In today’s world, everything is heading to wireless technologies. Apparently, data cabling shouldn’t be that important, but the reality is that cabling is still the hallmark of internet speed connections. Even after all the Wi-Fi innovations, cabling is 20 times faster than the average wireless connection. 

Also, its connectivity isn’t hampered by distance, competing networks, interference, walls or other physical barriers, and other limitations. 

When looking to increase your data installation, many technical questions may appear. Thus, in this article, we pretend to provide enough information to guide you on your next residential data cabling installation. Let’s get into it!

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Data Cabling Installation - Selecting the perfect wire

How to pick the perfect cable?

Cables play a vital role; choosing the right one for your needs is crucial. The most famous cables for residential installations include Cat 5, Cat 6, Cat 6A, Cat 7, and optic fibre. All these options support Gigabit Networks, usually used for networking equipment and home computers. 

  • Cat 5 is the standard typical data cable used in the last decade. It supports between 10 Mbps 1000mbps speeds. Although there are faster cables, this cable will cover non very demanding speed requirements.
  • Cat 6 is one of the most popular in terms of price/ speed ratio. It supports ethernet gigabit and is compatible with previous Cat cable ranges. The most recent versions of the Cat 6 have FTP Jacket that would allow up to 10 Gigabit speeds –the validation of speed is still in process for the Cat 6. 
  • Cat 6A and higher are more expensive options but definitely the best solution for those seeking a 10 Gigabit speed for their home equipment and thinking from 5 to 10 years ahead. 

Tip 1: Plan your data cabling installation.
Data cabling installations are not cheap, so make sure you think of your needs for at least the next five years. Therefore, although you can go for the budget and standard Cat 5, think about the speed implications that it would bring later. Do you see your installation staying at this speed on a mid-term?

Some consider Cat 6 cables an overkill for the current speeds that network providers can provide. However, technology evolves drastically every year. Data speeds would surpass the current speed threshold very soon. Nothing would be worse than re-cabling your infrastructure prematurely. 

Tip 2: Voice and Data using a single cable.
With cloud PBX systems and VoIP phone services on the rise and the affordability of quality cables, it is recommended to run the entire internal phone and data on the same network –this while keeping a single outside phone line at the entry point. Having a single outside line is crucial. After all, your telecommunications should be stable even if the internet goes down. 

Selecting the ideal Cable Jacket for Data Cabling Installation.

How to pick the perfect Jacket?

Once you have defined the best cable for your data cabling installation, the next step is to determine the jacket type. There are to options:

  • Plenum: it is highly fire-resistant. In case of a burn, it won’t emit toxic smoke. 
  • PVC: it is the standard and pocket friendly Jacket. It doesn’t count with the fire resistance properties. Nevertheless, it performs equally to plenum options. This is considered the best price/benefit option for residential installations.  

Tip 3: Consider cable management.
Cable management is not a luxury but a necessity. Using appropriate cable management will pull down maintenance prices. Furthermore, it will make an easier future installation expansions. 

Racks and other management equipment add a considerable amount to the initial budget, but it would save a lot by simplifying testing and tagging/labelling. 

Drop Ceiling for data cable installation

Take into consideration the kind of ceiling.

Considering the type of ceiling will impact on how the data cabling installation is built. The types of roof that most properties have are:

  • Drop Ceiling: Easy to work with due to its modular and removable features. It provides an easy to access cable installation and maintenance. 
  • Hard Ceiling: This is considered the most difficult kind of ceiling for a data installation. Normally it would be more expensive than a drop or open ceilings as it consumes more time to adapt it to the installation requirements. 
  • Open Ceiling: Although it is not that popular on residential properties, there are buildings with open roofs for aesthetic effects. It can bring some challenges for installer since they will need to use additional techniques to hide the wires and beams from the simple sight. 

How many Room Sockets should I install?

It will depend on the size of your house. It is also defined by the amount of wired equipment you will use or will use in the future. Remember to plan at least 5 years. For safety is recommended to provide multiple sockets for each room. Thus, circuit overload wouldn’t be a hazard. 

Consider more sockets for your media and entertainment room, asconsoles, tv, computers, sound systems and other devices will demand more outlets. 

Residential Data Cabling Set up

How to make a Data Cabling Installation?

Now that the basics are covered, you can proceed to install your data network. We enlisted the crucial points which you need to follow for your data cabling installation: 

1. Decide a Pathway: 

This is the most complex yet crucial step on the installation. 

  • Lower ground: If you can, run the cables through the basement. 
  • Thow Story building: If you have access, run the cables through the attic or roof. 
  • Multi-story building: Usually, the cabling runs through or outside the laundry chute. 

2. Gather the required tools.

Get the following tools:

  • Ethernet crimper tool. Used for installing plugs on cables’ ends. 
  • Cable tester. 
  • RJ-45 plugs. 
  • Pointed hand saw. Used to cut holes for wall plates. 
  • Label marker. 
  • Stud finder. 
  • Velcro strips.
  • Router.
  • Short patch panel.
  • Ethernet switch. 
  • Cable racks as required. 

3. Mount the wall plates

  • First of all, find the existing electrical cabling paths on your house. Locate the network jack. 
  • Then use a stud finder and determine where on the cable jack is located the stud. Normally, the studs are 16 inches apart in the majority of residential properties. 
  • Once you have defined the place for the box, trace the box’s shape on the wall. 
  • Then cut out with a pointed hand saw. Detail the shape with the saw until you get the desired end. 
  • Fit a single gang box in the hole. 
  • Finally, screw the clamps and repeat this process on each room of your installation. 

4. Measure all the cables

  • Measure twice, cut once! 
  • Run the cables through all the rooms holes. Slide in the cable until it reaches the distribution room. 
  • Mark the cable and rerun the cables to verify that you got the required length.
  • Then, repeat in each room. Try to do this process at least two times per room. 

5. Connecting the cables to the patch panel and jack

With the cables in place and through the holes, punch these down to the jack and patch pannels. Then put up the patch panel. 

6. Test

Ensure that the cables are in working condition by testing all the connection points. You can use a small standalone Ethernet tester such as this.

7. Bring on the internet

Certain devices require Wi-Fi to work properly: mobiles, tablets, laptops, etc. You will need to set up a stable Wi-Fi connection with a modem attached to the cabling network.

Wi-Fi struggle with various obstacles and tons of other factors that you may consider. 

Tip 4: Follow the standards.
Standards exist for a reason. When you ignore standards, quality and efficiency in your data network decrease, the use of some standards will depend entirely on your needs. Cabling standards and regulations can be found through the Australian Communications Authority.

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