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Wiring a House While It's Still Being Built?

Cliff posted more than 10 years ago | from the updating-info-from-older-stories dept.

The Internet 172

digitalamish asks: "Back in 2001 Slashdot had this Ask Slashdot about wiring a new house for networking. Some of the comments in that discussion talked about running fiber vs cat5e. It's more than two year later, I'm starting to build a house, and I'd like to update this topic. So, what's the current state of people's thinking. Is good old Cat-5e still good enough, is fiber a better option? What about other options like Cat-6? Or with the state of wireless, is wiring a house even worth it any more?"

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Some thoughts... (5, Informative)

eric2hill (33085) | more than 10 years ago | (#8548076)

1) Put one or two strands of CAT 5 and 1 COAX cable to each room for phones, TV, etc.
2) Run CONDUIT everywhere. I can't stress this enough. DO NOT PUT ANY CABLES IN PLACE WITHOUT CONDUIT!!!
3) Make sure and put conduit (empty is fine) in ceiling locations as well. You never know when you might want to install a multi-room audio system.
4) Use 3" conduit in your entertainment room. You will want high-quality audio cables for a surround sound system, and they can quickly fill up a 1" or 2" conduit.
5) Think about running your empty conduit to locations near power, so you don't have to run a bunch of extension cords.
6) Fiber is an option down the road ('cause the equipment is so damn expensive), so don't do any tight conduit turns. This is pretty easy in a 4" stud wall.
7) Run string in the conduits and tie it off on both ends. Running new cable is *really* easy pulling a new cable and string with an existing string. Repeat after me - "string is cheap".
8) Run all your conduit to a central location (probably in the basement). You'll want a nice (rack even?) open area that you can mount equipment as well as patch panels, etc. Wire ties are your friend.

Hope this helps!

Re:Some thoughts... (5, Insightful)

eric2hill (33085) | more than 10 years ago | (#8548102)

Oh yea.

Label *everything*. All gang-boxes should have a number corresponding to a number in the wiring closet. Every piece of cable you run should have a number or letter or color or whatever. When it's time to hook up a new phone or TV, you just look for wall plate 6 wire 4 downstairs and you're done.

Re:Some thoughts... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8549407)

Nice. Way to karma-whore by leaving the best tip for a separate comment. Yeah, I'm sure you "forgot".

Well done, sir!

Re:Some thoughts... (1)

ka9dgx (72702) | more than 10 years ago | (#8548110)

That's even more complete than my message composed in the mysterious past... I like it!

Empty conduit has the most bandwidth of all, except for that metaphorical station wagon loaded with backup tapes, of course.


Re:Some thoughts... (5, Informative)

lambent (234167) | more than 10 years ago | (#8548143)

hear hear ... well said. As for string ... string dessicates. It will become brittle over time. Just use plain old insulated wire, instead.

Also, keep in mind the fact that insects and rodents can't seem to resist those tasty tasty wire casings. There may come a time when some segments fail inexplicably.

Re:Some thoughts... (2, Informative)

MikeDawg (721537) | more than 10 years ago | (#8548665)

I don't see why don't put any string down the conduit; with a run as simple as your conduit, simple electrician fish tape would be able to easily run along the conduit.

Re:Some thoughts... (2, Insightful)

lambent (234167) | more than 10 years ago | (#8548776)

If the conduit is mostly straight, yes. If, however, you have to do a 90 angle ... fish tape may work, then again, it may be a huge pain in the ass. Pulling is always easier than pushing.

Re:Some thoughts... (3, Informative)

wayne606 (211893) | more than 10 years ago | (#8549218)

We had some work done and the contractors installed conduits as I requested but didn't put in pull-wires. There were some really awkward bends and I spent an hour trying to push the wire in using fish tape but I could never get it. Luckily there were some redundant paths and I gave up on that one. But the moral is to always get them to put in the pull wires for you...

Also, I found that by default, contractors seem use cat5 wire for phone connections. Keep in mind that 10base-T uses only 4 of the 8 strands and phones use 2. So if they forgot to wire up a room for data but did put in a phone jack you can easily convert that into a (slow) data connection and 2 phone lines.

Re:Some thoughts... (4, Informative)

Dammital (220641) | more than 10 years ago | (#8549685)

the contractors installed conduits as I requested but didn't put in pull-wires

Use a "mouse" -- a little piece of foam with a pull string attached. Force it to the other end with a shop vac. Ought to be easy unless you have some wicked elbows in the conduit, in which case you don't want to run anything high speed in it anyway.

Re:Some thoughts... (1)

wayne606 (211893) | more than 10 years ago | (#8549987)

Yeah, it's the wicked elbows that get you... But if you are just connecting different desktops in your house, what are you going to be doing that needs more than 10Mb/sec? I guess streaming uncompressed video from a server would, but who does that? Or maybe scientific computing or something where the machines need high bandwidth between them...

Re:Some thoughts... (1)

slaker (53818) | more than 10 years ago | (#8551917)

Yeah, 'cause nobobdy EVER needs to move around a DVD image to the PC with the DVD burner. :)

Dont push the wire (2, Informative)

jmlyle (512574) | more than 10 years ago | (#8551505)

It's far easier to push the fish through, entirely by itself, then use it to pull the wire back from the other side.

100baseTX also only needs 2 pairs (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8554803)

in the early days of 100 megabit there was 100baseT4 which needed 4 pairs but could use lower grade cable than 100baseTX

but now the dominant standard is 100baseT4 which needs 2 pairs of cat5 or better

not sure about gigabit

Re:100baseTX also only needs 2 pairs (2, Informative)

Yottabyte84 (217942) | more than 10 years ago | (#8558142)

gigabit currently requires all 4 pairs.

Re:Some thoughts... (4, Informative)

wfeick (591200) | more than 10 years ago | (#8548263)

What do you need in the next few years? Put that inside a conduit. Make sure the conduit is large enough that it'll be easy to add and/or replace cables down the road.

I think fiber doesn't like to be bent 90 degrees, so build the conduit such that it makes gradual rather than sharp corners.

Houses last a very long time relative to networking technologies, so you *will* be changing the cabling down the road. In 10, 20, or 30 years, 100T and probably fiber will be about as useful as RS232 is now.

Of course, if current trends towards wireless continue, you'll end up abandoning the cables anyway. :-)

Re:Some thoughts... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8549421)

In 10, 20, or 30 years, 100T and probably fiber will be about as useful as RS232 is now.

They'll be less useful than that after we run out of oil [] and return to a barter economy.

multi-room home audio ... bad idea? (4, Interesting)

ArmorFiend (151674) | more than 10 years ago | (#8548315)

3) Make sure and put conduit (empty is fine) in ceiling locations as well. You never know when you might want to install a multi-room audio system.

I'm torn on this. On the one hand I like being able to hear everything, on the other hand I like it to not sound like crap.

Y'know when you go to a outdoor sports game and there's a lot of reverb to the announcer's loudspeaker-blared voice? That's because there are a lot of speakers and sound comes out of all of them at essentially the same time, but then travels to your ears along longer or shorter paths, causing you to hear fuzzed up sound.

Obviously, it'll be better in a house, which should have more sound absorbers such as rugs and sofas, and unless you're building a mansion, we're not talking about little-leauge-field proportions, however, if I were an audiophile I'd stay far away from this.

