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Gus
2007-12-14, 17:43
We're renovating our house and I plan to wire up ethernet ports in each room, running a Squeezebox into several.
- If I want to plug in both a Squeezebox and a laptop in a single room, does this mean I'd have to put in two CAT5 or 6 plugs (assuming I'm not interested in using wireless)? Or is it possible to plug in a dual plug adapter, similar to those used for phones (does such a thing exist)?
- Also, I'm thinking about putting in CAT6 as I understand the cost difference is negligible - and I'm assuming Squeezebox will run off this. If anyone's done this or researched doing so, I'd be interested in hearing in hearing about your experience. If you decided against it, I'd love to know why. If you went for CAT6, how's it working?
Thanks,
Gus

amcluesent
2007-12-15, 00:22
As you're renovating, the small extra cost of running two sets of cables makes this the better option. If you have a single CAT5 cable going to a room, you'd need to use 4-port switch to plug-in multiple devices.

N.B. Category 6 is specified for Gigabit Ethernet, possibly OTT for home use but it's backwards compatible.

Gus
2007-12-15, 03:45
Thanks, amcluesent.

Will look at running 2x cable, but is there any reason I should steer clear of just running a single cable and using an adapter like this:
http://cgi.ebay.com.au/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=290191572706&ru=http%3A%2F%2Fsearch.ebay.com.au%3A80%2Fsearch%2 Fsearch.dll%3Ffrom%3DR40%26_trksid%3Dm37%26satitle %3D290191572706%26fvi%3D1

I was under the impression that CAT6 will overtake CAT5 cabling as the standard, but I have to admit I've only just begun to research it. Is there a particular reason that I'd opt for 5 rather than 6?

Advice greatly appreciated!
Gus

JJZolx
2007-12-15, 04:45
I was under the impression that CAT6 will overtake CAT5 cabling as the standard, but I have to admit I've only just begun to research it. Is there a particular reason that I'd opt for 5 rather than 6?

Only cost. Also keep in mind that to achieve a CAT6 rating you should also be installing CAT6 jacks and a CAT6 patch panel at the other end, so the cost difference goes beyond just that of the cabling.

toby10
2007-12-15, 05:12
Thanks, amcluesent.

Will look at running 2x cable, but is there any reason I should steer clear of just running a single cable and using an adapter like this:
http://cgi.ebay.com.au/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=290191572706&ru=http%3A%2F%2Fsearch.ebay.com.au%3A80%2Fsearch%2 Fsearch.dll%3Ffrom%3DR40%26_trksid%3Dm37%26satitle %3D290191572706%26fvi%3D1

I was under the impression that CAT6 will overtake CAT5 cabling as the standard, but I have to admit I've only just begun to research it. Is there a particular reason that I'd opt for 5 rather than 6?

Advice greatly appreciated!
Gus

Using only Cat5 through a cable modem I have three devices all on one cable feed using a very basic 4-port hub. SB3, network AVR, and a computer all running simultaneously (all streaming from the internet) with no issues whatsoever.

Additional devices are on my network, but on a different feed than my SB3. Still, no issues.

Regarding Cat6, I believe you would have to approach fiber optic speeds to utilize the Cat6 benefits. But this is not my field. :)

amcluesent
2007-12-15, 05:53
>is there any reason I should steer clear of just running a single cable and using an adapter like this<

So any 'passive' splitter would, IMHO, require that the 8 wires in the cable are wired so that there will be two 10Base-T links running in the cable. This would work, but you'd then need to arrange that the 4 pairs of wires were separated out and wired to 2 patch sockets for linking to your main router. (see diagram). You'd also prevent any use of the jack for telephone etc.

As you're renovating, why mess about and not specify eight wires are wired through to every jack?

pfarrell
2007-12-15, 06:56
We're renovating our house and I plan to wire up ethernet ports in each room, running a Squeezebox into several.


IMHO, the cost of the cable is trivial, about $0.25 per foot. The cost to me is the hassle of dragging cable. It is not much incremental work to drag two or three cables when you are dragging one. Your local HomeDepot or other cable store will have faceplates for low voltage boxes with 1, 2, 3,4, and six more more jacks. Drag more cable than you think you will ever use. You don't have to put the jacks in if it helps with the WAF.

