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Networks Wiring out a house with Cat 6?

Discussion in 'Hardware' started by Mnet_Gaming, 28 Aug 2014.

  1. Mnet_Gaming

    Mnet_Gaming New Member

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    tl;dr Need to wire up a house with Cat 6 in London - how much?

    Hey all,

    So this is a bit of an unusual one and given the amount of modders here I'm figuring you'll know.

    I recently[ish] moved into my own house which was built way back in the 1930s and I'm finding that Wireless and Powerline networking really isn't working for me.

    I often work from home (I'm a dev) so having fast networking to shift things to and from a nas and other machines is really useful. At the moment I'm working around it by using a single workstation which is loaded with disks. It works reasonably but it's continually being a point of failure and also fairly pricey to run.

    What I'm thinking is I should probably just get the house wired up properly with Cat 6 and shove a managed switch in the loft or utility cupboard with the VM Broadband. I'm thinking four rooms and an additional two "utility areas" (garage etc) could use wiring up (though at a min, two). Ideally I'd have 4 ports per room (nic teaming if possible) and maybe some additional dark cable run for future use. I could provide the cable and switch.

    Does anyone know where I could even start with something like this? What sort of budget would it require if I got someone in to do it? Am I missing a trick is there another non-intrusive networking approach I've not tried?

    Cheers, hopefully my wall-o-text doesn't put you off!
     
  2. Sp!

    Sp! Well-Known Member

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    it really depends how you go about doing it, the cable is fairly cheap £80 will get you a nice roll of 305m which will probably be enough, £30 for a patch panel at your head end, then about £5 per double socket in the room for a reasonable face plate.

    The real cost comes in fitting the cable. if you do it your self and find ways to hide it, it doesn;t have to cost a lot, if you need to cut channels out of the wall and re finish the decoration it gets messy and expensive pretty fast.
     
  3. Lance

    Lance Ender of discussions.

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    Also engineers charge a crazy amount in London for connecting the face plates. If you can do that yourself too you will save a big wad of cash.
     
  4. Mnet_Gaming

    Mnet_Gaming New Member

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    Yeah, I looked at a local dealer who charged something like 120/hr. Given installing that stuff is time consuming that would cost thousands.

    I think I'd need someone to drill out the holes and mount the boxes (obviously shoving on faceplates and wireing up the cat 6 I can do). Realistically I'm not particularly confident messing around with the house just yet (getting into the swing of DIY). As a fully decorated house any modifications would need to cleaned up - that said, is that hard? Surely you're just drilling into the cavity, running the cable and mounting a faceplace?

    Does anyone have any experience with low power routers and using multiple APs? Is that a potential viable solution?
     
  5. Mister_Tad

    Mister_Tad Will work for nuts Super Moderator

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    I did some cabling myself not too long ago on account of poor wifi throughout the house and a discovery that powerline wasn't really any better.

    I compromised with three cable runs, in lieu of wiring up every room.:

    - One short run from a cupboard on the ground floor with the modem to two rooms over with the main router, a wired switch and a bunch of wired kit. This goes through a block wall, is then threaded behind the plasterboard on a dot & dab wall (and chased where the cement gets in the way) then up in to the ceiling to the next room where it is dropped down through a cavity wall to it's final destination. It's a brush plate exit, since this room is more an A/V cupboard than an actual room, and there's lots of other cables coming in.

    - The big run goes from the A/V cupboard up to the loft with CAT6 FTP. In the loft there's a wifi AP, a sonos bridge, a gigabit switch and a NAS. This cable goes up a cavity wall through the ceiling in the A/V cupboard, pops out the floor in the kitchen above underneath a cupboard unit, runs across the floor in to the wall and follows that wall up to the ceiling, goes across that ceiling around 12 ft (perpendicular to the joists, so is chased across the joists), in through a wall across to the stairs and around another 12ft up through that wall to the loft (and there were dwangs every 18 inches or so, chased across).

    - There's then another run that goes from the switch in the loft to my office which is on the second floor, nice and easy drop through a cavity wall.

    Having a couple decent APs in the house gets me full speed wifi in every room, and the office is cabled which clearly gets me full gigabit speeds for anything in there.


    Running cables can be very easy, or diabolically difficult, and unless you know every detail of the construction of the house or have X-Ray vision, it's hard to know which one it will be until you get started. It's quite doable yourself, and for £120/hr I'd definitely have a punt, but be prepared for it to weeks to complete (assuming you're working on it in your spare time).

