Introduction: How to Install a Structured Wiring Enclosure

Picture of How to Install a Structured Wiring Enclosure

My home had a small wiring enclosure in the hall closet. It contained a mess of telephone cable and coax for cable TV. It turned out that the phone cable was actually Cat-5 going to each phone outlet and I wanted to use this to distribute wired Internet to the outlets and in some rooms have wired Internet and phone.
I wanted to have my cable modem, Ooma base station (which I use for phone service) and Internet router out of the way in the enclosure. Also in the closet was an existing alarm system and I wanted to move all of its wiring into the same enclosure.
After some research, I settled on the On-Q system from Legrand. It is very modular and has a lot of parts that work together.

Step 1: Parts List

I got the largest enclosure they do, a 42" tall one. Be warned, this is not inexpensive. The total cost for the parts came to just under $1000 and I purchased all of the On-Q parts from www.homecontrols.com

1 x OQEN4250 On-Q Enclosure with Hinged Door, 42 In.
1 x OQ36456902 On-Q Duplex Outlet Kit with Surge Protection
1 x OQ36426601 On-Q Power Strip Module
1 x OQ36490401 On-Q Universal Mount Plate, Full Width
2 x OQ36348601 On-Q 8-Port Network Interface Module
1 x OQCO1000 On-Q 6-Port Phone/Data Module
1 x OQDA1054 On-Q 4-Port Gigabit Router/Switch
1 x OQDA1008 On-Q 8-Port Gigabit Network Switch
2 x OQPW7760 On-Q Power Supply, 12VDC, 18W
1 x OQWP1000WH On-Q Pre-Configured Strap (Phone, Data & Blank), White Color: White

You'll also want a number of Ethernet outlets - I used Cat6 Punch Down Keystone Jacks from Monoprice.

Step 2: Tools

You'll need a bunch of tools for this project:

* Utility/Stanley knife - for cutting into drywall and cutting wire sheath
* Drywall saw - for cutting large openings in drywall
* Gloves/mask/goggles
* Electric drill and screwdriver
* Assorted screwdrivers
* Electrician's snips
* Wire stripper
* 110 Punchdown tool - I used this one from Monoprice
* Assorted network cables - I got some 1' ones from Fry's for the patch panels and longer ones for testing
* Nylon cable ties - for keeping things neat and out of the way
* Network tester - I used this one from Monoprice and it was well worth it

Step 3: Prepare the Area for the Enclosure

Picture of Prepare the Area for the Enclosure

Warning: there are usually live wires running horizontally through studs in walls. Use a live wire detector (many stud finders have this function) to look for them to determine where to situate the enclosure.

1. Get your wires grouped and out of the way.
2. Your enclosure is going to between two studs. Figure out roughly where it is going to go. In my case, because the enclosure is 42" tall it occupies most of the wall.
3. Use a stud finder and tapping to locate the studs and also use it to look for live wires. In my case, since I was enlarging an existing cutout, the lateral location was pre-determined. I did need to open up the cutout vertically and this is where I ran into a horizontal run of live wires straight behind where I wanted to mount the new enclosure. I used a contractor to relocate that wire run for me.
4. Use the utility knife to start a hole in the drywall and the drywall saw to cut the opening. You may want to cut a small opening first so that you are able to probe the interior of the cavity for wiring.

Step 4: Running Electrical to the Enclosure

Picture of Running Electrical to the Enclosure

Separate low voltage from line voltage.

Use the duplex receptacle to run line voltage into the enclosure, but keep all line voltage wiring outside the enclosure.
To do so, you'll run the line voltage below the enclosure, so you might want to open up some extra drywall for that.
If you are drilling through studs to run wiring, make sure that you follow local codes, understand whether the stud is load bearing and install a nail guard in front of the stud at the location that the wire is running.

Step 5: Install the Enclosure

Picture of Install the Enclosure

The picture shows the enclosure installed into the opening. Note the extra opening below to enable the electrical box to be easily wired.
The enclosure is attached to the studs using four screws.
Punch outs in the top and bottom let you route wiring as you need to. In my installation, all the RG6 coax (white) enters through the top right opening, all the Cat-5 (yellow, blue and orange) enters through the top middle opening and all the security system cabling enters through the top left opening.
Do not cut the wires - any excess can be pushed into the cavity above the enclosure and it is better to have too much than too little. Once I had about 18" of wire in the enclosure, I tied them together using cable ties and trimmed to the same length to make the next steps easier and neater.

