Network and AV cabling a house – some questions…

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  • Network and AV cabling a house – some questions…
  • Markie
    Member

    So, we’re renovating our house, and approaching the stage where wiring needs to be sorted out – including network cabling and av stuff (‘stuff’ perhaps giving an indication of the extent of my knowledge…).

    I was going to go for cat5 purely because it’s always been enough – should I be going for cat6?

    I had been planning on having cat 5 leading to sockets in every room, upstairs (bedrooms) and down (kitchen, office, lounge, etc) , but am now wondering if I may as well cable every downstairs room and then leave the upstairs to wifi, by having just one run of cat5 up into the loft to link to a repeater – does this seem reasonable?

    Av wise I was planning on just having power points and cat5 sockets behind the two places TVs will go – are there any other cables I should be plastering in while I have the chance (for example, would anyone recommend trying to put speaker cable through the wall, given a nice hifi is a few years away?)?

    Thanks for your time!

    For AV think about your input – twin coax for a sat dish for example? Also phone socket nearby if you plan to have Sky.

    Sounds like a serious network and investment. How many devices are you planning on plugging in to the wall? With quality mains then powerline might save you a lot of work..

    I hard wired speaker cable in the walls for our kitchen so bookshelf speakers can sit on the units. Dropped long cables into the cellar so lots of options for driving them.

    Premier Icon mikewsmith
    Subscriber

    It’s been a thing I’ve wanted to do when we actually buy a house…

    But as for routing stuff, make sure you can pull through and replace if you need to. For cables I’d probably go with Cat6 just to avoid replacing earlier. So rather than plaster them in fully put a decent conduit up there so you can add/replace.

    If you run to a repeater then that could be a bottle neck if you have lots going on off that one, where do you plan to put your media store/nas (if thats in your plan) and where is your master phone socket?

    Any option of under floor for speaker cables? Again in a conduit just popping up where needed?

    The only other consideration is what sort of switch will you plug the lot into and where will all of that sit.

    Premier Icon Johnny Panic
    Subscriber

    No real advantage to Cat6 – just use 5e, powerline or wireless (or powerline wireless).

    ask1974
    Member

    You don’t really need anything more than CAT5e, however we install CAT6 anywhere a TV is going on the simple principle that if any technology is going to require the extra bandwidth video is it. Not essential though. Just remember that CAT6 has some pretty stringent installation requirements and if you don’t do it right it’s a waste. For what it’s worth I’m doing my place soon and will only use CAT5; I won’t be in the house long enough for it to be a problem.

    Pick a good sized ‘Hub’ location, preferably one with ventilation, and star wire everything back to this location. Don’t forget power.

    Your data solution is fine and one cable to a second ‘wireless access point’ is fine. By the way ‘Repeater’ is the wrong word, repeating a signal reduces throughput and is usually done wirelessly. You’re on the right track with cabling though.

    Four CT100 satellite cables to the dish, one to the mast, then two from (the hub) where they end to each TV point. Add 2x CAT5e for video / data to the TV points as well.

    Speaker cables to any room you may want sound. Whether you go to the ceiling, wall or skirting is up to you but as and when you want something like Sonos it’s nice to have all the gear out of sight.

    Pretty much all you need on the AV side. Security? CCTV? Lighting? Heating? Access control? Much cheaper to put cables in now than once the decorators walk off site!

    EDIT

    Don’t rely on Powerline, it was invented to provide a solution for those who didn’t wire their house first time round. Powerline has a limited bandwidth and with lots of activity on the network could bottleneck. It also only serves as a networking solutions unlike CAT5e which can be used in lots of ways.

    b r
    Member

    When I renovated I only hardwired the lounge surround-sound and HiFi, everything else works off wireless. While I could have added Sky+ into every room, it’s easier just to use SkyGo on the other devices.

