New Home Build Wiring Recommendations 2020 Edition

am45931472

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Feb 26, 2019
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Hey everyone. So the question that's been asked before gets asked again, but this time for 2020.

Building a new home and looking at network cabling options in the house. Home is large, Aprox 5500sq ft. so some runs could stretch out to 100m in length.

Cat 6, Cat 6A, Cat7, Cat8, and Fiber. All options are on the table.

Rather than contract this out to the home builder who would charge insane money for the job I'll be doing the cabeling myself. The builder however will run conduit to each drop area. Some rooms will only need 2 ethernet drops, others 6 or more. I would really like to cut down/eliminate daisy chained switches meaning lots of drops.

Server Closet in the basement which is also where Fiber internet will come into the house.

My current plan would be to use a combination of shielded cat6, some cat7 and fiber.

My thinking on this is to use Cat 6 for general purpose connections and low bandwidth connections.

Use Cat7 for some long distance runs or where 10GB over copper connections are really needed while providing some level or future proofing.

Use fiber where I'll have computers that would benefit from 10GB over fiber instead of RJ45. SFP+ is cheaper than 10GB Base T, etc. but its really only a drop for computers.

So questions I have or unfinished thoughts

Cat 5 and 5e were never intended to do 10GB ethernet, but to a certain extent they can. I'm not sure Cat6 was every really intended for 10GB ethernet either, but of course it can do very decent distances. So I wonder if cat 8 is worth looking at instead of cat 7 knowing that while its really a cable for 40GB over shorter distances we could find in the future that it is much more capable like we found Cat 5 was. Or is Cat8 really only for shorter distance 40GB ethernet (in which case I would think its worthless since well fiber)

I have seen charts about Cat7 and Cat8 not always suggesting real backwards compatibility with cat6, 5e. Is this just a jack termination issue pushed by the company behind GigaGate45. I have also seen people terminate Cat7 and Cat8 with shielded Rj45 compatible connectors for backwards compatibility no problem

Difference between Field Termination connections and just RJ 45 ends.

I'm not highly focused on costs here, this is not about keeping costs down. In the scheme of things an extra 1000-2000$ on a new home build is not a big deal and in reality the biggest cost will end up being time spent terminating these cables, not materials. At the same time that doesnt mean just running cat7 or cat8 everywhere if its not the right tool for the job. I'm focused on making the optimal choice for the long term here so I can forget about cabling in walls for the next 20 years (or untll something really revolutionary comes along). While someone will suggest just swapping out cables in the conduit as needed I'm not 100% interested in that either. I'd like to do a certain amount of future planning now so that in the future i'm not moving furniture just to swap out some lines.

I've also read different things about plenum grade vs riser grade cable being code in certain places but not others. apparently some places require all cable in wall be plenum grade where as others only require it in the forced air ways.

So again trying to minimize switches, odds that cat8 is the better long term choice than cat7, compatibility questions.
 

PigLover

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Cat-6a cable is spec for 10Gbase-T up to 100M. Max length for 10Gbase-T is 100M, regardless of using better cable. Cat-7 cable is a royal PITA to work with. Even in a 5500 sqft home with everything home-run to the basement you are unlikely to reach 100m (unless your chase between floors is sitting in one corner instead of the more likely spot near the middle of the house).

Therefore - there is no reason not to just do the whole job with Cat-6a cable (go shielded if you want to - its unlikely to matter). Anything requiring the higher-spec cables you probably want fiber for anyway.

I'd run bare cable and terminate it in place. You don't have to order a bunch of different length cables that way, its easier to pull and its not that hard to terminate. You'll get pretty good at it doing that many! Get yourself a simple continuity based cable tester. You won't really need a more fancy one. You really just need to test for miswire, short and split pairs. Simple ones are usually less than $50.
 

am45931472

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Feb 26, 2019
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I can see how cat 7 can be hard to work with, time consuming to terminate, harder to do it accurately, pain to cut back that shielding. But Cat6A is so thick. Get a bunch of it and its really thick. With that in mind i'd be inclined to go cat 7 even if it was more painful to install.
 

