Do-It-Yourself Wiring the Home With Ethernet: What to Buy

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Pancakes-Eggs-Bacon
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Do-It-Yourself Wiring the Home With Ethernet: What to Buy

Post by Pancakes-Eggs-Bacon » Fri Aug 31, 2018 11:53 pm

I first did a forum search and did not find any DIY threads, only a couple threads with discussions mainly focusing around hiring a contractor or electrician. After considering first Powerline (HomePlug) and then MoCA (using coax cable, which I found my house isn't 100% wired with coax), I figured, why not? I might as well do it right, and do it well, and reap the rewards. I figured it'd be a good skill to learn as a computer enthusiast and IT professional.

We're in a 2-storey + basement single family home, so 3 floors total. I was thinking to do a few rooms first just to get the hang of it, then expand to other rooms as needed. I'm leaning towards going with Cat 6a plenum rated UTP Ethernet cable, 23 AWG solid copper. Cat 6a seems to be the highest rated, practical copper and is certified for 10 GbE and may even work for faster standards in the future. It's possible that fiber optic standards may soon replace copper network wiring. Plenum rating isn't necessarily mandatory for residential settings, but the price isn't terribly more expensive than riser-rated cable or regular cable, so I might as well get the non-toxic plenum stuff anyways. I hear that not all brands of ethernet cable are made to the same quality -- what are the best brands to buy? As much as I would love to get FTP/STP (Foil or Shielded Twisted Pair), I read elsewhere that it requires a special ground plane to be set up, and I'm not that knowledgeable on that.

I drafted a list of new toys to buy. Are there any specific suggestions on things that are great as well as things to avoid?

New Equipment Needed
  • Ethernet stripper tool
  • Ethernet punchdown tool
  • Ethernet crimper tool - this may not be necessary, since I think I'll be using the punchdown tool to terminate cables at each wall plate
  • Ethernet cable tester - cheap one, can't afford the fancy Flukes
  • Cheap jabsaw
  • Greenlee flexible drill bit?
  • Glow-in-the-dark glow stix or fish tape? - I've heard that glow rods may be better than fish tape
  • Conduit? (orange plastic signals low voltage?)
  • Patch panel, Cat 6a rated
  • 24-port unmanaged GigE switch (or whatever makes sense -- this part's not high priority for this thread)
New Materials Needed
  • Cat 6a plenum-rated UTP or FTP 23 AWG solid cable
  • Wall-mount rack
  • 2-foot or 3-foot Cat 6a rated patch cables (connects the patch panel to the switch)
  • gang boxes (probably go with low-voltage 1-gang brackets)
  • Wall plates
  • Keystone jacks, or possibly buy pre-terminated cables and just use keystone couplers
  • Lots of pull line to leave in the wall for future runs
I already have a drill, stud finder, and cable cutter.
Last edited by Pancakes-Eggs-Bacon on Sat Sep 01, 2018 2:34 pm, edited 3 times in total.

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unclescrooge
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Re: Do-It-Yourself Wiring the Home With Ethernet: What to Buy

Post by unclescrooge » Sat Sep 01, 2018 12:28 am

I think you'll save time and money creating a Google mesh network.

Or are you looking at this as a hobby?

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Pancakes-Eggs-Bacon
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Re: Do-It-Yourself Wiring the Home With Ethernet: What to Buy

Post by Pancakes-Eggs-Bacon » Sat Sep 01, 2018 12:47 am

unclescrooge wrote:
Sat Sep 01, 2018 12:28 am
I think you'll save time and money creating a Google mesh network.

Or are you looking at this as a hobby?
I want to learn the skillset as both a tech enthusiast and aspiring handyman. Plus, it should increase the value of the house. And no, WLAN (Wi-Fi) isn't the silver bullet. Good WLAN depends on good wired backhaul. The best practice is for stationary devices like servers, printers, desktops, TVs, set top boxes, game consoles, access points, cameras, etc. to all be wired (basically as much as possible) and only truly mobile devices like phones, tablets, laptops to be WLAN. And my WLAN is finally 100% WPA2 Enterprise, so no Google mesh for me, although mesh is a decent option for consumers. If you actually do a site survey of your home and neighborhood, it's already a crowded cacophony and quite a jungle of wireless noise. I'm basically not interested in having a conversation of "Oh, just do everything wireless," as that doesn't meet my performance and security needs.

I figured a contractor might charge $200-300/drop. I could save many hundred $$$ and learn a valuable skill doing it myself, since I've actually personally never cut open a wall to put in a gang box in my life and this seems like a really fun project.

I have a drop ceiling in the basement which is pretty easy to route cables through with a ladder, and I've found a couple good locations to terminate all cables and put the patch panel and switch. There's a basement home theater, basement office, main floor family room, and 2nd floor bedrooms I'd like to wire initially. I think I can get all this done without having to route anything in the attic. If I get addicted, I'll put jacks in the ceilings for Ubiquiti access points and other drops to put PoE security cameras. I'm getting excited just thinking about it.

It's possible I may get more advice posting on SmallNetBuilder forums or maybe DSL Reports or other tech forums. My apologies. I know a few people (like KlangFool) are network professionals and may be able to point me in the right direction on what to buy.

Thanks for the suggestion -- to answer your question, I guess it's somewhat as a hobby/enthusiast. I guess going through the steps of first trying HomePlugAV (Powerline networking), then MoCA and seeing what's actually in the walls and ceilings has gotten me more comfortable with the way my house is laid out.

mountains
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Re: Do-It-Yourself Wiring the Home With Ethernet: What to Buy

Post by mountains » Sat Sep 01, 2018 12:57 am

That's a big project. The hard (and annoying) part is getting the cable into the walls.
From your post it sounds like you are focussing a lot on the ethernet part. I think that's the easy part.

There are a couple of things you need to figure out before starting: do you have drywall or lath-and-plaster (plaster is harder to work with), do you have an attic and is your basement finished, i.e., do you have easy access to get into your walls from above/below. If you don't have easy access, you'll need to route the cables through your ceiling which means you need to cut a lot of openings and later patch and paint them. Do you have conduits from attic to basement? You also need to decide where you'll put your cables (which in turn will tell you how much cable you need).

You mention a flex drill bit. These are notoriously imprecise and hard to use. There's a good chance you'll drill into something you didn't intend to. Esp. drilling through multiple joists or studs at once is bound to end badly in my opinion (there are lots of videos and guides that make it sound easy but it isn't). You'll also want to consider additional power tools. E.g., something to cut into drywall (RotoZip, oscilating tool), maybe a right-angle drill, maybe a more powerful drill, etc.

If you haven't pulled wire behind an existing wall before, I'd suggest you try it in a somewhat hidden space to see how it goes and to gauge how much work it is.

Personally, I'd hire an electrician to pull the ethernet. You can still install the wall plates, batch panel, server rack yourself.

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Re: Do-It-Yourself Wiring the Home With Ethernet: What to Buy

Post by b.lock » Sat Sep 01, 2018 1:02 am

I did this one year ago because I don't trust WiFi speed or reliability.
  • The flexible drill bit was cool to drill through the top plate above the wall studs, but honestly it's easier to just cut a bigger hole in the drywall to access whatever you need to. I as obsessed with removing any more drywall than I needed to, and ended up using two 4.5' drill bits attached to each other. 9' of drill snaked up a wall. Good luck getting that exactly where you want it!
  • I got Cat6 but I think 5e is good enough. Cat6 is more expensive and is a pain in the rear because, if you want to keep it within the official Cat6 specifications, you need special Cat6 ends and you are supposed to route it in special ways away from power lines and blah blah blah. The cable is thicker and heavier duty though, which can be nice but also means less cable strands will fit through any given hole you drill.
  • I didn't use full gang boxes but you will need low voltage 1-gang brackets
  • Definitely use keystone jacks to keep everything looking good.
  • Leave extra pull line in the walls. It's easy to do and in the event you ever want to run a new line it will make it very simple.

mountains
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Re: Do-It-Yourself Wiring the Home With Ethernet: What to Buy

Post by mountains » Sat Sep 01, 2018 1:07 am

Pancakes-Eggs-Bacon wrote:
Sat Sep 01, 2018 12:47 am

I figured a contractor might charge $200-300/drop. I could save many hundred $$$ and learn a valuable skill doing it myself, since I've actually personally never cut open a wall to put in a gang box in my life and this seems like a really fun project.
I think that's definitely a nice skill to have and it can be a fun project if you enjoy it. But I wouldn't pick wiring a whole house for ethernet as a starter project.

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Pancakes-Eggs-Bacon
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Re: Do-It-Yourself Wiring the Home With Ethernet: What to Buy

Post by Pancakes-Eggs-Bacon » Sat Sep 01, 2018 1:32 am

mountains wrote:
Sat Sep 01, 2018 12:57 am
There are a couple of things you need to figure out before starting: do you have drywall or lath-and-plaster (plaster is harder to work with),
Drywall. House is 1990s construction.
mountains wrote:
Sat Sep 01, 2018 12:57 am
do you have an attic and is your basement finished, i.e., do you have easy access to get into your walls from above/below. If you don't have easy access, you'll need to route the cables through your ceiling which means you need to cut a lot of openings and later patch and paint them. Do you have conduits from attic to basement? You also need to decide where you'll put your cables (which in turn will tell you how much cable you need).
Basement is finished with tiled, drop ceiling at the 7' height. Very easy to get to with a step ladder. I'll probably want to attach conduit to the floor studs and route the cables through that or at the least carefully staple the cables to the floor studs.

