wiring new house, some questions

ctoles

New Member
Hi, Thanks in advance for any help anyone can give me.

Background:
I have been doing a lot of reading on the internet regarding structured wiring so I probably know just enough to be dangerous. My husband has asked me to figure out the data/phone/sat tv configuration for a house we are currently building. The walls are currently open, the electrical wiring is almost complete. This house is in a relatively remote location--we can’t even get cable TV. We want to be able to have Satellite TV, telephone, and data/internet connections in every room. We were initially planning to have satellite internet but even the satellite company rep that I spoke with said he would not recommend it. He said it was not very good since they were using “something or some provider” (I cannot remember the term he used,) that he implied made it less than desirable. Others I have talked with that have dial-up at home and satellite internet at work say there is not too much difference except in the price. It looks like we may have to go the dial-up route (at least initially). So we will probably have 2 separate phone lines coming into the house. The satellite TV company is insisting that they need to run all the cable for the Satellite TV connections once we are actually ready to connect the receivers, but I want to run that cable myself (I think) since the walls are open now—this is still a bit of an unresolved issue. I am planning to run 2 RG6 and 2 Cat5 lines (a single bundled cable) to each room in the house (double that in a couple of the rooms). There will need to be about 16 outlets (each consisting of the 2 RG6 and 2Cat5 jacks). We are planning to run everything down to a data enclosure in the basement where we will be able to choose what rooms in the house to have the phone/internet/satellite tv actually active. I am planning to have multi port punch blocks in the data closet to manage what is going to which rooms. My husband and I are currently planning to run the cable ourselves. I read the cocoontech.com article and found it pretty helpful.


Questions:
1) Since we are rookies at this, should we use cat5e, rather than cat6 since I read somewhere that cat5e is much easier for a novice to work with? Does it really make any difference if we are working with bundled cable? Other things I have read said to use the best cable available but given our remote location is that really just a waste?

2) Since I am planning to use bundled cable and I can only find bundled where the RG6 is copper over steel, does it make sense to use the bundled cable from the data enclosure to all room outlets and then run a separate RG6 solid copper center cable from the data closet to the location where we might one day have a home theater? Should you use the solid copper center RG6 from the satellite dish to the data enclosure too, otherwise you wont really gain anything by only having the solid copper cable from the closet to the HT area?

3) I read somewhere to have a separate area in the data enclosure for telephone and another for data (but did not explain why). I really want to combine them so I can use either of the 2 cat5 outlets in any given room in any way I need—not have one dedicated as a phone line and one as a data line—or am I misunderstanding the data/telephone separation issue?

4) If I run the satellite TV RG6 cable from the roof location where the dish will be, do I just run a separate RG6 line for each LNB the satellite company uses down into the data enclosure? And run 2 RG6 runs for possible future satellite internet from the roof to the data enclosure? Is RG6 cable needed from the dish area for any other reason (e.g. audio?) Can the satellite multiswitch then go in the data enclosure so that we can send the satellite signal to whatever rooms we have decided will have a satellite receiver? Is there a better way to approach the TV satellite setup? Is this really a satellite-tv provider specific solution where I must choose the satellite company we will eventually use and get them to either come out and wire it now (even though we are months away from TV watching) or get them to agree to provide the information I will need to do this ourselves? I am assuming I would also use punch blocks in the data enclosure for all the RG6 lines to make it easier to direct the Satellite cable from the multiswitch to the individual rooms where we will have the satellite receivers? I am getting dizzy from all this.

I know this is a lot of questions and I hope my ignorance does not irritate anyone. Any help anyone can provide would be greatly appreciated. Thanks in advance for any help you can offer.
 

SnyperBob

Active Member
Bump,

I'm actually interested in some of the answers to your questions as well. I'm in the same boat as you. So far I have run cat6 for internet, and two cat5e runs to each room. Some people complain that it costs more to run cat6. And it costs more to buy cat6 specific keystones for terminating the wires....but I really wanted to future proof my home.

I didn't want to run something just because it was less expensive. It's a house I plan on staying in for a long time. Hell, I can use cheaper cat5 keystones now until I have 'nicer electronics' that can utilize cat6, lol.