    We did though have many additional sockets and also connected up side lights to 5-amp sockets which were then controlled by the main light switches – so we could just switch on the table lights as we entered a room, if we wanted.

    I went with Cat6 but it is an overhead to install, 12 cables to living room corner where all the A/V stuff is, 2 more behind TV along with HDMI going back to A/V corner. 2 in each bedroom,, 4 in kitchen, 6 in study.

    All terminate to understairs cupboard where it goes to a 48 port gig switch, with trunks to NAS and router, and onto fibre to the internet.

    2 Wifi AP’s downstairs, 2 upstairs.

    2 x Pair of Coax for sat dish down to understair, and 1 x Coax for TV. 2 x Pair of Co-ax back to Living room and all bedrooms from understairs

    This way I can get full gig wired speed in every room, stream movies at full HD to multiple rooms, TV/Sat in each room, WiFi flooding the place, stream HDMI anywhere with HDMI over cat5e etc

    For every cable you install, install a pair, you’ll use it in the end (this is for Co-Ax and Eth).

    As already said you should wire all back to a single point and you can then run whatever you want over it at some point in the future.

    If you have a choice, always pick cable over wifi for distribution. Use WiFi for device connection with additional AP’s, anything else, if you can cable, cable it.

    For speaker cables, if you are stripping walls, and know where the speakers, amp and TV will go – wire for a 7.1 system (just in case), also think of HDMI (but you could use more cat6 and do it over that)

    Or if you mainly just browse the internet and not a lot else, just throw some AP’s in and don’t worry!

    Cat 5 is all I’ve used just to where the tvs are, using old BT Home Hub 2 for connecting the PVR and TV also as a wireless repeater can also plug other cables in if need be.They are as cheap as chips on ebay
    I’m sat here typing and currently have a sped of 72 meg which is 3/4s of the theoretical max of cat 5, now when the supplier to the curb lifts its speed to over 100 m I may struggle but I dont know of any ISP who will be offering speeds of over 100 Mbs in the near future.

    Markie
    Member

    Thanks all!

    Cat5 sounds the way forward, but will ask the fitting chap when I speak to him today.

    Had planned (in as much as I have planned) for cabling to go to a switch in a cupboard under stairs. This isn’t planned as having ventilation – though given the stairs are being made, I guess they could put in a louvre?

    We’re getting cabling for security and cctv put in, lights also – I think we’re getting Haler (?) LEDs, I’ll need to post again to talk colours! – heating zones will be set up . Access control involves keys. If that’s what access control means!

    Thanks for clearing up my ‘repeater’ confusion.

    I’ll sort getting coax to the two tvs.

    I went with Cat6 but it is an overhead to install, 12 cables to living room corner where all the A/V stuff is, 2 more behind TV along with HDMI going back to A/V corner. 2 in each bedroom,, 4 in kitchen, 6 in study.

    Why 12 to the living room? For our TV room, I was figuring on 4 – tv, stereo, blu-ray player… I’m out by a long way! Our office will have that many, but it’s got 2x computers, 2x printers, NAS, SureSignal, and the rest. Oh, I guess a games console would eat one in the living room…

    Speaker cabling I was thinking of leaving as I don’t even really know where the speakers would go. Perhaps I need to just look at the floor plans and make a guess! Any recommendations for speaker cabling?

    Thanks!

    trail_rat
    Member

    so what are you all doing in your house that you need this much cabling ?

    steaming HD movies via apple TV wirelessly and i cope just fine….

    converse to what most tech heads will tell you – you can go overboard with this and probably wont use half of it.

    think about what YOU need – not what someone else tells you.

    but DO conduit – then you can add(or more likely update) as you require without raggling

    Gary_M
    Member

    I use either wireless or powerline sockets with a hub for wired connections.

    Can’t see the need to wire a house with cat5 unless it’s for the geek factor.

