Wireless has enhanced the convenience of home networking, but wired connections are still faster and more reliable if the wiring is chosen and installed properly. Adding Cat5 Ethernet wiring to a room also means you can connect components that don't otherwise have wireless capability like a DVR or game system. While the basics of the project are pretty straightforward, there are some things to be careful about if you plan to install Cat5 wiring yourself.
- Skill level:
Things you need
- Cat5 cable
- RJ-45 jack/faceplate
- Fishing line
- Small fishing weight
- Drywall saw
- Spade drill bit, 1-inch
- Standard bit, 1/4-inch
- Tape measure
Handle your cable carefully. High-quality Cat5 (which is only marginally more expensive than the cheap stuff) is not more durable, it is actually less so. Don't crimp, bend or step on the wire during the installation and put no more than 11.3 Kilogram of pulling pressure on it when you run it through the walls.
Cut the hole for your outlet box. Drill a pilot hole, then use a drywall saw to cut your square. Measure the distance to your chosen location for the outlet box from a fixed point, like an exterior wall. Go to the attic and measure off that same distance so you know where to drill. Drill a one-inch hole in the horizontal stud above your chosen location with a spade bit.
Tie a loop in the middle of a 20-foot length of fishing line and tie off a small weight to the loose end. Drop the weighted line through the hole and pull it through the outlet box hole in the room. Thread your cable into the loop, then pull the line from the outlet location until you can pull it through.
Run the cable through the back of the outlet box. Many boxes have cable stays or little flaps that exert pressure on the line coming through to keep it in place. It's not a bad idea to snap these off when you're working with Cat5, as the pressure could cause an impedance spike.
Mount the faceplate jack of your choice. There are lots of different types to choose from, but to connect a standard Cat5 cable you want a faceplate with RJ-45 jacks.
Cut three inches of insulation from the cable and separate the coloured pairs. You will see four colours. The pairs include wire of solid colour and one striped. Your faceplate will be clearly marked with the colours, so just match the wire to the proper junction.
Mount the faceplate.
Tips and warnings
- Use plastic cable staples rather than a staple gun to hold your wire in place in the attic if necessary to minimise pressure on the cable.
- Don't run Cat5 directly over a power line at right angles.
- Don't feed Cat5 through the same drill hole as a power line.
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