24/7 wireless connectivity is an amazing thing. But a home network wiring system to connect the devices in your home can be even better, faster, and more secure. Though a project like this may seem like a step too far and something best left to the experts, completing a home network setup is something you can take care of yourself. Our step-by-step guide will give you the pointers you need to get started.
Initial planning and considerations
Every home network wiring setup needs a solid plan to reach the desired outcome. And a flexible and considered approach is always recommended so you make sure you achieve a hard-wired network that works for you, your needs, and your home. Taking the time to know exactly what you want to include on your network and where you want your connections to be will save a lot of hassle in the long run. Here are a few considerations:
If you have floor plans for your home, dig them out so you can see a complete overview of your home. If you don’t have proper plans, just sketch out each floor (it doesn’t need to be at scale). This way you can choose which rooms you want to be connected to a network.
Ethernet ports and connection locations
Another reason for checking your floor plans is to choose how many and where you install your wired ethernet wall sockets. This will allow you to cover the number of connections you need now, as well as futureproofing any rooms by installing additional connections should you need them.
Deciding on the logistics of where your cables and wiring will run through your house is crucial to making a difficult job much easier. If your network wiring is going all over the house, it can be easy to run cables through the stud work of each room and floor, but in older homes, it may be more difficult. The process will also help you understand how much cabling you’ll need.
Central distribution point
Your central distribution point is the place where all your cables from all over the house will come together. This could be a cupboard in a downstairs WC or a cupboard under the stairs. Wherever it goes, it should be a place, whether on display or out of sight, where your network equipment is easily accessible with plenty of ventilation.
A patch panel is the hardware that has the ethernet ports you’ll need to connect all your devices to your network. How many or few ports you have will depend on your requirements, but you can number each one so you know which cable goes where.
Types of home network wiring
Many homes rely on a wireless network so you can connect any enabled device, such as smartphones, tablets, games consoles, and laptops, to WiFi wherever you are in your home. But though unrestricted by cables, WiFi can have limitations, so for a faster, more secure, and more reliable connection, home network wiring is a better choice.
Wired home network
A wired home network uses a series of ethernet cables to connect devices to the internet. This gives the security, reliability, and speed you need while also being easier to troubleshoot if there’s an issue. Many items connected via ethernet cable won’t need to be moved in most situations, but with a wired home network, you can.
Powerline home network
A powerline network is the best of both wired and wireless worlds. You’ll need a powerline adapter with ethernet ports, but the tech uses the existing electrical wiring in your home which means you can eliminate any new cabling issues while still benefiting from a wired network and the faster speeds it can bring.
Networking materials and tools required
As with any DIY project, having the right tools and materials for the job is essential to starting your home network wiring. The tools will probably vary depending on what your intentions are and what you want to achieve and you might already own some of them, but you’ll probably need to buy many of the materials upfront.
You only really need a few tools to get started, many of which are common and you may already own. But if you need to buy them, they won’t cost the earth. These tools can include many basics like:
– a drill and bits
– pointed jab saw
– tape measure
But some other tools which will be useful, you might need to buy, including:
– a stud finder
– an ethernet cable crimper
– a network cable tester
If you go down the most popular route of a wired home network, rather than the Powerline alternative, you’ll need a lot of ethernet cabling to get all your devices hooked up. All ethernet cables essentially do the same thing which is to connect a computer or other device to your router or patch panel and get you online. However, there are still a few decisions to make before you buy.
The most common ethernet cables include Category 5e (Cat5e) and Category 6 (Cat6) varieties. Consisting of eight copper wires twisted into four pairs, both cable types are capable of handling any home network wiring setup over long distances. But there are a few differences between them:
Giving a better speed than its Cat5 predecessor, Cat5e cables can support data transfer speeds of up to 1000Mbps (1Gbps) and a bandwidth of 100MHz but are best limited to lengths up to 100m (328ft).
Recommended over Cat5e, Cat6 cables support the same 1000Mbps (1Gbps) speeds but with a 250MHz bandwidth over lengths up to 100m (328ft). Cat6 can also be used in a 10Gbps network for ultra-fast speeds, but over a shorter cable distance (up to 55m/180ft).
Solid vs. stranded cables
The twisted copper wires inside the cables mean Cat5e and Cat6 cables can come in either solid or stranded variants and can make a difference to your installation and how you position and manoeuvre them.
Solid cables are best for any longer wiring installs, either vertically or horizontally, as it’s easier to move in a tighter space. They’re also more durable so can be used in permanent wiring networks or even outside.
Stranded cables are more portable, should they need replacing or moving. They’re also more flexible so they can go around corners easier, but it also makes them trickier to move around or push through wall or roof space.
RJ45 connectors (or jacks) are the part at the end of your ethernet cable that gets plugged into the port of your device while the other end gets plugged into the keystone jack of your network patch panel. Many set-length cables will have these connectors pre-fitted. If you’re buying custom lengths of stranded cable, you’ll need to fit them yourself (using your ethernet cable crimping tool).
During your planning stage, you’ll have decided where you want your ethernet wall sockets (this is where your ethernet cable will connect into the wall from your device) to be positioned. The sockets themselves, which contain termination keystone jacks, are easily found in well-known DIY and trade stores.
When it’s time to install these, use precise measurements (measure twice, cut once) and use your pointed jab saw to cut through the plasterboard of your wall to create the socket holes before running your cables through. Using your stud finder is essential so you can position your sockets on either side of the framing studs behind the plasterboard.
Using wallplates means a little more time spent preparing your cables. When your cables have been pulled through your home and are ready to be attached and connected, it’s best to cut the cable to the right length to avoid excess, but leave enough to add your keystone jacks termination points.
Strip the outer casing of the cable back by about an inch or two, split the cable into eight strands and wire the strands into the jack slots following the colour-coded advice. Snap the keystone jack module back together, using a plastic cable tie to secure it. This can then be clipped into your wallplate ready for connection.
Before finishing the project, now’s the time to test your connections and ensure each cable works with your devices and your router.
Home network wiring help from Geeks On Wheels
Creating your home network wiring system can be easier than you think. The tools and materials needed are easily available and the process is cost-effective of you want to get started. But, like any other project, you may face issues or problems along the way where you need some expert advice.
As part of our extended service offering, Geeks On Wheels are now able to help you as your progress with your home network wiring project. Giving you the practical or technical help you need, our team of qualified and skilled professionals are available when you need them most. Get in touch with us today to keep your home network wiring on track.