I'm planning on running CAT5 between all the rooms in my house and a
What is the best way to run cables between floors? I'm looking at 50+
The mains wiring drops into the cupboard under the stairs but this is a very
small passage that cannot be enlarged and I wouldn't want to run the
low-voltage CAT5 alongside the mains. IEE wiring regs.
Thanks in advance,
A duct from the ground to top floor would be your best bet, either
larger size PVC electrical conduit or a wastepipe of whatever size you
I would make sure you have access to each end of this for future
The other way is to use the inside of cupboards or similar to run the
cat5's up inside, easy enough to get to in the future and out of the
way, that's the way I've done it.
Thanks for your reply. I totally agree a duct with access at both end is
the ideal solution. The problem is concealing it, I only have one
downstairs cupboard and that's under the stairs, unfortunately any holes
drilled in the top of the cupboard come out on the stairs. Maybe I can get
some slim but wide ducting that would not protrude the plaster.
You could cut a chase into the brickwork giving you more depth for
bigger conduit. The other option is buy a bending spring, then you can
route the conduit up to wherever you want. Just make sure it's not got
too many sharp bends, long smooth bends are better if possible. This
way you would have to run several smaller curved conduits rather than
one larger straight one.
Have you not got any waste pipes boxed in anywhere? This is what I
have used in our (even older) house, there are a couple of boxed in
pipes from upstairs loos.
The alternative is to go outside and find an inconspicuous place to
run some trunking up the wall (adjacent to a pipe for example).
CAT-5 outside is a potential lightning risk and personally I've suffered
broken NICs from a nearby strike.
This has been mentioned before so a Google search should find the relevant
The other possibility is not to install CAT5 cables at all, but use Wi-Fi.
I've installed it recently, and I now wonder why I spent time and effort
running cables in the house. I would not do it again!
I use 54g Wi-Fi myself, for my notebook, and whilst it's fine for
internet access, it is *much* slower than a wired connection for
It's also shared bandwidth, so depending on the OPs intended use, number
of devices etc, it may be so slow as to be virtually unusable :(
Then there is the security aspect and the cost...
Unlikely to be a mistake, just reflecting the incremental cost (in time
and materials) of running 4 or 8 cables from each location to the central
point, rather than a measly 1 or 2. As I've bored the group with a month
or so back, I've just got 3 of the rooms in this place done so far, and
there's 8 cables in one, and 10 in each of the other 2. Of the
just-installed SWMBO-study, 6 of the 10 are spoken for (1 ISDN, 2 Ethernet
to the hub in the loft (no need for a local hub in the room), 3 for
analogue phone lines (to be picky, one is a real POTS line, the other 2
are HomeHighway split-out analogue lines). And in the corresponding
ex-study downstairs which has the 8 lines in, 4 bring the telephony lines
up to the loft, and one takes the local hub's uplink to the loft. Ironically
enough, it's my study which has 10 lines and only 1 in use - ethernet
uplink from local hub - since the *second* (employer-provided) ISDN line
terminates in this room and is fed nowhere else, while its (work-paid)
analogue split-outs from the TA are similarly room-local, while DECT provides
links to the POTS and first HomeHighway lines.
Speaking of SWMBO, blessings upon her. We're even now: the time she saved
me by providing a plasterer to scrape & skim over two ceilings (her study
and our lad's bedroom) instead of me titting about with plasterboarding
over and trying to make the joins invisible has now been swallowed up in
'mmm, yes, I'll have those cheapie IKEA IVAR shelves, the 50cm deep ones
will be just right for the A3+ papers I store, and I'll have a couple
of the 30cm standard-depth ones on the other side. I'll paint them
white myself, love.' Realities of elder-care meant that muggins here
ends up doing the painting, of course: that's 25 shelves (10 deep, 15
standard), two sides each, primer and eggshell on top: 100 tedious
paint applications, plus the 5 frames. (Put up a scaffolding pole in the
downstairs den to hang them off while drying!).
[time passes, c. 13 hours of painting time later, I'm building the
'Mmm, you know when you said rather than the std-depth freestanding
shelves, I'd do better to have a wallfull of nice long Spur-bracketed
shelves just like in your study? You were right, love. I'll fill up the
two freestanders with books for now, but in a few months we'll put the
std-depth ones down in the den and you can put up the Spur shelving'.
Add to that this evening's cracker: I've sweated blood to do a minimal-wires-
showing installation of the Mac in the new study - powerstrips attached to
the underneath of the big new desk, CPU suspended from said desk, lots of
velcro and flexi-tounged trunking under the desk too to keep the wires off
the floor and out of sight, more velcro cable ties to keep the various
data/phone lines running up the back of the desk legs, PSUs cable-tied
to the underframe of the desk; a luvverly job, if I say so myself. Reward
for all this? 'Hmm, love the way the wires have gone away. Not sure if I
can stand the *noise* of the new Mac, though.' This referring to a G4,
notably quieter than most PCs. 'Oh it's not the overall noise level, love,
there's a particular high note that bothers me'. Drawing on the special
reserve tank of patience, Stefek suggests that the echoey nature of the
as-yet-unbookfilled room may accentuate the noise [quietly seething that
it's the one aspect of the machine I can't magic away], and further
suggests in a dangerously calm voice that living with it for a month
might result in habituation. But I've offered to house the CPU in my study
next door, leaving just the display in her room (the flashy Apple LCD
monitor has a single cable taking video+USB, while the keyboard and
trackball are wireless anyway). The plasterboard wall between the two
will readily support removal of a little slot on each side for the
connector to pass through, and a little bit of discrete trim over same
once the cable's through. Eeh, Gawd give me strength...