    My advice if you do decide to tackle it yourself:
    - Don't dive straight in, follow every intended run through the house before you start and consider how you're getting across each floor/ceiling and through each wall. Consider where pipes are because A) you don't want to damage them and B) they present a nice route through a wall. Soil pipe enclosures can be your friend too - sadly didn't work out in my case.

    - When you plan the routes, have a few options in mind and be prepared to change course half way if you find that something isn't going to work. In a 1930s house, you're likely to run in to some surprises along the way.

    - Pop some small holes in walls, ceilings and floors along the route, large enough to slip your phone in and snap a couple of photos to see what you're dealing with.

    - Don't make good until you've finished everything

    - When it comes to making good, lightweight deep-gap filler is your friend. It's at least 4x the price of traditional filler, but I got away with one coverage on the vast majority of my channels. Sand smooth and then paint as many coats as necessary with a mini roller for an invisible finish.

    Tools of the trade
    - Duct tape - to attach the cable to your pusher
    - Electrical tape, pop this over the end of the cable you're running and it will be less likely to catch on things inside the wall
    - A "pusher" - Something rigid yet flexible to push/pull through a cavity with a cable taped to the end
    - A "hooker" - Not for sexy times, something to reach across a cavity and grab a cable - e.g. a coat hanger bent to shape
    - A plasterboard hand saw. I prefer this to something powered as you can feel resistance when you run in to something that you probably shouldn't be cutting.
    - A long 10mm masonry bit and wood bit
    - A chaser, if there's any walls that put up too much resistance
    - A shedload of plastic sheeting to put over *everything* when you're using the above.
     
  6. Mnet_Gaming

    Mnet_Gaming New Member

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    Cheers, that was seriously in depth. I'm going to have to let that all sink in! Damn!

    How do you find your equipment running in the loft? I've got a pretty large loft but it's obviously full of insulation and dust, lots of dust. How are you avoiding your unattended equipment from either overheating or worse, catching fire?
     
  7. Mister_Tad

    Mister_Tad Will work for nuts Super Moderator

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    I popped the kit on a couple of rack shelves (just attached to a couple of beams) so that it wasn't just nestling in the insulation. I haven't had any issues with overheating and it gets pretty warm up there in the summer. The device most likely to have heat issues is the NAS, and that will alert me if it's getting too toasty.
     
  8. Bungletron

    Bungletron Well-Known Member

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    I recently moved into a new flat that required building work, so I had my builders lay the cable and install the wall boxes, I installed and tested the faceplates myself later because getting an engineer was expensive and I believed I had the technical nouse to do this part myself. Any builder can lay the cable and install the wall boxes, it is not technical work I would suggest a quote at their hourly rate.

    To do the low voltage work is a bit fiddly and some practice is required, but in the end I successfully installed 12 cat6 lines, tested and working, it is not that difficult just slightly frustrating. What made it worse is in my eagerness to get the most use out of the least space I chose single gang faceplates that have triple sockets, this makes the area in each wall box confined and harder to work in. Also if you do this make sure the builder does not fill the cable entry point of the wall box (unlike mine did, he said he was worried that the cables would fall back into the cavity) as you will need a good length of cable to work with and want the option once you have connected the face plate to push the excess back into the cavity.

    Each faceplate is comprised of a number of RJ-45 'keystone' jacks that slot into the faceplate, designed I imagine to be replaceable because I destroyed 1 or 2 jacks by accident trying to install the cables (I would recommend getting an extra faceplate/keystone jacks just in case and for practice). Each cable must be properly connected to each keystone jack. Although some keystones are tool-less mine were not and required the use of a punch down tool to connect each wire. The cable is made up of 4 twisted pairs (8 wires total) that must be separated and laid out over each correct terminal, then the punch down tool is used to punch the wires into the terminals).

    In my case I purchased a punch down tool and network tester from Maplin, you will also require screwdrivers and a large pair of scissors for cutting back the sheathing, core flex and nylon cord in each cable. Also I have seen a kind of protector that sits in your other hand while using the punch down tool, I did not have one of these but I certainly would use one in future, you apply a lot of force pushing the tool into the jack and that jack is pushed into your hand, a lot. 12 cables is 24 connections and many I had to repeat so I had a very achy palm by the end.

    You will have a lot of spare cable so get a spare jack and test using the tools to strip and punch down onto the jack. You may need to calibrate the punch down tool to get it punching down to the right height. The jack will not take a lot of repeated installs of cable, you may notice it looks pretty knackered once you have practised on it 2 or 3 times. It is important to inspect the punch down closely, any wire that is not fully and neatly punched down into the terminal may still be insulated or badly connected and is likely to give you issues later. Test each cable once you have connected both ends before attaching the face plate to the wall in case any of them need redoing. If you need to redo one, cut the cable back and discard the used part and inspect the jack for damage before trying again.

