I would NOT use a structured wire product for a number of reasons. First,
it's usually more expensive than the sum of the single cables. Second, it's
usually much harder to handle than individual cables. It's very thick and
stiff and hard to bend in tight places. Third, if you accidentally put a
nail in the cable, you have to either remove the whole structured cable or
run an additional wire through an already crowded hole.
I also wonder how long RG-6 is going to be useful. Almost everything RG-6
can do is now "doable" with CAT-6 and baluns. CAT-6's turned out to be a
far more universal cable, suitable for repurposing in the future when you
might have different needs. Plus, when you get to where you are going with
a cable run, you might find that you need to run the CAT-6 to one side of
the room and the RG-6 to another. Discrete cables make that a LOT easier to
do with far less waste.
Just my two cents. You may have good reasons to go structured. I'd invest
the money you save going single cable in good tools for terminating the two
types of cable because that's where 90% of cable problems occur.
Compression fittings for the RG-6 (I use quad shield cable, but won't get
into that can of worms as to if it's any better than plain RG-6 other than
being more resistant to jacket damage) and EZ connectors and a crimper for
I recommend installing conduit and double-gang boxes instead of running all
those cables now. It's hard to forsee what technologies will be needed in
the future, and conduit makes it easy to run new cables when needed. Why
go to the trouble and expense of installing RG-6 cables now when you may
never need them? What if technology switches to fiber optic cables?
I installed a few double-gang boxes in each room with short conduit runs to
our crawlspace. I put caps on the bottom ends of each conduit to keep out
bugs and drafts for conduit I'm not using. We've only lived here about 6
years, and I've already changed my cable runs a few times.
My only regrets so far is not installing more conduit and boxes in the
bedroom where I didn't forsee needing many connections, and not installing
enough boxes in my home office where most of the cables originate.
For structured wire forget the boxes, just use mud plates, terminate
at the box by just clamping the bundle to a near stud so it doesnt
fall back into the wall, boxes just confine things needlessly, its not
high-voltage. Pulling cat and RG6 through conduit is a major pain in
the ass as it sticks easily and wont make turns at all, you'll find
out. Best way is to find passages through walls then install access
holes (covered later by heating vent covers) and use the whole wall
pocket or joist pocket to get the wire where it needs to go. Make the
holes in top/bottom plates nice and big, then caulk them again for
fire block. The only conduit I would consider would be corrugated
tubing (that orange stuff) at least 2 inches diameter as this wont
cause sticking and the larger diameter lets you get around corners
easier (but still difficult). Heating ducts are good in a pinch,
sometimes if you have a multi-story staircase you can find that wall
will allow a chase from basement to second story where you only need
to chop a hole in the floor and top plates.
Full boxes do offer a couple of advantages.
1. If I decide at some point I need an extra electrical outlet, I can
easily run electrical wires and install outlets (assuming there's no low
voltage cables in the box).
2. On exterior walls, a full box can be sealed for air drafts and
insulated around. On any wall with insulation, it's nice to have a clean
box to work in rather than hunting for wires in the insulation.
I prefer double-gang boxes for low voltage lines as they give a little
extra room for the cable to bend, as well as giving more space on the
faceplates (I like keystone jacks that let me customize to phone, cable,
ethernet, speaker wires, or whatever). The double-gang box also allows a
second conduit connection. I bring cables up the left conduit with easy
bend to the faceplate on the right, and up the right conduit for an easy
bend to the faceplace on the left.
I do have a single-gang box in our bedroom, and it's a lot more difficult
to organize all the wires in that small box.
In my case, my conduit runs are short 16" stubs to our crawlspace. I
have no problems feeding RG6, Cat5, and phone cables through those
straight 3/4" conduits. But, if I were installing a fully enclosed
system with bends and whatnot, I would definitely use larger conduit, and
probably try to stick with straight runs between junction (pull) boxes.
Obviously, a retrofit situation is a lot different than new construction
(or remodeling when the walls are open). The advantage of installing
conduit is NOT having to open the walls later. If you're going to cut
holes anyway, there's no reason to run the conduit.
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