Data Cable Installations in a Home Office
Do it yourself data cable installations in your office is labor intensive. The tradeoffs are that your data will be 100% secure and you will have fast speeds.
At the time this article is being written, 100 mega bits per second (mbps) is the most common speed and its cost is very reasonable. Hard wired cables can not be hacked and this keeps your data secure.
Wireless is typically 54 mbps. It is quite a bit slower than wired. My neighbors all around me have wireless networks and I see all of them. Some of them are secured, but most of them are not. Click on the drawing below to see a simple drawing of data wiring.
Most people balk or have reservations about fishing wires up or down walls in their home. If there is access above or access below where you want the cable to go, the process is actually pretty easy.
The first step is to determine exactly where the computer/device is to be placed. The only constraints are distance. Limit the cable run to 330 feet(100 meters) OR less.
Another problem with do it yourself data cable installations is interference. Stay away from large motors, electrical cables running to the stove, HVAC unit and florescent lights. These devices tend to induce noise into the cable that interferes with the data. Usually the data will still run because the hardware will auto-negotiate a slower speed. Stay away from these things if at all possible or cross these cables at a 90 degree angle with the data cable.
The Correct Way to Run Cables
For Data Cable Installations
The correct way to run cables is to install wall outlet jacks and connect with wires to these jacks. This gives a clean look and adds reliability. Use solid wires. If the solid wires in the cable do not move, they will not break. The wire should be standard CAT5e SOLID copper wire. The label on the box will say ANSI/EIA/TIA 568 24/4 Pair. The real importance to you is that the wire has passed many standards test and will work in a standard application.
This wire is available at your local big box for around $50 to $70 per box for 1000 feet. While you are there, get the jacks you will need and some adapter mounting brackets to place the jacks in.
You will also need a 3 or 4 foot long drill bit for your data cable installations. In the picture below, notice the hole near the end of the drill bit. This is where you attach the wire so you pull the wire back into the location of the jack that is to be installed. The big box also sells these.
The wire that is used from the wall jacks to the computer is called a stranded wire jumper cable? It is a non-solid wire that can bend, flex and will not break. It comes with connectors already attached. Stranded wire should be used in areas where the wire can move. It is a cable that runs from the wall jack to the computer and from the wall jack to the data communications equipment.
A note of caution here: Just because you can buy cable with connectors already in place, it does not mean it is stranded cable. The big boxes make solid wire available conveniently in lengths of 25, 50 or even 100 foot spools with connectors already installed. This cable will fail if you move the wire just a little. These broken wires are a major headache to find. This is why a cable tester is on our list of tools.
Now We Are Ready to Start
Take a stud finder and determine that the wall space you have selected is not blocked by anything and that there are no horizontal boards inside the wall. These horizontal boards or fire stops as they are called can be a real bummer to get around.
Lookout for electrical wiring, telephone, cable TV, pipes, etc. during you data cable installations. Cut a hole in the drywall where the jack is to be mounted. You should be able to see the wood at the floor level if you are trying to get to the crawl space? You should be able to get all the way to the ceiling if you are trying to get to the attic?
If so, then take the drill bit and carefully drill the hole. Leave the drill bit in the hole and then find the drill bit in the space you drilled into on the other side. It may be into the crawl space or the attic.
Attach the wire and pull into the hole where the outlet is going. Do the same at the other end of where this cable is to go. Now the wire is in place end to end.
Wire the jacks to conform to EIA 568B standards. The instructions to do this will be packed with the jacks.
To the left is a picture of a typical data jack. The placement of the wires in this jack is critical for correct operation.
During your data cable installations, do not untwist the wire in the cable. This is very important. The twist reduces cross cable interference. This specific jack has 110 terminals/connectors and although a specific tool should be used to connect these wires to the jack, the wire cover strip works sufficiently to connect the wires.
Below is a picture showing the twist. Click on the picture to see it more clearly.