How to Wire Your House With Cat-5 (or 6) For Ethernet Networking

Picture of How to Wire Your House With Cat-5 (or 6) For Ethernet Networking
Although wireless is simpler for a lot of people, due to multimedia sharing, bandwidth on my home network and my slight paranoia about wireless security, I really wanted to use a hard wired solution for home networking.

Having a wired network allows me to have a private, high speed, network at home for Internet access, file sharing, media streaming, online gaming (console or PC), IP security cameras, or any other use of standard ethernet type wiring.

Lets get to it with considerations and planning!
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Step 1: Initial Considerations and Planning

There are certain design considerations that need to be addressed based on your needs. I'll discuss this before materials because these questions will affect quantities, tools and materials needed.

1. Which room/s do I want wired?

- I have a 2 bedroom condo so I knew I wanted both bedrooms wired. I also have a TV alcove where my cable TV is so that seemed like a good location to wire as well for things like video game consoles. I have cable TV in each of these locations so it seemed logical to treat the network the same way.

2. How many ports do I want in each location?

- With a multiple game consoles and network enabled Blu-Ray player connected to my TV, I knew I wanted at least 3 connections behind my TV. Since the wall plates come in 1, 2, 4, and 6 jack configurations (for single gang), I just went with 4. Why run one cable when its nearly as easy to run 4, right? Rather than vary the number, I just ran 4 drops to each location to provide maximum flexibility with out the need for local (in-room) switches. 3 locations with 4 ports each, 12 ports total.

3. What is a good location for distribution?

- For me the logical location was my laundry room. My cable TV already comes into this room and gets split to each room. It is important to note that my internet comes into the house (over the cable) here too so if I move my cable modem here, it will be able to supply internet access to the entire network. Another thing to consider is the amount of space needed to mount a shelf to hold the network equipment.

4. What path should the cables take?

- This is probably the most difficult consideration. For me, my condo is on the 2nd (top) floor and have access to my attic. My cable TV is distributed through the attic so it seemed like a good solution to run my home network through there as well. For single floor homes with a basement, the basement may be the best path. For multi-story homes you may have to be creative. Outside may be an option or through an old laundry chute. I will not address the specifics of all the possibilities, just my own circumstances. The other consideration with cable path is cable length. The max cable length for up to gigabit speeds over copper UTP cabling is 100 meters (~300 feet). This should provide plenty of flexibility for most home applications but it is good to be aware of this limit.

5. What network speed do I need?

- This will mainly play a part in what kind of switch to get. 10mbps is still faster than most everyones home internet connection, so if you are just surfing a 10 megabit switch will suffice just fine. You can probably pick up one really cheap at a used computer store or maybe even free. You might consider 100mbps if you are planning on sharing multimedia over your network. 100 megabit switches are reasonably priced and easy to come by. Gigabit is probably overkill in most situations but if you must have the fastest, go with it. You will also likely want to use Cat-6 in this case as well. Beware, gigabit switches more than 8 ports climb in price very quickly.

Next up, tools and materials!

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not to bad guys nice work!!!

LindaB92 months ago

hi. I have CAT-5e line in several room of the house. I have a fios router. when i plug one end into the router, and connect it to the jack from the office, it doesn't work. do i need a switch?

Help! I've run the cat5e cables and plugged them into my switch whic is also connected to my modem/router. When I plug my laptop into the jack, nothing happens. Should my jacks be T568A and T568B ?? I've wired them all as B but I'm not getting any connection. I tried plugging my laptop into the switch and I connect right away...what am I missing? Thanks in advance for your comments!

Did you test your connects with something other than a laptop? (with a tester)

Help! I've run the cat5e cables and plugged them into my switch whic is also connected to my modem/router. When I plug my laptop into the jack, nothing happens. Should my jacks be T568A and T568B ?? I've wired them all as B but I'm not getting any connection. I tried plugging my laptop into the switch and I connect right away...what am I missing? Thanks in advance for your comments!
I've always dreamed of a house with 2 gigabit ethernet hookups in each room and a little alcove up high somewhere for a switch/modem/router that would also offer a good spot for wireless. I bought all cat6 cables when I needed new ones, but I still have a mbit router and there's only one gbit computer.
Gigabit equipment does not help you if your ISP ( internet service provider ) has not this service or option. As far as I know, most ISP do not support the gigabit speeds.
jdolen1 shortw4 months ago

This is a PERMANENT fixture to your house. You don't think gigabit speeds are going to be offered in 10 years, 20 years? Plan for the future, make your futureself love your pastself for being awesome.

