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Advice on home network installation

Discussion in 'Switches, NICs and cabling' started by preacher, Feb 7, 2020.

  1. preacher

    preacher Occasional Visitor

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    The wiring in our house is 90 years old so while we’re having some building work done in the summer we were thinking of future proofing our home network with some hard wired connections.

    I’m intending to have a lan point in each bedroom and reception rooms. I’m in the Apple ecosystem so was going to install the lightwave light switches and some of their power sockets (don’t see the point of all them being smart).

    Also going to have smart valves on the radiators and will be buying the Netgear WiFi 6 mesh routers when they come down a bit in price. I’ve got a Synology NAS that will be streaming 4K media around the house.

    I know we can’t use normal lan cables with the electrical wiring so I thought about fibre optics but don’t know much about them?


    Can you just get adapters to switch between fibre optics and lan?

    Any suggestions on the best way to achieve what I want would be greatly appreciated.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
     
  2. coxhaus

    coxhaus Part of the Furniture

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    You can use LAN cable with electrical wiring. The LAN cables need to cross the electrical wiring at 90 degree angles. You can also include fluorescent lights. Fiber can be used but is not common in homes. It is mainly used for long runs. Usually you buy a switch that support fiber modules and that is where the fiber connects. There are many standards in fiber it is not like copper. The 2 big categories are LED and laser light technologies. Then different sizes of fiber and connectors. This is probably the reason fiber is not installed in the home because it is not standardized.

    If you use Apple and want to automate your home then look at Apple's HomeKit. It gives you a way to schedule home events like turning on and off lights. I have HomeKit running on my AppleTV 4K. It requires no extra power and runs 24/7.

    I use Cisco small business switches and Cisco small business wireless and they work well with Apple. I currently recommend the Cisco WAP581 wireless AP which works well with Apple.
     
    preacher likes this.
  3. Smokindog

    Smokindog Senior Member

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    In every room that you upgrade the wiring and/or open the walls, if possible have at least 2 of the most currently available CAT wiring to at least one box in each room. If possible do 2 or more locations in each room. Have them all run back to a common location in the house. I personally would also pull a quad shield RG6 to each of those boxes.

    IF you're at all handy you can do this yourself and don't let anyone tell you you're not allowed. If you're using a contractor for the wiring, wait until the electric is inspected per the permit and then add the low voltage wiring. In all but a very few places the home owner is legally allowed to perform any electric work on their own property so long as it's done in accordance with local regulations. Obviously, check your local codes and ordinances.

    Some will tell you that a modern home doesn't need all that wiring. I've been hearing that for years and it's also ended up false :)

    Anyway, that's my opinion and it's worth what you paid :)

    GOOD LUCK and PLEASE, report back what you finally end up doing with pros/cons.
     
  4. CaptainSTX

    CaptainSTX Part of the Furniture

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    They do make electrical boxes where one section is for electrical and the other is for low voltage wiring. I don't know where you are, but in the US Home Depot has them on their shelves.

    Since you are rewiring an old house with probably has plaster and lath construction, using dual purpose boxes would reduce the number of holes you would have to cut in each wall and instead you would end up just having to make one larger hole for a new double box.

    If you plan to remove all the old plaster an lath, rewire and then hang sheet rock do what works best for your layout.

    Either way you will never regret have hardwired connection points.
     
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  5. Smokindog

    Smokindog Senior Member

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    preacher likes this.
  6. CaptainSTX

    CaptainSTX Part of the Furniture

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    Just curious if you have ever tried to install new boxes in old plaster and lath construction? It isn't always easy peasy and even trying to hang a picture on an old plastered wall can be difficult. Old plaster is extremely hard.
     
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  7. Smokindog

    Smokindog Senior Member

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    Ya, it's more difficult and I had missed anything said about plaster/lathe. They make special old work boxes for that and I find the vibrating cutter tools work the best to make the holes. That said, if they're opening the wall to do electric then it should be open between two studs and that should leave one of the two interior sides of the studs available for electric and one for low voltage. It should still be a relatively simple process.

    Multi-gang box dividers are also an option. Complicates the inspection process if he's going to have an electrician do one and a self install of the other. Probably need to coordinate with electrician and local permit issuer. I still prefer a separate box myself.

    http://www.lutron.com/TechnicalDocumentLibrary/213 Combining low and high voltages in box.pdf
     
    Last edited: Feb 8, 2020
  8. MichaelCG

    MichaelCG Very Senior Member

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    If you are going to have hard lines in each room why in the world would you be looking at mesh solution for WiFi? You have hard lines, use proper wired APs, not a mesh solution.

    As for wiring...I have only ever had a single Ethernet line be "bad" due to electrical interference. That was in a commercial building with higher voltage/amperage lines being too close to the Ethernet runs....remember this is not your standard 120/220 type lines. I have never had one "bad" in a standard residential setup even when not following best practices.
     
