When I bought my house, I wired it with Cat5eWikipedia: Category 5 cable (Cat 5) is a twisted pair cable for computer networks. Since 2001, the variant commonly in use is the Category 5e specification (Cat 5e). The cable standard provides performance o... cable for data networking. I ran 2 cables to each of the 4 main rooms – front room, back room and 2 bed rooms. This is mostly because I’m a massive geek but this has gotten me thinking… is this unnecessary geekiness or something that every house should have? Wireless networkWikipedia: A wireless network is a computer network that uses wireless data connections between network nodes. s are notoriously slow (relative to wired networks), prone to interference, and expensive to set up.
A decent SOHOWikipedia: Small office/home office (or single office/home office; sometimes short SOHO) refers to the category of business or cottage industry that involves from 1 to 10 workers. In New Zealand, the Ministry o... ‘N’ router will set you back about £50 these days. This isn’t bank breaking and most modern laptops will come with on-board wireless as standard. But what about your other devices? My desktop PC, my main TV and my bedroom TV’s FreesatWikipedia: Freesat is a British free-to-air satellite television service, first formed as a joint venture between the BBC and ITV plc. The service was formed as a memorandum in 2007 and has been marketed sinc... HD box aren’t wifi enabled – rather they just have a standard EthernetWikipedia: Ethernet (/ˈiːθərnɛt/) is a family of wired computer networking technologies commonly used in local area networks (LAN), metropolitan area networks (MAN) and wide area networks (WAN). It was ... port. It is undoubtedly going to become more common for every day household devices to require a connection to the Internet and the current trend seems to be that Wifi support is an optional extra – which comes at cost.
It is said that you can run a length of decent Cat5e cable for 100m before experiencing noticeable signal deterioration. This can be run through walls, ceilings, gardens and constructions which act as Faraday CageWikipedia: A Faraday cage or Faraday shield is an enclosure used to block electromagnetic fields. A Faraday shield may be formed by a continuous covering of conductive material, or in the case of a Faraday cage,...s. Wifi, on the other hand, requires boosters, range extenders and high amplification antennas to cover large distances or overcome signal inhibiting obstacles.
A wired network is always going to be faster, more reliable and seemingly better supported by today’s network enabled devices. I’m not disagreeing that wifi has a place – its convenience for portable devices far outweighs its drawbacks but behind every good wireless network is a hard wired backbone. You can install a bunch of cheap wireless access points around your house – each attached to wall ports on your hard wired network.
So, what about the installation? I had the benefit of starting with a blank canvas of a house in which I could rip up floorboards and knock holes in walls. I’ve seen networking done in inhabited houses but it’s more challenging and really shouldn’t be considered unless you have modern stud partition walls – mine are all solid brick. I have documented below, in picture form, my wiring. Sadly I don’t have any pictures of the installation – rather only the finished product.
First, you’ll need a real of Cat5e cable and some cabling rods. I won’t go into the differences between cables – Google will help you with that.
I’ve started under my stairs. This is a good location to start at because it’s where my fuse box is. Electricians are notoriously lazy and when they put the fuse box somewhere, it’s because it has good access to run cables to anywhere in the house. In here, I have put a patch panelWikipedia: A patch panel is a device or unit featuring a number of jacks, usually of the same or similar type, for the use of connecting and routing circuits for monitoring, interconnecting, and testing circuits.... This is a small wall mounted patch panel which I picked up for not a lot of money from ScrewfixWikipedia: Screwfix is the United Kingdom's largest multi channel retailer of trade tools, accessories and hardware products.  Founded in 1979 as the Woodscrew Supply Company, the company was acquired in July....
The ports on the panel all connect into a Network switchWikipedia: A network switch (also called switching hub, bridging hub, and, by the IEEE, MAC bridge) is networking hardware that connects devices on a computer network by using packet switching to receive and .... My switch is a Netgear GS724T managed 24 port gigabitWikipedia: In computer networking, Gigabit Ethernet (GbE or 1 GigE) is the term applied to transmitting Ethernet frames at a rate of a gigabit per second. The most popular variant 1000BASE-T is defined by the IE... switch. This was pretty expensive and probably overkill for most people. I only have it due to being a massive geek. You’ll likely get by on a cheaper unmanaged switch.
The patch panel has 1 cable going from it to each wall port around the house. I’ve routed these from the panel to the ceiling and under the floor through 2 cheap household drainage pipes. I’m not too concerned with the under stairs decor and thus didn’t bother to channel out walls for these.
The cables go up through holes in the ceiling and handily come out under the floor right at the top of the stairs.
You’ll see in the above photo that there’s also a TV cable going through the pipe. These cables were run at the same time. Each of the cables end up on wall plates around the house. I’ve used modular plates so I can put other things on them too, like TV ports.
It’s fast, it’s reliable, it was relatively cheap and was kinda entertaining to install. Give it a try!