Or another though occurs: have motion sensors throughout the house which only turn on the speakers in rooms where people were last detected. That way if you have 8 rooms wired but only 1 person home, you get sound that follows you around, and no reverb.

you can recycle the motion sensors for home security or MrHouse []

Re:multi-room home audio ... bad idea? (2, Interesting)

CaptMonkeyDLuffy (623905) | more than 10 years ago | (#8548539)

While motion sensors could definitely work, they border on overkill for this. Simply leave a readily accessible switch in each room, and let people turn it on manually. If you want to get fancy, having a simple 'music is available' light next to the switch for powering the speakers might be nice. (Probably be easy to rig up by modifying one of those light switch's with the dummy light that are used for attic lights and the like).

Re:multi-room home audio ... bad idea? (1)

ArmorFiend (151674) | more than 10 years ago | (#8548843)

Motion sensors are only $10 each, before AAAs... :)

Re:multi-room home audio ... bad idea? (1)

walt-sjc (145127) | more than 10 years ago | (#8550589)

When you think of multi-room audio, think "background music". The levels are low enough that multi-pathing isn't an issue. With multiple speakers, you don't NEED the volume cranked. Better on your ears too! :-)

Caveat: Do not run power and signal in one conduit (2, Informative)

Spamalamadingdong (323207) | more than 10 years ago | (#8548387)

5) Think about running your empty conduit to locations near power, so you don't have to run a bunch of extension cords.
You don't really need conduit for power wiring; Romex is just fine and pretty cheap (where legal), and if you've already got a run of Romex to a box what do you need conduit for? However, you never want to run power wiring in the same conduit as copper data, video or audio cables (optical fiber is another matter). Aside from shorts and fire, cross-talk has the potential to put noise where you don't want it. For sensitive wiring (cables carrying RF from your antenna, f'rex) you do not even want to run them parallel to power wiring. When such wires cross, they should cross at right angles to minimize EM coupling.

Re:Caveat: Do not run power and signal in one cond (1)

Micro$will (592938) | more than 10 years ago | (#8549844)

Most local electrical codes require outlets every 6 feet along the wall anyway, so running empty conduit just for power would be unnecessary. I'd just make sure there are at least 4 seperate circuits coming from the breaker box to each room and insist on 12/2 for everything except for what 14/3 and 12/3 is meant for: 3 way light circuits. It's funny how people buy all */3 then wonder why it's against code to have 2 seperate circuits on 1 neutral.

Re:Caveat: Do not run power and signal in one cond (1)

cookd (72933) | more than 10 years ago | (#8550077)

Methinks you missed the point. He wasn't saying that the conduit would carry power. He was saying that the outlet for the conduit should be near a power outlet. It doesn't do any good to have the conduit come out 20 feet from the nearest outlet...

Re:Some thoughts... (3, Informative)

Crudely_Indecent (739699) | more than 10 years ago | (#8549151)

In addition to the fine advice presented above, I'd suggest avoiding 90 degree angles within your conduit. Flexible conduit would be even better, but it's sometimes cost prohibitive. One thing that I plan to do when wiring my house (looking to build later this year), is to choose strategic locations for wireless access points which will be in the ceiling of the house and garage as well as the front and back porch (please use encryption). Think about putting power into your attic or into closets which border several rooms which may have computers. If you're going as far as me, you may want to put that circuit on a UPS. If there's a tornado and it takes out the power lines, cows flying through the air and such...I want to still be able to post on /. :P

Re:Some thoughts... (5, Informative)

jungd (223367) | more than 10 years ago | (#8549223)

I just finished wiring up my new house before the drywall went up. So I though I'd add some tips.

Firtly, I went crazy with Cat5 and thought - I'll never use all this, but just-in-case. Well - I after living in the house a few months - I don't have enough of what I want where.

The suggestion about the cunduit is spot on - that's what I did also

9) don't forget good 'ol coax. I've always had cable and switched to sattellite for the first time after moving. The first thing the installer needed was 3 coax cables running from outside into my distribution box. How many do you think I had? 2. So I still had to make another hole in the wall. Put plenty of coax in anywhere there isn't conduit.

10) don't forget cables (or conduit) provision for IR. I had all my TiVo, cable boxes etc. in a central distribution closet. I had planned to have IR recievers wired to a single IR xmitter in that closet. What is the first thing my wife wanted after moving in? To watch a DVD in bed. Well, the DVD player was one thing that isn't in the closet (on account of needing access to put DVDs in). I had assumed just watching DVD in the living room would be fine. Nope, so now I needed a way to get composite video from the living room to the closet and out to the bedroom & to get IR from bedroom to living room). Luckily I had enough stuff in place - but only just. Make sure you run conduit to several places in rooms you use heavily. For example, to at least three walls in the living room.

11) Also, I ran conduit over the fireplace so that I can connect surrount speakers without cables going around (in the future).

12) If you're using X10 for automation, don't believe their claim of 1 signal booster per 1000sq/ft. I've had to buy 4 extra (at $99 each!).

13) Don't forget you probably want video/phone/net at convenient places along the kitchen counter tops (for web recipes, TV while making dinner (so you don't miss anything) etc.)

Re:Some thoughts... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8549779)

Just buy another DVD player for the bedroom you dolt. What are they, $50? Problem solved.

Conduit! Amen, preach it brother, conduit! (2, Interesting)

jonadab (583620) | more than 10 years ago | (#8549447)

That hit the nail on the head. If you do the conduit right, with nice big
junction boxes at *all* corners, conduit running to multiple locations in
every room, and so on, then you can run whatever kind of cable you want at
any time in the future very easily. Audio cable, video cable, fibre, Cat12b,
you name it, you'll be able to run it. What kind of network cable will you
(or whoever lives there) want in fifteen years? Fifty years? You have no
clue, right now. But you know it'll be easy to run it; take a screwdriver,
take the faceplates off, pull the cable through, and you know who Bob is.

One more thing:

> Run all your conduit to a central location (probably in the basement).
> You'll want a nice (rack even?) open area that you can mount equipment
> as well as patch panels, etc. Wire ties are your friend.

If it were me, I'd put nice boxes (kinda like a breaker box, but without the
breakers) every fifty feet or so around the outside wall of the basement, with
a nice fat conduit running straight up from each one to a junction box,
accessible at the top by removing a faceplate (like a lightswitch cover).
In any part of the basement that's going to be "finished", I'd also run
horizontal conduit between these boxes. I'd put an electrical outlet near
each of these boxes, so that a hub or switch can easily be put there.

Then, N years from now, when you want to run your new Terabit Ethernet cable
or whatever from the sewing room to the kitchen, you pick one of the empty
faceplates in the sewing room, run the cable from there to the nearest
junction box and down to the box in the basement, where you put a hub. In
the kitchen you do the same thing; then you run a cable around the horizontal
conduit to connect your hubs, and you're done; with a hub at each of the
basement boxes, you never need more than one horizontal cable of any given
type, no matter how many things you run in the room above.

So, you want more faceplates than you need right now in every single room
(yes, the bathroom; yes, the garage, too; I'd put one in each closet also),
and a system of conduit connecting them all. You do NOT want to have to
tear up your drywall later because there's not conduit going to such-and-such
a location.

This isn't cheap; conduit costs more than cable. It costs less than redoing
your drywall later, though. Run the conduit. You'll be glad you did.

Re:Some thoughts... (1)

sporktoast (246027) | more than 10 years ago | (#8549832)

Make the string into loops that go up the conduit and turn around and go right back down. Give a few feet of slack on each end. Pull new cables with an assistant at the other end. The cable comes through like a dumb waiter on a pulley, and you don't have to figure out how to replace the string because you didn't just pull it all OUT to get the cable fed through.

Re:Some thoughts... (2, Informative)

SuiteSisterMary (123932) | more than 10 years ago | (#8551669)

The usual trick here is to run a new length of string along with the wires you're pulling.

