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home LAN wiring recommendations

 4:56 am on Dec 5, 2004 (gmt 0)

I'm doing a bit of reconstruction on the house...knocking down some walls and whatnot. The schedule got pushed up and now I have to decide what to do about my LAN wiring.

Right now I've got Cat5e wiring in one central room along with wireless for my laptops. However I've got 100mbps fiber optic service to my house so the wireless connection isn't as good as I'd like.

I'd like to wire up as many rooms as I can for data transmission and potential future addition of running some sort of home-wide DVR/video. The question is what sort of cabling is recommended? I want something that will be somewhat future-proof.

Is Cat5e sufficient? Is anyone using Cat6? Are there alternatives for LAN wiring? I don't know enough about Cat6 yet, but assume I'd have to get new routers and LAN cards...

Any advice appreciated.



 6:28 am on Dec 5, 2004 (gmt 0)

I would do Cat5e to every room. Gigabit (supported on Cat5e) is a standard. The equipment is still a little expensive, so it gives you the option of just using 100mb until you're ready to upgrade. Also, it adds to the resellability of you place.

I'd hold out on upgrading your wireless until some of the new standards get approved. Having wire run to every room will offer you the ability to plug in when the wireless isn't cutting it.


p.s. I'm jealous of your fiber service. :)


 9:48 am on Dec 6, 2004 (gmt 0)

I've just done my place in 5e. The problem with new standards is that they take a while to become standards and by then even newer standards are being worked on. Till then there is grief, incompatibility, dropped connections, false IP conflicts, all manner of other issues. I'd stick with 5e even if wireless becomes 1 GB/sec as the 100 MB rate is more than sufficient for several videos to be running simultaneously and it's a lot, lot more secure than wireless. You could also bung some CCTV/security/baby monitor videos into that bandwidth and still have some to spare.

Of course, in time, we'll have HD TV, we'll have HDV replacing Digital Video and that will all take extra bandwidth. But, hey, I can't tell the visual difference between HDV and DV so I'll just keeping piping my video at the quality level I enjoy right now. And I won't feel I've lost anything.


 1:42 pm on Dec 6, 2004 (gmt 0)

I just pulled new wire here and went with cat5e after major consideration and analysis. I went through the same thought process as you, bill, even considered pulling fiber. Good cat5e wire is quite capable of 300mb/sec, as a matter of fact you can push gigabit levels through. The problem lies in the endpoints, 32 vs 64 bit NICs, etc. Unless you are doing massive videoconferencing, etc on your lan, save the dough and pull cat5e.

Another thing, if you really have the walls peeled apart, do yourself a favor and get some 1/2" or 3/4" pvc and run yourself some conduit channels from the endpoint to the false ceiling or at least to a point where it is accessible so you can pull more wire in the future if necessary. I bought a small spool of decent string/pull wire and left a strand in each run, just for this purpose.


 3:51 pm on Dec 6, 2004 (gmt 0)

ccopster, good tip. I left a spare cat5e in place for when I get around to sorting the video phones. Each cat 5 cable supports four phone lines. No more shouting for kids. Press a button and get the speaker in their room to scream at them ;).


 12:55 am on Dec 7, 2004 (gmt 0)

I do believe cat5e will do gigabit under the right circumstances, but I'm no tech. It's dirt cheap though, and everything supports it, so go with that.

Plus, if I'm correct that it does gigabit, gigabit NIC's and switches are actually relatively inexpensive these days. Not sure that there's a need for it at home yet, but there you go...:). I'm running cat5e at home and have no problems - including doing large file transfers over the network.


 9:34 am on Dec 7, 2004 (gmt 0)

wheel, cat 5 is for 10/100, cat 5e is for gigabit (though you do need to have that capability on the devices at both ends). And 1000 MB/sec sounds good in theory. In practice you'll be lucky to get a fraction of that.


 5:17 am on Dec 8, 2004 (gmt 0)

Thanks everyone!

I ordered Cat5e wiring into every room. That does seem to be the best recommendation.

Special thanks to coopster for this:
get some 1/2" or 3/4" pvc and run yourself some conduit channels
I'm getting piping run everywhere so that I won't have to rip my walls apart if I ever need to rewire this network.


 9:44 pm on Dec 13, 2004 (gmt 0)

A good idea that I had that seemed a little odd at the time...

When I was doing a similar thing, I made sure to have a outlet and a network connection installed in the linen closet upstairs, and one near the rear of my house in a cabinent. This is because I was not getting good reception upstairs for my WLAN and also not good outside. By adding an AP upstairs, and at the exterior wall in the back of the house, I increased my signal strenght significantly.

There's no harm in at least pulling the wire now to future proof!

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