    Milkie
    Member

    Whatever the amount of Network sockets you think you need add a couple on! I thought 4 would be enough, 2 years later we need a minimum of 6 in the living room. CT100 for the TV’s, install a decent splitter/amp so it can distrubute the signal from the main TV or aerial to all other TV’s, handy for parties and things.

    Trail Rat, streaming HD movies to Apple TV is fine, but see what happens when you have 2 people streaming movies another streaming music and another surfing the internet. You’ll find you’ve maxed the Wi-Fi and everything starts to fall over. Also no setting up required for wired, quicker and less faff’age.

    You need to work out the bandwidth for each device, so you can work out how many cables you really need. I doubt all 12 network cables are going to running at max all the time, you may get a way with half as many and add a switch in the living room.

    Markie,
    For speaker cables, my dad had what looked like drain pipes installed in the walls, so he could upgrade the speaker cables in the walls by pulling the new cable through, it was very easy.

    12 cables to living room corner where all the A/V stuff is,

    I’ve wondered about this. Would you not be better off running about 4 and then adding a local switch? You might have a lot of devices there but they’re not all going to be demanding bandwidth at the same time.

    My question for other rooms is where to run the cables to – a physical cat5 port is only any use if it’s in the right place. In a bedroom is it bedside (to run a radio) or opposite bed (if someone who wants a TV in the bedroom)?

    trail_rat
    Member

    as i said – think about what you need…..

    given there are only 2 of us – we will be working hard to max our wifi out.

    its going to be many many yearsbefore i need anything else- by which time ill just run what ever the flavour of the day is down the conduit ive installed 😀

    Geez some people have bigger lan setups than I built to run a big network [big think Yorkshire, all of it]

    Why 12 to the living room? For our TV room, I was figuring on 4 – tv, stereo, blu-ray player… I’m out by a long way! Our office will have that many, but it’s got 2x computers, 2x printers, NAS, SureSignal, and the rest. Oh, I guess a games console would eat one in the living room

    I have Amp, Bluray, PS3, Xbox, MacMini (used to stream from NAS), Access Point, IP Phone, DAC, and two are used for HDMI over cables. The rest are for expansion. Also wanted to have the possibility of CCTV cameras over IP if ever required.

    Once I was running 4 I thought I might as well run 12 as the work was half done. In reality it was overkill, but tried to think of the future.

    Obviously not needed, but nice to have. You could get away with 4 easily, but no space to expand

    I’ve wondered about this. Would you not be better off running about 4 and then adding a local switch?

    You could, but where if you don’t have to fight for contention over an uplink it’s always better. Streaming SD or audio, obviously it’s fine, if you start multiple HD streams a single uplink gets busy, and they you have to start trunking multiple cables and the cost of a managed switch starts outways any savings made on cable.

    I also just wanted to bacause I could 🙂

    My question for other rooms is where to run the cables to – a physical cat5 port is only any use if it’s in the right place. In a bedroom is it bedside (to run a radio) or opposite bed (if someone who wants a TV in the bedroom)?

    Mine are where a TV would normally go, or where a desk would go. If you have slack in the cable you can hide away, then you can always move it roughly about.

    trail_rat
    Member

    “if you start multiple HD streams a single uplink gets busy,”

    incase you fancy watching two movies at once in your living room on the telly ?

    richc
    Member

    personally when I wired my house I wired it with Cat6, powerlines and wifi whilst OK are in the same league (powerlines share bandwidth, wifi is a PITA if you have thick walls).

    Price difference between cat5 and cat6, plus the fact that cat5e might give you a gigabit, but it might not and cat6 is better shielded I thought wtf I will spend the extra £20 (and I have long wiring runs).

    I wired in 24 ethernet points in my house, 2 per bedroom (as they can also be used for phone lines), 2 in the kitchen, 4 in the roof (wifi access points) 2 in the garage, 2 in the hall, and 6 in the sitting room as its easy to put in now and a PITA to add later.