Re:Some thoughts... (4, Informative)

walt-sjc (145127) | more than 10 years ago | (#8550577)

The modern residential standard is 2 RG6U quad shield, and 2 cat-5e cables to each room. Some rooms you may want 2 sets of jacks for flexability in placement. When you think of all the issues with fiber and expense of termination, it just isn't worth it. Cat 6 is much harder to work with as the tolerances are much smaller. The gain over cat 5e is minimal.

Careful about using 3" conduit, not to mention that you can't run it horizontally in a standard 4" wall. You are better off with multiple runs rather than one big one. Flexible PVC conduit is really nice because you don't use elbows, there are no splices, etc. Nothing to snag on and no sharp turns. Some code may require firestop putty at the ends of your condiut. Check your local building code.

Second, keep your low-voltage cable at least 4 inches away from AC wires. Code says 2" minimum, but it's better to be safe. When you need to cross an AC wire, do so at a 90 degree angle to minimize interfearance and keep far away from flourescent fixtures.

Use electricians pull string and Not standard string. It lasts longer, is very strong, and resists shreading.

Wireties are nice, but don't cinch it tight. Velcro is better.

Try and do all your runs on interior walls - it makes things easier when you don't have to deal with insulation and you don't puncture the vapor barrier. Use low-voltage boxes - these generally don't have backs to allow room for wires to get pushed back into the walls without kinking and to maintain a minimum bend radius. Leave about 18" of extra cable at each jack as a "service loop" - this is where not dealing with insulation Really helps.

Take Pictures of your walls with all the cables / wiring / plumbing before the wallboard goes up! It makes changes MUCH easier later...

Finally, check out Leviton's web site - while you don't have to use all their stuff, they have some products that make residential structured wiring easier.

Re:Some thoughts... (2, Insightful)

tf23 (27474) | more than 10 years ago | (#8551038)

A few comments on your advise...

1) Put one or two strands of CAT 5 and 1 COAX cable to each room for phones, TV, etc.

We've found that's overkill. We have rooms where none of the cable's been used. However, we ran 2 cat5e and one coax line to, minimally, all upstairs rooms. The upstairs are the hardest (IMHO) to do after the drywall's up. The first floor is easy because there's a basement under everything.

If you're going to use the cat5 for your normal phones, be sure you have a seperate run of cat5 for your computer, after all you'll want 100mbs or gigabit, right? It works better with all pairs of the wire available to it :)

Like they say, if you're going to pull one cord, you can nearly just as easily pull two cords to the same location :)

2) Run CONDUIT everywhere.


5) Think about running your empty conduit to locations near power, so you don't have to run a bunch of extension cords.

In my experience, you want to *not* do this. You want your conduit away from your power sources. Generally, there will be wall outlets for power every 6 feet (standard code for most of the country now-a-days).

7) Run string in the conduits and tie it off on both ends

If you do this, don't let the string hang out. Tape the string to the inside of the conduit. Most places the builders will rip the string out, if they see it, to make sure that it doesn't catch the inspector's eye and cause an inspection to fail.

Also, buy caps for both ends of every piece of conduit. Some places won't pass a house w/ conduit if the ends aren't capped, because it's a direct pipeline for fire to shoot up, so the inspector's baulk.

8) Run all your conduit to a central location (probably in the basement)

Be ready to be able to *hide* it. Most builders have contractors who like to do this stuff. When they see all the cable that you've run, that they didn't, and weren't paid to do, you can run into problems.

Also, pickup a cable tester. Get a good one. I'll make youre life easier after you've run the cables and your drywall is up and your jacks are in place, you can find out which cables were tweaked, ripped, snipped.

And, since this is a new build, I'd put the conduit in, but leave it empty. Run the wiring through the studs like any normal wiring. Leave the conduit for future expansion/use. There's no need to use the conduit immediately on a new build when a hole through the 2x4's will suffice for threading your cables through. And that doesn't look conspicuous to contractors like a piece of PVC in the wall does.

Re:Some thoughts...Conduit (1)

major.morgan (696734) | more than 10 years ago | (#8559240)

Check on Code. While I do agree on conduit, I mean there is always something you want to add later, at least where I am at in Washington state it's against code. Seems contrary, but you can have conduit on the surface of the wall - but not inside the sheetrock.

Stick in everything you can afford (1)

Tyrdium (670229) | more than 10 years ago | (#8548100)

Seriously, wire it with anything you can afford to put in. Stick in Cat5e or Cat6 for now, as well as fiber for later. If you have the money, add in a nice a/v network (composite, s-video, and component drops to every room, as well as whatever else you like). Want to stream music to every room? No problem! Of course, you'll also want to run coax and normal phone line to every room, as well. It sure as hell beats running wire after it's been built. Also, stick everything in wiring ducts, so if you overlooked something, you can run it through the walls later at a much lower cost.

Re:Stick in everything you can afford (2, Informative)

El (94934) | more than 10 years ago | (#8548133)

normal phone line Can't you just run another Cat5 pair to handle this?

Re:Stick in everything you can afford (0, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8548231)

Can't you just run another Cat5 pair to handle this?


If you do, do yourself a favour, get a different colour (e.g. - white) for the wiring you intend to use for phones. Makes things a lot simpler for the "duh" factor later.

Re:Stick in everything you can afford (2, Insightful)

Oriumpor (446718) | more than 10 years ago | (#8549556)

I much prefer Cat5/e for Phone systems because if ever a critter nibbles on a cat5 they got a ways further to chew through, and you've got 4 pair instead of just 2-3. The Coaxial idea many have mentioned seems sound, I would also make sure they all terminate wherever you have room for a coax-amp/head end. I guess Ideally just create an environment just like a professional cabler would. Label everything on any endpoint, and keep everything standard, if you are trying to decide on the fiber/copper debacle I would say Fibre is much too expensive to screw around with, and probably not necessary (unless your head end isn't going to be the area you're running your server room from, and in that case a single strand to your server room *might* make sense.) I'm not sure what the cheapest gear you could get for fibre would be, I'm sure 3com sells something resonably affordable (1200-2400 dollar range for a decent 10/100/1000) []

Still unless there were some extenuating circumstances I wouldn't see any need for much more than a gig in the near future, but then again as long as the conduit is there, you can always retrofit.

Plan for the future (3, Funny)

El (94934) | more than 10 years ago | (#8548105)

Run wiring for 802.11g to all rooms now!

Re:Plan for the future (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8548320)

Funny, obviously, but this may actually be worth considering. Depending on your building, you could have trouble reaching all rooms with good wireless coverage. Antennas dispersed throughout the house mean you get high speed connections everywhere and you can also lower the signal strength, which means you're less likely to attract freeloaders and you reduce radiation risks. Not that many geeks are afraid of a little microwave radiation, but you never know.

Re:Plan for the future (2, Insightful)

lizrd (69275) | more than 10 years ago | (#8558153)

while the OP is being kind of silly, it's not something that should be ignored. It's pretty obvious now that local wireless is going to be something desireable for the forseeable future. As a result you're probably going to want network cabling to places where you might not actually like to have a PC. When my house was built 50 years ago it obviously didn't occur to the builder that I would need a data cable from by study (where my router and PC are) to the ceiling of the laundry room (where I get the best coverage from my .11b AP. Building today, you should think about that and make sure that you have wiring to the attic and basement areas that might be appropriate for location of wireless voice and data devices.

Fibre? (1, Informative)

NanoGator (522640) | more than 10 years ago | (#8548128)

How long do you plan on owning this house? Optical networking is just starting to trickle in, I wouldn't expect it to be common place for a few more years. Even when that happens, Cat5 will die a slow slow slow death. By then, you'll probably be using wireless anyway.