Step 6: Lay Out the Interior Components

Picture of Lay Out the Interior Components

This is where most of the money went and you want to lay out these components to get an idea of how you want to mount them in the enclosure.
Counter-clockwise from top right: 8-port network interface modules (2 of them next to each other), 6-port phone/data module, 4-port router/switch and 8-port switch.
I went Gigabit Ethernet for everything and there are versions that do PoE as well.
Not shown:
1. The video splitter, which is basically one input RG6 coax that feeds 8 RG6 coax outputs.
2. The power strip - this clicks into place towards the bottom of the enclosure (leave enough room to plug it into the receptacle at the bottom!)
3. The full width tray - this clicks into place and I placed it above the power strip. It will be where the cable modem and Ooma are placed.

Step 7: Install the Video Splitter

Picture of Install the Video Splitter

I installed this first and immediately below where the coax cables come in. It is easier to attach them to the connectors first and tighten with pliers, then push the panel into the mounting plate. Finally, I used a nylon wire tie to hold the wires in place and neaten the look.
The wires behind are from the security system and are not currently used.
The black coax on the far right goes to the cable modem inside the enclosure.

Step 8: Install the Network Punchdowns

Picture of Install the Network Punchdowns
I installed the two 8-port network modules below one another because the network cables all come in on one side of the enclosure.
This part takes some time and you need to work carefully. There are two wiring standards in use for twisted pair Ethernet: T-568A and T-568B. A is supposedly older and B is more common today. The difference between the two standards is how the orange and green pairs are wired. The Legrand On-Q gear uses T-568A. There are plenty of good tutorials on how to punchdown cable. One I used was this one but keep in mind that you are going to be using T-568A with the On-Q gear.
 
Once I had all the incoming network cables punched down I needed to test them. I had already gone around and rewired the room phone outlets, replacing them with Cat-6 keystones wired for T-568A. This is where the Monoprice Ethernet tester came in. I went to a room and plugged the remote unit in and went back down to the patch panel and plugged the tester in until I got a signal. In the picture, you'll see that the tester has found a crossed pair - a sign that in this case the outlet was wired for T-568B rather than A.

Step 9: Install the Other Items

Picture of Install the Other Items

Now you can install the other items into the enclosure. Position them so that you can run short lengths of cable to the patch panel that you installed in step 8.
Connect the power adaptors for the switch and router into the power strip and run the low voltage cable up the sides of the enclosure to the units. Keep everything tidy using wire ties.
If you connect the router to one of the ports of the patch panel and connect a computer to the corresponding wall outlet, you should be able to connect and configure the router.

Step 10: Install the Cable Modem and Ooma

Picture of Install the Cable Modem and Ooma

I placed the cable modem (right) and Ooma (left) on the full width plate just above the power strip and used the supplied velcro tape to secure them. I positioned their ports away from each other and adjacent to the sides of the enclosure to make cable routing easier and neater, and used wire ties to secure the cables.
One of the outputs from the video splitter goes into the cable modem and its network output goes into the router.
One of the outputs from the router goes to the Ooma and the Ooma's handset output goes to the telephone input of the phone/data module for distribution to one or more of the wall outlets.

Step 11: Wire Everything Up

Picture of Wire Everything Up

Now that all the equipment is installed, I wired the patch panel to the router and switch. I have 11 Ethernet cables coming into the enclosure (including a mystery one that goes who knows where, which is therefore not connected), so in this case the available 10 outputs from the switch and router are sufficient. If that's not the case, you would need an additional switch.
I used short 1' patch cords to keep things neat.
The wire loom at the top is for the currently unused security wiring. You'll see that there is ample space for an alarm board in the unit although I would need another mounting plate for its backup battery.

Comments

trevor7428 (author)2013-06-25

I'm really jealous of this project. I don't have a smart panel in my home. I wish I did because I have a 2x4 HDMI Matrix.(had to run all wiring for) Which I use to extend my DVR and PC to multiple TVs using HDMI to cat 5 converter. I like how you added the bigger cabnet and patched the drywall. I'm actually a Centurylink I&R; Tech. So this project is right up my ally. (and drywall repair fan lol) just wanted to say good job, nice to see you took the time and bought proper tools to wire cat 5 correctly. it is weird tho that the equipment you bought uses type A wiring and not B.

dsayed (author)trevor74282013-08-15

Thanks Trevor. The wall is now all patched and painted :) I've also added my Apple Time Capsule to the panel so I'm not actually using the router component any longer - wanted to simplify. I have an Airport Extreme upstairs to extend the range and it seems to work fairly well.
The Type A vs. Type B caused some consternation during install and resulted in re-wiring of one of the ports... Lesson learned and that's why put a label on the panel to remind myself!

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