BlueLineSwinger

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Mar 11, 2013
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I can see how cat 7 can be hard to work with, time consuming to terminate, harder to do it accurately, pain to cut back that shielding. But Cat6A is so thick. Get a bunch of it and its really thick. With that in mind i'd be inclined to go cat 7 even if it was more painful to install.
My understanding is that Cat 7 and Cat 8 are datacenter niche products that really have no market presence and aren't going anywhere. Most of the places where they might make sense already have entrenched fiber setups. They were never designed for runs in-wall.

As mentioned, Cat 6a is spec for 10GBase-T for the full 100 meters. There's no reason to mess with anything else for copper runs, it'll just cost more and be a bigger pain to work with.
 
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kapone

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May 23, 2015
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Playing the devil's advocate here...

Are you really going to need 10gbps at every drop? I somehow doubt that, but hey it's your house. :)
 

Rock

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Jan 28, 2020
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Playing the devil's advocate here...

Are you really going to need 10gbps at every drop? I somehow doubt that, but hey it's your house. :)
Considering how data consumption has grown over the past 10 years, I wonder if 10gbs will be enough in another 10 years.

Regardless of what you select, I would include a pull cord in each drop to make pulling upgraded cables easier to do in the future.
 

PigLover

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He probably won't. But devil to your devil's advocate: there is very little cost difference from cat-5 to cat-6a (esp. when buying in bulk). Maybe ~$100 for the whole job he is proposing. Most of the "cost" is in the labor - and that is EXACTLY the same regardless until you start making it hard to terminate by using Cat-7/8. OTOH, getting it wrong and needing 10g somewhere you didn't prepare for it has extreme cost compared to the cost of just putting it everywhere during the initial installation when the walls are still open.
 
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edge

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Apr 22, 2013
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I just did an in place upgrade of my house with cat-6a. I pulled it where the old pots lines were to cut down on drilling and chopping holes in drywall. Every drop includes a pull for future use. It is really easy to terminate cat6, and I don't know where you get the idea it is thick.

I have a central switch in the basement with 4 lines (just in case I feel the need to trunk) run up to the attic alongside the hvac riser and then drop to a patch panel in the laundry room. The laundry room patch panel also is the termination point of the drops from all the upstairs rooms. There is a patch panel by the basement switch for all the main floor drops. Simple plan really, main floor runs come up from the basement, top floor drop from the attic. Switch upstairs, switch in basement, switches and router in basement server room.

Stay away from shielded anything, it is only useful where there is major interference and in those places you are better off with fiber.

If I was doing a new house, I would have at least one run of fiber to each jack. Pulling through already finished walls with out control of bend radius put it beyond my pain/frustration threshold.

In a new house, I would definitely run cat6a. I would also run fiber if I could afford it. I've always subcontracted fiber, so it isn't in my DIY file. Anywhere you are talking about a bunch of cat6a, I would definitely consider fiber if you need the bandwidth. If you don't need the bandwidth, why not a cheap passively cooled switch in the room?

Seriously, I would do the fiber and cat6a if at all possible. As a devil perched on your other shoulder, do you ever envision a time when you will need less bandwidth?

Btw, in my area, in wall code is riser, not plenum.
 
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edge

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Another thing, my house is 5500 sq ft as well. With the central patch panels and switches, my longest run is under 30 meters. This makes the 10 Gbase--T signaling a whole lot less work for the switches and nics.
 

kapone

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Considering how data consumption has grown over the past 10 years, I wonder if 10gbs will be enough in another 10 years.

Regardless of what you select, I would include a pull cord in each drop to make pulling upgraded cables easier to do in the future.
Not disagreeing...but most folks think they need faster and faster speed, when they really don't. I'm not arguing that he/she shouldn't future proof, all I'm saying is that 10gbps is a LOT. Like seriously a lot.

There is no current or future media standards (including 8k) that would come even close to that. Server to server or server to switch, I can understand, but at drop points (or edge as I like to call it) it's going to be significantly less.

All recommendations made here are valid. CAT6 will be way more than enough for quite a while. However... if I was doing it... :D

- 2x CAT6 (for data)
- 2x CAT6 or 1x fiber (for video signals...again...you never know)
- 1x fiber (well..just because)
- A multi-strand wire for LV power/signaling (you just never know and then you can do IR distribution, 12v/5v, triggers, IoT and all sorts of funky things)
- An RG6 Coax (I know I know..but then...we're talking future proofing, right?)

at a bare minimum.
 