PVC Piping? (1)

arkham6 (24514) | more than 10 years ago | (#8548129)

I have not actualy tried this, but it sounds good in theory. Don't just lay the wires in the walls, but actualy place them in pvc piping or some other type of tubing. Why? Because down the road when you want to remove the old wires, you can just pull them out and have them not snag on anything like nails or wall studs. Even better, you can attach your new cables to the old ones with tape or something, and as you are removing the old wires you will be pulling the new ones inside the pipe to immediately take over.

Re:PVC Piping? (1)

JohnFluxx (413620) | more than 10 years ago | (#8548196)

or you could do what the first post said, many times, and emphasied, many times. Use conduit :P

PVC = Bad Idea (2, Informative)

TubeSteak (669689) | more than 10 years ago | (#8548330)

its a good thought, but PVC has three main problems.
1: it is heavy
2: it likes to give off nasty fumes when burning
3: its expensive

Re:PVC Piping? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8548449)

When people recommend PVC piping, they don't actually mean Poly Vinyl Chloride, do they? You do know what happens when PVC burns?

Re:PVC Piping? (2, Insightful)

Glonoinha (587375) | more than 10 years ago | (#8548690)

I thought a lot about that, but remember two things about houses : a) the house probably already has LOTS of PVC pipe already in it, and b) if my house is on fire I don't plan on sticking around to smell the PVC fumes. I plan on grabbing my case of backup CDs and my laptop and watching that bad boy burn from a nice spot on the street.

Re:PVC Piping? (4, Informative)

Myself (57572) | more than 10 years ago | (#8548784)

Bad idea. PVC fittings are made for liquid, not cable. They don't have a smooth internal surface, so things will snag up as you pull them.

Secondly, the bend radius of small PVC fittings is so tight that pulling any moderately stiff wire will be awkward past just 2 or 3 bends. Conduit can be bent with much gentler sweeps for easier pulling and less cable damage.

The stiff blue flexible plastic conduit is ideal for this, because it automatically sweeps corners as you install it.

Handy installation hint: You can buy "cable lubricant" which makes long pulls go smoothly. Liquid hand soap works just as well.

Re:PVC Piping? (1)

peragrin (659227) | more than 10 years ago | (#8548818)

Funny I work at an electrical wharehouse, and we sell tons pf pvc pipe. Of course we are talking about a huge wall thickness differeness from water pipe.

Burning pvc?? why worry by the time it starts buring your dead anyway. no need to worry about fumes.

Electrical 90's are good for wires, but fiber is a bit more sensitive though.

Re:PVC Piping? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8549361)

anal lube also works in a pinch.

Re:PVC Piping? (1)

aaarrrgggh (9205) | more than 10 years ago | (#8550168)

Depending on the location, PVC might cause problems. Wouldn't try it in San Francisco...

Sone thoughts... (1)

smack_attack (171144) | more than 10 years ago | (#8548130)

I've done installations before and if you have crawlspace under the house, you really don't have to worry about any of it now, because you can always just drill and runa new line.

I would run CAT5e to your office or whatever and leave it at that if you're happy with 2.4Ghz wireless from there.

Re:Sone thoughts... (0)

stick_figure_of_doom (729073) | more than 10 years ago | (#8548298)

Sure, if you enjoy scrambling through crawlspaces. Good way to ruin your lungs. It would also suck if you grew old. The best tactic has to be the PVC pipe or strings in conduit, I'll remember that.

Conduits!!!! (0, Redundant)

KMAPSRULE (639889) | more than 10 years ago | (#8548146)

Its Probably already been said, but Run 3" Conduits to each room from the Basement or a central Closet. This Way You can run Cat5 now, and In the Future you can run Fiber/Cat6/Flavor of the day with a simple tug-of-a-string.

conduit (4, Informative)

Fat Cow (13247) | more than 10 years ago | (#8548161)

No great insights, but here's my opinion on a subject close to my heart.

Wireless or wired? wired will always be better for security, bandwidth and robustness than wireless. Any encoding tech that is developed for wireless can be reused for wired in a better environment. The main disadvantage - installation cost - doesn't apply to your situation. Of course you should have wireless as well :)

Fibre or Cat 6? Cat 6 - still the best price/performance. Notice that fibre didn't take over in the last 2 years, it probably won't in the next 2 either. But put in conduit so that you can pull anything relatively easily in future. Also, since you're at a point in the building process where it's easy to do, put in twice as many potential outlets as you think you'll need. It's so easy to do now and so hard to do later. Believe me - I've done it later :)

Conduit (1)

Geckoman (44653) | more than 10 years ago | (#8548172)

The answer is neither...or both...or something entirely different.

Use smurf tube! []

Instead of confining yourself to what's available right now, have your contractor run conduit through the walls for all your wiring except electricity. That will make it easier to swap out your cat5 for fiber or pull your POTS line when you go to VOIP.

Re:Conduit (1)

tf23 (27474) | more than 10 years ago | (#8551065)

Out here in Ohio, *if* they'd be willing to do that, they'd charge you *thousands* for it. Heck, they wanted $50 for each cat-5 run, and that's w/o conduit or anything special.

just pipe conduits (1, Redundant)

avoelker (553711) | more than 10 years ago | (#8548182)

Just pipe PVC conduits around your home with junctions at reasonable locations. Then, when the need arises run what is best at the time in the future. Done.

Re:just pipe conduits (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8549813)

Don't you just hate it when you are a few minutes later than someone else with the same comment and some asshole mods you redundant? Or even worse when you post an original comment but somebody posts a similar comment later and closer to the top? Doesn't it just make you want to troll?

Do it now! (2, Insightful)

‹berhund (27591) | more than 10 years ago | (#8548213)

When considering what cabling to run, just remember that it's way cheaper to run it now than to rip the walls open later and pay a carpenter to patch it all up.

Basically, the cables will cost the same, but installation is relatively free right now.

az (1)

edalytical (671270) | more than 10 years ago | (#8548243)

I was just in Phoenix, AZ looking at model homes. Some of the builders offer networking packages. The ones that did only offered cat5 to some or all rooms. I'm going to move down there soon, and my house will be built with the networking package. After adding gigabit ethernet equipment I think I'll be good to go for at least a few years. They also offered stereo wiring, among other things us geeks dig like extra outlets, etc.

Re:az (1)

tf23 (27474) | more than 10 years ago | (#8551077)

Have extra *circuits* done. Our 4th bedroom is on it's own circuit, and it's heavy duty too.

That way I can have a number of computers on in here and not worry about blowing a fuse.

Cat5e is fine. (3, Insightful)

Guspaz (556486) | more than 10 years ago | (#8548254)

Just go with Cat5e; it supports gigabit speeds (GigE over Copper is dropping in price very fast), which is more than fast enough until you switch to wireless.

Wireless is advancing at a pace that wired solutions never did; in just a few short years we've gone from 11mbit to 108mbit, with faster speeds and longer ranges in the cards for the future. By the time gigabit ethernet isn't enough for you, I'm certain wireless will be the solution you adopt.

Re:Cat5e is fine. (1)

Guspaz (556486) | more than 10 years ago | (#8548275)

Or, if Cat6 is cheaper, by all means go with that.

wireless caution (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8559342)

I think wireless is great, but only more convienince.... You may not want to network with it. The 108Mbs is quite decieving. You have to remember, wireless is a shared medium, so it is only half duplex and only one machine can "talk" at a time..... Like old Ethernet, with several machines, this will max out at about 25% capacity (hal-duplex)...... If you have too much trafic, it will go to zero..... Switched ethernet is standard and really cheap..... I think it would be wrong to assume that wireless technology will ever advance to a point where you would want to replace you wired network with it. It may, but I think it would be wrong to assume.... There are too many technical limitations.

surface mounted raceways (2, Interesting)

maxwells daemon (105725) | more than 10 years ago | (#8548257)

Run all your transports outside the wall interior to the rooms. Blue pipe for outgoing water, red for incoming. Plastic channel surface mounted raceways for communication links. Gray electrical conduit. Black mat painted hvac. Choose your own colors. Run things in parallel. Come together. Fan out. Make a statement.

