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Question Home network shopping list - while the floorboards are up! Cat6/6a? Spec?

goatywoaty

Well-known Member
Hi Chaps

I'm a networking newbie here, I've been researching as much as I can at the moment but time is ticking for me and I could do with some advice if anyone can help please :)

We have just bought a house that needs a lot of work doing, I've pulled many floorboards up to gain access for central heating pipes etc and i'm thinking that I should run network cables whilst doing this work.

I want network access points throughout the house to hardwire computers, freesat boxes etc. The house has thick walls and tall ceilings so I anticipate wireless issues and I prefer the reliability of hardwiring too...

I have found a location in the house for a patch panel and switch, and i'm happy enough with where to run my cables. I'm just confused about what type of cable to buy as there seems to be a lot of varying opinion and there are so many types for sale! I know that I need solid core, not multistrand, non CCA, and that CAT 7 is pointless, but that doesn't narrow it down too much....


Should I use shielded cable? (some people say it's pointless in home networks?)

Cat 6 or 6a?

Can anyone recommend a decent place to buy from?



I'm just wanting to run all the cables for now, then i'll take my time connecting the patch panel and wallplates up. I just need to do my order so I can get the cables down before the boards go back down, so any help with a shopping list would be very much appreciated :)

This cable seems reasonable, any good for a home network?

GigaTrue® CAT6 Bulk Cable F/UTP Shielded LSZH (from Blackbox -these gigatrue cables seem to be mentioned on the forum quite a lot)

13472 - GigaTrue CAT6 LSZH F/UTP Shielded Bulk Cable
 

goatywoaty

Well-known Member
Thanks for that, I'll check it out. What if my cables pass electric cables? Would a F-UTP cable be advantageous? I won't bother with the cable that has all pairs foil wrapped though as that sounds like a pain when terminating!
 
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mickevh

Distinguished Member
I've run (or had sub-contracters run for me) literally thousands of cables, some of them through electrically noisy places like plant rooms and never had any problem with unshielded UTP.

If you do use shielded, it complicates matters because you have to earth all the shielding for it to work properly. Some suggest it can makes things worse if you don't.

As I understand it, the "thing" about running UTP parallel to supply cables is about preventing the "shock hazzard" whereby the mains induces high voltages and currents in the UTP rather than there being some interference issue with data transmission. Symbol to symbol, I can't help thinking 50Hz mains is going to be pretty much DC for ethernet pulsing at 125,000,000Hz. The twists in UTP (it's what the "T" stands for) is what does the bulk of the work rejecting interference. Ethernet also uses "balanced" transmission which also rejects lots of induced interference.

Anecdotally, my sparkies have sometimes run mains and UTP alongside each other in dado trunking and we never had any issues. I believe the guidance is to try and cross mains at 90 degrees if you can and restrict any parallel running as much as you can and maintain some distance if possible. There are some electrical engineers and professional cable installers who read these columns, so they may give you the full skinny if you want more detail (or I've got any of this wrong.)

I wouldn't even bother with cat6, but since it's now little more expensive than cat5e, one "might as well" for a small job where honing down the cost isn't an issue.

As I am fond of saying, to actually be cat whatever, one has to observe all the installation stipulations (for example, higher cats require the use of proper "containment" - no zip tying it to the water pipes or clipping it to the wall, the cable must be "laid" in a not "pulled," etc. etc.) and the install needs to be tested with some rather expensive certification equipment which most DIY'res don't bother with. There's much more to it than buying cat whatever cable and bits and bobs.

However, that doesn't mean it won't "work" for ethernet - ethernet signalling is well within the performance headroom and one has to do a spectacularly bad job for it to not work. Poor termination is usually the worst culprit. Just be careful not to kink, crush or knot the cable when installing it and ensure any direction changes are "curved" and not bent into sharp angles. If you buy higher cat cable, the wire gauge it thicker, so you need to ensure your patch panel, faceplates, etc. match.

If you've got a fair few to do, a punch down tool and a cheap cable tester might be worthwhile. The 10 pound cable tester jobies don't do any of the "proper" cat tests and sometimes miss things like split and crossed pairs, but they might save you some head scratching. You can always punt them on afterwards.
 
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goatywoaty

Well-known Member
Thanks for that comprehensive reply, appreciate it! I note your advice about crossing electric cables at 90 degrees etc, I should be able to manage that easily :) I'll definitely be buying a punch down tool and a cable tester, but yet to look into that yet
 

mickevh

Distinguished Member
Also, when I have cabling run in, standing instructions to my sparkies are to "always run two" (sometimes more if needed.)

It's highly unlikely UTP will fail in service (after more decades than I care to remember I can count instances of failure on one hand) but if it does, it's really handy to have an alternate in situ. With a single run any given route, if it goes bad, you're off the air until you rip and replace (which in domestic situation could also have "decor" consequences.) It's surprising how often one finds use for "just one more" cable later on.

Of course, more cables adds to the cost, but I'm fond of saying cable is cheap compared to the hassle of installing it. Often when I've got the professionals in, the bulk of the cost is the labour and/or cost of drilling out the walls to establish the routes - relatively the cable itself is a smaller cost. But if you're doing it yourself and on a budget it's stuff to consider.

Incidentally, you might want to consider some future proofing whilst you are a building site. For example phones can also run over UTP and some use it for HDMI distribution (though I wouldn't unless I had no choice) which might influence whether you want to install some extra lobes. (And maybe Sat TV feeds - though that uses different type of cable.)
 
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goatywoaty

Well-known Member
Again, thanks for the detailed reply, really appreciate it. I'm always careful when installing cables etc but it's good to know UTP has a very low failure rate.

While the boards are up, i'll be running satellite cable as we use Freesat, plus i'll be doing extra runs of cat cable as you suggested. I know I'll utilise a run in a couple of locations for a future IP CCTV install too. The CCTV gear can go in the same cupboard as the patch panel and switch, all the ugly boxes out the way and hidden :)
 
D

Deleted member 24354

Guest
If you are running cables for CCTV I would use Cat5e as it is easier to work with and terminate. Cat6 is horrible to get into the backs of cameras, as it is thicker and less flexible.
Also look at cabling to install some wireless access points. At least one on each floor in fairly central locations. However many cables you install it will never be enough. I have around 1.5km -2km in my house and I still wish I had more. Running 2 cables at a time is good advice. I ran 2 behind each tv and both get used. I tend not to use faceplates behind TVs. I bring the cables out through brush plates, leaving about 1m hanging and terminate with RJ45 Cat6 plugs. I also bring the aerial through the same brush plate and any HDMI cables.
 

DarkEntity

Well-known Member
Not sure if its mentioned but also think about pull through's to areas you might want to add to later (para cord or similar). makes it a load easier to add cables later if needed. simply tie new cable to end of cord and "pull through from other end"
 

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