You'll want extras for when you put in a PS3 and want to play multi-player games.

Check the real costs of cat5 vs cat6, typically the cost difference is small, and while it is overkill, the real cost is dragging the wire. Drag Cat6, and you won't have to think about it for 20 years.

To answer your specific question, there are eight wires (four pairs) in a Cat5 cable, and Ethernet uses 4. So you can run two separate Ethernet connections down one wire. But for new installations, just drag more wires.

funkstar
2007-12-15, 09:18
I'll agree with what everyone else has said, run more than you think you will need.

But also, run to different locations in each room. There is little point in having 8 runs of Cat6 (for example) all in one loction when you need to trail patch leads around your room to get to it.

An idea would be to have two ethernet points next to each set of power outlets.

pfarrell
2007-12-15, 16:03
I just checked, and I was wrong, its not 25 cents a foot for Cat5e, its more like 10 cents a foot. Cat6 is $0.25 or so a foot. This is in 1000 foot boxes, which is how you should buy it for a renovation.

I agree with funkstar that if you can, you should put a couple of drops on different sides of the room/doors. Nothing tackier than running cable under the carpet because you wanted to save $3 for a low power ring and cover.

In a living room, you might want 3 or 4 on the side where you plan to put the TV/stereo, and one or two on other walls for easy access to your sofa, etc.

florca
2007-12-15, 16:51
A real CAT6 installation is much more difficult to achieve than CAT5e and is overkill for anything you're likely to need to do in the foreseeable future. Proper, fully certifiable CAT6 requires more care with things like bend radius, has stiffer patch leads with longer and more awkward boots and will be a complete pain in the neck in any domestic installation. Gigabit Ethernet (1000BASE-T) and/or 802.11af Power-over-Ethernet will run over well installed Cat5e and is certainly capable of carrying multiple HD video streams. You're better off using money saved from the lower cost cable to run extra drops into each box and extra boxes, and spend time making sure that your cable runs are properly terminated (pairs evenly twisted right to the punch-downs) and that you have no kinks, sharp bends or sheathing nicks in the cable runs.

If you really want to run multiple devices from a single cable then you need a small switch at the end of the run - Linksys SLM2008 for example can run off PoE.

CAT6 is ultimately more future-proof than CAT5e but it's pretty tough to achieve full end-end compliance without an awful lot of professional grade components. As mentioned above the cable is only the start of it.

NB. Please please please do NOT start to split the pairs into multiple ports as shown in the diagram above! This rules out any hope of ever running Gigabit 1000BASE-T Ethernet, which uses all four pairs in parallel. Any future occupant of the house will curse you forever if you start to "customise" the wiring standards!

Good luck, Phil

thomsens
2007-12-15, 17:42
While Cat6 is better in theory, the entire world is wired Cat5/5e. As a result, all technology that will use twisted pair will most likely be adapted for Cat5e if technically feasible. Otherwise it would have no market. So, there's nothing wrong with Cat6, it will just cost you more, it will be generally more difficult to work with, and you will have fewer options for termination in the closet which was the determining factor for me. I also thought about whether I wanted fiber run as well, but in the end on both counts, I decided that the first place I'd need a wire better than cat5 would be when I move to 10Gb ethernet where my server is. In that case, I don't have to open any walls because my server is near the closet box. What application in my house am I going to have that is higher bandwidth than HD video? GE is just fine for a long time.

Now one thing I'm not certain of is if you can use Cat5e terminations (closet and wall jack) on Cat6 cable. Obviously it wouldn't be a Cat6 certified install, but you are only installing it for future proofing anyway, so the "in the wall" part is the only part that is critical. So, you could consider running Cat6 and terminating with Cat5e components. If you need Cat6 for a run 10 years from now, then re-terminate that wire. I'd still just run Cat5e, though.

The most important advice is to run more than you think you need and rely on wireless only when you have to. Wireless is never as fast, reliable or secure as a wired connection. And, it's always shared which leads to inconsistent performance. Also consider running wires dedicated for access points to centralized locations for coverage reasons. I personally bought both Cat5 and RG6, but primarily used Belkin Banana wire which had 2x2 RG6 and Cat5. While obviously a thick wire, it was great running a single run to get a 4x jack. Then I could always add an extra run of wire or 2 if necessary.