Re: "If no easy access to the walls from above/below, you'll need to route the cables through your ceiling which means you need to cut a lot of openings and later patch and paint them."
I'd like to avoid cutting extra holes then patching/painting if at all possible. I was hoping the flexible drill bit would save the day.

I think all the cables can terminate in the basement in a closet, and since there's a drop ceiling, I'd just need to cut open the wall for a wallplate and maybe drill through the top of the wall stud to gain access into the drop ceiling area.

Same with the Main floor -- just cut open the wall for a 1-gang wallplate, then drill down through into the basement into the drop ceiling/plenum area.

2nd floor -- cut open the wall for 1-gang wallplates, drill downwards through the floor into the 1st floor, then continue drilling down into the basement.

In other words, I think I can do this whole project without having to drill upwards into the attic to route cables. I'll worry about Access Points and security cameras as a Phase 2 project -- that might require a little bit of attic routing.

I guess I'm assuming that walls are on top of each other -- and that may not be the case. I'd HATE to have to drill in a "Z" shaped pattern i.e. drill from 2nd floor to 1st floor but have to route cable horizontally before finding the wall below it.

I don't believe there's any conduit in the house. I was thinking of running all cables in conduit just to make future runs and upgrades easier.
mountains wrote:
Sat Sep 01, 2018 12:57 am
You mention a flex drill bit. These are notoriously imprecise and hard to use. There's a good chance you'll drill into something you didn't intend to. Esp. drilling through multiple joists or studs at once is bound to end badly in my opinion (there are lots of videos and guides that make it sound easy but it isn't).
Yeah, lots of Amazon reviews and YouTube comments make it seem like the long flex drill bits (e.g. Greenlee brand) are the bee's meow. As opposed to cutting extra holes in the wall/ceiling then having to patch it back up, which I'm trying to avoid.
mountains wrote:
Sat Sep 01, 2018 12:57 am
You'll also want to consider additional power tools. E.g., something to cut into drywall (RotoZip, oscilating tool), maybe a right-angle drill, maybe a more powerful drill, etc.
Old fashioned jigsaw, level, and pencil not good enough to cut a simple 1-gang hole in drywall?
mountains wrote:
Sat Sep 01, 2018 12:57 am
If you haven't pulled wire behind an existing wall before, I'd suggest you try it in a somewhat hidden space to see how it goes and to gauge how much work it is.
I have just the drop in mind that'd be a good trial! No insulation to mess with since it's an interior wall.
mountains wrote:
Sat Sep 01, 2018 12:57 am
Personally, I'd hire an electrician to pull the ethernet. You can still install the wall plates, batch panel, server rack yourself.
Interesting. I'm too naive and stubborn that I don't mind doing my own pulling at this point. If there's attic work, then I may consider hiring a pro, since I don't feel like falling through the attic/ceiling a good 20 feet.
mountains wrote:
Sat Sep 01, 2018 1:07 am
I think that's definitely a nice skill to have and it can be a fun project if you enjoy it. But I wouldn't pick wiring a whole house for ethernet as a starter project.
I agree. Doing the whole house is intimidating. Honestly my immediate needs are:

2nd floor:
  • 1 bedroom - 2 jack wallplate
Main floor:
  • Family room (TV area) - 4 jack wallplate
Basement:
  • Home theater - 4 jack wallplate
  • Office - 2 jack wallplate
I can expand once I'm comfortable.
Last edited by Pancakes-Eggs-Bacon on Sat Sep 01, 2018 1:53 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Do-It-Yourself Wiring the Home With Ethernet: What to Buy

Post by Pancakes-Eggs-Bacon » Sat Sep 01, 2018 1:46 am

b.lock wrote:
Sat Sep 01, 2018 1:02 am
I did this one year ago because I don't trust WiFi speed or reliability.
  • The flexible drill bit was cool to drill through the top plate above the wall studs, but honestly it's easier to just cut a bigger hole in the drywall to access whatever you need to. I as obsessed with removing any more drywall than I needed to, and ended up using two 4.5' drill bits attached to each other. 9' of drill snaked up a wall. Good luck getting that exactly where you want it!
Would it be easier to drill downwards (i.e., from the wallplate down through the floor, about 1 ft away) instead of drilling upwards (i.e., from the wallplate up through the 8 ft ceiling)? It feels like it'd be less error prone and wobbly.
b.lock wrote:
Sat Sep 01, 2018 1:02 am
  • I got Cat6 but I think 5e is good enough. Cat6 is more expensive and is a pain in the rear because, if you want to keep it within the official Cat6 specifications, you need special Cat6 ends and you are supposed to route it in special ways away from power lines and blah blah blah. The cable is thicker and heavier duty though, which can be nice but also means less cable strands will fit through any given hole you drill.
Yeah, I'm definitely set on Cat 6a for the 10 Gigabit guarantee, with room for maybe 25ish in the future. And yeah, it's a bit thicker, the twists are tighter, and I'll be sure to stay away from AC wiring.
b.lock wrote:
Sat Sep 01, 2018 1:02 am
Thanks. $18 for a 12-pack is do-able. Wallplates and jacks are just as cheap.
b.lock wrote:
Sat Sep 01, 2018 1:02 am
  • Leave extra pull line in the walls. It's easy to do and in the event you ever want to run a new line it will make it very simple.
Is the pull line the same as fish tape? I've read some people use twine. Sorry for the newbie questions. I'll do a fair share of reading and watching YouTube videos before starting this project.

Impromptu
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Re: Do-It-Yourself Wiring the Home With Ethernet: What to Buy

Post by Impromptu » Sat Sep 01, 2018 1:52 am

If you decide that the project is not feasible, the Netgear Gigabit Powerlines work really well.
I'll gladly pay you Tuesday for a hamburger today.

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Re: Do-It-Yourself Wiring the Home With Ethernet: What to Buy

Post by KSOC » Sat Sep 01, 2018 5:09 am

Impromptu wrote:
Sat Sep 01, 2018 1:52 am
If you decide that the project is not feasible, the Netgear Gigabit Powerlines work really well.
+1
Too soon old, too late smart.

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Pancakes-Eggs-Bacon
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Re: Do-It-Yourself Wiring the Home With Ethernet: What to Buy

Post by Pancakes-Eggs-Bacon » Sat Sep 01, 2018 7:03 am

Pancakes-Eggs-Bacon wrote:
Sat Sep 01, 2018 1:46 am
Is the pull line the same as fish tape? I've read some people use twine. Sorry for the newbie questions. I'll do a fair share of reading and watching YouTube videos before starting this project.
To answer my own question after doing some reading, pull line is the permanent line that's left in the wall or conduit that makes running future cables much easier. Fish tape is the rigid cable that's temporarily used (and taped) to new cable to do the actual pulling through walls. It looks like some alternatives to fish tape are: 1) glow-in-the-dark rods, and 2) Magnepull (strong magnet pulling system), and 3) cursing loudly.

I'm reading up on conduit, but it seems conduit might be much harder to run on an existing house; i.e., the walls are already up. Seems like conduit is best used in new construction and down-to-the-studs renovations. I guess 3/4" conduit could be feasible on interior walls. It'd be near impossible to fish 3/4" conduit (a flimsy plastic tube) through exterior walls with insulation.

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Re: Do-It-Yourself Wiring the Home With Ethernet: What to Buy

Post by runner3081 » Sat Sep 01, 2018 7:11 am

Pancakes-Eggs-Bacon wrote:
Sat Sep 01, 2018 12:47 am
unclescrooge wrote:
Sat Sep 01, 2018 12:28 am
I think you'll save time and money creating a Google mesh network.

Or are you looking at this as a hobby?
Plus, it should increase the value of the house.
Unfortunately, it will not. There will be a $0 gain in value.

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Pancakes-Eggs-Bacon
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Re: Do-It-Yourself Wiring the Home With Ethernet: What to Buy

Post by Pancakes-Eggs-Bacon » Sat Sep 01, 2018 7:17 am

runner3081 wrote:
Sat Sep 01, 2018 7:11 am
Pancakes-Eggs-Bacon wrote:
Sat Sep 01, 2018 12:47 am
Plus, it should increase the value of the house.
Unfortunately, it will not. There will be a $0 gain in value.
I stand corrected. Rephrasing: It may appeal as a minor selling point to people who see a home already network-ready as appealing. :)

stan1
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Re: Do-It-Yourself Wiring the Home With Ethernet: What to Buy

Post by stan1 » Sat Sep 01, 2018 7:29 am

You'll certainly want a good wifi network as well for phones, tablets, and other devices, but if you are looking for a minor home remodeling project that will be satisfying when its finished and maybe a little challenging this is one. It is difficult to know what exactly is behind a wall and in a two story plus basement house you are likely to make a few false starts so there's a decent chance you may also need to learn drywall repair. I thought about adding a wired LAN in our current house but in the end we use our phones, tablets, and other wireless devices more and more and we'd need a good wifi network no matter what. I decided to simplify the network with a single mesh wifi solution. I'm using Eero which is the reliable home network solution I"ve used since I first put a home network in about 25 years ago. Agree a wired network will add zero value to the house in terms of resale. It will add to your cost basis so keep track of the costs.

glock19
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Re: Do-It-Yourself Wiring the Home With Ethernet: What to Buy

Post by glock19 » Sat Sep 01, 2018 7:51 am

I would go hardwire over wifi anytime. Here is a great source for parts:

monoprice.com

KlangFool
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Re: Do-It-Yourself Wiring the Home With Ethernet: What to Buy

Post by KlangFool » Sat Sep 01, 2018 8:09 am

Pancakes-Eggs-Bacon wrote:
Sat Sep 01, 2018 12:47 am
unclescrooge wrote:
Sat Sep 01, 2018 12:28 am
I think you'll save time and money creating a Google mesh network.