Conduit (1, Redundant)

billh (85947) | more than 10 years ago | (#8548296)

Run conduit. Everywhere. Run it all to the basement, if available. Run it to the attic, just in case. PVC is cheap, buy a lot.

Check your local building codes/laws!!!!!!!!! (5, Informative)

rudog (98586) | more than 10 years ago | (#8548304)

In -A LOT- of locales it is illegal for the soon-to-be-homeowner to do anything to the structure of the building during the construction phase. Cat5/Coax/Fiber communications cabling of any sort requires a low-voltage contractors license.

TRUST ME, it is worth your time.

There was a famous (ok semi-famous) case here in Phoenix where a guy went through all the work of getting Cat5+Coax run with conduit through several rooms of his custom home over the weekend. He came back the next weekend to finish the job only to find that the drywall was up in most of the rooms and everything he installed had been removed and junked by the General Contractor.

Being just a little upset, he decided to try and sue the General Contractor to have them pay for his time and materials and to have the General Contractor hire a sub-contractor to put in everything after the house was done.

The General Contractor filed a counter-suit for the cost of time and materials to remove all of the cabling the home-owner had installed, AND for the time and materials to replace all of the studs and beams he had drilled through to install all of the conduit.

Not surprisingly the General Contractor won. Why?

Because the home-owner wasn't. The house isn't actually yours until the final papers are signed on your final walk-through of the finished home.

The funny part is that the Judge fined the soon-to-be-home-owner several thousand daollars for trespassing on private property and performing electrical work without a license etc. ON TOP OF awarding the General Contractor the damages they requested.

Bottom line? He ended up paying about $24-thousand more for his house. And the General Contractor -refused- to allow a sub-contractor to install new cabling.

Re:Check your local building codes/laws!!!!!!!!! (2, Interesting)

uradu (10768) | more than 10 years ago | (#8549897)

Cute story, and I'm sure that General Contractor is still doing brisk business after the story broke on the local news. NOT! It still sounds like a contrived story. Even if you don't "own" the house yet, the contractor is still getting paid with YOUR money. Many construction loans are structured such that the owner must approve each release of money from the bank to the contractor. If the owner is not happy, the contractor gets no money. Now, usually the contractor does ok just by sticking to the terms of the contract, so if you don't have the conduit in the contract, he can probably get away with not putting it in. OTOH, since few contractors ever do an absolutely perfect job and always slop on this or that, the owner could enforce the contract to the letter in retribuition--such as fit-and-finish requirements, maximum distance of fasteners on drywall etc. These are the sorts of things that most contractors I've seen tend to be sloppy on, so the owner could throw the book at him and make the rest of the contract fulfillment living hell.

Overall it's still in the contractor's best long-term interest to please his customers. General contractors live and die by their reputation. Prospective customers usually call the last three or four clients of a contractor to see if they were satisfied. If a contractor did things like ripping out client's self-installed stuff, he wouldn't be getting too many more contracts.

Re:Check your local building codes/laws!!!!!!!!! (3, Insightful)

aaarrrgggh (9205) | more than 10 years ago | (#8550134)

While I agree that the story sounds contrived, if the installation jeapordized an inspection's passing, the contractor would have been well within his rights to do what was described.

Licensure isn't required, but you do need to have an agreement with the contractor to do work in the house before it is completed.

Re:Check your local building codes/laws!!!!!!!!! (2, Insightful)

uradu (10768) | more than 10 years ago | (#8559058)

> if the installation jeapordized an inspection's passing, the contractor
> would have been well within his rights to do what was described.

True, but then again, with the exception of a few markets, I'd say passing inspection is a hell of a lot easier than it should be. I've seen stuff in my own house pass inspection that wasn't acceptable to ME, let alone an inspector. Yet it passed without mention.

not in my world (3, Informative)

citmanual (2002) | more than 10 years ago | (#8551731)

Live in MI and just getting finished building my father's new house. My cousin, a licensed electrician, did all the electrical and I did the data. Low voltage in MI, at least, requires no permit, no inspection and no license.

What this story is about is a guy who didn't bother to get along with the GC and was probably buying a spec house, not a custom build.

Re:Check your local building codes/laws!!!!!!!!! (2, Interesting)

/dev/trash (182850) | more than 10 years ago | (#8552581)

This is why the country is all messed up. Sure the homeowner doesn't 'own' the house yet but he's still using HIS own money ( borrowed or not ).

Cat 5 all the way (1)

jmitchel! (254506) | more than 10 years ago | (#8548319)

Run your house with quality cat 5, maybe cat5e. At least cat5e supports gigabit ethernet, for which there are even dirt-cheap cards available. Make at least two drops, one for phone, one for network and your life will be happy. Try to drop some coax for television cable while you're at it.

Don't mess with fiber. It's fussy, expensive to put connectors on, expensive to get devices for, and I've yet to see any reason for normal people to use it. Gigabit over copper is probably enough bandwidth for anything you'll do at home (with the advent of ubiquitous switching, most applications only need a 10Mbit link anyway).

Re:Cat 5 all the way (1)

Myself (57572) | more than 10 years ago | (#8548864)

Agreed one hundred percent! Fiber is useless for home applications. Just install lots of conduit, and put double-gang boxes on the ends so you'll have places to mount jacks for all the wires you'll eventually have in the conduit.

Power is a more important consideration than signal cabling. Run LOTS of branch circuits, ideally set up so that any given corner of a room has 2 circuits accessible to it. You don't want your UPS sharing a circuit with any outlets you plug a vacuum cleaner into, or the power quality log files will fill your drive.

Get a whole-house surge protector and pay the electrician to install it at the service entry point. While you're at it, get a second ground rod a few feet away from the first, and make sure the connections are done with exothermic welds. (crimps corrode in weather, and screw-clamps loosen with thermal fluctuations.)

Run a conduit to the front porch, for the doorbell and door camera / intercom. Run two to the back patio, for your outdoor speakers and network/phone jacks in various places. Drop 20-amp outlets all over the garage, and plan for a few up on the wall near shelving units, so you can park the battery charger/maintainer up there and plug it right in.

Power (5, Informative)

cft_128 (650084) | more than 10 years ago | (#8548354)

As a side note, be sure to have enough power (circuits and outlets) in every room, even rooms where you have no plans for power hungry devices. Spare bedrooms can turn into a server room before you know it.

Re:Power (1)

bandy (99800) | more than 10 years ago | (#8548461)

What he said. And double-check that hot is hot, ground is ground and that all are correctly wired. You will be needing more power than you suspect in each room, so you might as well wire it out while you have the chance. Put some 220 circuits in the garage, too, since you might want to use them in the future. Retrofitting is expensive.

Re:Power (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8555003)

as a brit if i was ever haveing a house built in the us i would wan't 220 outlets everywhere so i could plug in my uk equipment :)

cat6 (4, Informative)

jjshoe (410772) | more than 10 years ago | (#8548362)

I say cat6 just because it is the latest. I use to think I would NOT have any phone outlets because I would use a multi handset phone system however I told myself i did NOT want wireless internet. Your big decisions should be wiring everything vs. wiring everything. Dont forget to look at re-sell prices when considering.

