Home cabling Cat7/8 and or Fibre?

Shadytrade

New Member
Nov 10, 2019
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Hi all,

I recently purchased my first house and I am looking to cable the house with the latest and greatest cables I can find to make it some what future proof. I've never had to do any cabling of this scale before, so I am interested to here other peoples experiences.

Has anyone tried this recently? Can anyone recommend the following:
  • Cable brand
  • Face plates
  • Cable type (Should I use Cat6/7/8 and could I also do Fibre?)
Cheers,

- Calvin
 

j_h_o

Active Member
Apr 21, 2015
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California, US
Run conduit everywhere so you can replace/re-run cable later.

CAT6 is probably sufficient -- even CAT5e will do 10GBase-T over short distances. How big is the house/how long is the longest cable run? Sure, you could do fibre -- what devices are you connecting and do they all do SFP+ or faster?
 

int0x2e

Member
Dec 9, 2015
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+1 on conduit.
If possible, run a lot more cable than you think you need, you may need it in the future. Aim for 2 cables per drop, and at least 2 drops per room, ideally going higher in some areas (think TV / speakers / office). Also try for at least one ceiling drop per floor for a wireless AP (or even go with 2 or even more depending on your sqft).

Cat6a is probably worth the cost to get reliable 10G. Cat7 and higher is cool if you're not paying much extra, but likely not worth the upgrade.
Either way - make sure you get solid copper and not CCA (Copper-clad Aluminium). There is a huge difference.

Fiber is great for trunking and *some* future-proofing beyond 10G. While it's not crazy expensive, it still isn't that cheap, so running it between your rack and office and/or between the utility drop and your rack would make sense, but running it everywhere is not necessarily worth it just yet.
Multi-mode always initially seems more appealing (and MTP/MPO pre-terms make it very easy to get 8, 12 or even 24 strands for fairly cheap, making it possible to go to 40g and possibly 100g for relatively low cost) - always run a pair or two of single-mode fiber as well. Single-mode has been proven to be the only forward-compatible fiber infrastructure choice over the past few generations...
 

acquacow

Well-Known Member
Feb 15, 2017
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I doubt that you are using cat5 then. These days its hard to even find cat5 in typical office/home setups.
I have many spools lying around from my days in 98-2002 wiring datacenters. Trust me, it's cat5e plenum. All my runs are less than 60ft though.
 

csementuh

New Member
Oct 7, 2019
20
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Pittsburgh, PA
Just to throw in my 2 cents and share what I did.. Hopefully you can get some ideas from it. I ran about 6000 feet of CAT 6 in my new house build a few years back. Everything is home run from area down to my utility room and the into a full rack with gear. I have rock solid ethernet anywhere it is, about 50 drops so far. (Much less in actual daily use). Can't complain and totally worth it if you're able to cable it easily (like you are with a new construction).

For plates and jacks you'll want keystones. I even use keystones for the patch panel. It sucks being stuck on certain endpoints for wiring, especially in a homelab type environment where you sometimes change your mind on stuff and upgrade over the years.

My standard package was to run 1 or more single gang boxes to each room containing 4x wires and use a single gang 4 hole keystone plate. 2x CAT 6 for ethernet, 1x CAT 5e for phone, 1x RG6 for cable TV. Later on you could also use the CAT 5e for ethernet if needed/desired. For media areas like the living room I did a double gang box for 4x CAT 6, as well as extra stuff for HDMI, etc, plus a couple CAT 6 to behind the TV. For normal bedrooms I only did one well placed drop. It's a decent sized 5 bedroom house, but lets face it, bedrooms aren't huge and the need for data there isn't huge. So far, no issues and I've been using the one room as my office with a small switch (couple PCs, couple printers, few test devices). So long as there is TV and eventually network for a computer, my wife and kids are happy. In reality the good wifi is used far more often. I did run a conduit down into the opposite bedroom walls at gang box height up into the attic (2 story house) so that if I needed to I could fish wires from my attic into the rooms and into an old work box as needed. I love conduit, run it anywhere that makes sense! For my master I did run 2x sets of gang boxes since it's a sizable room and there was more than one place I'd consider sticking a TV. I do kinda wish I ran some CAT 6 to over by where my nightstand is so that I could jack in while laying in bed on my laptop, but ohh well..