Or are you looking at this as a hobby?
I've found a couple good locations to terminate all cables and put the patch panel and switch.
Pancakes-Eggs-Bacon,

For a 3 story building, pick one location and run all conduit to that location. Usually, it is either the attic (top) or the garage/basement (bottom). Then, you can pull any future cables through the conduit. And, if the cable goes bad, you could replace it. By the way, never run one cable to any location. You should have at least 2. The labor costs more than the extra cable.

I did enough of this while I was in college and working for the computing center. So, I have enough of this. I paid extra for the builder to pre-wire my house. I have 2 Ethernet outlet plus one Video outlet for every bedroom. In the living room, I have 2 Ethernet Outlet plus one video outlet on every wall.

KlangFool

P.S.: I would rather pay $1,000 to $2,000 for someone else to do this. I think I paid about $2,000 to the builder for those extra cabling.

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Pancakes-Eggs-Bacon
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Re: Do-It-Yourself Wiring the Home With Ethernet: What to Buy

Post by Pancakes-Eggs-Bacon » Sat Sep 01, 2018 8:15 am

KlangFool, thank you sir. I found a couple locations in the basement that look good for a MDF. There's a closet in the office and a closet under the steps that are potential places for a small rack for patch panel + switch. Maybe an 8U wall-mount rack just for switches/router.

Agree on running multiple cables. I plan on running 2 at minimum to each wallplate and 4 or 6 to the TV/home theater rooms.

Question on conduit: I like the appeal of conduit, but is it easy to run conduit through exterior wall and fish it through insulation? And is 3/4" conduit big enough for 4 Cat6a cables + pull line? Just not sure how I'm supposed to fish conduit -- which I presume is like pushing a wet hollow noodle -- in exterior wall without failing miserably. Maybe that Magnepull device would come in handy for this.

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Re: Do-It-Yourself Wiring the Home With Ethernet: What to Buy

Post by KlangFool » Sat Sep 01, 2018 8:20 am

Pancakes-Eggs-Bacon wrote:
Sat Sep 01, 2018 8:15 am
KlangFool, thank you sir. I found a couple locations in the basement that look good for a MDF. There's a closet in the office and a closet under the steps that are potential places for a small rack for patch panel + switch. Maybe an 8U wall-mount rack just for switches/router.

Agree on running multiple cables. I plan on running 2 at minimum to each wallplate and 4 or 6 to the TV/home theater rooms.

Question on conduit: I like the appeal of conduit, but is it easy to run conduit through exterior wall and fish it through insulation? And is 3/4" conduit big enough for 4 Cat6a cables + pull line? Just not sure how I'm supposed to fish conduit -- which I presume is like pushing a wet hollow noodle -- in exterior wall without failing miserably.
Pancakes-Eggs-Bacon,

1) Sorry. Cannot answer the question about the conduit. I do not know enough.

2) The basic idea is for a small 3 story building, you want a star topology. Everything home into a single location. It is easier to maintain and upgrade.

3) In my case, the hub/panel is in the closet under the staircase of the ground floor.

KlangFool

RickBoglehead
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Re: Do-It-Yourself Wiring the Home With Ethernet: What to Buy

Post by RickBoglehead » Sat Sep 01, 2018 8:40 am

Pulling cable through existing walls floor by floor is a chore. Trying to run conduit without cutting open walls is near impossible.

Smart builders run a piece of PVC from attic to basement. You then run wires update to attic, and down to top floor. Bottom floor gets wired from basement. If there is a middle floor, that's more challenging.

A forced hot air system's returns, often simply a cavity in the wall, can be used.

This assumes there are no code issues with doing any of this.

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SteelyEyed
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Re: Do-It-Yourself Wiring the Home With Ethernet: What to Buy

Post by SteelyEyed » Sat Sep 01, 2018 8:44 am

I have been thinking of doing something similar. However, my new home (built in the 90's) is fully wired with telephone cables that I believe I will never use. I thought I might just pull the ethernet cables through and replace the phone wires.

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Re: Do-It-Yourself Wiring the Home With Ethernet: What to Buy

Post by MrBeaver » Sat Sep 01, 2018 8:46 am

I did this in a one-story that I completely renovated. Half the drops were easy since I had some walls open for other reasons.

Things I haven’t seen mentioned:
  • Plenum - I’m pretty sure the only difference is the thermal rating of the jacketing. It is meant for commercial installs where cable is run through large rectangular HVAC ducts. No harm in using it, but I’d skip this.
  • 5e/6/6a - do aquick calc of your longest expected run. They can all do 10Gb, but at different run lengths between the switch and device. Therefore, a bigger house needs better wire. http://www.kit-communications.com/FAQCat5evsCat6.htm Given the small price difference though, I’d probably go for 6a now also.
  • Your job will be harder than mine. I had full attic access above every drop.
  • You may not need a 24-port switch, depending on how many drops you want in service. But you need a patch panel with as many or more ports as drops.
  • It’s a two person job as far as I can tell, one to fish and the other to pull. Though the pros may have a way around this, I never found it.
  • Exterior walls and garage/house walls will be much harder than interior walls because of the insulation. Do all you can to plan your drops in non-insulated walls.
Good luck!

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Re: Do-It-Yourself Wiring the Home With Ethernet: What to Buy

Post by oldcomputerguy » Sat Sep 01, 2018 8:51 am

Pancakes-Eggs-Bacon wrote:
Sat Sep 01, 2018 12:47 am
I have a drop ceiling in the basement which is pretty easy to route cables through with a ladder,
I don't know if this is relevant in your private residence, but in my workplace we found that the fire marshal frowned severely on simply throwing Ethernet cables above the drop ceiling. Apparently there is some fire code where I worked that required any such runs to be physically secured to the support structure (in our case it was to the ceiling joists). If one of your purposes in doing this is to increase the resale value of your home, you might want to check with local building authorities to find if there is a similar requirement where you live. Otherwise, a competent pre-sale home inspection down the right might reveal this as an issue that you would have to correct before you could sell the home.
It’s taken me a lot of years, but I’ve come around to this: If you’re dumb, surround yourself with smart people. And if you’re smart, surround yourself with smart people who disagree with you.

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Re: Do-It-Yourself Wiring the Home With Ethernet: What to Buy

Post by oldcomputerguy » Sat Sep 01, 2018 8:53 am

MrBeaver wrote:
Sat Sep 01, 2018 8:46 am
[*]Plenum - I’m pretty sure the only difference is the thermal rating of the jacketing.
The way it was explained to me by a Belden representative, plenum wiring is made of materials that do not give off toxic fumes if burned.
It’s taken me a lot of years, but I’ve come around to this: If you’re dumb, surround yourself with smart people. And if you’re smart, surround yourself with smart people who disagree with you.

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Re: Do-It-Yourself Wiring the Home With Ethernet: What to Buy

Post by MrBeaver » Sat Sep 01, 2018 9:00 am

oldcomputerguy wrote:
Sat Sep 01, 2018 8:53 am
MrBeaver wrote:
Sat Sep 01, 2018 8:46 am
[*]Plenum - I’m pretty sure the only difference is the thermal rating of the jacketing.
The way it was explained to me by a Belden representative, plenum wiring is made of materials that do not give off toxic fumes if burned.
I guess my perspective is if there is fire in your walls, your house is burning down, and you have bigger problems than the amount of toxicity in the smoke.

However, it looks like if you run cable through a drop ceiling in your basement, plenum may be required by code:
https://www.ecmag.com/section/systems/p ... non-plenum

SimonJester
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Re: Do-It-Yourself Wiring the Home With Ethernet: What to Buy

Post by SimonJester » Sat Sep 01, 2018 9:02 am

Ive done this both in my profession and to my own house 1970s construction.

Just to add to what others have said, I would go ahead and purchase a fish tape in addition to the glow rods. In a residential setting the fish tape is just more useful.

A simple hand drywall saw is going to be easier to cut your gang boxes then using a jig saw.

Having two people makes the job easier.

Leave pull strings in each run in case you need to add more cable int he future.

Drill a bigger hole then needed (without compromising structure) in the footers and headers to allow for future additions.

Unless you are going to open up the wall there is really no good way to run conduit.

A lot of things you are describing can be done in a commercial setting but do not translate well into residential.

Last be sure to think about where your internet access comes into the house. If you are running everything to a switch in the basement, ideally you will want to locate your internet access device at that same location. This may mean running coax cable to that location.
"They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety." - Benjamin Franklin

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Re: Do-It-Yourself Wiring the Home With Ethernet: What to Buy

Post by oldcomputerguy » Sat Sep 01, 2018 9:26 am

MrBeaver wrote:
Sat Sep 01, 2018 9:00 am
I guess my perspective is if there is fire in your walls, your house is burning down, and you have bigger problems than the amount of toxicity in the smoke.
True dat. Try explaining that to a lawyer, though.