Disagree. Gigabit moves data faster between router and devices. The faster your download/upload service with your ISP the quicker (with gigabit service) the data passes from router to device (and back, on the upload side).

I have some computer that used to be gigabit, then I switched them to another router that was 100 mbps. The difference was easy to spot, for sure. The same ISP in both cases.
jdowning shortw3 years ago
This is for generic networking which could mean externally & internally. It doesn't matter about the ISP if you're doing stuff internally - this is where Gigabit speeds can become of use.

Gigabit equipment will help you if you're transferring a large amount of files or pulling stuff simultaneously of NAS drives.
Cablevision (Optimum Online) REQUIRES Gigabit technology for its Optimum Online Ultra package (101Mbps down and 15Mbps up). It's only $100 per month so it's not outside the reach of consumers either.
No, but if you do full disk backups (images) or share media over your network gigabit speeds make it a lot faster.
during your upgrade look for native IPV6 switches/routers. You don't need to cover the entire house/complex with 1 wifi base, use 2-3 and put them in infrastructure mode. Well run and terminated Cat 5e can reach GB speeds, at least over normal size house runs. The next big challange is 10Gb. I had my last house completely cabled and then had to find uses for it(2001), now I have many devices ready and able to be networked.
akhan1288 months ago

FYI: you may also checkout this post for the related information,Patch Panel For LAN Connection with CAT5/CAT6 | touchtechblog this might help you too. Thanks!

jbingham48 months ago
Wireless is no longer a convenience but a necessity. In the 90s this info was invaluable and common place but in the new millenium... well, show me an Instructable for add in networking cable plugs to my phone and tablet that won't void my warranties.
Alex Brown1 year ago

Cat5e network cable television can be used to carry impulses. Most of these type of cabling are generally used by networking infrastructure in addition to getting potential to be able to offers large swiftness & suitable for this 10Gbps Ethernet cabling podium.

ychandolu1 year ago
I have 4 phone outlets in the house. But behind the rj11 jacks, the house is wired with cat 5. I am planning to install rj11 and rj45 combo jacks by splitting cat 5 cable so I have both data and phone in al lthe 4 places. My cat5 are terminating in the cable company box out side of the the house. How do I go about enabling the internet and phone in all the 4 jacks? what is the best way for me to do so?
Assuming that you know this already but each CAT5 Cable has 8 wires in it and only 4 of them are being used. You could run Data with the Phone but there is a down side. By doing that the phone lines will interfere with the Data lines and bring down performance by a lot. You are probably better off running CAT5e or CAT6 next to the CAT5 cable if you are hardwiring for speed. If not then look in the Cable box outside for 4 of the wires that are not being used.... Then you will need to install a network switch around that location because unlike phone you can't just split the data wire into 4. If you want the speed I highly suggest that you run a second cable.
Thanks for the reply. I already completed the splitting part in the wall outlets and now I have both rj11 and rj45 in my house. From your suggestion, my next plan is to buy a network switch and install it some where near the cable box, but inside of my house. Any suggestions on a good basic network switch that is popular for easy install? any suggestions are greatly appreciated.
Thanks for a great instructable! It was very clear and inspiring. I wanted to say, though, that I thoroughly enjoyed this instructable and was getting really psyched about wiring up the office of my small business when I got to the second to last sentence "Your wife or girlfriend might not like your sex lives on the internet though!" It was suddenly and forcefully revealed to me that the author likely assumed the audience for this post was straight and male. That's a real bummer.

Like all my experiences when it is revealed to me that I am in the minority of those expected to benefit from posts like these, it was a really isolating and alienating experience. I believe statements like these work, generally unintentionally, to reinforce gender norms in which women are socialized to believe they are incapable, unwelcome, or uninterested in fields that involve technology of any sort.