One smart thing I did was run 12 CAT6 drops from basement utility room to attic. I also ran from attic to several places outside for POE IP cams, 9 in place now, and a Unifi AP AC Pro in the attic. In my basement I'm putting in conduit between my office and utility room and such so I can futureproof those areas that I'll want faster/more later. Add as much conduit to different places as you're able.

I did get stuck for a little bit with over-analysing paralysis on the wiring, then decided simpler is better. I don't think you need to go crazy.. I mean I didn't run anything into my kitchen or laundry or bathrooms or dining room, etc. My master bath is about 180sq/ft and I considered it, but I got to thinking, wtf would I really need wiring in there for? Wall mounted TV or 40G data transfers during my morning poop? Paleezzzze! Basically all the bedrooms, the den, the family room, garage (I do use part of the garage for business). I'm working on finishing my basement now and will have several area of drops in my new office down there (including fiber from the rack), a couple runs in the gameroom side and enough stuff for my media area. My future detached garage shop will get a fiber feed and it's own wiring/VOIP/IP cam stuff, but that's down the road.

Overall I'm pretty happy with what I did and not regretting too much here..

I didn't run any fiber or anything advanced while I had the chance of only having stud walls. I didn't run CAT 6 to my doorbell for something fancy POE there. Small potatoes.

Now onto the wiring.. Sadly a bunch of my CAT 6 wiring wasn't quality. I bought a couple thousand feet online, but after that it was impromptu trips to Lowes for whatever-Lowes-had boxes that didn't have a spline in it, so it's 'maybe' CAT 6 but not quite to spec. So far in the few rooms I've tested it 10G over copper has worked just fine! That's on a 60-100ish foot run, which I'm more than happy with. Most of my runs are aroud there, the attic is maybe 120ish. Personally I'd suggest you just put in quality CAT 6 and call it a day. I don't think I'd value 6A or 7+ in a home environment. The potential noise and interference isn't there and neither are the excessive long runs. If you look at the data, the fancier cables mostly just handle higher speeds at longer distances and such. Is that part of your design specs? The other thing is the difficulty in terminating the fancier cable (can you even do it correctly to spec? At what cost? Shielding/grounding?). It just seems like too much of a hassle for not enough benefit. Plus the fancier connector can cost a bundle more. 2x 3x the price sometimes for the same thing. Lots of 75ish cent CAT 6 keystones online and they always pass my Klein LAN tester and my speed of file transfer seat of the pants tests. I'm happy with that. I'd have no qualms with buying boxes of solid core wire from Monoprice and calling it a day. That's what I'm doing in my basement, with a fiber feed for the fast workstation to server link.

Good luck!
 
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dandanio

Active Member
Oct 10, 2017
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Just to throw in my 2 cents and share what I did.. Hopefully you can get some ideas from it.[...]
Whoa, whoa, my dude! :) That is some information others would charge a whole lotta green for! You do house calls? :D
I have been wondering how/where/how many in my own home and I think I just got my answer.

Thanks a million and one and may all your packets always find route home.
 

csementuh

New Member
Oct 7, 2019
20
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3
Pittsburgh, PA
Whoa, whoa, my dude! :) That is some information others would charge a whole lotta green for! You do house calls? :D
I have been wondering how/where/how many in my own home and I think I just got my answer.

Thanks a million and one and may all your packets always find route home.
You're most welcome! Hopefully OP can get a little something from it as well.

LOL, sure I'd do house calls. I wish I could make money running wires, but the money is better to sit in a chair all day! I find it fun and therapeutic. At my day job I spend 97% of my time sitting at a desk, 3% in the datacenter and since we have a 3rd party wire monkey crew, almost never actually running much big infrastructure. I really enjoyed the house project. The rough in only took a day with a couple buddies helping. The big task was terminating it all after, but that's what beer is for!