Reminds me of some years back when we were involved at my workplace with a construction project to erect a 1,500-foot tower on our transmitter location property. We had to obtain a building permit from the city. The city authorities, however, denied the application. When my boss asked why, he was told that the plans for the tower did not include a sprinkler system in case of fire. Fortunately, we were able to make them see reason.
It’s taken me a lot of years, but I’ve come around to this: If you’re dumb, surround yourself with smart people. And if you’re smart, surround yourself with smart people who disagree with you.

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Re: Do-It-Yourself Wiring the Home With Ethernet: What to Buy

Post by Pancakes-Eggs-Bacon » Sat Sep 01, 2018 9:26 am

oldcomputerguy wrote:
Sat Sep 01, 2018 8:51 am
Pancakes-Eggs-Bacon wrote:
Sat Sep 01, 2018 12:47 am
I have a drop ceiling in the basement which is pretty easy to route cables through with a ladder,
I don't know if this is relevant in your private residence, but in my workplace we found that the fire marshal frowned severely on simply throwing Ethernet cables above the drop ceiling. Apparently there is some fire code where I worked that required any such runs to be physically secured to the support structure (in our case it was to the ceiling joists). If one of your purposes in doing this is to increase the resale value of your home, you might want to check with local building authorities to find if there is a similar requirement where you live. Otherwise, a competent pre-sale home inspection down the right might reveal this as an issue that you would have to correct before you could sell the home.
I plan on securing all cables to the joists in the ceiling and not just have them directly above the drop ceiling tile. I'll probably use some wide staple or bracket depending on # of wires.

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Re: Do-It-Yourself Wiring the Home With Ethernet: What to Buy

Post by Pancakes-Eggs-Bacon » Sat Sep 01, 2018 9:30 am

MrBeaver wrote:
Sat Sep 01, 2018 8:46 am
I did this in a one-story that I completely renovated. Half the drops were easy since I had some walls open for other reasons.

Things I haven’t seen mentioned:
  • Plenum - I’m pretty sure the only difference is the thermal rating of the jacketing. It is meant for commercial installs where cable is run through large rectangular HVAC ducts. No harm in using it, but I’d skip this.
  • 5e/6/6a - do aquick calc of your longest expected run. They can all do 10Gb, but at different run lengths between the switch and device. Therefore, a bigger house needs better wire. http://www.kit-communications.com/FAQCat5evsCat6.htm Given the small price difference though, I’d probably go for 6a now also.
  • Your job will be harder than mine. I had full attic access above every drop.
  • You may not need a 24-port switch, depending on how many drops you want in service. But you need a patch panel with as many or more ports as drops.
  • It’s a two person job as far as I can tell, one to fish and the other to pull. Though the pros may have a way around this, I never found it.
  • Exterior walls and garage/house walls will be much harder than interior walls because of the insulation. Do all you can to plan your drops in non-insulated walls.
Good luck!
I was leaning towards plenum -- though more of a commercial code requirement than a residential code requirement -- just because it's not made with PVC jacket, which when burned gives off toxic fumes. Not only does it benefit the building's occupants but also the firefighters who may have to enter the smoky building. I haven't looked at the cost difference between plenum and non-plenum. If I go with "good enough" brands through Monoprice, the price difference might make plenum no big deal to spend money on.

6a gives more future-proofing past 10 Gigabit Ethernet...kind of like how existing 5e can still be used for the 2.5/5Gig standards. I don't see copper going too far beyond that before multimode or singlemode fiber starts taking over in 15-20 years.

24-port switch, yeah that was a placeholder. I'm not worried about this part.

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Re: Do-It-Yourself Wiring the Home With Ethernet: What to Buy

Post by Pancakes-Eggs-Bacon » Sat Sep 01, 2018 9:34 am

RickBoglehead wrote:
Sat Sep 01, 2018 8:40 am
Pulling cable through existing walls floor by floor is a chore. Trying to run conduit without cutting open walls is near impossible.
Thanks. I may ditch the conduit after all. Huge weight off the shoulders.
RickBoglehead wrote:
Sat Sep 01, 2018 8:40 am
Smart builders run a piece of PVC from attic to basement. You then run wires update to attic, and down to top floor. Bottom floor gets wired from basement. If there is a middle floor, that's more challenging.
I guess the whole reasoning behind using non-PVC cable ("plenum" rated) was so in a fire it emits less toxic fumes. PVC conduit would just defeat the purpose of spending more on non-PVC cable, haha. I think there's other material for low-voltage conduit, like PolyEthylene or something. The orange stuff.
RickBoglehead wrote:
Sat Sep 01, 2018 8:40 am
A forced hot air system's returns, often simply a cavity in the wall, can be used.
I guess I could just do what lazy cable technicians do and run Ethernet cable all over the exterior of the house and just drill through the exterior all over the place. [/This is a joke.]
RickBoglehead wrote:
Sat Sep 01, 2018 8:40 am
This assumes there are no code issues with doing any of this.
Yeah, I'm looking at meeting/exceeding commercial code, so it should surpass residential code.

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Re: Do-It-Yourself Wiring the Home With Ethernet: What to Buy

Post by mountains » Sat Sep 01, 2018 11:05 am

Pancakes-Eggs-Bacon wrote:
Sat Sep 01, 2018 1:32 am
mountains wrote:
Sat Sep 01, 2018 12:57 am
There are a couple of things you need to figure out before starting: do you have drywall or lath-and-plaster (plaster is harder to work with),
Drywall. House is 1990s construction.
mountains wrote:
Sat Sep 01, 2018 12:57 am
do you have an attic and is your basement finished, i.e., do you have easy access to get into your walls from above/below. If you don't have easy access, you'll need to route the cables through your ceiling which means you need to cut a lot of openings and later patch and paint them. Do you have conduits from attic to basement? You also need to decide where you'll put your cables (which in turn will tell you how much cable you need).
Basement is finished with tiled, drop ceiling at the 7' height. Very easy to get to with a step ladder. I'll probably want to attach conduit to the floor studs and route the cables through that or at the least carefully staple the cables to the floor studs.

Re: "If no easy access to the walls from above/below, you'll need to route the cables through your ceiling which means you need to cut a lot of openings and later patch and paint them."
I'd like to avoid cutting extra holes then patching/painting if at all possible. I was hoping the flexible drill bit would save the day.
That makes things easier. WIth attic, drop ceiling, and drywall you can go straight up or down from your drop.
Pancakes-Eggs-Bacon wrote:
Sat Sep 01, 2018 1:32 am

2nd floor -- cut open the wall for 1-gang wallplates, drill downwards through the floor into the 1st floor, then continue drilling down into the basement.

In other words, I think I can do this whole project without having to drill upwards into the attic to route cables. I'll worry about Access Points and security cameras as a Phase 2 project -- that might require a little bit of attic routing.
I guess I'm assuming that walls are on top of each other -- and that may not be the case. I'd HATE to have to drill in a "Z" shaped pattern i.e. drill from 2nd floor to 1st floor but have to route cable horizontally before finding the wall below it.
It will be easier to drill down from the attic for the 2nd floor drops. You can usually see where the wall are from the attic and drill straight down. Then you just need to find one run from basement to attic.
Pancakes-Eggs-Bacon wrote:
Sat Sep 01, 2018 1:32 am
mountains wrote:
Sat Sep 01, 2018 12:57 am
You mention a flex drill bit. These are notoriously imprecise and hard to use. There's a good chance you'll drill into something you didn't intend to. Esp. drilling through multiple joists or studs at once is bound to end badly in my opinion (there are lots of videos and guides that make it sound easy but it isn't).
Yeah, lots of Amazon reviews and YouTube comments make it seem like the long flex drill bits (e.g. Greenlee brand) are the bee's meow. As opposed to cutting extra holes in the wall/ceiling then having to patch it back up, which I'm trying to avoid.
I hate cutting into walls but I think it's the still the best choice. The flex bit videos make it seem way too easy. Flexbits do make sense for a short distance, e.g., drilling from 1ft high hole down into the basement.
Pancakes-Eggs-Bacon wrote:
Sat Sep 01, 2018 1:32 am
mountains wrote:
Sat Sep 01, 2018 12:57 am
You'll also want to consider additional power tools. E.g., something to cut into drywall (RotoZip, oscilating tool), maybe a right-angle drill, maybe a more powerful drill, etc.
Old fashioned jigsaw, level, and pencil not good enough to cut a simple 1-gang hole in drywall?
Jigsaw will work. But if you have a lot of holes to cut, you'll appreciate the powertool.
Pancakes-Eggs-Bacon wrote:
Sat Sep 01, 2018 1:32 am
mountains wrote:
Sat Sep 01, 2018 12:57 am
If you haven't pulled wire behind an existing wall before, I'd suggest you try it in a somewhat hidden space to see how it goes and to gauge how much work it is.
I have just the drop in mind that'd be a good trial! No insulation to mess with since it's an interior wall.
Nice.

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Re: Do-It-Yourself Wiring the Home With Ethernet: What to Buy

Post by unclescrooge » Sat Sep 01, 2018 12:01 pm

Pancakes-Eggs-Bacon wrote:
Sat Sep 01, 2018 12:47 am
unclescrooge wrote:
Sat Sep 01, 2018 12:28 am
I think you'll save time and money creating a Google mesh network.