    Personally I would also wire in pairs just incase one breaks at somepoint in the future as you will never be able to track down broken cables plastered into walls.

    I’ve wondered about this. Would you not be better off running about 4 and then adding a local switch? You might have a lot of devices there but they’re not all going to be demanding bandwidth at the same time.

    Personally I decided that long term (when my house is finished) that I will buy a decent 24 port gigabit switch, the cheap stuff isn’t actually that quick and I know my way around switches so it makes more send (plus I will run a pfSense firewall + proxy server to speed things up and cache traffic.

    I use either wireless or powerline sockets with a hub for wired connections.

    Can’t see the need to wire a house with cat5 unless it’s for the geek factor.

    Powerlines are great but it doesn’t scale past two devices without the performance going to shit, especially if you are streaming music/movies

    Gary_M
    Member

    Powerlines are great but it doesn’t scale past two devices without the performance going to shit, especially if you are streaming music/movies

    Son has his xbox on and watching tv via sky go on his mac – works fine there.

    messiah
    Member

    Hard wire as much as you can so as to take the load off the wifi. Parts of my house were easy to do whereas others are not; the bit thats difficult has to rely on wifi hence taking as much other stuff off the wifi as possible.

    When running cables run N+1.

    I went for Cat6 cables as the incremental additional costs were not huge and I’ve hopefully saved myself having to run them again in a few years.

    I’ve also left the string I used to pull cables through in case I want to pull more cables.

    “if you start multiple HD streams a single uplink gets busy,”

    incase you fancy watching two movies at once in your living room on the telly ?

    In case someone upstairs wants to watch an HD programme recorded on the Mac, while someone watches a movie in the living room from the NAS.

    Like I said, it’s not needed, but nice to have. But if you are putting it in fresh, just put in plenty rather than building in compromise from the start.

    I’m struggling to understand having multiple access points in a small room at some point they have to connect, then its back to the one network with its speed limitations. So you may as well have one cable and a hub

    sharkbait
    Member

    The data throughput on on my powerlines dropped to about 5% of what they used to run a few weeks ago – do idea why unless it’s becuase I’ve swapped 50 halogens to LED’s (which it isn’t as the problem is still there when the lights are off).
    I’ve now run cat6 and switches between a few specific points around the house (basically behind TV’s and into the ‘puter room.
    I’m now convinced that proper wired connections are preferable for continuous data transfer (i.e. streaming movies or music) while wifi is now only used for portable devices that usually don’t need 5hrs uninterrupted data transfer.
    This is in our house that is quite big and has thick walls and stuff so wifi ain’t brilliant.
    Edit: What Dales Rider said ^. Single cable with individual switch in each room back to the main switch.

    I’m struggling to understand having multiple access points in a small room at some point they have to connect, then its back to the one network with its speed limitations. So you may as well have one cable and a hub

    Because you should use a decent switch – for instance even an HP Procurve 2800 has 48gig switching capability on the backend. Having a decent switch will allow each port to run at capacity, so each one can run at full gig, trunk multiple ports for the NAS so you can combine 4 to get a 4gig link into the switch and it becomes quite useful.

    Switch speed is not link speed, it will have far more capacity than it’s single ports, a hub would obviously flood traffic to all ports, but no one would be buying them

    richc
    Member

    mynamesnotbob answer is more complete, but ultimately its because cheap blue netgear switches are shit.

    Just buy one decent one and save yourself loads of pain.

    Powerlines are great but it doesn’t scale past two devices without the performance going to shit, especially if you are streaming music/movies

    Son has his xbox on and watching tv via sky go on his mac – works fine there.

    Powerlines are a max of 200Mbps shared between all devices, and that’s if you are very lucky and on the same ring main, I never saw more than 80Mbps on my flat on its old wiring.

    Worked brilliantly with a PS3 streaming movies from a NAS, however if you tried to stream two devices it wasn’t great tbh.