My advice is don't overthink it too much, go simple, but give yourself a plan to change it later if needed.
 
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dandanio

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Oct 10, 2017
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LOL, sure I'd do house calls
Naaaaah, I can run the wires myself. What I need is design! That's what I would need help with. Funny though, as my title includes "Infrastructure" in the title. :D If it was up to me, I would have a 24 10G/(100G capable) outlets in EVERY boom, including closets and the garage. Because you never know...
But! For now, I am in the middle of what you accurately describe as a paralysis stage and while I think I know what I need, I do not know what I WANT or SHOULD WANT. I know I do not WANT fiber.
And your description is so good that I think you should write a more in-depth document and submit it to our HOWTO library. Include pics. And then your karma will forever be positive!
 

Cheddoleum

Member
Feb 19, 2014
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As someone who just yesterday fished 100' of wire through and wallspace and crawlspace (cough cough) for an outside camera, get the stuff with the plastic separator core. It's a little fiddlier to crimp your own connectors on the ends but the fact that it doesn't kink while you're tugging it through places you can't see is a major plus. I've done it both ways. Without that core any loops turn into sharp bends when pulled on, so it's not just snagging in out-of-sight stretches that's the problem: they're also very bad signal-wise.
 

fractal

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Jun 7, 2016
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Do you know there is Cat5 and there is Cat5e?
Not to go too far in the weeds but ... In the beginning, well 1999 or so, there was Cat5. And all was good. But there was one parameter that was not clearly defined. Most manufacturers met the "assumed" spec. But then came one who did not and it didn't work as expected. Finger pointing ensued. So they defined Cat5e which is Cat5 with that one additional specification. At least that is what my feeble memory recalls .. wikipedia seems to agree ( Category 5 cable - Wikipedia )

So .. it is likely, but not guaranteed, that when he said he has "Cat5" he really has "Cat5e".

The only reason to run Cat5e these days is if you intend to terminate it (connect the wires) yourself. Terminating Cat6/7 is a *P*A*I*N* and proving you did it right takes not-so-cheap equipment. I would go with Cat6 with certification if I were paying someone to do the work but Cat5e when I am doing it myself.
 
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dandanio

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Oct 10, 2017
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Not to go too far in the weeds but ... In the beginning, well 1999 or so, there was Cat5. [...]
Oh eM Gee! Not to show my age, but I remember pulling CAT3 cables and terminating only two pairs :) cause four pairs is two too many! That's going way too far!
 

Cheddoleum

Member
Feb 19, 2014
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As long as we're nerding out about cables, this (uncited) text appears in that wikipedia page linked above:

The cable is terminated in either the T568A scheme or the T568B scheme. The two schemes work equally well and may be mixed in an installation so long as the same scheme is used on both ends of each cable.
Is this right? I was taught that you do not want to mix them in the same installation because they may be directly joined, e.g. plugging a T568B cable into a wall jack that terminates a T568A. True, the right signal will get to the right wire, but changing pitch one or more times mid-run seems, well, inadvisable. "Just use B all the time, because that's what everyone else is doing" is pretty much the only advice I've been given on the subject.
 

dandanio

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Oct 10, 2017
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NO, NO! Never mix those two! You will drive your electricians crazy. I have seen crews leave their job sites over that. Please stick with one. For me, personally, I have always insisted on using 568B, as it seems it is more prevalent in the field. Just my 2c.
 

Cheddoleum

Member
Feb 19, 2014
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Yeah, there's other uncited stuff in there, like

The cable is available in both stranded and solid conductor forms. The stranded form is more flexible and withstands more bending without breaking. Patch cables are stranded.
Except when they aren't. For example I've got cases of Panduits in various lengths that are solid conductor, I know because I've cut up a bunch of 7'ers to make 2', 2' and 3' for patch panel use. (And you can always tell by feel anyway.) This is what I hate about wikipedia, you get drive-by edits of people just sticking in some vague impression they're under and nobody takes it out.

/derail