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How to wire a house for ethernet

Updated February 21, 2017

Whether you want to set up an in-house network for gaming or you intend to hook up all your home computers to a central Internet connection, you will need to start with wiring.

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The Ethernet cable most commonly used today is referred to as CAT5 UTP. CAT5 means category 5 (as opposed to the older 3 and 4) and the initials UTP stand for unshielded, twisted pair. This cable has eight copper conductive wires twisted in pairs and colour-coded. These are covered with a plastic jacket to give the appearance of a single cable.

  1. Decide on a location for your central hub. Whether you are using a router, switch or network hub, all of your wiring will originate at this point. Be sure you have an electrical socket available to power your unit.

  2. Plan the path for your wiring and measure each run. All cables must run from the hub directly to each computer. You will not be able to make one cable attach all computers in daisy-chain fashion.

  3. Install utility boxes. Place each box as close as possible to the computer it will service.

  4. Run cable from utility box to hub. Leave about six inches of cable hanging out of the box.

  5. At the hub, cut cable leaving enough extra for a six-inch loop when it is plugged in.

  6. Strip three inches of jacket off the cable. Be careful not to cut the insulation off the twisted-pair conductors. Separate the pairs and line them up from left to right in the following order: white/orange, orange, white/green, blue, white/blue, green, white/brown, brown. Hold them tightly together and in order. Cut evenly with sharp scissors about 1/4 of an inch from the end of the jacket.

  7. Hold RJ-45 connector with clip facing away from you and insert wires completely into connector. Check to be sure wires are still in proper order. Insert connector into crimping tool and crimp by squeezing handles of the tool tightly together. This step requires some practice. It would be a good idea to have a few extra connectors.

  8. Return to utility box. Strip and separate wires as in Step 6. The terminals on the back of the RJ-45 jack will be colour-coded. Insert the wires into the jack following the colour code printed on the jack for T-568B.

  9. Mount jack in utility box and attach cover-plate. Several styles of jacks and cover-plates are available. If you are unsure how to mount them properly, refer to manufacturer's instructions.

  10. Tip

    Cables can be hidden inside walls or with surface-mount channels. Decide which way you want to go before measuring or running cable. Ethernet signal will only travel reliably for 300 feet. That means 300 feet of cable, not 300 feet in a straight line. If you have a single run that must be over this length, terminate the cable as close to half way as possible and install a hub unit as a booster.

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Things You'll Need

  • Ethernet cable
  • Crimping tool
  • RJ-45 plugs
  • Wire stripper
  • RJ-45 wall outlets
  • Utility boxes
  • Scissors
  • Screwdriver
  • Patch cable

About the Author

Finn McCuhil

Finn McCuhil is a freelance writer based in Northern Michigan. He worked as a reporter and columnist in South Florida before becoming fascinated with computers. After studying programming at University of South Florida, he spent more than 20 years heading up IT departments at three tier-one automotive suppliers. He now builds wooden boats in the north woods.

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