    Every device is getting more data hungry, so if you can have dedicated wired for a couple of hundred max, why not? As whilst powerlines are great, the are a sticking plaster fix for inadequate data connections in your house and don’t compare.

    Think about it you are comparing 200 Mbps shared between all of your devices (TV/NAS/PS3/Freeview/Computer) and 1Gbps dedicated line speed for each device.

    So hands up who has a need for transferring 4 gig ? never mind 24 gig. I’m wondering if someone is just googling stuff on the net and firing off comments, I’m retired but did a lot of work with switches dont remember it all but the speeds you are talking are immense for simple home networking. The 80 meg [yes meg] is my ISP speed my network runs at 100 meg but even a tv program in HD I’m sure aint much more tan 45 meg. So maybe you have a clear feed into your house which would be about 2 gig, we use to take those direct from some broadcasters, but sticking it up to a transmitter we only had 68 meg.

    richc
    Member

    Thing is, yes its over the top for the moment; but 1 gig to the home is supposed to be here within the next 5 years (I have a 1Gb internet connection at work at the moment) and once you start streaming HD to multiple devices you are going to need a shitload of bandwidth. So why not future proof your setup.

    (just to qualify my comments; I have been working IT in IT since ’97; working in IT in an R&D/Engineering support function, working for large multinationals and cutting edge HiTech startups. I have a lot of experience with Cisco/Juniper/Aruba/Dell/Riverbed network kit and SystemV unix. )

    Milkie
    Member

    I will add 100gb of footage to the NAS over the network, or stream a 20-40gb video to a TV from the NAS, but that only works out at 6mbps when streaming. Even though I don’t think I’ll get near the 1gbs I certainly notice a slowdown when everyone is using the LAN. Maybe I need to get rid of the Netgear ProSafe Switch?

    So hands up who has a need for transferring 4 gig ? never mind 24 gig. I’m wondering if someone is just googling stuff on the net and firing off comments, I’m retired but did a lot of work with switches dont remember it all but the speeds you are talking are immense for simple home networking. The 80 meg [yes meg] is my ISP speed my network runs at 100 meg but even a tv program in HD I’m sure aint much more tan 45 meg. So maybe you have a clear feed into your house which would be about 2 gig, we use to take those direct from some broadcasters, but sticking it up to a transmitter we only had 68 meg.

    A full Bluray stream requires 40m/b/s – to do this realiably you need copper. Wifi won’t cut it. Total data transfer is around 30GB.

    My NAS takes a snap shot each night and transfers to another each night, these disks are then rotated to keep them offsite. So each night they are exchanging around 200GB of data.

    My Internet link runs at around 207mb/s so I wouldn’t step down to a 100mb/s LAN when in the house.

    So no not normal use compared to someone who browses facebook and downloads the odd track, but that level of data transfer is not exceptional and certainly won’t be in 3-5 years time.

    But it’s up to each person to pick what they want, I choose to others may not. But if you are throwing cables in the wall, you may as well try to cover yourself for the future.

    bedrooms (as they can also be used for phone lines),

    Is anyone installing cabled phones these days? Surely cordless – either DECT (in which case a single base station) or Wifi/VoiP

    Personally I would also wire in pairs just incase one breaks at somepoint in the future as you will never be able to track down broken cables plastered into walls.

    Smart thing to do would be to run through ducting.

    but even a tv program in HD I’m sure aint much more tan 45 meg.

    Broadcast HD started at around 18 when first launched but is now down around 6mbps. Nothing downloaded or streamed is likely to be higher.

    Is anyone really ripping Blu-rays to disc and streaming them? It really doesn’t seem worth the effort – I rarely watch a film more than once every couple of years. Kids might but then would you really go to the effort of ripping blu-rays for them?

    No harm future proofing I just wonder at some of the use cases.

    Premier Icon jam bo
    Subscriber

    No harm future proofing I just wonder at some of the use cases.