In addition, I was quite offended by the lighthearted treatment of what many women would consider a nonconsensual violation of privacy. I think the most generous reading of that sentence would be that the author wanted to gently remind his male audience that posting sex videos of their partners without their consent is often received negatively by those partners. Even so, I think the comment was offensive in its treatment of the issue.
pepetito2 years ago
Well when my dad comes home from work he is required by the government to have a wired connection for security soooo... there more secure i guess is the only use for thi
TNThieding3 years ago
Thank you for the very useful information. I have a huge spool of Cat5 cable a friend did not need and they gave to me. I am planning of setting up booster routers in the rooms with ports that have wi-fi dead zones to give internet to my "wireless-only" devices". I have random devices and computers scattered through the house and I prefer wired over wireless like you.

Thank you for posting this valuble instructable for assisting others and I. This is a really good and rewarding project.
Remember.... Cat5 is adequate for 10/100 mbps, but NOT good enough for 1 gbps. Learned this the hard way. It simply won't cut it. Must use Cat5e for 1 gigabit connection, and, of course, have a gigabit router and a gigabit nic card.
jobard3 years ago
I'm sorry, I couldn't understand why you think cables are better than wireless connection. On the former you have to break walls, you are limited to the end of the cable, so if I want to bring my laptop from my desk to my bed, either the cable should be long enough, or there should be another connection point close to my bed, and in this case, the connection will be lost for disconnecting one point and connecting to the other. Not to mention the expense for buying up to 100m of cables and installing them. The latter, you just have to use a router or two, and I'll be able to use my laptop even in the toilet, if I want, although this idea sounds bizarre.... Regarding safety, that's what firewalls are used for.
What do you think?
Rogue Agent (author)  jobard3 years ago
Cables are ALWAYS going to be more secure and provide faster and more reliable bandwidth than wireless. You clearly didn't read the entire thing because I do discuss the possibility of adding wireless to the mix as well. Sure wireless is VERY convenient, especially for renters, or for laptops, ipads and devices that you move to different locations. But the benefit of distributed cabling should be obvious. Even if you wanted all your endpoints wireless, there is still benefit in that you could get better signal connecting an access point to the cabling on each floor of a 3 story house.

Sure there are cost and convenience trade offs and I think I address them very well. Some people like to "break walls" and have a built in solution.

About your comment "that's what firewalls are for", you might want to brush up on your understanding about what firewalls do. Firewalls do not protect wireless. Firewalls are like a gate to your network - but if you use wireless the gate kinda doesn't work because your traffic flies through the air. Yes there are security methods to protect wireless communications, and yes they've improved since I originally wrote the article. But you still never achieve the same security you would with a wired network.

Thanks for reading! Hopefully I've made it more clear.
What they meant to say is that is what Faraday cages are for, as in put one around your whole house :)
Shelby S3 years ago
Awwww man this is GENIUS. I've never thought about this. Great idea. I hate wireless connections, not only because they're a little slower than wired, but because, at least in my situation, they're obstructed. I'm currently running on an old PC (that's soon to change), and the only options for internet are to haul it right in front of the router, blocking the TV, or use a wireless card.. I only have USB ports on the back, and no extension cables. So my wireless card is cornered, and gets a crappy signal.
Cool article. I am not a wifi fan either. Though I do use ethernet over power to connect the two major computer areas in the house. Did enough wiring as a tech.
bblackmoor3 years ago
I found this write-up very helpful and informative. I am going to wire our house for ethernet, and this instructable brought to mind several things I had overlooked. I appreciate the complete lists of parts and supplies. Very helpful.

(Some people have commented on the lack of prices, but I would expect prices to change, anyway, so I really don't think that's a big deal. Besides, this documenting the author's project, and if he got something free, then he got it free. I don't see the issue there.)
PeterDL3 years ago
QUESTION - we are currently wiring Cat-6 and replacing Cat-3 into the rest of the updates we have done on our 1953 home. Having no issues and coming along nicely. The idea is to keep up with FiOS we have had with Verizon for several years. Our house needed the update and we want to be up to 'speed' for changes in cable/TV industry when we figure in a few years time, all one will need is an ISP for computer to replace set-top boxes in populated areas. NetFlix runs on our big TV screen just fine through the X-Box on a nice big monitor.

