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I am planning a home network in a new construction. The more I read, the more confused I get, although I found a lot of good information. I don’t want to pay a guy $3,000 to install this. I just about have this worked out in my head.

This is a four bedroom house. I know I want:

  • 1 Cat 6 jack behind the tv in the family room.

  • 3 Cat 6 jacks on media shelf for bluray, HTPC, Cable box.

  • 1 Cat 6 jack in the master bedroom.

  • 1 Cat 6 jack in each of the other three bedrooms.

  • 1 Cat 6 jack in breakfast nook.

  • 2 Cat 6 jacks in office on opposite ends of the room.

What I’ve read says to run the 11 solid core wires from the wall jacks to a patch panel. The patch panel would then connect 11 stranded core wires with RJ45 connectors on both ends to a switch. What I don’t understand is what connects to the front of the switch. Do I connect all 11 inputs with the router as the twelfth?

My equipment right now is a Comcast telephone/cable modem/router combo. I have an aftermarket router that I bought a while back that I plan to use when we move.

One installer said I don’t need a patch panel. I think I read an article on CNET that said patch panels aren't used very often now that switches are cheaper. That’s part of the reason why I’m confused. I haven't found anything that says you can go directly from a wall to a switch while they are supposed to be using two different types of cable.

  • Is the 3000 dollar estimate a guess? Because I'd rather get it done once and correct rather than buy all of the tools (which can be expensive for an occasional use unless you borrow, you'd need an RJ45 crimper, punchdown tool, and a tester if you want to make sure you've crimped everything correctly). You might see if you have any IT friends who would do it for some beer and a little assistance from you. – cutrightjm Mar 17 '15 at 4:42
  • Patch panels are just go-between items. I mean think of electrical sockets: Technically the raw AC wiring could just have sockets on them hanging out of a hole, right? But that would seem crazy. A patch panel allows a layer of organization between the router and the rest of the world. – JakeGould Mar 17 '15 at 5:13
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You can definitely go directly from the wires coming out of the wall directly to a switch, but a patch panel is cleaner. Basically, wires coming from the various locations to a central room. Big mass of cables come out of the ceiling/wall - and - who knows what wire goes to what room? Labels - fall off, get sticky... Wires punched to a panel - cleaner and neater. The panels are numbered so #1 breakfast nook, #2 MBR... always know, never changes. Easier to troubleshoot.

From patch panel to switch (can be mounted on same mini rack) with 1'-3' cables. Then 1 cable from either UPLINK port on switch or just any port on switch to the router. From the router to main cable modem/dsl modem...

Yeah, you have the additional expense of a patch panel. Take a look around - they used to sell them at even places like Home Depot - they're not that expensive and you only buy them once. As far as the patch cables - again - one-time purchase.

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Solid core wire is a better conductor but less flexible, and could even break from getting flexed too much (like what happens when you bend a paperclip back and forth until it snaps). It's a great choice for in-wall wiring which is usually long runs that don't get moved much.

Stranded wire is more flexible, and less likely to break from being flexed, making it a better choice for patch panels and for "from the wall jack to the computer" or "from one device to another on the same desk or in the same room or rack".

But there's nothing really wrong with taking the in-wall solid core cable, terminating it with a male RJ-45, and plugging it directly into the switch. I, personally, would opt for the patch panel for labeling convenience and for potentially making future reconfigurations more convenient.

As for connecting the switch to the router, yes, just run a patch cord from a port on the switch to a LAN port on the router.

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    If you go down this route you ideally need to use RJ45 connectors designed for dealing with solid conductor not ones designed to deal with stranded conductor. They do differ in construction... see cablemonkey.co.uk/plugs-boots/… for a cat-6 example. You'd probably get away with stranded-core RJ45 connectors... but only probably. – matt Nov 16 '17 at 16:09
  • Good point @matt. I usually remember to warn people about using the right plugs/jacks for their cable type. Thanks for the assist. – Spiff Nov 16 '17 at 16:53

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