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cat5e, coax, phone, or all?

Post in 'DIY and General non-hearth advice' started by lumbajac, Oct 26, 2008.

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  1. lumbajac

    lumbajac Member

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    Have finished with the electrical wiring of my new home. Before I insulate, I want to run necessary cabling for TV, internet, and phone. What do I need to run? Cat5e phone internet and phone I believe, but does the cable TV use this as well or still use coax?

    Thanks.

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  2. SigElec

    SigElec Member

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    With the way things are changing I would run coax and cat5 to the TV locations. My cable still uses coax but the cable company is now offering a new HD cable lineup and it requires cat5 from the box on the side of the house to each TV location.
  3. wenger7446

    wenger7446 Member

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    I work on the home technology field and this is what I recommend to clients:

    To each television location (all four cables in one wall plate - Leviton QuickPort or something of that nature) –

    2 – quad-shield, full copper conductor RG-6 coax (for cable or satellite)
    2 – CAT5e (CAT5e can be used for network or phone but I would terminate them as network)

    Keep in mind that some satellite (DirecTV) uses two coax cables for DVR capabilities. Even if you don’t see yourself using satellite it is always easer to install now then retrofit later) Also, almost every new “good” television is networkable so that is why we recommend the above.

    Also, having lots of CAT5e around the house enables you to wire for a wireless network if a standard wireless router does not cover your home.

    To each phone or computer location –

    2 – CAT5e cables (terminate as desired – network or phone)

    Any electrical supply company should have the quad-shield full copper conductor RG-6 and good quality CAT5e.

    Pull all your cabling back to your DMARK in a utility area when you can mount your broadband router, network router and switch. This will also be your location to mount your mulitswitch (the term used for a satellite splitter) or your cable splitter, which ever you choose.

    Also, do you want to have a speaker system in your house (speakers in the ceiling so you can listen to Rush Limbaugh)? Now would be the time to wire that is. Also, don’t forget about wiring for any surround sound/entertainment system wiring.

    If you have any questions please ask.
  4. Gooserider

    Gooserider Mod Emeritus

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    I did a low voltage wiring job in our house a few years back, and did a lot of research before starting the job, looking back, I'd change very little, though some folks would definitely say I went for overkill...

    My feeling was that I NEVER wanted to have to pull another cable again, so it was better to over do it so as to exceed future needs whatever they might be...

    For better or worse, I've also had enough work experience in the computer biz to know what good network wiring should look like...

    I broke it down to say that there are likely to be 3 main media types in the home for the forseeable future.

    Telephone - Minimum requirement is 4 wire twisted pair, but can run on any "CatX" cable, and putting it on Cat5e costs a negligible amount extra, and reduces the number of different sorts of cable to keep track of. Note that using Cat 5e will allow up to 4 different phone lines per cable. (with custom wired plugs...)

    Video / Cable TV - Currently requires RG-6-Quad shield, except possibly satellite, which only needs special cable between the dish and the receiver box, and has unpredictable requirements.

    Computer / Ethernet - Current minimum is Cat5, Cat5e preferable. Could go for Cat6, or possibly even the still under development Cat7, but not cost effective / practical.

    I ruled out fiber on the grounds that terminating and testing fiber is still expensive / difficult, the hardware for it is expensive, and in the home it really doesn't offer that much advantage. Likewise Cat6 and up ethernet doesn't offer that much advantage, and greatly increases the costs and headaches of the job. Cat 5e if installed properly (mine is :coolsmile: ) will handle 100megabit speeds, and in typical home network distances should be able to deal with Gigabit ethernet or close to it - far faster than what even FIOS is promising...

    I then broke the house down into 5 classes of location...

    1. Minor locations - where it might be handy to have a phone or TV reciever, but where you will mostly be recieving, not originating stuff - bathrooms, laundry room, kitchen counter / dining areas, garage, etc. They get one each TV, Telephone, Ethernet cable.

    2. Major locations - Likely to have more needs for connection, possibly originate some video or pull from multiple sources. Bedroom / offices, living room, etc. They get two each of everything Note, most major location rooms had TWO Locations in them

    3. Potential home theater locations - places with the space for a widescreen TV / Home theater setup, likely to have fanciest gear, more likely to want to pump stuff from that gear to other places in the house. This is overkill city, I put in FOUR video cables, 2 ethernets and 3 phone lines

    4. Home node - central connection point to feed everything else... Needs space for wiring, electronics, etc. Must have electrical power, and be inside "climate envelope" of house (some electronics don't like climate extremes, if you aren't comfortable, they aren't either...) Does not need to be "prime real estate" but does need to be location that will make running to / from it easy and short. ALL cables are "home run" to or from this point. Will have ethernet patch panel, telephone punchdown block, and RG6 video cable patch panel.