Or are you looking at this as a hobby?
I want to learn the skillset as both a tech enthusiast and aspiring handyman. Plus, it should increase the value of the house. And no, WLAN (Wi-Fi) isn't the silver bullet. Good WLAN depends on good wired backhaul. The best practice is for stationary devices like servers, printers, desktops, TVs, set top boxes, game consoles, access points, cameras, etc. to all be wired (basically as much as possible) and only truly mobile devices like phones, tablets, laptops to be WLAN. And my WLAN is finally 100% WPA2 Enterprise, so no Google mesh for me, although mesh is a decent option for consumers. If you actually do a site survey of your home and neighborhood, it's already a crowded cacophony and quite a jungle of wireless noise. I'm basically not interested in having a conversation of "Oh, just do everything wireless," as that doesn't meet my performance and security needs.
It is unlikely you will add any value to the house.

I thought the same as you did in terms of network congestion, but after installing Google WiFi I changed my mind. It is simply superb.

You seen to be attacking this as a hobby. I'm sure you will be satisfied with the results.

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Re: Do-It-Yourself Wiring the Home With Ethernet: What to Buy

Post by z0r » Sat Sep 01, 2018 12:19 pm

wifi vs. ethernet depends on your neighborhood, many denser locations make wifi unusable for things like file transfers, even good wifi. People with shared walls in an affluent place (lots of streamers) are most likely to have wifi problems.

get the best cable but you can skimp on the keystone jacks - you can always upgrade those later if you leave a few inches of cable in the boxes. There was a time when cat6 jacks were overpriced but I think they're ok now on monoprice

I have done this in a couple houses, I always run two cables to each location, it's not really extra work and gives you options later

as others have said, the entire game here is fishing. you will become a fishing expert. start collecting all the tools, especially the fiberglass rods. I like using a nail on a string with a pickup magnet at the box to get into tough box locations. I also have found uses for long fixed drill bits in addition to the fancy flex bits, here are a couple options

long auger. gets past top plates on doors sometimes, things like that
https://www.milwaukeetool.com/Products- ... 48-13-7237

extended length spade - I have lost tons of the shorter ones in walls when they fell off extensions, this sidesteps that issue
https://www.boschtools.com/us/en/boscht ... s-22484-c/

pro electricians will often have even longer auger or spade bits but they start to run up to $100 or more. still might be worth it

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Re: Do-It-Yourself Wiring the Home With Ethernet: What to Buy

Post by shipbuilder » Sat Sep 01, 2018 1:25 pm

Edited to fix typos.

I've done this project in my house.

I learned a few things along the way.

1. Wiring is not all or nothing. There is a huge payoff to installing Ubiquiti Wi-Fi access points with Ethernet backhaul. Once you install these, you may find that you do not need many other wired connections. Consider installing Ethernet to a few well placed Ubiquiti APs first, then evaluating what else you need. I ended up making only one other wired connection, to a computer that needs to transfer very large photo and video files to the NAS sitting in my network closet.

2. The Ubiquiti UAP AC LR has incredibly good long range performance. You can get good 5G reception without line of sight to the AP as long as there is only wood and drywall in the way. I stuck two of these in the basement pointed upward and have excellent coverage throughout our two-story house. Putting them in the basement saves a lot of wiring if that's where your WAN enters.

3. Instead of getting a punchdown tool and punching down the connections, you can save a lot of time by using preterminated cables and inline coupler keystones. This also ensures all the terminations are good even if you are not skilled. Monoprice sells preterminated Cat6 plenum cable in a variety of lengths. The cost is not much higher when you consider the savings on buying tools, fixing bad connections, etc., as well as the tine savings.
Last edited by shipbuilder on Sun Sep 02, 2018 2:12 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Do-It-Yourself Wiring the Home With Ethernet: What to Buy

Post by FrugalInvestor » Sat Sep 01, 2018 1:31 pm

runner3081 wrote:
Sat Sep 01, 2018 7:11 am
Pancakes-Eggs-Bacon wrote:
Sat Sep 01, 2018 12:47 am
unclescrooge wrote:
Sat Sep 01, 2018 12:28 am
I think you'll save time and money creating a Google mesh network.

Or are you looking at this as a hobby?
Plus, it should increase the value of the house.
Unfortunately, it will not. There will be a $0 gain in value.
I agree, especially since the new mesh wifi systems like Google Wifi are now so good...and getting better. Within the next 5-10 years having the wiring in your house will make it dated like phone jacks do today.
IGNORE the noise! | Our life is frittered away by detail... simplify, simplify. - Henry David Thoreau

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Re: Do-It-Yourself Wiring the Home With Ethernet: What to Buy

Post by spencnor » Sat Sep 01, 2018 1:38 pm

Many great recommendations here. I’ve been involved in the commercial construction industry since the mid 1980’s. Back then, electricians installed all network cables, whether coax, fiber optic, ethernet, and other various cable technologies at the time. When the dot com era started in the late 1990’s, a different class of installers, low voltage cable techs came into being. These low voltage cable installers had a lower labor rate than electricians.

In many commercial buildings many drop, or suspended ceilings are plenum spaces where return air is allowed to return back to an air handler. I have yet to see where a suspended ceiling in a residential basement was considered a plenum space. Therefore, plenum rated cable is not required in a residence, but may be used for reasons already cited here.

Nothing wrong with considering Cat6a if the time and expense is within your budget. I have installed Cat3, 5, 5e, 6, and 6a shielded. Ethernet cable length in any case is limited to 100m. Cat5e is less costly, both in cable cost and devices, and much easier to terminate than Cat6a. Additionally, I do not believe shielded cable is of any benefit in your situation. Shielded cable is also more time consuming and difficult to terminate.

Time and budget permitting, I would strongly suggest installing PoE Ethernet (can be Cat5e) cabling for IP security cameras. WiFi does not work as well as a wired security camera. With this in mind, think about where to locate a PoE switch, or additional Ethernet switches to minimize cable runs.

Your list of tools is spot on. I would add a cable stapler such as this https://www.amazon.com/Arrow-Fastener-T ... le+stapler for a quick and easier method to secure cables to wood framing members.

I would buy at least two or more box spools of cable. You will save much time when running multiple cables to common locations, or drops. Also, add a pull string, or twine, to the cable runs at the same time. This will make future cable runs much easier.

I wouldn’t think of installing any conduit in walls unless you open up wall stud cavities. A horizontal run of conduit in your attic and basement ceiling may be useful though.

Lastly, DO NOT discount the possibility of inadvertently drilling into plumbing pipes and electrical cables in existing walls. What you may think is an easy 2 hour job may turn into a weekend horror show. When in doubt better to cut a drywall access hole than to drill into a water supply pipe. Brush up on your drywall patching and painting skills as you will have some patches to repair. Weigh the time of a drywall patch vs trying to drill and fish cables in wall cavities.

Good luck with your project!

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Re: Do-It-Yourself Wiring the Home With Ethernet: What to Buy

Post by Pancakes-Eggs-Bacon » Sat Sep 01, 2018 1:53 pm

Edited to Add: It's possible this post was harsher than I intended. I guess I was just trying to keep the thread on the topic of learning how to wire one's house and not an off-topic battle of "Wi-Fi's all you need. Mesh is king!" and all that. For what it's worth, I agree that consumer mesh is getting much better (Google Wifi, Netgear Orbi with its dedicated wireless backhaul channels), and we'll see more of it in coming years. But until we get Tesla coils, we'll still need Power-over-Ethernet to power Access Points and security cameras. And we sure as heck can't push terabytes of hard drive images and backups over Wi-Fi especially for the people who are nerdy enough to have their own rack of servers.

Original rant below was basically me being pedantic and justifying that I really, really want Ethernet to work in conjunction with my Wi-Fi. :happy

I'm getting awfully confused where people missed the fact that I finally switched to using 100% WPA2-Enterprise (which Google Wifi doesn't do). I don't view this as all-or-nothing. I love WLAN. But good WLAN also requires good backhaul. I have subnets and VLANS going out the wazoo. I'm waiting for UBNT's 802.11ax/WPA3 generation (no hurry), but I plan on having 2 primary WLAN VLANs, 1 VLAN for Guests, and 1 VLAN just for Internet-of-Things devices going to the APs alone, and on the wired front have a server interface (with likely several VLANs underneath that) -- but servers shall always be wired and everything in that 25U rack, and I have currently one DMZ but who knows if I want more. So please understand me when I say that I'm not at all against WLAN. I don't believe it's all-or-nothing. As I said: the best practice is for stationary devices (like desktops, servers, TVs, printers, set-top boxes, gaming consoles, PoE Access Points, and PoE security cameras) to all be wired -- as well as for any devices whose security requirements mandate it. And WLAN is best suited for mobile devices such as laptops, phones, and tablets, and for IoT devices that don't physically have Ethernet NICs. I love PoE because I can power all those devices with a PoE switch that's backed up by a good UPS, so when the power goes out, I still have WLAN and I still have security cameras powered up and recording. It'd be very difficult to do all that with consumer WLAN cameras, for example.

I'm definitely still a beginner and no network warrior or system architect and not trying to toot a horn that's not deserved, but, I don't think I have the Average Joe 192.168.1.0/24 home network is all. :)

The purpose of this thread wasn't really me asking on how to design my network or saying that there should be an all-or-nothing debate on whether WLAN is superior to wired technologies, which as I learn more and more keeps getting segmented in a much cleaner layout instead of just one giant broadcast domain. I'm moving Terabytes of backup and replication data and snapshots. No way I'm gonna do that through the air. If I wanted masochism, I'd turn on CNBC. :P

I was aiming for consumer advice on best practices and lessons learned on what tools work best and what brands or products to get or avoid. I've gotten very valuable advice so far from those who have done this -- very very thankful! I'll update as this project takes form.