We figure that in short order, competitive ISP vendors will offer (ala Hulu) will run the TV and all the devices that are currently entering each home - like - iPad and wireless ways of watching anything that traditional TV/Cable once ruled. The telephone is almost a hang-nail bundle now because it is digital and we have consumer choices outside cable company bundling. With Vonage, Magic Jack, Skype, etc - phones will probably be dropped in bundle choices and just be part of ISP services?

Verizon has changed downwards to 'digital' phone bundle, and we like having a land line. With FiOs we enjoy a highly effective WiFi environment with the old wiring. I promised the CAT-6 will make it even better.

THE QUESTION came up with my wife when she asked me - as I had said to her that the old CAT-3 defeats high speed price tiers after enters the old wiring in the house. I told her my readings indicated we were around 10Mbps once the service hit our house wiring regardless of how fancy the box to the house and pay tier promised. Thus the upgrade is timely now to CAT-6.

If all we were getting was the low speed high speed - WHY were we paying for higher priced, 25Mbps 'faster' tier selections all this time?! In summery, if the house has old wiring, what good is it for a consumer to pay for the highest speed FiOS offers when the CAT-3 wiring does not allow it to do it's thing?

When we are finished converting - CAT-6 should up our bang for less buck if we switch to lower tier pricing? We have good speed and wireless and wired interaction with our computers and devices with the CAT-3.

Should we change our package for the lower speed price selection from our ISP with the CAT-6, and not blink in the 'speed' if we pick the Thanks ahead of time for helping weed out fact vs. fiction vs. wallet!
shortw4 years ago
I am a maintenance man at a big company and all we use is 568 A , witch most was installed 10 years ago.
Also to note, the longest run can not be more than 100 meters without signal loss.
FYI, The bit about the maximum length being 100 meters was mentioned earlier in the instructable.
Yes Thanks, had read about it here. I don't see it as a challenge here though as longest run to date is just over 25 Meters.
DavidMR4 years ago
I have been reading and collecting information for a while on this exact topic. I intend (with help) to complete the wiring / cabling this Saturday - April 2nd. After reading your well written and informative instruction, I will be using CAT 6 and I will be running 4 cables to all outlets. I also intend running some Coax - Satellite - RG6 to some select locations.

I have one question though, Is there any other cable(s) that I should consider running now that I will be cutting into the walls? I have thought of Speaker Wire but not really sure it would be beneficial?
I have a plan to add CCTV at some stage but with (my limited) knowledge, I beleive I can use the CAT 6 for that purpose so.. no need that I am aware of for specific CCTV cable?

The house is 3 story so I want to do this once in] my lifetime!
Don't worry about CCTV as you will probably go IP cameras soon anyway.
IPcams can have better resolution and integrated into a VOIP pabx to allow camera attached to door stations etc
Advice taken. I started this job and with the usual interuptions of work and life, I estimate that the cabling will not be finished til May! BUt as I am in no rush, it is giving me good time to collect information for the final network design.
My buddy and I are building neighboring houses, and we are doing cat 5e and quad shielded RG6 to all bedrooms, as well as any sitting/activity areas as well as my theater. We are also dropping 7.1 speaker taps into my theater and his TV room as well as 5.1 speaker taps into the basement rumpus rooms.

Simplest approach is simply find a good central post build accessible spot and run mainlines to there, and then hub/splitter the network and coax lines to everywhere you want em. This gives you an all purpose point away from the main panel to deal with your low voltage stuff and also allows you to expand later if needed, i.e. I am not finishing my basement immediately, but when I do I will be adding 3 more coax/net cable panels to accommodate my lab, another bedroom and the poker/tv area.

So really unless you are planning to add a projector at some point (then you need to run composite,component and hdmi cables through the celing and receiver wall to keep it clean) then you really only need to do net/coax/speaker.
Duchateau4 years ago
It is amazing how much hate you got for this one. I think it is awesome. I know how google works and can look up prices myself. I think it was well written and really made me think about some things i hadn't thought of. Good Job!
ElvenChild4 years ago
Umm... Dude I dont want a bugatti and I still have a home phone
 Why write anything at all about costs knowing you'll say nothing informative? Most of us have tools, I'm sure; subscribing to Instructables implies this. Few of us have access to so much free material and components.
 Please make the article you write as informative as it is instructive. I find incomplete information frustrating.
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