My other advice is to get as large a central termination box as possible. They usually are inset in the wall, so the space is effectively free. I was able to put my cable modem, router and GE switch all in the cabinet with my Cat5 and cable termination and close the door. No ugly mess like you see with a lot of people's home installs.

Gus
2007-12-15, 19:21
Thanks all for the tips and explanations. While I'm reasonably PC-literate, I'm not terribly clear on considerations for installing a wired network, so simple explanations are very much appreciated. I guess I'm panning out to go with CAT6 as it will add to the value of the house, without adding too much in cost (am assuming that any premium for CAT6 jacks and panels won't be great).
I've heard there's CAT6 and there's CAT6 - in other words, some is CAT6 in name, but the performance of it's not really much different from CAT5 if the quality of the cable isn't considered. Is that true? If so, can anyone recommend particular brands/models of CAT6 that are good quality, shielded, etc that are well priced?
Thanks,
Gus

pfarrell
2007-12-15, 21:23
Installing Cat6 to run GigE speeds is (as others have said) non-trivial. Actually, even with 100baseT, you should not just pull the cable through drilled holes the way electricians do with 120v wiring. There are minimum radius specs for curves (don't want the bits to fall out of the cable making sharp turns) and max pull tension so you don't stretch the cable too much.

I can't imagine needing GigE speeds outside a commercial co-lo center, even FIOS is not delivering more than 20 mB/s to the door, so you are not likely to see 100baseT speeds.

The basics for quality networking (and phone is just lame networking) is to have nice simple "home runs" from where ever your jack is back to a central location. The end is usually in your basement. You terminate all the home runs in a patch bay, and run from the patch bay to switches, hubs, routers, cable modems, etc.

Here is a photo of my basement, and my kid, answering why she is a geek.
http://www.pfarrell.com/photos/us/kellywiring.jpg

If you are going to run just a few, you can skip the patch panel.

If you are going to run a moderate number, its nice to have some real tools, specifically a "punch down tool" and I believe you really want a wiring tester. Any good geek store will have them.

Gus
2007-12-16, 13:25
As we're in a narrow terrace (we're in Australia - I think the US term is a row house), trying to allow sweeping bends may not be feasible. Will take this into account.
Thanks for the advice Pat.
Gus

pfarrell
2007-12-16, 13:40
Its not that bad. Most of the concern is running the wire up a stud, drilling a hole for a horizontal run. That tends to make the wires do a tiny radius turn. You just have to be gentle.

There are the specs:

Cable Properties
Minimum installation bend radius 8 x Dia
Minimum Installed bend radius 4 x Dia
Maximum installation tension 100N
Maximum installed tension Zero

Since the cabling is typically 6 or 7 mm in diameter, you just need to keep a radius of 24 to 30 mm when you are done.

Gus
2007-12-16, 19:54
I said I was leaning to CAT6, but I've now spoken with my builder (I have the good fortune that he just happens to be an excellent builder and my brother-in-law!) and he's using one of his electricians for the job. He's wired up a number of "smart homes" with ethernet installations, but isn't certified for CAT6. The cost of bringing in 2 tradespeople, 1 for electrics, would be significant.
Thanks to all for the advice. Will post on how things unfold (the rebuild will take another 6 months, so it will be awhile)...
Gus

peterw
2007-12-16, 20:12
While we're on the topic... I've been planning on hiring a 10bT-aware electrician to wire my house, mainly 1) to facilitate HD video and 2) to immunize the kitchen SB from the microwave.

A number of rooms lack POTS phone jacks. I thought I'd have the electrician pull 2-4 cat5/RJ45 lines per room, and use some of these RJ45 jacks for POTS phone service (some locations I'd patch into a 100mbit ethernet hub, others to the phone line) -- probably using a decent whole house DSL filter by the patch panel so I'd not only have more phone jacks, but wouldn't need all these dongle DSL filters.

I'd appreciate any advice from those of you with more cabling experience. :-)

-Peter

pfarrell
2007-12-16, 20:23
You can trivially run POTS over cat5 or cat6.