[snip SWMBO semi-rant]
So this would be a bad time to suggest that power to
an electric shower is constant, that amps go down as
volts go up, and that the safest thing to do is up the
capacity of the MCB anyway? ;-]
PS Info about the iMac was particularly useful - I
didn't realise they could be detached. Also, I think
you're right about the books softening the noise.
Sorry to mislead - it's not an iMac (they *can't* be detached, very
much an all-in-one) but the tower Macs (a G4 in this case, pretty sure
it's true for the G5 also) and the (VESA-standard?) LCD display screen
(a bit overpriced but pretty): that's the thing with the single cable
which carried video and USB (multicore, not some encoding magick ;-)
which would make put-the-CPU-in-the-room-next-door feasible.
I'm sure I'm right about the books too: it's whether SWMBO's ears will
be convinced ;-)
Oh I know the feeling.
The challenge of planning mains wiring so that no matter where 'the boss'
moved the furnature there were still handy mains sockets meant that when it
came to Cat5 I followed the same proceedure. However I used twin plates with
one socket for the phone & one for the computer. It is worth the effort in
'Can I move the phone over there?'
'Yes dear, just plug the adapter in the right hand socket of that plate.'
Mind you I lost the battle to have each socket with a number just like at
work so I rely on a master planning sheet when moving jumpers. Some people
are just too fussy over looks!
In Casa Zaba, the Cat5 sockets are so labelled; but they're mostly in
relatively obscure corners or otherwise discretely positioned, and all
three of the wired-up rooms are 'working' rather than 'kick back and relax'
rooms, so we've not had the aesthetics-versus-manageability issue.
UV marker pen, the kind used for security marking things. That would enable
you to mark the sockets but the missus wouldn't know you'd done it. Next
time you want to ID a socket, check the coast is clear and whip out the UV
All my network runs at 100Mb/s, difficult to get that fast with
wireless at the moment (and/or expensive).
Wires *anywhere* are potential lightning risk. OK, outside is worse
but it does very much depends where you are and what the surroundings
are like whether it's a significant problem.
Sooner or later every electrical device in your home will want an internet
connection (the next 5 - 10 years, or now if your prepared to pay for it)
and Wi-fi just wont be able to cope (even the new 802.11g 54 Mbps version),
especially as you are sharing bandwidth with your neighbours. Also Wi-fi is
not the bandwidth is says on the box 11 Mbps or 54 Mbps these rates can only
be achieved in open spaces without obstacles like walls. Inside a house
you'd be lucky to achieve a 1/4 of that. So your not likely to achieve DVD
quality between a video server and your TV. Admittedly Broadband (ADSL)
connections are currently only being made available at 1 Mbps but the
technology is capable of much more than that, its the backhaul network that
I agree if your house is completely decorated and your looking for a short
term fix then use Wi-fi, but as soon as you get the opportunity run as much
CAT5 as you can. At least 2 cables to the 4 corners of every room. CAT5
can also be used for telephone lines and alarm systems.
Then there is the issue of health, the carrier frequency of Wi-fi is 2.4 GHz
this is the same as your microwave. Clearly the Tx power levels of Wi-Fi
are a fraction of the Microwave but its the same debate about mobile phones
only with Wi-fi laptops on your lap your putting the transmitter closer to
sensitive skin. I have no evidence to support this its just my own opinion.
I might be tempted to install Wi-fi outside so I can work from the garden
and when cars have Wi-fi the car could upload maintenance data to my PC.
My house was floodwired with CAT-5 before I moved in. A note not lost
on me when I viewed the property.
Some of the runs were a bit heath robinson (e.g. up a conduit in the
middle of the lounge wall) :-/
These go through the back of cupboards and disappear into floor voids
and emerge in the attic.
Problem is, I only have 1 port per room, and sometimes I want to use
desktop and laptop simultaneously (e.g. during a delicate download !)
I'm not a big fan of wireless at the moment, due to cost and security
I relocated the ducting to an unobtrusive corner and wired behind the
My plaster is pretty thin, so I couldn't channel the wall.
If you're not running Gigabit ethernet, the usual wiring schemes (10BaseT
and 100BaseTX) use only two of the four pairs in each cable, and you can
buy inexpensive (fiver a throw sort of cost) 'port splitters', of which
you'll need one at each end, to give you two ports for each wirepair.
They introduce a bit more reflection and crosstalk, but in a domestic
setup where the wire lengths are far below the 100m worst-case of the
spec, they should see you right for the simultaneous use of desktop and
Scarcely any more expensive, mind you, would be a hub or unmanaged
switch: 10/100 8-port switches now sell for 25-30 quid a throw, and
will let you connect up a suitably Large number of Ethernet talkers
and send the combined traffic up the single uplink port.
HTH - Stefek
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