I suppose I'm just a bit confused at the few stragglers who seem to be misunderstanding what I'm asking. But, again, I'm learning a lot and getting fantastic advice so far from 95% of responses, so pretty high yield so far.
Last edited by Pancakes-Eggs-Bacon on Sat Sep 01, 2018 2:28 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: Do-It-Yourself Wiring the Home With Ethernet: What to Buy

Post by Pancakes-Eggs-Bacon » Sat Sep 01, 2018 2:22 pm

spencnor wrote:
Sat Sep 01, 2018 1:38 pm
In many commercial buildings many drop, or suspended ceilings are plenum spaces where return air is allowed to return back to an air handler. I have yet to see where a suspended ceiling in a residential basement was considered a plenum space. Therefore, plenum rated cable is not required in a residence, but may be used for reasons already cited here.
I checked, and the return air vents are separate in this house. Nothing like a commercial HVAC. So I believe I don't technically have a plenum space. The only risk I'd be mitigating is if there's a fire. I'll look at the cost difference between plenum vs. riser vs. the regular stuff. It might have been around $100 extra per 1000 ft or so.

I think there was a much bigger price premium in going Shielded, which would be a waste of money in my use case (except there's lots of high-power amateur radio cable nearby, so maybe shielded does make sense...)
spencnor wrote:
Sat Sep 01, 2018 1:38 pm
Nothing wrong with considering Cat6a if the time and expense is within your budget. I have installed Cat3, 5, 5e, 6, and 6a shielded. Ethernet cable length in any case is limited to 100m. Cat5e is less costly, both in cable cost and devices, and much easier to terminate than Cat6a. Additionally, I do not believe shielded cable is of any benefit in your situation. Shielded cable is also more time consuming and difficult to terminate.
I'll be honest: STP looks super cool, and it may offer some protection from the radio transmissions occurring nearby, but it's way over my head as a beginner, and I likely wouldn't be able to terminate it to spec. I do have some 10GbE needs (mostly my NAS but maybe my virtual server host soon), so I have a current need for Cat6...might as well go Cat6a for the possibility of pushing past 10GbE without having to run new cabling in this house.
spencnor wrote:
Sat Sep 01, 2018 1:38 pm
Time and budget permitting, I would strongly suggest installing PoE Ethernet (can be Cat5e) cabling for IP security cameras. WiFi does not work as well as a wired security camera. With this in mind, think about where to locate a PoE switch, or additional Ethernet switches to minimize cable runs.
100% agree. I was leaning towards Hikvision, but I've read recently that there's a US ban on using Chinese-made security cams in certain areas? I'll have to look into that. Heck, I might as well go all out with Ubiquiti and get their cameras too.
spencnor wrote:
Sat Sep 01, 2018 1:38 pm
Your list of tools is spot on. I would add a cable stapler such as this https://www.amazon.com/Arrow-Fastener-T ... le+stapler for a quick and easier method to secure cables to wood framing members.
Thanks a ton for this one. I was wondering how I could secure them to the ceiling joists without hammering too hard and regretting it or doing something sloppy.

I'll probably buy a ton of velcro straps as well. I've read zipties are kryptonite (bad practice) to ethernet cables.
spencnor wrote:
Sat Sep 01, 2018 1:38 pm
I would buy at least two or more box spools of cable. You will save much time when running multiple cables to common locations, or drops. Also, add a pull string, or twine, to the cable runs at the same time. This will make future cable runs much easier.
Question on the pull string to add to each run: Do I just double the length of the in-wall cable run and leave that much pull string?
spencnor wrote:
Sat Sep 01, 2018 1:38 pm
I wouldn’t think of installing any conduit in walls unless you open up wall stud cavities. A horizontal run of conduit in your attic and basement ceiling may be useful though.
I can see conduit being really useful in the unfinished attic since it's filled with 2-4 feet high blown insulation. Frankly, I plan on doing most runs through the basement drop ceiling and just drilling from 2nd floor straight downward to the basement.
spencnor wrote:
Sat Sep 01, 2018 1:38 pm
Lastly, DO NOT discount the possibility of inadvertently drilling into plumbing pipes and electrical cables in existing walls. What you may think is an easy 2 hour job may turn into a weekend horror show. When in doubt better to cut a drywall access hole than to drill into a water supply pipe. Brush up on your drywall patching and painting skills as you will have some patches to repair. Weigh the time of a drywall patch vs trying to drill and fish cables in wall cavities.
Hitting a water line (or sewer) is a big fear. Same with hitting a propane line. I think live AC should be detectable with the stud finder and voltage sensor, but I'll be extra careful.

Thanks for the long post. Learned a lot.
Last edited by Pancakes-Eggs-Bacon on Sat Sep 01, 2018 5:14 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Do-It-Yourself Wiring the Home With Ethernet: What to Buy

Post by fogalog » Sat Sep 01, 2018 3:48 pm

A lot of good advice here.

I too have done this and would only add or +1 on a few things:
  • as others have said, you don’t need conduit in the walls. Just forget about that
  • i find it is a lot easier to drill 2 smaller holes next to each other through a header than a single larger hole, particularly if hard to access / long drill bit. your call though
  • i could never get enough tension on a flex drill bit. I gave up quickly.
  • buy a 3” hole saw and use that for cutting holes in the sheetrock. You can then reuse the pieces you cut out to repair the wall. Much faster and cleaner.
  • If you’re pulling 2, might as well pull 4 (that’s what I did). Have as many spools as runs you are pulling. Saves a lot of time and effort. Put the spools on a broom handle on some chairs.
  • I pulled Cat6e but Cat5e would have been fine. Cat6e is a nightmare to terminate, particularly in a 6-way wall plate. I wouldn’t do it again (and I am an old networking guy).
  • I would use a small hand saw for cutting the boxes into the Sheetrock. You will have much more control.
Feel free to PM me. I’m happy to help.

Good luck!

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Re: Do-It-Yourself Wiring the Home With Ethernet: What to Buy

Post by SimonJester » Sun Sep 02, 2018 11:21 am

Pancakes-Eggs-Bacon wrote:
Sat Sep 01, 2018 9:30 am
I was leaning towards plenum -- though more of a commercial code requirement than a residential code requirement -- just because it's not made with PVC jacket, which when burned gives off toxic fumes. Not only does it benefit the building's occupants but also the firefighters who may have to enter the smoky building.
This gives me a chuckle, you understand that all the plastic stuff you own could be burning and giving off toxic gas. The jacket of your handful of Ethernet cables are of no real concern. If a firefighter is entering your burning building they will be carrying their own oxygen supply...

Plenum rated cable is an issue for commercial installs because the drop ceiling space is the plenum for the HVAC systems and the number of Ethernet cables in a commercial install can run into the tens of thousands. The code requirements is not about the firefighters but about giving the occupants of the building enough time to escape before the toxic fumes prevent it...
"They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety." - Benjamin Franklin

Dilbydog
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Re: Do-It-Yourself Wiring the Home With Ethernet: What to Buy

Post by Dilbydog » Sun Sep 02, 2018 11:49 am

I’d like to echo what Shipbuilder said above. I understand a secondary benefit is the learning / education of installing your own cable. I get it, and I’ve done it reciently. I ran Cat6 to all of my major data using components: TVs,
STBs, printer, etc. I also installed two Ubiqui AP to ensure strong WiFi coverage in my home. If you’re going to go through the effort of running cable everywhere, I would recommend running cable for some AP’s, even if they will be for future. And I cannot say enough good things about Ubiqui, and I’ve tried top end consumer WiFi routers, mesh set-ups, power wall, etc. A strong wired system with a robust WiFi system is the route I would take. Oh, and if I had it to do over, I would have used the Cat5 in lieu of the Cat6. Easier to pull, much easier to terminate. I know it’s not future proof, but 5e is rated to 1Gb/s, and I’m sure I’ll eat my words, but that’s fairly robust for a residential setup.

spencnor
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Re: Do-It-Yourself Wiring the Home With Ethernet: What to Buy

Post by spencnor » Sun Sep 02, 2018 1:00 pm

spencnor wrote: ↑
Sat Sep 01, 2018 12:38 pm
Time and budget permitting, I would strongly suggest installing PoE Ethernet (can be Cat5e) cabling for IP security cameras. WiFi does not work as well as a wired security camera. With this in mind, think about where to locate a PoE switch, or additional Ethernet switches to minimize cable runs.

100% agree. I was leaning towards Hikvision, but I've read recently that there's a US ban on using Chinese-made security cams in certain areas? I'll have to look into that. Heck, I might as well go all out with Ubiquiti and get their cameras too.
I have both Hikvision and Dahua. You can find these on eBay and Amazon, although you may find better prices on Aliexpress. Just make sure you buy the English versions and not a hacked-into-English version. For good night images look at the "Darkfighter" and "Starlight" series IP cameras. More megapixels do not generally work well for night images. Daytime and nighttime images are very good with 2MP. Choosing the right lens focal length is more important than more megapixels in identifying a person's face.

Here's a great website if you want to dig deeper: https://ipcamtalk.com/wiki/ip-cam-talk-cliff-notes/
spencnor wrote: ↑
Sat Sep 01, 2018 12:38 pm
I would buy at least two or more box spools of cable. You will save much time when running multiple cables to common locations, or drops. Also, add a pull string, or twine, to the cable runs at the same time. This will make future cable runs much easier.