  9. Smokindog

    Smokindog Senior Member

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    You'll find other active discussions about what a mesh means. It is not just wireless. Mesh is a topology.

    What is being sold as mesh for the consumer market is really just a star or hybrid star with a bridge/repeater. Again, that discussion is active elsewhere.

    I personally prefer using AP mode with the ASUS equipment. More control and more reliable and I've got wire available where I need it because the builder of the house followed my recommendations above.

    As to why pull multiple wires, the expense is typically the labor and it's relatively cheap to add another line of CAT and COAX while you're there. It's not necessarily for redundancy but for other use like expanded capacity and other technologies. I for example use the second line in some of my rooms for HDBaseT distribution. Most of my rooms have drops on opposing sides of the rooms as well. I wouldn't trade it for anything.
     
    Last edited: Feb 10, 2020
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  10. System Error Message

    System Error Message Part of the Furniture

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    i'll need a reminder to write about this.
    Use pure copper Cat6/6a (depending on below/above 50m for 10Gb/s in the future) for permanent runs. You dont have the crimp them with heads but you can use jacks instead on the wall, i highly recommend dual or quad jacks as ethernet is far far more useful than people realise. Phones can use them, DSL can use them, HDMI can use them.

    If you have to run with and parallel to electricals, you can create a cheap hack for shielded cables that is to just wrap aluminium around the data cables and ground it.

    End runs should use CCA due to flexibility. Cat5e is sufficient for gigabit and 10Gb/s at short distances.

    Use a semi managed switch with power saving features.
    separate router and wifi, so you get optimal placement.
    Avoid smart home devices from line of sight and range of sound. Infact i'd avoid them altogether, i use a good old fashion analog watch despite being a software developer, network engineer and cyber security guy.
     
  11. preacher

    preacher Occasional Visitor

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    Thanks for all the replies, there’s a lot of really useful info and stuff for me to go and google. Sorry for the late response, I’ve been crazy at work but a week off now!

    I probably should add some extra info. I’m based in the UK and the extension is two story and knocking out loads of walls so it will be done by a builder and an electrician who does all the work.

    We have a couple of HomePods and an Apple TV so they will control the HomeKit stuff. I need the mesh routers for all the WiFi equipment as not everything can be hard wired (radiator valves, HomePods, tablets, smart equipment etc). A lot of the walls were built with wire mesh in them, it was typical back then in my area, but that messes with WiFi hence the mesh system alongside the hard wiring.

    I definitely plan on at least 10gbe and was intending on having most of it going to a switch.

    Something like this
    https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B003UWXFM0/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_api_i_4cVrEbTEFTQ3M

    With something like this on the wall
    https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B07W55NJ65/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_api_i_KfVrEbAZDB4TM


    I guess fibre optics is not really practical for future proofing.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
     
  12. Trip

    Trip Very Senior Member

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    So aside from what has already been said, make sure the electrician knows what he/she is doing regarding your data terminations. Not all electricians are created equal, and a great data cabling expert does not a typical electrician make. Vet their work beforehand; otherwise, bring in a high-end residential IT/AV shop to handle the low-voltage piece. Trust me; it will be worth it.

    As far as wired bandwidth goes, copper is the de-facto choice for endpoints/APs, with Cat6 delivering 5Gb reliably at any length, Cat6a doing so at 10Gb, and PoE becoming more relevant as power efficiency and convergence increase (IoT). Regarding fiber, as of the moment it's most useful for backbone duty and/or switch fabric interconnect (SFP/SFP+ networking), where 100Gb/s is the current practical theoretical limit (higher in the datacenter). So it's all about knowing how much/what kinds of traffic you want to push, and modeling your topology via copper and/or glass to suit your needs.

    Regarding wireless, despite the convenience, whole-house mesh cannot run on differing channels to utilize airspace most efficiently, nor is any consumer mesh product VLAN capable if you ever wanted to properly segment your network, so I would recommend considering proper APs, provided you can get enough of them hardwired. Just a whole different level of performance. Ubiquiti UniFi, TP-Link Omada, Cisco WAP, etc. -- anything will in that space will be great.
     
    Last edited: Feb 17, 2020
    Smokindog likes this.
  13. Johno

    Johno Regular Contributor

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    You could just get the electrician to lay the cables for you, a cable pair to each RJ45 faceplate(s) that you have in each room, then do the cable terminations yourself. That's what I did about 10 years ago when I had a lot of electrical work done prior to moving into our home. I did some research via SmallNetBuilder and other networking forums and articles and learned quite a bit along the way, though I found terminating the cat5e cables at RJ45 faceplates quite a faff with the modules I'd purchased. More recent electrical work for a kitchen/diner conversion meant additional network cabling and this time I used tool-less modules which are somewhat more expensive but far easier to work with compared with the modules I previously used 10 years ago along with a punch-down tool. One thing that I don't think has been mentioned is a patch panel I'd strongly recommend as it provides more flexibility and would be located where you plan to site your network switch and where all your network infrastructure will terminate at.