    Eventually you will have a pretty dope wired network.
     
  9. dancingbear84

    dancingbear84 error 404

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    I am continually running cable at home, I opted for cat 5e which at the time I bought it I was able to pick up for 30 odd quid for a 300m. Things to remember if you can are:
    1. Always run more than you need ideally by 50%
    2. Where ever possible try to put a conduit, it makes life so much easier if you need to pull more later, if you can not do conduit then string or thin rope at least 3 times as long as the drop you require that way you can always pull more cable through in a slightly easier way in future.
    3. Bring a friend, buy them a crate of beer/bottle of wine or something for their efforts but it so much easier than keep running back and forwards to push or pull bits of cable through.
    4. Sticky back pvc trunking along the skirting and door frames doesn't look out of place and the narrowest stuff will fit 4 cables.
    5. Get all of the tools ready in advance, punch down tool, tape, rods, hooks, screwdriver, knife, gloves, face plates, back boxes, rawlplugs, screws etc
    Also thick gloves and a paper dust mask or better as you WILL at some point have to go through loft insulation and it is evil stuff.
    6. If you can afford it buy more than 1 box of cable and pull the 2 boxes at a time trying to tape them together every few feet as you to prevent tangling. It helps prevent the monotony of repeating the same run again and again. Sure it costs a bit more but pulling 1 run of 4 cables is so much better the 4 pulls of 1 cable.
    7. Never cut until you have a minimum of 1m extra at each end. Worse case use the off cuts as patch cables for the panel.
    8. Get a cable tester to check the continuity at each point and do it as you go.
    9. Label patch and wall sockets as you go.

    I learnt most of these the hard way!
     
  10. Corky42

    Corky42 Where's walle?

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    Just wanted to mention as i have seen many people talk about cavity walls, if it's a 1930's house it may have solid walls. Afaik cavity walls weren't used in UK construction until the 1930's so it may not have them.
     
  11. hoochy

    hoochy Need moar cooling

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    This. Before you start ploughing holes through things, please check and identify any possible routes where asbestos may be present. It really is evil. :dremel:
     
  12. crazyg1zm0

    crazyg1zm0 Well-Known Member

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    Glad I found this as im going to want to do this myself soon,

    Im going to investigate how much it would cost for a builder to put the cables to each room (i will terminate them and fit them to end plates but i have a big plan and am also planning on buying a new build house so i might be able to get it wired in perfectly with conduit and possible extra cable for redundancy.

    im guessing cat 6 is still what everyone is using and there no point doing 7 yet
     
  13. dancingbear84

    dancingbear84 error 404

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    For me it was a cost/performance thing. Cat 6 gave 1gb as did cat 5e. I know that cat6 offered more redundancy, but the price at the time didn't really warrant it in my case.
    That was 3 years ago, now it may be different
     
  14. Parge

    Parge the worst Super Moderator

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    My tip on this (what we did):

    Just rip off the skirting boards, and there's a hole in the bottom that'll fit it.
     
  15. crazyg1zm0

    crazyg1zm0 Well-Known Member

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    Parge that was my plan, If i can't get it built into the house the way i want
     
  16. Mister_Tad

    Mister_Tad Will work for nuts Super Moderator

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    For GbE there's no practical difference between Cat5e, Cat6, Cat6A and "Cat7" and beyond (AFAIK anything greater than CAT6A isn't entirely standardised yet).

    The difference comes when you're thinking about 10GbE, where Cat5e won't do, Cat6 will do at 40-50m depending on how "hostile" the environment is (e.g. if it's bundled with other cables, crossing with AC power etc) and CAT6A will do 100m. When you step up to 40GbE and 100GbE distances are reduced further theoretically, but for practical purposes optical is the norm when we start talking about >10GbE (and even at 10GbE)

    Running cables with CAT6A S/FTP will be tonnes of fun - quite stiff with a large bend radius, so bear this in mind when selecting cable.

    Also bear in mind that the terminations play a big part in speed over distance, too much patching or sub-standard terminations will limit effectiveness of high-end cable.
     
    Last edited: 28 Aug 2014
  17. javaman

    javaman May irritate Eyes

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    Recently completely rewired the house and put sockets in each room. Had the advantage of wooden floors with crawl space and the face the carpet was up to get replaced making it easy enough to just route everything myself. The electrician hooked up the electrics to the meter box (think legally he needs to do that) but he said himself that wiring a house is the bit he hates and takes the longest. He sorted an alarm system which meant he was here for a full day but it would of taken a further three to route everything himself including the tracking in the walls.
     

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