Question on the pull string to add to each run: Do I just double the length of the in-wall cable run and leave that much pull string?
I would add a pull string where you have longer runs and may revisit later for future runs. Just leave the pull string longer than the cable run and tied off and both ends where you can easily retrieve it later. When you re-pull, just add another run of pull string. This Greenlee product is commonly used:
https://www.amazon.com/Greenlee-430-500 ... RXMPBRCHA7

Try to buy your cable in a boxed dispenser as opposed to a cable spool. Then you can just place the box wherever without the need to set a an axle to dispense from a spool. Note most cables have footage markers every 2 feet, so you can easily measure out lengths for multiple runs. When buying cable stay away from CCA (copper clad aluminum) cable - buy only all copper conductors

Lastly, I don't remember seeing anyone mention cable tags. Tags can get very expensive if you want something fancy. You can get by with simple number tags such as this: https://www.amazon.com/Wire-Marker-Klei ... op?ie=UTF8

bac
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Re: Do-It-Yourself Wiring the Home With Ethernet: What to Buy

Post by bac » Sun Sep 02, 2018 3:12 pm

spencnor wrote:
Sat Sep 01, 2018 1:38 pm
Your list of tools is spot on. I would add a cable stapler such as this https://www.amazon.com/Arrow-Fastener-T ... le+stapler for a quick and easier method to secure cables to wood framing members.
If you must staple ethernet cables, you'll want to use insulated staples to prevent damage to the cables; anything that changes the twisted pairs can affect performance. See
<https://www.arrowfastener.com/tool/t59/>

killjoy2012
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Re: Do-It-Yourself Wiring the Home With Ethernet: What to Buy

Post by killjoy2012 » Sun Sep 02, 2018 5:28 pm

I've done a ton of residential and small business network and security work, mostly as hobby or volunteer. Also have several friends that are electricians, so have picked up some tips and tricks from them. My suggestions:
  • I always favor wired Ethernet over wireless when the stationary aspect of such is not a problem. Wireless is great, until it stops working correctly.
  • That said, running CAT6 cable to every room just to say you did is likely overkill. I'd sit down and plan where you need it, and scope the homerun pulls to that plan. e.g. Do you really need CAT6 in the bathroom(s)? Even in bedrooms (maybe the Master)?
  • Carefully pick where your MDF will be. IMO, preferably in the basement where your utilities enter the house. I'd recommend terminating the homeruns on a patch panel attached to the house, not in the rack - a lot cleaner should you ever need to move the rack (or sell the house).
  • Carefully choose your WAP locations in terms of coverage, open air line of sight, etc.
In terms of tools, here's a few suggestions:
  • Buy a good 4" hole saw and use it whenever you need to punch a hole in the drywall. Cleaner cut than a drywall jab saw, and you can patch the hole a lot easier than a square cut when done.
  • Buy regular electrical fish tape and fish sticks from Home Depot or Lowes. You'll need both.
  • Forget conduit. Conduit is a great idea on a new build when you have open walls. Not worth the destruction when dealing with old work.
  • Ideal Industries make some good pro-sumer grade CAT5/6 termination tools. Any punch down tool will work, even a cheap $1 plastic one. But I'd recommend spending the money on the Ideal feed-thru connectors and crimp tools.
  • For the tester, I'd just pickup a cheap 568B model that will confirm continuity on all 4 pairs, and the wiring order.

In terms of materials, here's a few suggestions:
  • All Ethernet cable is not created the same. There's the obvious physical qualities (solid vs. stranded, shielded vs. unshielded, PVC vs. plenum, AWG size, solid copper vs. CCA, etc.). That's the easy part -- you want solid, solid copper, unshielded for sure. I would probably go with PVC (not plenum) as well. But even then, there can be a huge variation in quality of the wire. This is not like buying Romex or THHN (simple wire). Belden (not to be confused with Belkin), far and away, makes the best wire available. However, it comes at a significant cost. If you're not going to use Belden, you really need to do your homework on the brand/quality you're getting... as it's most likely made as cheaply as possible in China. I recently needed to pull two new WAP homeruns totaling 100' and didn't want to buy 1000'+ of expensive Belden wire with 90% of it laying around for the next project, so I took a gamble with this wire, and can attest that I'm able to get full gigabit speeds on the wire in the box I got. YMMV.
  • You probably want what's commonly marketed as a structured wiring panel for the MDF homerun terminations. I have a Leviton one. Many other brands exist.
  • I wouldn't bother with an Ethernet staple/stapler. Just use common electrical wire staples and/or coax staples. Regardless of what you use, you don't want to indent the cable insulation -- too tight. A purpose-built Ethernet stapler isn't very useful since at some point your homeruns will start coming together, and you'll have multiple homeruns coming together under the same staple/path... so the usefulness of a single-cable solution is not all that great.
  • Ubiquiti Unifi makes good WAPs. I'm running two of their UAP-nanoHDs that are wave 2 MIMO. Also run the Unifi controller on an Ubuntu VM. Seems to be solid wireless solution. I'm not as big of fan of their router (USG) or switches, but you'll have to make that call.
  • Choosing a PoE switch also has it's pitfalls. Be careful of how much noise (fan noise) and heat you're willing to accept. There's also different versions of PoE, and 802.11at is the newest and most expensive, but may or may not be required by your PoE consumption gear. I'm actually in the market for a small PoE switch myself and am considering the HP/Aruba lineup since they have some that are 802.11at and fanless. Most of the Ubiquiti, Cisco and other have fans, are loud, etc. Also be carefull about buying a much larger PoE switch than you need, since the idle power consumption is higher on the larger switches even if you have nothing connected to them.
  • Dahua and Hikvision are probably the two best options for residential, not too expensive but decent quality, cameras. Would suggest checking out the 2MP Starlights. Make sure you're getting the English firmware ones. Blueiris IP Cam Talk is a good forum for reviews.

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Pancakes-Eggs-Bacon
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Re: Do-It-Yourself Wiring the Home With Ethernet: What to Buy

Post by Pancakes-Eggs-Bacon » Sun Sep 02, 2018 7:08 pm

killjoy2012 wrote:
Sun Sep 02, 2018 5:28 pm
  • Choosing a PoE switch also has it's pitfalls. Be careful of how much noise (fan noise) and heat you're willing to accept. There's also different versions of PoE, and 802.11at is the newest and most expensive, but may or may not be required by your PoE consumption gear. I'm actually in the market for a small PoE switch myself and am considering the HP/Aruba lineup since they have some that are 802.11at and fanless. Most of the Ubiquiti, Cisco and other have fans, are loud, etc. Also be carefull about buying a much larger PoE switch than you need, since the idle power consumption is higher on the larger switches even if you have nothing connected to them.
I've been pretty happy with my Zyxel 8-Port Gigabit Switch, 70W PoE+, Easy Smart Managed, Fanless, (GS1900-8HP) switch. Pretty solid 8-port switch, 802.3at PoE+, fanless, managed.
killjoy2012 wrote:
Sun Sep 02, 2018 5:28 pm
  • You probably want what's commonly marketed as a structured wiring panel for the MDF homerun terminations. I have a Leviton one. Many other brands exist.
I'm looking for a compact, permanent rack I can wall-mount to the studs in the MDF. Maybe 5U to 8U at the most just to have a patch panel, a switch or two, and a shelf for the cable modem. I intend for this to be permanently mounted and stay with the house. I have a 25U rack on order that's separate to finally get my servers racked and stacked.
killjoy2012 wrote:
Sun Sep 02, 2018 5:28 pm
  • Ubiquiti Unifi makes good WAPs. I'm running two of their UAP-nanoHDs that are wave 2 MIMO. Also run the Unifi controller on an Ubuntu VM. Seems to be solid wireless solution. I'm not as big of fan of their router (USG) or switches, but you'll have to make that call.
Huge Ubiquiti fan here as well. I waited forever for their Wave 2 WAPs to come out, but they first came out with that $500 high-capacity beast that's silly for home use. Then they recently came out with the UAP-nanoHDs that look perfect for home use. Two would be perfect for my home. But I figured that since I've already waited this many years to migrate away from 802.11n, I might as well skip over 802.11ac and get Ubiquiti's 802.11ax WAPs. I hope they release something good in mid-2019. *holds breath, turns blue* Or I might bite the bullet and buy some cheap UAP-AC-Lites or something just to scratch the itch until 802.11ax products are out of Beta.

I'm happy with my custom built router. 16 GB ECC server RAM, 2U case with Supermicro motherboard, all running pfSense. I'll probably build a new pfSense box in a couple years that can handle 10GbE just for fun. Plus the current box idles at about 70 Watts, which is too much for my tastes. I'm waiting on Intel's 10-nanometer CPUs, but I've been waiting for years! They say 2019.
killjoy2012 wrote:
Sun Sep 02, 2018 5:28 pm
  • All Ethernet cable is not created the same. There's the obvious physical qualities (solid vs. stranded, shielded vs. unshielded, PVC vs. plenum, AWG size, solid copper vs. CCA, etc.). That's the easy part -- you want solid, solid copper, unshielded for sure. I would probably go with PVC (not plenum) as well. But even then, there can be a huge variation in quality of the wire. This is not like buying Romex or THHN (simple wire). Belden (not to be confused with Belkin), far and away, makes the best wire available. However, it comes at a significant cost. If you're not going to use Belden, you really need to do your homework on the brand/quality you're getting... as it's most likely made as cheaply as possible in China. I recently needed to pull two new WAP homeruns totaling 100' and didn't want to buy 1000'+ of expensive Belden wire with 90% of it laying around for the next project, so I took a gamble with this wire, and can attest that I'm able to get full gigabit speeds on the wire in the box I got. YMMV.
Thanks for the Belden suggestion. I'd been wondering what the "gold standard" brands are. I'll compare prices on Monoprice and see if Belden is worth the premium.