As far as facilitating growth use metal studs on non-load bearing interior walls if you can, they have cables channels in them stock. If your past this point in the build conduit is your friend but make sure you talk to your building inspector to find out what the legal % of full limit is on conduit (for ex. %66 full). As someone else mentioned you should pull several strings with each chunk of wire so you can easily run more, just remember to run new string when pulling more cable! When you pull string it's important to bundle your wires together every 8" with the string NOT in this bundle. All to often folks run string but it runs through the middle of the bundle.

For ethernet I recomend a 110 block. [] Label your ethernet on BOTH ends of the cabling using something like a p touch labeler [] and be sure to label your wall jacks AND the wall field. Dont be afraid to use the same wall field for phones.

I have never done anything with running large amounts of coax or fiber so best of wishes there.

FUCK! (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8548619)


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Central Vacuming (5, Insightful)

JANYAtty. (678934) | more than 10 years ago | (#8548633)

While your at it, put in a central vacuming system. I know this is a little off topic, but since we're running tubing all over the house... You can add a vacuming kick panel in the kitchen- sweep dirt right into it.

Re:Central Vacuming (2, Informative)

WeeBull (645243) | more than 10 years ago | (#8555866)

Mod parent up. No, seriously. I mean it. A friend of the family had to retro-fit one of these systems to their house after one of them developed a nasty asthma (or some other lung disease, can't rememeber). The central vacuming gets rid of the dust MUCH BETTER than a traditional vacum does, and thus makes your hourse a much nicer place to live for everybody - especially those with breathing problems!

From someone who did it for a living (5, Informative)

UserChrisCanter4 (464072) | more than 10 years ago | (#8548789)

I once worked for a company who worked exclusively with low-voltage systems like you are describing; essentially, we ignored electrical systems and focused on networking, home theater, automation, etc. My advice would be the following:

Ignore fiber for now. Consider that CAT-6 has a reliable throughput at 1000Mbps. Cat-5e will allegedly also do 1Gbps, but CAT-6 is now almost as cheap, so I would definitely run with CAT-6. Now consider that unless you're running some sort of ludicrous colo system from your house, the most stressful load you'll put on that infrastructure is probably streaming HDTV. Over-the-air HD is ~27mbps, D-Theater (the stuff recorded on D-VHS tapes) is about 37mbps, so even at that we're talking about well over 20 simultaneous streams moving out of a central file server, assuming you have something that can sustain 1Gbps reliably. Run plenum-coated cabling, even if it isn't required in your area; again, it isn't too terribly much more expensive, but the safety issues aren't worth saving $200 on your project.

The second problem with fiber is that you won't really know what type to run or how to terminate it. Unless we're talking about doing 1000 base-FX connections for existing equipment, do you run glass or plastic fiber? Multi-mode? Perhaps 1394b? What sort of connection should you terminate it with? Without any sort of consumer equipment to even build towards, your guess about any of those questions is as good as mine or anyone else on /. For these reasons, any suggestion that pushes you towards running conduit with pull string is one that needs to be modded up.

One other recommendation about the CAT-6 or CAT-5e : Run way more than you think you'll need. In addition to serving as POTS pairs, lots of cool, esoteric devices out there can use CAT-5 for things you might want further down the road. I've seen KVM over Cat-5 systems, video distribution over CAT-5 (essentially, feeding a single video output from, say, a DVD carousel to a crapload of non HTPC-equipped TVs), and audio distribution systems (same idea as the video, but for whole-house audio). Using CAT-5 for some of that isn't the best solution by any stretch, but if you decide 5 years down the road that you really, really want whole-house audio and decide not to go conduit-pulling, it may make your life easy. Additionally, if you decide to do a PBX-style system (they have a lot of nice benefits, and there are some cool OSS implementations), most PBXes will need to use star topology systems like an ethernet setup, rather than daisy-chained systems like most POTS will be run.

Pull some RS-232 to video source locations (ie. where you might put all your home theatre equipment), lightswitch boxes, and computer locations. X10 is some bootleg home automation equipment, but some of the serial controlled stuff isn't actually all that expensive, and setting up a home automation system is a really fun geek project.

I would also recommend that you not neglect good quality Coax layout and runs in your eagerness for CAT-5 and Fiber fun. Satellite and OTA HDTV will both be easier to setup and rearrange if coax is home-run to the same point as everything else. Use RG-6, preferably Tri- or Quad-shielded cabling. Consider devoting a large-ish closet or basement area (if your region has basements). If the HVAC guys haven't come through yet, try to get them to put an AC and return air to a closet if that's where you want to put some stuff; that nice linux firewall box, mythTV server, networking equipment, and Home theater gear (if you decide to hide it) will thank you later.

Someone else mentioned the issue of doing it yourself, and that's definitely one to be aware of. If you are buying your house from a large production builder (Pulte, David Weekley, etc.) they will not let you do any of this. You don't own that house until you close on it, and they can't risk your stuff not being up to code, or you suing further down the road. They WILL tear your work out. If you're using a smaller, true custom-home builder (the guy who does 8 or 10 homes in a year), he'll probably be cool, but make sure to check with the General Contractor. If you're with a big builder, get construction stopped right now so that you can shop around and find an electrician or low-voltage contractor who knows what he's doing. An extra 2 weeks before you move in isn't a huge deal in comparison to having to run crap in later.

Re:From someone who did it for a living (1)

aaarrrgggh (9205) | more than 10 years ago | (#8550157)

What the hell do you mean by RS-232?! While I can see some serial cabling, usually a little belden cable is all that you need (single twisted, unshielded pair).

The whole idea of structured cabling is to provide a single cable that will do as much as possible... just putting in a 9-conductor cable that can't do anything else is a waste.

Re:From someone who did it for a living (1)

walt-sjc (145127) | more than 10 years ago | (#8550622)

The experts say that RS232 actually doesn't like twisted pair cable, RS-485 however Does. This is why Cisco equipment ships with flat ribbon cable for the console cable. Saying that, I worked at a company MANY years ago where we used cat3 and cat5 cable to run hundreds of serial terminals hundreds of feet away from the terminal servers. We didn't have any problems at 38K.

Re:From someone who did it for a living (1)

UserChrisCanter4 (464072) | more than 10 years ago | (#8552302)

I didn't mean to actually pull a fully-terminated-terminated-with-DB-9-connectors cable, just something that can usefully propgate a 232 signal over about 300' (the longest run a typical house under 4000 sq. ft. will have). Most of the time that does mean a proper 9 conductor cable, though (unless you're absolutely sure that every device you're ever going to use will only need to see a certain pin for data, and then you can ghetto-rig your crimp).

I would probably disagree hairs with you about the idea of structured cabling. Arguably, it's not to do the most with the least cable, it's to do your best to plan for what you might want to do 5 or 10 years down the road, and try to wire in an infrastructure that will support it). While there are home automation systems that will operate over CAT-5, you'd still need to pull it to any outlets or trigger devices, and your home thearer gear; even then, 232-based gear is way cheaper.

Go price a 1000' spool of 9-conductor cabling. It's cheap, not even $40 when we used to buy it (It's been about 2 years since I was in that line of work). If you get Automated light switches, they'll provide you with any and all serial codes. If you get higher-end home theater receivers or video sources, they'll have a DB-9 connection, and the manufacturer will provide you codes if you email them or write them. Getting a front projector? A lot of projectors will do the same thing, ditto for the motorized screens.