Well, I'm curious too about your Satellite questions. Hopefully someone can chime in
 

Photon

Active Member
I have no experience with satellite receiver systems, but I understand they like solid copper core RG6 in order to pass current to the LNBs for power and tuning. Copper-plated steel core is fine for cable or an OTA antenna because the frequencies they carry pass down the coax with a "skin effect" which means they only use the outer surface of the core anyway, even with solid copper core. Satellite signals use even higher frequencies and the same skin effect applies, but those cables also pass power to the roof or wherever your dish/LNB is. Since you are remote, you will probably have no need for RG6 Quad Shield. I find ordinary RG-6 is easier to work with because it has a tighter bend radius and I find it easier to attach compression connectors to non-QS coax.

It seems to me there is no advantage in using Cat6 over Cat5e, and again, Cat5e is easier to handle and has a tighter bend radius. By the way, I found bend radius to be a real issue when I wired my new house primarily when it came to boxes in exterior walls. A mud ring or open backed box is fine in most interior walls, but environmental considerations where I live call for a closed box in exterior walls with caulking around the cable entrances and where the box lies against the vapor barrier.

On my previous house, the phone cables were wired with cat3 and terminated to 66-blocks. I wired the data with some cat5 and cat5e, and terminated them on a patch panel. In planning the new house, I chose to not distinguish between phone and data cables and terminations. Everything goes to the same patch panel, and I can use any of it for anything I need. It should work just fine for IR distribution and for some features of the security system, both systems that I did not have in the previous house.

I used the bundled cables only once in parts of a previous house, and I found it only marginally easier to pull, but it was much more expensive than separate cables, and the bend radius was really big. More importantly, the bundles don't meet my needs. For example, in the master bedroom I have three low voltage plates. I have no need for coax behind the headboard, but I have three Cat5e there for phone, PC, and alarm control panel. The other side of the room has a couple coax for the TV, but only a single Cat5e. The third plate has an empty conduit to the basement.

That brings me to my final suggestion. If you have a desire to "Future Proof" your house, you need an accurate crystal ball. I couldn't find one, so I installed 3/4" plastic conduit, so called "Smurf Tube" in areas where I thought I might need to install something someday, but I wasn't sure what just now. I have at least one in each exterior wall in each room. I have a single story house with a full basement, so it is simple to access interior walls most of the time. Even conduit does not gurantee future access, since it is likely someone will specify a large connector like HDMI that doesn't go through small conduit all that well. I also specified one 10" thick wall so I could easily install some 4" PVC pipe from basement to attic. I've used that chase for just a few cables, but it is there in case I need it.

I hope you find my comments useful. I'm certain you will hear from others who disagree with my opinions. I'm always interested in what those with satellite dish experience have to say, since I look forward to saying goodbye to the cable company someday. I hope you enjoy your new house as much as we enjoy ours.
 

Steve

Senior Member
We are planning to run everything down to a data enclosure in the basement where we will be able to choose what rooms in the house to have the phone/internet/satellite tv actually active. I am planning to have multi port punch blocks in the data closet to manage what is going to which rooms.
Yes, a 'star' configuration where all stuff terminates in a central location and branches to each location is your standard structured wiring solution and works well. You will want to have all of your 'station cables' (data/phone) terminated into a master patch panel. The wires get punched or connected to the back of this master panel that represents every jack/port in the house. Then you can have your 'sources' at any location, that being your ethernet switch (data) and phone. Phone you probably want to run thru a surge protector. You can then 'patch' your data/phone to any port in the panel. Typically easiest done with with RJ45 patch cords. You can also do a phone distribution block, but I personally think an easy to use RJ45 patch panel/cross connect works best for maintenance, but a hard punched cross connect will certainly work as well.

1. Nobody really knows yet and idt at this time there is a need for Cat6. Some experts say we will never need it because they keep tweaking the copper and Cat5. I personally think good Cat5 will last a very long time still and perhaps only the most expensive hi-tech gear may come close to needing Cat6. But you can certainly use it if you are concerned.

2. You're only as good as your weakest link. I would use solid copper quad shield for satellite throughout, even if that means abandoning the bundled cable. I would also only use cable certified to 3Ghz.

3. Not sure what is being recommended, but expressed my opinion above. You can run both phone lines over 1 Cat5 cable. But if you have a field termination panel or block that is permanently wired to you rooms/jacks then the 'source' can come from anywhere.