Fortunately, you guys convinced me to skip plenum and skip conduit, so I should be able to allocate those "savings" towards the actual cable.

dumbmoney
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Re: Do-It-Yourself Wiring the Home With Ethernet: What to Buy

Post by dumbmoney » Sun Sep 02, 2018 7:32 pm

SteelyEyed wrote:
Sat Sep 01, 2018 8:44 am
I have been thinking of doing something similar. However, my new home (built in the 90's) is fully wired with telephone cables that I believe I will never use. I thought I might just pull the ethernet cables through and replace the phone wires.
That's what I did. I haven't used POTS in over 10 years.
I am pleased to report that the invisible forces of destruction have been unmasked, marking a turning point chapter when the fraudulent and speculative winds are cast into the inferno of extinction.

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Watty
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Re: Do-It-Yourself Wiring the Home With Ethernet: What to Buy

Post by Watty » Sun Sep 02, 2018 8:11 pm

runner3081 wrote:
Sat Sep 01, 2018 7:11 am
Pancakes-Eggs-Bacon wrote:
Sat Sep 01, 2018 12:47 am
unclescrooge wrote:
Sat Sep 01, 2018 12:28 am
I think you'll save time and money creating a Google mesh network.

Or are you looking at this as a hobby?
Plus, it should increase the value of the house.
Unfortunately, it will not. There will be a $0 gain in value.
It would be good to consider the expected lifecycle of the system you are putting in.

If it is obsolete when you eventually sell the house it could subtract value from the house if a future owner will need to remove it.

TheDDC
Posts: 222
Joined: Mon Jan 08, 2018 11:11 am

Re: Do-It-Yourself Wiring the Home With Ethernet: What to Buy

Post by TheDDC » Sun Sep 02, 2018 8:21 pm

Nice to see this thread on here from a fellow geek. I would recommend running conduit up to your attic if possible. I ran 2 x .75" orange flex conduits up when I first moved into my house. This allowed me to install 2 x Cat6 drops into every room. I ran cabling up from basement to first floor and then from attic to second floor all because of the decision to run the conduit. If you were to find a good place to run the bundle up to the attic and drop down above the ceiling plate that would be the easiest. I did not need to patch a single thing that way.

Cabling choice - I chose Cat6 when I did this ten years ago in my place. I just helped a friend run Cat 6a in his place. The real advantage with 6a is the shielding if you are running near electric wires, but even then it's overkill most likely. Preterminated cabling is nice. However, you would need a significantly larger diameter hole if you were running 2+ cables anywhere. I have also discovered more than enough preterminated cables from monoprice that were bad (only negotiated to 100/full instead of 1000/full). I would not run condutit to each location unless new construction and the walls are open. Even commercial construction does not deem that as "normal".

Number of cables - minimum two per single gang box. My office has four.

Mesh networks - Only as good as the 5G channel(s) with least interference, which could be few/spotty depending on your area. I would not rely "clean air" to service internet needs, personally. Go with some UniFi APs (I run 2 x UAP-AC-HDs, ceiling mounted) with ethernet backhauls.

Switches - My switch(es) support PoE+ and can go up to 30W per port.

I am most likely going to add another IDF in my attic so I will be running OM4 fiber. If you are considering adding a switch in the attic I would run fiber through your conduit.

Tools - Stripper, Ideal brand crimper (don't rely on the stripper built into it), screwdrivers, 5' fish rods, fish tape. I personally like the reciprocating saw for cutting in boxes.

I prefer single gang open back wall caddies and not the blue plastic electrical caddies (old work boxes) due to the space allowed in the box for slack. I made the mistake of using the blue ones and will most likely go with the open back ones during the next upgrade, or just drill giant holes into the back of them and not mess with the tabs at the top. :) Live and learn.

A few hole saw wood bits (.5" up to 1") will help.

Would love to hear how this goes! I ran at least two Cat6 drops to every room in the house (sans bathrooms) and would not regret it to this day. The only drops that have not gotten used have been in the girls' room and that's only because they are under 5.

-TheDDC

TheDDC
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Re: Do-It-Yourself Wiring the Home With Ethernet: What to Buy

Post by TheDDC » Sun Sep 02, 2018 8:24 pm

Watty wrote:
Sun Sep 02, 2018 8:11 pm
runner3081 wrote:
Sat Sep 01, 2018 7:11 am
Pancakes-Eggs-Bacon wrote:
Sat Sep 01, 2018 12:47 am
unclescrooge wrote:
Sat Sep 01, 2018 12:28 am
I think you'll save time and money creating a Google mesh network.

Or are you looking at this as a hobby?
Plus, it should increase the value of the house.
Unfortunately, it will not. There will be a $0 gain in value.
It would be good to consider the expected lifecycle of the system you are putting in.

If it is obsolete when you eventually sell the house it could subtract value from the house if a future owner will need to remove it.
Doubtful that it will fail and need to be removed unless there is corrosion. Copper wire on telephone poles in many areas is likely 50-60+ years of age and still working. If you need to upgrade, it can always be used as a "pull wire" to pull in the next media type which would most likely be fiber. I would not recommend stapling UTP/STP cabling for this reason.

A geek would value a whole that is pre-wired with Cat6. At worst it would get used for "phone lines"

-TheDDC
Last edited by TheDDC on Sun Sep 02, 2018 9:27 pm, edited 1 time in total.

carguyny
Posts: 334
Joined: Mon Aug 08, 2016 4:56 pm

Re: Do-It-Yourself Wiring the Home With Ethernet: What to Buy

Post by carguyny » Sun Sep 02, 2018 8:33 pm

Watty wrote:
Sun Sep 02, 2018 8:11 pm
runner3081 wrote:
Sat Sep 01, 2018 7:11 am
Pancakes-Eggs-Bacon wrote:
Sat Sep 01, 2018 12:47 am
unclescrooge wrote:
Sat Sep 01, 2018 12:28 am
I think you'll save time and money creating a Google mesh network.

Or are you looking at this as a hobby?
Plus, it should increase the value of the house.
Unfortunately, it will not. There will be a $0 gain in value.
It would be good to consider the expected lifecycle of the system you are putting in.

If it is obsolete when you eventually sell the house it could subtract value from the house if a future owner will need to remove it.
It's obsolete today, I wasted the money wiring everthing in our house when we built it 7 years ago. Most if it sits unused.

I'm watching a 4k movie that's streamed over a google mesh, and also sound is streamed to the av receiver in an Av cupboard. The 30 ft ethernet cable runs, HDMI cable runs, IR cable, RS-232 cables all sit unplugged behind the TV. The only cable is from the receiver to the speakers in the ceiling and subwoofers in the wall as the room has 7.2 sound. No advantage in cable vs Wifi given the ISP is the bottleneck. I don't want my next house wired for anything.

When I need to sell I expect to spend money removing obsolete equipment .e.g. ethernet ports, amx touch screen panels etc.

TheDDC
Posts: 222
Joined: Mon Jan 08, 2018 11:11 am

Re: Do-It-Yourself Wiring the Home With Ethernet: What to Buy

Post by TheDDC » Sun Sep 02, 2018 8:44 pm

carguyny wrote:
Sun Sep 02, 2018 8:33 pm
Watty wrote:
Sun Sep 02, 2018 8:11 pm
runner3081 wrote:
Sat Sep 01, 2018 7:11 am
Pancakes-Eggs-Bacon wrote:
Sat Sep 01, 2018 12:47 am
unclescrooge wrote:
Sat Sep 01, 2018 12:28 am
I think you'll save time and money creating a Google mesh network.

Or are you looking at this as a hobby?
Plus, it should increase the value of the house.
Unfortunately, it will not. There will be a $0 gain in value.
It would be good to consider the expected lifecycle of the system you are putting in.

If it is obsolete when you eventually sell the house it could subtract value from the house if a future owner will need to remove it.
It's obsolete today, I wasted the money wiring everthing in our house when we built it 7 years ago. Most if it sits unused.

I'm watching a 4k movie that's streamed over a google mesh, and also sound is streamed to the av receiver in an Av cupboard. The 30 ft ethernet cable runs, HDMI cable runs, IR cable, RS-232 cables all sit unplugged behind the TV. The only cable is from the receiver to the speakers in the ceiling and subwoofers in the wall as the room has 7.2 sound. No advantage in cable vs Wifi given the ISP is the bottleneck. I don't want my next house wired for anything.

When I need to sell I expect to spend money removing obsolete equipment .e.g. ethernet ports, amx touch screen panels etc.
Don't be so quick to rip everything out. That cabling will make for good pull strings for fiber, which is still the most future proof solution. It was in the 1980s and it still is. WiFi is only as good as the air in your neighborhood. There is a difference in network performance qualities of AV use observed versus qualities observed by a network engineer. Do you have latency measurements taken over WiFi mesh versus wired versus traditional backhaul wireless (the best of both worlds and most resilient to RF irregularities that could crop up after a new neighbor moves in)? Throughout the day/evening/weekend? How about latency over fiber versus ethernet drops in your house? Insertion loss of media? If all you are interested in is "muh bandwidth" then you will be perfectly happy with your mesh. However, realize a IT geek/pro/engineer would not be.

-TheDDC

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