    An important lesson I learnt from experience was to leave sufficient excess cable length per cable run at either end and when terminating the cable at the patch panel or faceplate module, push that excess cable back into the conduit above/below the backbox so that if an RJ45 module needs to be replaced in future, you'll be have spare cable to pull to redo the termination to the replacement RJ45 module. At the patch panel end, I'd recommend leaving even more excess cable to provide flexibility regarding placement of the patch panel.

    The final thing I'd recommend are 35mm back boxes for the RJ45 faceplates as the module depth plus the protruding cable may be exceed the depth of a standard backbox, and whilst on that topic, remind the electrician to use shorter screws to affix these deeper back-boxes otherwise you might find plaster being blown out on the other side of the wall, as I did.

    One thing worth mentioning is that cat6 cable is much harder to work with as it's much stiffer than cat5e and it's questionable whether a home network would ever need anything faster than gigabit ethernet and in any case, the relatively short runs (less than 20m maximum in my home) of cat5e mean that it'll probably support well in excess of 1Gbps. 10Gbps equipment is very expensive at the moment and will probably remain so for many years to come.

    I posted questions and progress/lessons learned here, here, here, here and here - you might find some useful info :)
     
    Last edited: Mar 5, 2020
  14. Motofixxer

    Motofixxer Occasional Visitor

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    1Gb Network is questionable in a home??? That's false in a huge percentage of cases these days. The 1Gb network has become the bottleneck of data transfers with any single standard HDD reaching 190-200MB/s almost 2Gb. SSD are at 500MB/s and the NVME are averaging 2500-3500MB with the new up to 5000MB. Most modern NAS's can easily saturate a 1Gb/120MB connection. Our data consumption, transfers and backups are only increasing these days. Your car could get you everywhere if limited to 40mph, but why when one can reasonably get there faster. Time is valuable and we can't make more of it. If you just surf the internet...yea sure 1Gb LAN is fine...but start getting into data storage/backups...it's a whole different field.

    10Gb isn't that expensive anymore. For example I recently upgraded and have a 10Gb link between my main tower and NAS/Server, cost me about $150. If you want to use Fiber it can even be cheaper in many cases. My transfer speeds almost doubled instantly. Now it's worth upgrading/switching my storage to do everything faster. I have 2port Nic, so I can still expand a bit. If I need a switch just they can be found for $115+ ish and throw one in and slowly increase while still utilizing what I have.
     
  15. Motofixxer

    Motofixxer Occasional Visitor

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    Don't forget Cat6 for security cams or an AP if you think you might want some.
    I'd also suggest a patch panel for versatility later. If you don't mind paying someone to install everything for you do it. Or just pay them to run the cable and diy the terminations at each end, it's up to you. Be sure to run your cables to a basement or utility area. Don't run them all to an "office" as I've seen done a few times. Life has a way of throwing curveballs and suddenly that "office" becomes a babies room haha.
    You can also have conduit put in that will make changes and additions easier later. Like say conduit from a basement to 2nd floor jack locations. Pay for the flex conduit and buy your own fishtape and pull all your own wires.
     
  16. Johno

    Johno Regular Contributor

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    I dunno where you've found a 10Gb switch for so little money, a quick look in the web shows that 10Gbps hardware is still very expensive. With average home broadband speeds in most countries not even anywhere near gigabit, I very much doubt that home internet providers will be offering 10Gb services in the next few decades, the infrastructure upgrade costs are just too prohibitive to be replacing copper cable with fibre.
    When 10Gb prices do come down with 10Gb NICs as standard on PCs and NAS devices, then I'll probably upgrade my NAS and home office switch to take advantage of the increased performance, but the rest of the home will be fine with gigabit. Obviously everyone has different use cases but on average, I'd still maintain that home gigabit will suffice for decades yet.
     
  17. Motofixxer

    Motofixxer Occasional Visitor

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  18. Johno

    Johno Regular Contributor

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    Those prices you've quoted are all US prices and not including the Microtik gear which is gigabit anyway, they're still high and when import duty is paid within the UK or EU you're looking at around 30% on top. Only serious network techies will have the expertise to configure Microtik gear whilst it's comparatively cheap, so I doubt most content creators are going to have the time or patience to mess around to configure them.

    So when I get to the stage where I absolutely need 10G ethernet, I'll have a 10G network within the office area connecting all the hardware used for content creation and storage, the rest of the house will be fine on gigabit.

    Like I said, it's questionable whether a home network - by that I meant a whole home network - would need to be 10G ethernet, especially with the increased cost and hassle of installing cat6 cabling which is much stiffer and harder to work with compared with cat5e.