Structured cabling retrofit


Active Member
In a couple of months' time I will be retrofitting structured cabling into our new (3-storey) house. All internal walls are stud+plasterboard. Current thinking is as follows:

Main trunking (inside conduit) will be run from loft through inside the upper floor wall of upstairs study, through floor to middle-floor playroom, down wall, through floor to server cupboard on bottom floor. I'll be cutting access through plasterboard to drill through top plates, noggin(s) and floor plates. Plan is probably to run 25mm or so plastic flexible conduit which will allow me to subsequently run more cables from loft to cupboard if needed.

Using this main trunking conduit, I'll be running cat5e/cat6 (to be decided but more on that later) and coax to/from top floor bedrooms up to the loft and back through the main trunk. Middle-floor is fairly limited - the playroom will obviously have direct access to the trunking, the living room backs onto the playroom and the kitchen (ceiling-mounted TV etc.) will be routed up through inside the master bedroom wall directly above, into the loft etc. Bottom floor is just an AV room which conveniently backs onto the server cupboard. Only other connection will be to the back garden for a Ubiquiti outdoor AP.

So, the questions - apart from whether I'm missing anything in the above - are:

1. I'm thinking of just running a pair of cat5e 25 pair trunk cables from the cupboard to the loft. This gives me the equivalent of 12x cat5e cables to cover 5 beds (of which only three will be cabled initially) plus kitchen. Should be plenty.
2. I'm wondering if I'm better having a patch panel in the loft to allow me greater flexibility and ease of upgrading. Additional cost isn't significant, but just wondering if two patch panels compromises connection quality (I'll obviously have the "main" patch panel in the cupboard)
3. I've gone off the idea of running cat6 simply because I would have to run individual cables - with 3 runs per room (say) plus coax to each room, we're looking at quite a bit of cable that has to fit into the conduit.

An alternative would be to install a cat6 cable into the trunking and have a pair of switches with 10Gb uplink, but that starts to get a bit pricier. I also lose the ability to throw non-IP traffic through the cabling (e.g. if I wanted to distribute HDMI in the future - unlikely, though).

Coax would be required as well, although the aerial feed is into the loft, so I'd only need to run a pair of coaxes through the trunk - one to playroom and one to AV room. The bedrooms and kitchen are direct feeds from the loft, not via the trunk conduit. No desire for Sky so coax is sufficient.

Any thoughts/suggestions?


Distinguished Member
I'm not sure I've ever seen 25 pair cat5e, I always run individual UTP, but I guess it could exist.

I wouldn't worry about multiple patch panels if you're running ethernet. Technically every additional connector affect signal margin, so a higher frequency application like HDMI might have issues, but 10/100/1000 ethernet it pretty forgiving.

Few DIY'ers ever test their installs with the rather expensive tester needed to certify them as "cat" anything, so I wouldn't worry to much about the minutia of "quality." (Or cat6 which has much more stringent installation requirements.)

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