4. You can easily get dizzy trying to plan this, but alot depends on what you want and how you plan to use it. Do you want a separate sat receiver at each tv, or centralized receivers in the closet? Do you want a DVR? Do you want that DVR output available to each room? I am familiar with DirecTV but I think Dish is the same. The dish will have a built in 4 port multiswitch. That will essentially give you 4 distinct 'feeds'. You can cascade them into another multiswitch like a 4x8 that would then give you 8 feeds. This is where you need to design the tv layout. The least flexible/desirable imho is to run from the multiswitch to a receiver at each tv. You then have to have the receiver at that location and each receiver will be an extra $5 month roughly. If you add a DVR into the mix you then need to decide where to put it and the output is only available to that 1 tv. A more flexible solution is to centralize the receivers into the closet and distribute from there. You also have several choices this way. Are the tv's and sat HD? If not you can do a simple RF (RG6) distribution. If you want HD, you would need to distribute your component/HDMI, etc and then there are several ways of that, like an autopatch matrix switcher, distributed over cat 5, etc. And what of the DVR? If I were planning a new install for me, I would want to go the SageTV route with media extenders. But at this time, there are no Sat capable tuners :( I'm guessing in your remote location there is no OTA (over the air) broadcasts you can pick up either. So maybe you want to plan for a future Sage setup based on sat tuners being available, but a temporary Cat5 based distribution to get started? I know this probably does not help much, but it really depends on how important tv/recording and HD are to you... Oh, and if you go the central route, remember you will need IR distribution as well, unless you have all RF based receivers/remotes. Just remember at least 1 port on the multiswitch = 1 receiver/tuner and 4 come standard on the dish, so at a minimum you need to pull 4 RG6 from the dish location to either your closet or wherever you may put another multiswitch. You CANNOT use a regular cable splitter, you must use cascaded multiswitches if using more than 4 feeds. You probably know this, but you do not 'punch' RG6. I would put a separate distribution system for it, unless of course you centralize it and feed it out Cat5 in which case you can patch it into your master panel as an input.

Wow, I hope 4 didn't confuse you even more B)
 

Herdfan

Active Member
1) Since we are rookies at this, should we use cat5e,

2) Since I am planning to use bundled cable and I can only find bundled where the RG6 is copper over steel, does it make sense to use the bundled cable

3) I read somewhere to have a separate area in the data enclosure for telephone and another for data

4) If I run the satellite TV RG6 cable from the roof location where the dish will be, do I just run a separate RG6 line for each LNB the satellite company uses down into the data enclosure?

1) CAT5e should be fine for almost anything you should need. However, if the cost difference between CAT5e and CAT6 (Which is a little harder to work with) is not much and you are willing to work with it, then go ahead and use it. You won't get full CAT6 specs unless you use CAT6 terminations, but if the cable is there, you could always replace the termination with CAT6 ones in the future if needed.

2) Don't. Bundled cable is hard to work with and provide little or no benefit to individual cables. I would highly recommend that you use a solid copper coax for satellite. Belden 1829BC is a very good cable.

3) One data enclosure is fine as long as each wire is terminated into a block. That way any line can be phone or data as the need arises and can be configured at the enclosure by moving patch cables.

4) Run 5-6 cables from the wiring closet to the dish location. I say 5-6 because then you have a couple of extras for either an OTA antenna (digital HD stations) or a spare if needed.

4a) I would recommend against bringing the satellite cables into the data enclosure. Too many big cables to fit neatly. I use a large piece of painted plywood that is used to mount multisiwtches etc to. Reconfiguration is easy at that point. If you do insist on an enclosure, then do use a separate enclosure and the biggest (42"+) for the coax. If you plan on using DVR's, then run at least 2 coax to each TV location and 4-5 to your main viewing area. Terminate with compression fittings.
 

CollinR

Senior Member
I have a SageTV system and I am very happy wth it, I can plug in anywhere there is ethernet or optionally over wifi although I don't have wifi. I have basically used it as my HA frontend I can do basically everything I desire on any old POS TV I can find.

I can also watch my stuff on the road with a remote client.
 

rmcneil

Member
Since the walls are currently open, why not run smurf tube to all potential locations. Then you only pull what you need right now to those locations you are using right away. This is the best future proofing you can do. Instead of predicting what wire/cable you may need and where, you merely need to predict the where and hope your future cable needs don't outgrow the id of your smurf tube.

RM
 

BraveSirRobbin

Moderator
Since the walls are currently open, why not run smurf tube to all potential locations. Then you only pull what you need right now to those locations you are using right away. This is the best future proofing you can do. Instead of predicting what wire/cable you may need and where, you merely need to predict the where and hope your future cable needs don't outgrow the id of your smurf tube.