The whole RS-232 suggestion was just that, a suggestion. I do see reasonably frequent ask slashdots about home automation, and they almost always mention X10, which the only feasible route for people who don't have the necessary cabling in the wall. But programming serial-based automation systems can be very fun, and is one of those things that I think a lot of geeks would really enjoy if given the opportunity. Getting a phone call? PBX triggers the system to pause your MythTV show automatically, bring up lights in home theater (if they are down), lower music volume (if up), and so forth. Or how about if you have one of your machines trigger if you receive an email from a person on a whitelist, have it switch the audio equipment over to an input from the computer, text-to-speech the subject and sender, and prompt you to speak into on of the rooms' mics if you'd like it to read the email aloud (if you wanted to get really fancy, a nicer audio distribution system would be 232 switchable as well, and you could see where the mic pickup was and read to that room only). Both of these scenarios would be pretty easily implemented with the proper cabling in place, and a minimum of hardware investment (assuming you had the foresight to buy HT gear with serial control when you went to outfit your home theater), and maybe an hour of programming.

Some light controls can be triggered over a single pair, but most other stuff you might want to automate (motorized awnings, audio gear, computers, phone stuff, etc.) will probably want traditional RS-232, and if it's not $15 more to run that, what the hell difference does it make?

Guh. (-1)

mkavanagh (641055) | more than 10 years ago | (#8549377)

Just duct-tape the wires to the carpet.

Watch the money (2, Insightful)

bluGill (862) | more than 10 years ago | (#8549438)

All the advice above is okay, but you can easily ad $30,000 in extras by following it, and you will never get it back when you sell.

Figure out what you want and put it in. I'd go cable TV to each room, and a two runs of cat-5/6, one for phone, one for network. Wireless works great for a lot of purposes, use it!

Put surround sound jacks in the rooms where you will use it - family room, and perhaps living room.

Run two cable runs to the attic for future satellite and antennas. Hook them up if you want latter.

Forget about conduit, it sounds nice, but will you ever use it? Even if you will, will it help? For a single story house it is easy to come up from the basement/crawlspace where you need wires. Even for a two story, do you really think you will ever want more wires in the bedrooms? For that matter I've been in houses that have been completely re-wired a couple times, and you can't tell from the inside. Wall spaces are empty, meaning they serve double duty as conduit.

BUT WATCH THE MONEY. All these add ons cost money, a little planning will reveal that not much is likely to change, so why spend extra money planning for a change that won't happen? Instead plan for todays needs, and the obvious needs of the future, and counts on the far future taking care of itself.

What is the state of wireless? (2, Interesting)

WarPresident (754535) | more than 10 years ago | (#8549677)

Wiring is cheap at this point in the building process. Pull some Cat5e and fiber and be done with it.

Or do you want to make it easier for your neighbors to spy on that nasty little pr0n habit you have? While those signals will have trouble getting from one corner of the house to the next (especially between floors) you can bet someone will be able to eavesdrop easily. Wireless security [] isn't very secure. Parabolic antenna not included. Quiet Ashcroft, I'm typing here...

Sorry, anyway. Wired is more secure, faster, and you can always add a wireless node or two for the laptop when doing non-sensitive browsing. I would firewall that connection from my LAN.
Don't want that cheezy windows laptop being a vector for attacks, eh?

What to do (4, Interesting)

RzUpAnmsCwrds (262647) | more than 10 years ago | (#8549818)

- Three RG-6 to every bedroom. You can use these to run Dish, DirecTV, or Cable. You want two in case you want a dual-tuner DVR. You can put HDTV (antenna) signals on the same wire as the satellite signals with an inexpensive diplexor. Digital cable doesn't play nice, so run a 3rd line just in case.

- Four RG-6 for the main TV room. Two for a DVR, one if you want to add HDTV, one if you want digital cable.

- Four Cat5e to every bedroom. Three for networking (gigabit), one for phone

- Five Cat5e for the main TV room. Four for devices (XBox, DVR, Media Viewer, HTPC, etc.), one for phone (you can split it for multiple devices).

- Terminate all lines at an MDF (wiring closet). If you have cable installed, have the line run here - you can use that line for your cable modem and/or conenct it to the RG6 lines for (digital) cable. Have your phone wiring run here - you can run it all over the house through your extra cat5e lines; you can also use it if you want DSL. Run lines from your satellite dish here; you can put your multiswitch here (it is indoors, climate controlled, has power, and every RG6 line terminates here - what more do you want) Make sure you have power here two; a 15A grounded outlet should suffice. If you have the room, you may want to put a file server here as well - make sure you have shelving that will support your gear. This wiring closet should have ventilation and heat like any other room.

- Run all of your wires through 2" or 3" conduit. Avoid tight bends. Run string through for pulling future wires. You may want to upgrade later.

- Label everything. Every plate should be numbered, every jack should be lettered. Use a letter to differentiate between coax/fiber/UTP. For example, plate 5, UTP Cat5e, jack 1 could be labeled 5UA. Plate 5, RG6 Coax, jack 1 could be labled 5CA. Punchdowns should be labeled accordingly at the MDF.

- If you have a computer room or den, run extra cat5e. Perhaps up to five. Beyond five, it makes sense to put a switch in your den.

- If you have notebooks, get an 802.11b (or 802.11g, if you want the bandwidth) access point. You can put it in your MDF.

Because we wired our house like this, it was easy to switch the entire house from cable to DSL. No rewiring required. We could even switch from DirecTV to Dish or cable without much hassle.

Good story about wiring (1)

bersl2 (689221) | more than 10 years ago | (#8550097)

I recently moved to another house. This place might as well have been built in the 16th century, because that's the last time the previous owners seem to have done anything to the place.

If you walk into the attic, you can see the retrofitted electrical system running to various parts of the house. Which would be OK, except that none of it is modern or grounded, except for the kitchen, which is on a separate circuit.

So I work off my laptop in the kitchen. My desktop is sitting in the corner collecting dust. I would go elsewhere, using wireless, but my cardbus' controller has a tendency to fry cards, like my .11g card. So no wireless.

I have really come to hate being in the kitchen like this. At least one parent is always doing something to piss me off. I need to be away from them. But their fucking renovation (oh, did I forget to mention that?) is starting in my area o' the house. So no peace. And no wiring (electrical or networking) yet.

The moral of the story: If you wire but never use it, you wasted some money; if you don't wire but need it, you might just waste some sanity.

Re:Good story about wiring (2, Funny)

tf23 (27474) | more than 10 years ago | (#8551089)

I have really come to hate being in the kitchen like this. At least one parent is always doing something to piss me off. I need to be away from them.

You're 18. Move out. Simple, eh?

How does one run stuff through conduit? (1)

0x0d0a (568518) | more than 10 years ago | (#8550204)

Okay, I'm sure this comes off as a terribly silly question, but this has been a "pet problem" of my own. I've spent some time trying to figure out a easy way to make a house rewireable (just a mind game, not actually doing it at the moment), and figured that the best bet would be PVC or something similar in the wall with about a quarter removed and hid behind a waist-high panel running through all the rooms in the house.

Once you have a bunch of cables already in conduit, how do you thread more? Wouldn't they get snagged? Or is there something like a plumber's snake for running cable? Do you just ensure that all junctions are in user-accessable boxes, so that you can ensure that the cable goes in the right direction?

I know that *I* would certainly value a house that could be reasonably rewired without construction work more than one that couldn't, and am kind of frusterated that this kind of thing isn't par for the course.