    You have seen the bikes people potter round trail centres on….

    oldboy
    Member

    Cat6, and put it all in trunking/conduit – that’s future proofing!

    Reads posts above

    buys more shares in copper mines.

    One of the good things about a cat 5 cable is that you can run a a phone extension though it as well if you like. running a cable to the loft would be a good idea if you have wifi problems upstairs, otherwise, realistically how much data do you need in the rest of the house and under what circumstances can you not just pick up the laptop/hard-drive/phone/tablet and take that data with you…

    Sign me up with your ISP who gives 207 mbs and claim a bonus

    ask1974
    Member

    I’m sat here typing and currently have a sped of 72 meg which is 3/4s of the theoretical max of cat 5, now when the supplier to the curb lifts its speed to over 100 m I may struggle but I dont know of any ISP who will be offering speeds of over 100 Mbs in the near future.

    CAT5e supports Gigabit Ethernet – that’s 1024Mbps so your (admittedly very good) 75Mbps Wi-Fi is only 7.5% of what CAT5e can support. Also, Virgin has Fibre speeds in excess of 100Mbps already.

    so what are you all doing in your house that you need this much cabling ? steaming HD movies via apple TV wirelessly and i cope just fine….

    So hands up who has a need for transferring 4 gig ? never mind 24 gig. I’m wondering if someone is just googling stuff on the net and firing off comments, I’m retired but did a lot of work with switches dont remember it all but the speeds you are talking are immense for simple home networking. The 80 meg [yes meg] is my ISP speed my network runs at 100 meg but even a tv program in HD I’m sure aint much more tan 45 meg. So maybe you have a clear feed into your house which would be about 2 gig, we use to take those direct from some broadcasters, but sticking it up to a transmitter we only had 68 meg.

    Easy to get lost in networking when discussing home wiring, especially CAT5e, but the cable is also used to deliver HD Video, IR/RS232 commands, audio etc. so it’s a very versatile cable. Some people have bigger houses so they not only need wireless solutions that require multi access points they also need a cable solution that allows media to be shared – if you have Sky/Virgin/Freeview/Freesat tuners with a recordable service (most of them do these days) and want to access the recorded content on multiple TVs you need structured wiring. A CAT5e with HDBaseT hardware will allow you to do this.

    There was a big drive a few years back to future proof homes with Fibre as streaming rates climbed higher and higher but, in reality, CAT5e is still more than adequate. It’s also cheap and easy to run. We’ve only needed to use fibre on a handful of properties and these we’re Saudi Royalty, huge and more a small to medium business than a home. Even then we could have survived without it. As fast as (video) resolution has increased the industry has been very good at creating codecs that keep the data rate under control. CAT5e supports both HDBaseT and Gigabit Ethernet and as such will support uncompressed video including 3D, 2k/4k resolutions with full colour depth, not many of us even use this in anger so still some headroom…

    sma_ll
    Member

    Anyone have a recommendation for a reasonable priced switch. I am looking at 24 ports, having recently run CAT6 through the house I really now need to wire it all up and buy the hardware.

    You seem to have taken the best approach sma as a few others have, me included 🙂 although all I have done is a cat 5 cable to where I need it. I’ve used, as said before a simple BT home hub 2 as they were free and also give better wireless cover in the rooms where fitted and into the front garden as well. Only 2 of us in the house watching TV in one room or maybe a 2nd room wih HD streamed from my PVR
    Do you really need a switch ? how much traffic will you be generating ? how many simultaneous users ?

    Sign me up with your ISP who gives 207 mbs and claim a bonus

    It’s BT FTTP – http://www.productsandservices.bt.com/products/broadband/faster-internet

    Slowly being rolled out and I’m lucky enough to be in a fibre area to the house, rather than the cab

    Suppose you are lucky, I have fibre to the curb so 80 max. Drops to about 17 when everyones on it. But for me its enough I pull in the odd film now and then

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