    5. Special locations - places with odd requirements - An extra Cat5e and RG6 to the attic in case I want to add an antenna up there later. 2 Cat5e's and 2 RG6's to the Demark point out in the garage to connect to the outside world, etc.

    Looking back, I might have pulled fewer phone lines, and maybe treated the home theater locations as major locations.. OTOH, I can see some potential uses for the extra cable, and it doesn't hurt to have it.

    Cable is CHEAP. Terminations are CHEAP, the pain comes with pulling cable, and it is only a little harder to pull 6 wires at a time than it is to pull one, so I figured overkill is better than having to go back later... However if I SHOULD ever need to go back, I did try to make it easy, I used nylon masonry string for pull cord, it's cheap, strong, and works well. I left my strings behind, so I can easily redo any of my existing pulls.

    I ended up with about 36 ports used on a 48 port ethernet patch panel, about 2/3 of a 300 pair punchdown block, and about 40 out of 48 points on a custom made video patch panel... I have a cable bundle about 4" in diameter going to the node 0 panel, which is on a sheet of plywood in the basement utility room (storage, hot water heater, furnace, etc.) and pulled about 6,000 feet of wire into the walls of the house.... I can put a phone, computer or TV anywhere in the house with no more than 10 feet of cable to the nearest jack... I think I met my standards...

    Gooserider
  5. DavidV

    DavidV New Member

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    When my youngest is old enough for a cell phone I'm ditching the house phone.
    I opted for wireless networking instead of wiring things up. I just can't see crawling around and punching holes when I don't need. to.
  6. Gooserider

    Gooserider Mod Emeritus

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    I don't trust wireless networks - I'm not interested in providing free access for the neighbors, but if you set up w/ security you are also going to be slow... W/ wire, you automatically get security and speed...

    I also don't like cell phones, and prefer a land-line (I carry a pre-paid for outgoing and emergencies, mostly it's off, costs me less than $10 / month as long as I use less than 800 minutes a year...)

    You can't do cable TV wireless.

    In our house, the telephone wiring was showing it's age, and the cable guys are total hacks when it comes to putting in cable - again our cable wiring wasn't usable... Long as I was going to run wires for a computer network, it wasn't much harder to run all three so that they were done right...

    Gooserider
  7. mayhem

    mayhem Minister of Fire

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    Good info Goose and Wenger. For what its worth I'll toss my 2 cents in.

    Its far cheaper to run extra cables now that you don't think you'll need than to add one later on. Whatever you actually need, double it and make sure the wiring protectors are installed before you close up your walls...wouldn't do to put a sheetrock screw through your cable bundle and not find out about it for a year.

    Don't forget to photo document your wire runs. I did this when we built the house and its proven invaluable when its time to make any odd changes down the road.

    Goose, CAT5e is actually solidly gigabit capable. 5 is hundred megabit.

    Odds are for tv all you need is coax, but it may be benficial to check with your provider for your specific system. I have a two room single box DISH setup and since I've now put in a pair of HDTVs I want to think about getting the HD package...I need to find out what I need for a wire going to my upstairs TV since its remote from the box. The SD signal is just fine on the Co-ax I've got in the walls, but I'm skeptical on running true 1080p HD through that line. Maybe I'm fine, maybe not. My point is, if you already have a system, call them and find out about the HD setup...you may not have it now, but you eventually will...try to future proof it now. I definitely agree with Wenger's advice to double up on the cables from your tv demarc to the sets. The TIVO/DVR capability is fantastic...and you will need a second line for it to work. Now is the time to plan for it.

    While I'm all for the speed and security of the wired home network, you're more than likely just fine wiht a wireless setup. They're cheap, run faster than any internet pipe you can get to your home and easy enough to secure. The great thing about runing the CAT5e for the phones is that you're just a termination change away from using those lines for either phone or ethernet traffic. Make sure you use RJ45 sockets in all locations, then you can do whatever you want by swapping some pairs around.

    Good luck and chech back wiht us with any questions.
  8. Gooserider

    Gooserider Mod Emeritus

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    I agree on using RJ45's - the telephone plugs will fit into them just fine, though if I'm making my own cord for any reason I use RJ45's on the wall end because I can... I punch down all the wall outlet terminations the same,
    and differentiate at the home node - my ethernet cables terminate in a 5e patch panel, while the phone cables terminate in a puchdown block I used 6 or 12 hole "keystone" style plates at the wall outlets, and it was easier to use the RJ45's as well since it was one less plug type to worry about. I also like that the RJ45 makes all 4 pairs in the cable accessible.

    On the coax, I used an F-C0NN female compression plug that came in a keystone plastic module as well - this is a hard to find part, but it is much better than what is often suggested, namely a standard male connector and a female-female keystone adapter - it gives lower impedance losses (fewer connections) and is shorter so it fits in the wall better.