Re:How does one run stuff through conduit? (5, Interesting)

calyxa (618266) | more than 10 years ago | (#8552060)

I always liked this story:

Rattie, Judy Reavis's trained rat, is being used to string computer cables
in hard-to-reach places in California school buildings. The rat clenches
string in its teeth, and then follows the path of least resistance inside
the walls, along ceiling panels and under floors. The rat goes to an exit
point identified by tapping sounds and is rewarded with cat food. Computer
cable is attached to the string and pulled through the path used by the
rat. Dr. Reavis, a biophysicist and physician, was volunteering for NetDay
2000, the school computer project, when a co-worker mentioned a failed
effort to train a rat in wiring. Dr. Reavis thought of her adopted
laboratory rat and built a maze of plastic pipe in her Benecia, California,
home to train the rat. It took about 20 minutes a day for three months to
train Rattie to negotiate the maze, avoid dead ends, and travel toward
tapping sounds.

Frederick Rose, "Need an Electrician? Here's One Who Works Both
Fast and Cheap" The Wall Street Journal, May 6, 1997, B1

What I Did (4, Interesting)

JediTrainer (314273) | more than 10 years ago | (#8550254)

I just moved into my new house just over a month ago.

The builder allowed me to run network cable, after I signed a waiver (if I hurt/kill myself it's my fault).

Anyway, the catch was that the builder, while nice enough to let me run network, specified that I was *not* to run conduit, nor any coax, nor any 'telephone cable' (yes, I know).

In any case, what I did:
-each of the 3 upstairs bedrooms got 2 boxes with 2 wires each; one cat5e, the other cat6.
-family room also got 2 boxes with the same pair of drops each, PLUS speaker wire running from where the TV is to the place behind where the couch is going (note kitchen and family room are essentially the same room, and can share one of those boxes)
-one box in the dining room with the same pair
-one box in the living room with the same pair
-all of the above came out of two 1000' spools. It was more than enough for my ~1700 sq.ft. home.

The catch?
-builder cut my speaker wire on both sides in the basement (bastards). Claimed it got in the way when they were installing the air-return duct. I have no recourse (since it was on their property at the time, right?)
-network cable all went to the basement. ALL of it got unravelled and thrown in tangled heaps everywhere. ALL of it got unlabelled. No joke, I still have 5 wires that I need to identify. Again, no recourse.

Moral of the story? Get an agreement from the builder to allow you to put stuff in... but don't expect that they won't mess with your stuff.

On the other hand, while it is tedious to have to identify all the cable (and irritating that I have to splice my speaker cable), having the wires in the wall was the best thing I could have done. I'm reasonably happy with the outcome, and though I wish I could have gotten conduit in, I don't think I'll really need it - I'll probably move before I need upgraded cable. And yes, I DO plan on using my spare wire to run telephone (although the builder doesn't know that that's possible, don't tell them).

Thus far I've only bothered to wire all of the upstairs cat5e drops. I presently don't have the need (nor the equipment) to run anything faster. I'll get around to the cat6 drops eventually. I keep the cable modem and the Linksys router in the basement.

As for the lack of coax? No problem - I don't have TV service right now (nor a TV... yet). Don't have it, don't really miss it. However, once I do, I plan on having a nice MythTV setup, and since the server will be in the basement, having coax in the rest of the house should be unnecessary (though by default I *did* get coax installed by the builder in the family room and master bedroom).

Re:What I Did (1)

BJH (11355) | more than 10 years ago | (#8550841)

Why do you put up with crap like that? (I mean "you" as in "posters, generally from the US, in this thread and others who have similar stories", not you specifically).

Is there some requirement that all US builders forget who's paying for what they're working on the moment they pull out their wireclippers, or what?

How we do it (4, Informative)

kengibson (761935) | more than 10 years ago | (#8553046)

Running in Conduit is nice...but very expensive. The stuff to use is around here referred to as Smurf Tubing due to its light blue color. I ran conduit all over the place but it is packed so tight that I will never get anything in without an amazing amount of work. In hindsight I would recommend running the tubing only to and from the attic and crawl spaces. This makes it relatively easy to make the long runs outside of conduit. One thing in favor of conduit is that in my house all of the walls (including interior) are insulated. Running cables through it without conduit is damn near impossible.

Run 6 RG-6 quad shield cables to where the satellite dish would.should go. Think about when you want the cables to come out of the house in order to avoid eaves, etc... HDTV over satellite I hear needs 4 cables alone and running these cables after the fact is horribly ugly.

In the house run Cat 5E for phone and data. In fact use RJ-45 female plugs for both phone and data. If you do things right in the wiring closet you can switch any jack from data to telephone (and vice-versa) without needing to punch stuff down. Running non-terminated fiber would be nice but when you need it 10 years from now who knows if the cable will be useful. I've seen houses wired with old Thick Ethernet ahead of time only to find out that its useless in a Cat 5 world.

Locate your wiring closet somewhere in the center of the house and on the second floor if you have one. Put your WAP here for ideal coverage. In your wiring closet plan for some ventilation in case you are planning on putting a house server in it. A cheap bathroom fan on a timer to such the hot air out into the attic is usually enough. Avoid carpet for wiring closet as well due to static electricity. Doing a build-your-own rack is not expensive and looks nice. Just buy the rack-rails and have the framer build your opening.

If you are going high-speed via DSL have the folks wire in the DSL filter in the home run. This keeps you from putting additional DSL filters on the line which can hurt performance. Leviton makes one for about $20.

Wireless is great and should be considered during construction but it won't ever replace a physical line. Think about telephones. The cheapest hard-wired phone sounds better and clearer than the most expensive cordless phone.

And finally, try and leave it to the pro' least the running of the cables. What you can and cannot drill is not obvious and the builder is likely going to jack the price a bit if you want to get in there and do it yourself. Cable jockies can run it faster and cheaper than you ever could and they pay much less for cables, jacks, and tools than we do. $3,000 to $4,000 built into the price of the home gives you a stunning amount of jacks and capabilities.

You may want to run extra COAX for TV. (1)

bgspence (155914) | more than 10 years ago | (#8554614)

My DirecTIVO can record one channel while playing another as a standard feature, but you need two COAX cables to do it. I can't run another cable to my TV location, so I'm losing a nice feature of my system. And, it needed a phone wire to keep itself from complaining about updates. I wish I had conduit to allow for future tech needs of my non-computer systems.

Re:You may want to run extra COAX for TV. (1)

SiMac (409541) | more than 10 years ago | (#8556992)

You can buy a coax splitter. It will decrease your signal quality, but make it work.

Re:You may want to run extra COAX for TV. (1)

wolrahnaes (632574) | more than 10 years ago | (#8560293)

He said DirecTivo. That means for DirecTV.

Satellite does not work like regular antenna/cable TV. You can't just put a cheap splitter in and expect it to work. The closest thing is a multiswitch which takes two (or 3 for DirecTV-HD) lines from the dish and spreads them out to the recievers. The details are too complicated to get in to right now, but google for info on multiswitches and you'll have more than you ever needed to know.

You can start here [] .

Take Pictures Before Drywalling No Matter What (2, Insightful)

DaRat (678130) | more than 10 years ago | (#8556463)

Whatever you do cablewise, take pictures of all walls after the cabling has gone and and before the drywall goes up. With the pictures (properly labelled and identified), you'll be able to tell what is behind/in every wall in case you need it. I took pictures before my house's drywall went up, and I've found the pictures very helpful several times.

If you weld, or run machine tools - 240V (1)

xtal (49134) | more than 10 years ago | (#8558411)

Get a 240V circuit installed if you plan on ever doing anything like this, and it will add to the value of a garage. 240V tools are much better and don't dim the lights - nowhere near the amperage draw.

I'm looking at getting a TIG welder, I have a small MIG, and I'm going to need 240V. If I get a milling machine or lathe, more 240 needed.

Something to think about that's not networking related.
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