How to wire a cat5 outlet

Updated February 21, 2017

Category 5 Ethernet wiring---also known as Cat5 cable---supports speeds of up to 100 Mbps, or 100 Megabits per second, more than enough data for most computer users with high-speed Internet service. An Ethernet system is a network that connects computers to other computers, to printers and to the Internet, making it possible for many users in a small office or at home to share the same printer and Internet service. Wiring a drop, or an outlet in each room where there's a computer to plug the Cat5 cable into, reduces cable clutter and allows the network to grow as necessary.

Map out the areas where wiring is needed, such as printer locations, rooms with computers and other peripheral equipment, and the main Internet connection. Determine your wiring needs before beginning. You will need a hub or router in a central location where all Cat5 cables come together and data is exchanged from one cable to another.

Pull wire bundles through the basement or attic to the rooms needing outlets and drop the Cat5 cabling behind each wall where the outlets are to be installed. If necessary, hire a professional to pull the wiring and drop it in the appropriate locations. Drill a 1-inch hole in the wall and pull out the Cat5 cabling and label each one for a specific duty, such as "to printer," or "to Internet." You will need this information when labelling your RJ45 wall mount sockets, where each device gets plugged into the wall. Keep notes. This information is crucial; failure to trace each cable could lead to a faulty network system and years of troubleshooting ahead.

Strip away the insulation from the end of one Cat5 cable at a time, and only enough to expose the individual wire pairs inside, never more than 1/2 inch. You will notice each of the four pairs of wire has a colour-coded sheath of insulation and each pair has been twisted together in a very specific way. Each pair contains a certain number of twists per inch. This is necessary for the proper functioning of the cable. You only need to be aware that the twists are there.

Sort the individual wires into the proper order following the colour codes marked on the RJ45 wall socket. The socket is a plastic piece moulded in a shape that allows it to accept the modular plug of a Cat5 cable. Insert just the copper tip of each wire into each slot so it comes into contact with the lead built into the RJ45 wall socket. Use the punchdown tool to secure each wire in its slot. There are two colour pattern configurations listed on each socket: one marked A and one marked B. Use A or B consistently. The wire order for configuration A, going from left to right, is as follows: solid green, green and white, orange and white, blue and white, solid blue, solid orange, solid brown, and finally brown and white. Only untwist enough of each wire so it fits into the socket, never more than 1/2-inch. Test each cable with the tester before installing the next socket.

Insert the wired RJ45 socket into a modular wall insert plate. An insert plate holds the RJ45 socket and is screwed to the wall. It is available in a range of configurations that are able to accommodate between two and six sockets of varying types. Screw the insert plate into the wall, and then screw on a faceplate for a professional finish. Label each socket according to your notes.

Things You'll Need

  • Drill and 1-inch drill saw
  • Cat5 cable
  • Labelling tape and pen
  • Wire strippers
  • RJ45 wall mount sockets
  • Punchdown tool
  • Cable tester
  • Modular wall insert plate and matching faceplate
  • Screwdriver
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About the Author

Barry Index lives in Los Angeles where he has been writing about writing since 1998. Recent freelance activities have brought his work to wider audiences through and several other writer-enthusiast sites. He received his Bachelor of Arts degree in English from California State University, Northridge.