TLN

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1 gig was introduced when.. 20 years ago and still in use and plenty for most of the needs. We're just barely seeing 2.5/5g in consumer devices.
I bet 10 gig will last 10 years fairly easy. I'd go with cat6a everywhere and may be a few fiber runs (if you need em).
 
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BlueLineSwinger

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Considering how data consumption has grown over the past 10 years, I wonder if 10gbs will be enough in another 10 years.

Regardless of what you select, I would include a pull cord in each drop to make pulling upgraded cables easier to do in the future.
Eh, from a home/consumer-level standpoint...

I think that whatever may come after 10 Gb will be a very long way off. It almost certainly won't use twisted-pair copper (at least as we presently know it). There's also the intermediate 2.5/5 Gb ethernet that will hold many people for a long time.

The transition from 1 Gb to 10 Gb is at about the same point as that of 100 Mb to 1 Gb was ~20 years ago. And my recollection was that the pace of 1 Gb uptake was much faster (i.e., 10 Gb has been lingering for much longer without much interest, the even cheaper 2.5/5 Gb has been middling). The fact is that, for what most people use their home networks for, there's little call for more. Even 4k streaming doesn't push things much. Also, everyone is focused on increasing wireless bandwidth, which is usually integrated right into the router, for their ever-expanding roster of devices. And for most, retrofitting a home for ethernet sucks and costs much more (is ethernet even a common standard in new home construction?).

+1 on pull cords (and conduit if possible).
 
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CorvetteGS

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I also want to +1 the recommendation to NOT do shielded cable! Shielded cable is intended for industrial installations with the cables running near high voltage motors and power conductors that can cause massive interference. None of which are going to be found in a 5500 sq.ft home.

Additionally, if the slightest of error is made terminating the shielding conductors incorrectly, or the equipment you are connecting to is not designed specifically to accept shielded conductors, you risk adding noise to the line and causing worse performance than if you had just gone with unshielded.
 

Stephan

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New home? Whatever you use, make sure to double verify all connections once in place that they work. Always run 2 or 3 or 4 cables instead of just one. You'll thank me in 10-30 years should one cable develop rot. Borrowing a professional cable verifier might be an option.

Fiber seems nice but is a b.tch to install and use. Cables have bend radii that have to be observed. I'd contemplate future "hot wires" with lots of traffic, i.e. going from basement into garage or to your home office. There it could make sense. Of course OM4 everywhere would be nice and bling. From thinking about it I feel it does complicate things that shouldn't be more complicated than need be.

Everywhere else just use Cat6a or Cat7 whatever is affordable. Run 1 Gbps to start, upgrade to 2.5/5 later should the need arise. Cheap, power efficient (ie also runs much cooler than 10G), works with everything.

Wife and kids will likely prefer wifi, independant of what you choose for cabling. ;-)

Put everything into pipes so that in theory, in 10-30 years, should the super killer application come around that requires 800G, you can run fiber through those pipes without much wall work or any at all.
 

elag

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Cat-6a cable is spec for 10Gbase-T up to 100M. Max length for 10Gbase-T is 100M, regardless of using better cable.
If I look at all the STH reviews for SFP+ to 10Gbase-T modules, none seem to support more than 30M. I would therefore make sure that the longest run is less than 30M if you want to run 10Gb. Or am I missing something?

I am running 10Gb over 7M Cat5, and that seems to work, but seems to be on the limit (both sides have a S+RJ10 rev 1)
 

edge

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Apr 22, 2013
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@elag,

The thirty meter issue is why I pointed out that I have central switches in the basement and on the top floor: it keeps my runs under thirty meters. I doubt twisted pair will exceed 10Gb, ever.
 

PigLover

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If I look at all the STH reviews for SFP+ to 10Gbase-T modules, none seem to support more than 30M. I would therefore make sure that the longest run is less than 30M if you want to run 10Gb. Or am I missing something?

I am running 10Gb over 7M Cat5, and that seems to work, but seems to be on the limit (both sides have a S+RJ10 rev 1)
True, however this is specific to the SFP+ adapters and is due to the power specs for SFP+.

Devices with more traditional 10GbaseT NICs should be able to reach 100M

@edge is also correct. It would be unusual for home installations to have runs over 30M. At that distance you could likely run 10G on Cat-5e.