    I put all my ethernet hubs and routers at the home node and patch into them at the 5e panel w/ short cables. Since normal telephone wiring has a different requirement where all the jacks should be tied together the punchdown block is better for that.... I also left lots of slack in the home node end, so if I ever need more ethernet jacks it wouldn't be hard to move a telephone cable up to the patch panel and punch it down if needed.

    One tool that I consider a MAJOR technical improvement is that if you will be making ANY male RJ45 connections is to invest in an EZ-RJ45 crimper made by Platinum tools, and the RJ45 plugs that go with it! It is much faster and easier than any other tool I've ever encountered for the job. Normally it's a real pain to get the wires arranged in the proper order, trimmed to length, and stuffed into the connector w/o loosing the sequence. The EZ-RJ45 makes it a breeze. Their plugs (it also works w/ non-AMP plugs from other brands but looses the stuffing advantage) are drilled through all the way - so instead of trying to get the wires arranged in just the right length, you strip off about 6" of jacket, fan out the wires, and then stuff them through the connector one strand at a time in the right order. The only challenge is getting each strand in the correct hole. When it's perfect, you slide the connector down onto the jacket and crimp. There is a blade on the front edge that trims off the excess wire when you crimp. Gives a perfect wire every time... Most of the cable supply places carry them, and they are worth it.

    Gooserider
  9. Highbeam

    Highbeam Minister of Fire

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    To simplify and replace the 40 YO coax and phone line strung all over my fixerupper, I recently replaced all of the com wire in my home. I started with one of those fancy boxes, the strucutured media center in the attic mounted near the hatch on a vertical sheet of plywood, and then ran all new RG6 and cat5e to each phone or TV location. I just ran a single coax and phone together to each spot. I have never had actual phone service to my home so the coax cable from the power pole outside runs to my SMC then to the cable modem where it is split up into cable, internet, and phone, and then pushed back to the SMC and sent everywhere.

    The wire is cheap and easy to pull. I ran it very sperate from the AC power lines.

    Can you believe that you need permits to deal with this wire and speaker wire?
  10. Jags

    Jags Moderate Moderator Staff Member

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    These are all good suggestions. Now to throw one more at you. You may wish to pick a couple of wall plates that will have conduit (the plastic flexible stuff works fine) run to them and going to your common (data) area. This allows for easy fishing of other wires if 20 yrs down the road everything changes. You wouldn't have to do it in all locations, but say you have a spot for your tv, and its the only spot that it will go. You may wish to run conduit to that box to facilitate changes in the future. The stuff is pretty cheap.

    Just something to think about.

    Oh, stay away from cat 3 (phone) wire. No need. As said above, run cat5. You can run phone stuff (cat3) on cat5, but not the other way around.
  11. Redox

    Redox Minister of Fire

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    I've been putting an outlet box in every room with a piece of 3/4 conduit to the basement. Right now, I'm just pulling premade cables throuth the conduit and stringing it across the basement. One day, the plan is to put more permanent connections to a patch panel, but for now, the conduit is in place.

    Chris
  12. wenger7446

    wenger7446 Member

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    Good Idea Redox!
  13. TMonter

    TMonter Minister of Fire

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    I would also spend the money and run Cat 6 and even consider shielded especially if it will be run within 12" parallel of power wires. My experience is that cat 6 isn't all that much more and will be worth it in the long run.
  14. Gooserider

    Gooserider Mod Emeritus

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    Mixed feelings on this... Pricing may have come down since I did my install, but when I was doing it, I found Cat6 parts and cable to be 25-50% more than Cat5e, and I didn't think there was actually that much benefit to using Cat6, since Cat5e is more than able to handle any speed likely to show up on a home network.

    Shielding is a MUCH bigger question, and IMHO is not a good idea in the US. Unless the shielding in the cable is terminated properly on BOTH ends, it will CAUSE more noise than it blocks - it functions as an antenna to pick up noise and couple it into the cable... This means that every part of the system, from the patch panel to the wall jacks, to the patch cables, to the network card MUST be chosen to be shielding capable. Most notebooks aren't in the US. Neither are most of the commonly available (aka reasonably priced) patch panels, patch cords, jacks, etc... They can be found, but this is a challenge, and the parts are usually "industrial grade" and therefore several times the price.

    For arcane historical reasons, shielded is the norm in the EU and other parts of the world, so the situation is the opposite, but in the US I wouldn't consider shielded unless I was in a really nasty RF environment like a factory floor or other place where there were lots of magnetic fields around.

    (I actually have several hundred feet of shielded Cat5e that I dumpster dove from a former employee - replaced w/ regular Cat5e on hardware that came from Israel to the US - mostly in jumpers 25-50' long. When I grabbed it I thought it was a great catch, but now that I know what it is, I've got no real use for it....)

    Gooserider
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