Just have whoever is pulling cable run all of them as "home runs" to your patch panel. POTS just uses the center pair for the first line, and the next outer on each side for the second line (nice to have a separate line for a teenager).

I'd recommend leaving a bit of extra cable in the wall, terminating with a wall plate using an RJ11 jack when you plan to use POTS, not that its required. You can plug an RJ11 plug into a RJ45 jack. The problem is that RJ11s are narrow, so the plastic ears might bend the wider wires. Then if you want Ethernet, you can just change the plug.

thomsens
2007-12-16, 21:12
I highly recommend a structured wiring approach, to include home running the wires and ideally using some kind of punch down patch panel. The best part about it is that you don't have to know exactly what you plan to do with the wires and can cross patch network, phone, and anything else that uses TP very quickly at the closet. It's not that expensive, but it really makes life easier in the long run.

Sounds like Pat isn't convinced about GE in the home, but I've found moving video files around (a 1 hour recorded show on MS MCE2005 is 3GB) instantly convinced me to install GE. In any case, all PCs/NAS boxes come with it and GE switches are cheap. Cat5e has worked perfectly fine for me.

pfarrell
2007-12-16, 21:51
I'd say I'm more skeptical that most folks really need GigE in the home, and not many PCs can actually deliver enough bits to matter.

But more importantly, the cost of the wiring is a wash, and good layout and careful installation doesn't add to the cost. Go with a nice Cat6 patch panel, and you can swap out switches whenever you need it.

You are correct that media files are big. Even just a 100 gb disk of music takes a long time to copy over Ethernet or even IDE to IDE. As HD movies become normal, more speed is good.

thomsens
2007-12-16, 22:57
8 port Netgear GE switch is $45. It's really a no brainer.

pfarrell
2007-12-16, 23:47
wow, that's cheap. Yes, its a no brainer.

Have you used one? is it silent?
I had an older, vintage 2001, netgear 16 port switch that had fans for cooling, sounded like a jet. Not suitable for a home at all.

thomsens
2007-12-16, 23:58
I have 2 of them in my house. One is the GE switch with 3 PCs and a NAS connected at GE. It also has a GE connection to another one that contains my 100Mb/s and below connections such as the APs, Transporter, and printserver. They are completely silent and work great and I've used them for almost a year. I'm sure there are other ones that are just as good at this point. I had a linksys with a fan that drove me crazy.

Netgear GS-608
http://www.buy.com/prod/NETGEAR-8-Port-Gigabit-10-100-1000-Desktop-Switch-GS608/q/loc/101/10372560.html

bl243
2007-12-19, 02:18
I think everyone has summed up everything pretty much. Just thought I would add for anyone else thinking of cabling:

Cat5/e splitters can let you run two devices over a single Cat5/e cable, but Gigabit and PoE use all 8 wires, so you can only split at 100Mbps.

My personal view is Cat6 is not worth it - Im pretty sure someone will develop a cable that doesn't require the ackward bend radius and that will be much easier to terminate.

Gigabit switches are good - but if you really are gonna push gigabit speeds, make sure the backplane of the switch can cope with it. Cheaper switches have small backplanes that actually can't deliver Gigabit to more than a couple of ports at the same time.

JJZolx
2007-12-19, 02:32
My personal view is Cat6 is not worth it - Im pretty sure someone will develop a cable that doesn't require the ackward bend radius and that will be much easier to terminate.

I think thatt's a fairly simple equation of physics, not some limitation of cable manufacturing technology.


Gigabit switches are good - but if you really are gonna push gigabit speeds, make sure the backplane of the switch can cope with it. Cheaper switches have small backplanes that actually can't deliver Gigabit to more than a couple of ports at the same time.

For the typical home installatin, I don't think that's an issue. If you're talking about a 48 port switch, on the other hand, it might be a consideration.

thomsens
2007-12-19, 08:02
I don't think "backplanes" are the issue with current gigabit switches which are all single chip wirespeed products for the most part these days. I'm sure the buffering approach is probably more the technical deficiency of these products (i.e., if several ports try to access a single port, it may be less than elegant in handling that). In any case, most people will simply want > 100Mb/s and not necessarily need full GE anyway. The cost difference makes it's an easy decision to go GE.