too small etc.)... in which case you could use the 8 wires/strands of 1 cable to connect 2 wall keystone jacks. As i already said, this is not advised and it would be best to use the splitters instead. Since you need 1Gbps this issue is mute (you'll need the whole cable for 1 connection). (You could always use a splitter later, if needed, for a device which doesn't need 1Gbps when you run out of connections.)
(so forget i mentioned it :), the way you're planning it, is the right way)

For the installation of the patch-panel... you might want to read this topic and this topic. There the 1Gpbs speed was not reached and it was because the patch-panel had a weird ordering of the pins. (not 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8 but 1,2,4,5,3,6,7,8 which was barely visible on the panel). Read all the answers and comments. (for 1Gbps you need to keep the stripping to a minimum and keep the twisting of the pairs as much as possible)

The choice of T568B or T568A also seems to be regional. Here and here it is stated T568A would be standard in the US (but some prefer T568B) but here in Europe it is generally agreed on that T568B should be used (here and here(dutch)). (And T568A again preferred in Australia). Again here (East Africa) T568B is preferred.

Confusing, right? You may inform with you local hardware store(s) if they know what standard is used in your region, but chances are, they might not know either (or you get conflicting answers). In the end, it all doesn't matter because it's just the color-coding and you would need to document your used coding anyway, in your documentation.

Documentation would include summary of hardware and cabling used, color-coding of the connections, a schematic/layout of your field-points (which correspond with the numbering on the patch-panel), etc...

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  • Thanks for the great reply. I think I've decided on my closet as the "central" place where the cables terminate. It's out of the way and just needs a power outlet. It's also pretty much in the middle of the house so it seems ideal. As to whether the router can go there too is another thing I need to consider (I only need 2 wired connections in the bedroom, 1 for Raspberry Pi and 1 for NAS so I can use the router ports for that). Can you elaborate on your last point regarding the "wall-connection", not sure I understand that? – Fayyaadh Dec 22 '13 at 11:32
  • @Fayyaadh I added some more thoughts to my answer (see Edit). – Rik Dec 22 '13 at 14:52
  • I added a new comment, not enough place in the small comment boxes. – Fayyaadh Dec 23 '13 at 7:20
  • Also added another Edit (Edit #2). – Rik Dec 23 '13 at 12:58
  • Another edit from me as well. – Fayyaadh Dec 23 '13 at 13:06
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How were you going to finish the end of the cables? Normally you would run the cables through the wall and attach them to a wall socket (socket was the word I was searching for:) 100Mbps Ethernet connection only uses 4 wires (of the 8). If you are sure you never need 1Gbps you could "cheat" and use 1 cable for 2 connection. You would finish the 2x4 wires the same way on the patch-panel. This will, however, also limit your internal network to 100Mbps so i wouldn't recommend it. If you really need to, you could always use a splitter for that. That way your installation will still be up to code.

OK this part confuses me. Basically, if I have a single cable running in the wall, I'd connect it to a single keystone jack that fits onto a wall plate. For 2 cables, I'd connect each to it's own separate keystone jack and get an appropriate wall plate for the 2 jacks.The 8 cables you speak of are the individual strands inside the CAT6 cable? I want all my connections to be gigabit, I'll be streaming multimedia so 100Mbps isn't gonna cut it.

I had a comment about the 16-port switch. I thought it would always have a fan and make a humming sound. If you mean a closet in your bedroom, the sound could be a problem at night. But i found out my knowledge is somewhat outdated. There are fanless 16-port switches now. If you think the noise could be a problem, find a fanless one ;)

I've found a really nice fanless 16 port gigabit switch on Amazon, tons of positive reviews. Not sure if I can post a link here.

If you going to attach mulitmedia devices i would go for future-proofing the installation and go with the 1Gbps version and cat6 cables. Maybe look into cat7 but that might be overkill (and too expensive and not necessary) for a home-installation. In that case make sure your switch is 1Gbps and your patch-panel is also certified for it. Even though your router might not be 1Gbps, the devices on the switch will be (among each other).

Also a note about your title: it is not strictly necessary to use a patch-panel (you could just plug the cables in the switch) but it is highly recommended. That way you know what the cables are (in relation to the field-points).

Definitely going to go with a 16 port patch panel with a 16 port switch. I do care about neatness in my setup.

If you're going to do the installation yourself you also might want to read up on the industry standards for installing ethernet-installations. For instance for the wiring T568B (or T568A, not sure what the norm is nowadays for home-installation) and how to punch the cable onto the patch-panel (not stripping the cable too much).

I think 'A' is intended for home usage. I need to read up some more on this but as far as I know, it's just different ways of terminating the cable.

EDIT

Thank you very much for your edits. This is by FAR the most useful info I've got on the net for my specific setup.

Cabling work will continue in the new year, everyone is on holiday now. I will familiarize myself with the 568A and B pinouts and get some advice on that on a very good local forum we have in South Africa.

I'll update this post if I run into and more issues or just to give a rundown on how I end up setting everything up.

Thanks again.

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There are reasons for the differences between T568A and T568B but they appear to be pretty trivial. As long as each length of the cable is wired straight-through, it works. Yes, you need to use the twisted-pairs, but there will be no difference to the cable performance. In the USA T568A is required in Federal contracts.

Have a look at the plug on a patch cable, metal contacts towards you, cable downwards. Pin 1 will be on the left. Pln 2 in the giveaway, a solid colour rather than striped. T568A is green on that pin, T568B is orange.

Which you use just doesn't matter. Just be consistent, and document your choice. Label the cables, and not just at the ends. Most of my wiring experience is with power cabling, and a set of labels inside the roof-space saves a lot of clambering up and down. Keep it tidy, and properly clipped in place. and I would put labels close to where each cable drops through to the room below.

So you might have "Kitchen 1 T568B"

There may be a bit of UK usage here, but I think the part sizes are the same. There is a standard size faceplate that mounts on a "pattress box". There can be surface mounted or recessed into the wall. This 1-unit combination can take two ethernet ports. A 2-unit assembly will take 4 ethernet sockets. Label the sockets.

I wouldn't put mains power in the same boxes or ducts as network wiring. I doubt it's allowed in the standards, but to me it is just a really bad idea.

Don't put a sharp bend in the cable. Again, there are details in the standards.

Maybe not relevant, but any cable running into a building through an outside wall should drop an inch or two below the hole, so any rain drips off.

Wifi does depend on building structure, but having the aerials in the roof-space can be an advantage. This is where Power-over-Ethernet can be useful. There are free Android apps that give you some info on wifi signals. Some people never bother to change channels from the default, which is no good for anyone.

Be consistent, keep the layout tidy, document everything, use labels, and don't use the default passwords.

(Yes, I know this is an old thread. Some of this is stuff my grandfather was doing with electrical wiring over a century ago. They're still good habits.)

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