Wiring – Is the plan for wiring ethernet reasonable


I would first of all like to start off by saying that I am a software developer by profession, so my networking knowledge is relatively basic. My question is therefore aimed at figuring out if I am on the right track, or if there are better alternatives to what I want to accomplish.

I am about to set up a home network for a new place that I bought. I have been giving it a lot of thought and would like to be connected in a wired manner as much as possible (I want wifi throughout the house, but only for mobile deviced – my PCs must be wired).

I have identified that I have 3 rooms in total which require ethernet jacks in them. The first room is a study which will have 2 PCs and a network printer. So as a minimum, I require 3 points in that room to be able to connect an ethernet cable directly into PC 1, PC2 and the printer.

I then want 2 other points in the spare bedroom, and one more in the main bedroom (incase I would like to put a wireless router in that room just incase the wifi from the source will not reach there). So the point in the main bedroom will be plugged into a wireless router for wireless devices to connect.

So my reasoning is the following (please correct me if I am wrong):

The source of the internet from my ISP is in my living room, where this will go into the WAN port of my router. From the router I will then connect a network switch into one of the available LAN ports (with around 8 ports or so). The other ports in the router will be kept free for any network TV devices I may need in the living room.

The network switch will then have an ethernet cable plugged into each ports, where each cable runs to the points in the other rooms. I am assuming that each point in a room will be connected directly to the switch with one long cat5e cable. So when I plug the ethernet cable in the study into PC 1, that will be a very long cable running all the way to the switch. Same applies to PC 2 and the printer – these are two separate very long cables.

So in total, I would be having around 6 very long ethernet cables running from the switch into the other rooms, where one cable is used for just one device.

Is this all valid reasoning? Am I doing something fundamentally wrong? My electrician who is wiring the place suggested that I use one ethernet cable and loop it for all devices, but he said he does not know anything about networking so has instructed me to seek professional advice. What I am writing here is basically what I have come up with.

Any advice is appreciated!

Best Answer

(Lots of) Home runs are good

You are correct that you want to run a cable to each room from the central switch. In fact, I would run at least 1 more cable than you think you will need to each room, and consider running a line or 2 to other rooms as well - especially if your walls are open. Cable is cheap, and pulling 4 cables instead of 3 is no more work when done at the same time. If you decide later that you want a 4th jack, you either need a small switch (which does limit bandwidth, not really increase latency) or you need to open walls again to pull that 4th cable.

Use a patch panel

Rather than run the cable from the big switch to each room, you should have a patch panel in between. Patch panels basically change the type of connection on the cable (the back is a 110 punch down block, front is an RJ-45 jack), and are a simple pass-through.

patch panel

This is to ease installation. Pulling cable through walls is best done when the cable is un-terminated. Terminating the cable (i.e., putting the RJ-45 jacks on the end) can and is done, but punching the cable down into a patch panel is so much easier, especially for someone who has never done it before (and it sounds like neither you nor your electrician has). The cost is marginal (again, go bigger than you think you need now), but you save on headaches during installation.

You would then get keystone jacks that allow you to punch down the cable on the other end:

punch down keystone

You shove these into wallplates on an electrical box or low-voltage plate:

wall plate

They make wall-plates with different numbers of openings (usually 1-6), so you can get what you need for each room.

Finally, you would need short (1-2 ft) "patch" cables to connect the patch panel to the big switch. Buy these cables pre-made, as you won't be able to make your own for less. These are typically stranded cable, as it's more flexible.

Your final setup would look something like this:

network diagram

(the top-most device with jacks is the patch panel, the middle on is the switch, and the bottom would be your router)

Buy solid copper UTP (unshielded twisted pair) cat5e or cat6 cable, rated properly (usually CMR for typical in-wall installation, but you'll need Plenum if you plan to run it in HVAC ducts), and buy multiple boxes if possible. Standard is 1000 ft but smaller lengths are available, and they come in all different colors. A decent-sized house could take 2000-3000 ft of cabling or more, depending on how many runs and where the network closet is. Again, the more boxes you have, the easier installation will be (you typically pull 1 from each box at the same time, so if you want 4 runs to a single location, having 4 boxes is easiest).

If you want things a little cleaner, you can get a wall-mounted mini rack as well:

wall-mount mini-rack

Just make sure to get one that has the depth and vertical space (measured in "U") you need. They also make ones with hinges that make patch panel installation a bit easier.

Most product images taken from monoprice.com