I have not had great success running wire through smurf tubing. :lol:
 

rmcneil

Member
Since the walls are currently open, why not run smurf tube to all potential locations. Then you only pull what you need right now to those locations you are using right away. This is the best future proofing you can do. Instead of predicting what wire/cable you may need and where, you merely need to predict the where and hope your future cable needs don't outgrow the id of your smurf tube.

I have not had great success running wire through smurf tubing. :lol:


Tell me more since that is the current state of my remodel - smurf everywhere but not yet closed in...

Thanks,
RM
 

hult

Active Member
Hi, Thanks in advance for any help anyone can give me.

{Excellent, detailed description deleted for brevity}

To the other good and useful comments made by others I add:

1) Cat5e is less likely to be superceded than RG6 coax IMO. For example, should you decide that you want to route high-definition component video around the house, Cat5e can serve the purpose, but ABIK, a pair of RG6 can't. And with baluns, a single Cat5 can replace multiple RGx's. So "when in doubt, pull Cat5e" .

2) Consider adding terminated SC-SC fiber from the main low-voltage area (in the basement ?) to the attic if your home is two/multi-storey. Cheap if you buy on eBay (eg, current Buy-It-Now for new, plenum-rated, 15-meter SC-SC fiber is $22 including shipping).

Fiber not only has bandwidth to spare but also provides galvanic isolation. Both attributes have solved persistent problems for me. I wish I'da thunk of it the _first_ time I retrofitted low-voltage wiring from the basement to the attic ....

When and if Fiber-To-The-Home ( Google: FTTH ) reaches your neighborhood, the cable v xDSL v satelite quandry may seem as quaint and nostalgic as voice modems v ISDN (remember that giant leap forward ? ;-)

... Marc
 

BraveSirRobbin

Moderator
Since the walls are currently open, why not run smurf tube to all potential locations. Then you only pull what you need right now to those locations you are using right away. This is the best future proofing you can do. Instead of predicting what wire/cable you may need and where, you merely need to predict the where and hope your future cable needs don't outgrow the id of your smurf tube.

I have not had great success running wire through smurf tubing. :lol:


Tell me more since that is the current state of my remodel - smurf everywhere but not yet closed in...

Well, since you asked, here is my sad story. My builder ran two sets of smurf tubing from our attic opening to our den/wiring closet (approx 80ft runs). I did manage to get an RG-59 single cable through one for my W800 antenna a couple of years ago. Well, I wanted to add some more coax plus a multipair bundle. I could not get it through that second piece of smurf no matter what I tried (which included single coax, then fish tape, then thread/cotton ball and compressed air, you name it, I tried it).

I then tried to get the cable through the smurf tube which already had the existing coax with no luck. The only way I finally got it through was so cut the connector off one end of the existing coax, attach rope, pull it through, attach rope to all three cable bundles, have wife pull rope on one end while I pushed on the other, then finally got it through.

Having run various sizes of conduit and wire bundles in the past I expected this to be a much easier adventure. I don't know if it is the ridges of the smurf, the fact that it flexes and the end of the cord "runs into" the sides, etc...

We have some areas of our attic which you can't really get at (single story house with a strange roof pattern), which is the reason for the smurf runs (see pics below, blue tube are the smurf runs).

Anyway, I'm not a big "smurf" fan...
 

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Photon

Active Member
Smurf tube comments:

I rarely bother to include a pull string up front because it is so easy to add one later. I tie a cotton wad to small fishing line and use the shop vac to suck it through.

Make bend radius as large as possible. Try to plan route so there are no more than two 90-degree bends. Use a junction box for access if more bends are needed so you have to pull through a couple bends at a time.

It is always easier to pull a bundle through an empty conduit. I don't claim I've never added a pull, but I have burned through an existing cable's outer jacket and through some individual wires' insulation when adding a cable. I understand this can happen even when you use lube on the cable. Usually if I have to add a cable to a conduit that already has more than a few in place, I tie a pull rope to the existing cables, pull them out, add the new ones, and pull them all back at once. I hate to remove something that works, but I keep the piece of worthless cable with the hole burned through the side over my patch panels to remind me why I do it.

It is easiest to pull if the diameter of the cables to be pulled is less than half the inside diameter of the conduit.

As before, I'll bet the pros have many more comments to add to this list.
 
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