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How to set up a cabled network

Adam_W
Valued Contributor

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Although wireless is very convenient, a cabled connection will typically be faster and more reliable than Wi-Fi. Here’s how to hardwire ethernet cable into areas where high-demand devices live.

 

We’ll also show you how to bring these cables back to one point in a cupboard or on a shelf that’s tidy and out of sight.

 

What is a cabled network?

 

A well-designed communication hubA well-designed communication hubA cabled local area network (LAN), also known as ethernet, uses cables to directly connect your devices to your modem-router and the internet.

 

A local network also enables your devices to talk to each other, and can improve speed when sharing files between computers or streaming music or video from a computer to other devices on the network.

 

Most network-capable computers and devices these days can transfer data via cable at speeds faster than a typical Wi-Fi connection and usually even faster than your internet connection – which can mean no more lag or freezing when streaming movies or television.

 

Such connections between devices are made with ethernet cables (rated at least Cat 5e, preferably Cat 6). The plugs are known as RJ45.

 

How do I create a cabled network?

 

First decide how many rooms or areas need a connection and how many devices you want to plug in at each location.

 

Let’s say that your modem-router is on a shelf some distance away from the areas that need connecting. You have a media room where you want to connect a smart TV, a media server (such as an Apple TV box), a soundbar that is the hub of a wireless sound system, and a games console. You also have a home office at the other end of the house where you need connections for two PCs and a networked printer, as well as a sitting room where you want a smart TV.

 

Getting familiar with the hardware you’ll need will help you understand how easily this can all be networked. Here are some key elements:

 

  • Ethernet or networking switch – these hub-like devices allow communication between multiple devices, not just to and from a single source. You can plug one into your modem-router to turn one socket or port into multiple connections, or you can have one at the receiving end of a single line (such as a media room) and connect multiple devices at that end. You can also plug one directly into your modem-router to feed a distribution wall plate. Home ethernet switches could have anything from five to 26 ports. When choosing them remember that one socket will be taken up by the main network connection, so a five-port switch will only let you connect four devices.

 

  • A two-aperture plate with RJ45 ethernet and TV aerial connectionsA two-aperture plate with RJ45 ethernet and TV aerial connectionsAn aperture grid (or gang plate) is a wall plate with holes for taking a range of inserts. These plates are the face covers used with matching mounting grids when making up your own multi-connection plates. For a location such as a media room you could customise a dual-aperture plate to carry ethernet and TV aerial. You can also use these plates to create a distribution panel for multi-room cabling.

 

  • Cat 6 RJ45 grid plate insert – the part that fits behind the aperture grid plate to give you an ethernet wall socket.

 

  • Cat 6 solid core ethernet cable – the (typically blue) wiring that connects your plate inserts in different locations.

 

  • IDC (Krone) or 110-type punch tool – what you use to wire your ethernet cable into the grid plate inserts.

 

  • RJ45 crimping tool – what you need to make your own patch cables using RJ45 plugs and ethernet cable.

 

  • Network test tool – enables you to check the quality of ethernet sockets and leads and troubleshoot network wiring problems.

 

You should only mouse cables through walls from beneath the house upwards or from the ceiling cavity down. If you try to mouse cables sideways you’re likely to push your plaster away from the stud framing.

 

Be aware of the location of electrical cables. Apart from the risk of electric shock, placing data cables too close to electrical cables can interfere with data flow. Always use a non-conductive cable feeder to avoid electric shock.

 

Where a TV-aerial socket already exists, the smart way to run a data cable is to follow the same pathway as the aerial lead and then convert the aerial outlet into a dual aperture aerial and data point. If you need to pass cable through a wall between rooms you can fit a brush-type wall plate outlet cover on each side of the wall.

 

Before you start making your own custom wall-plate outlets check out the available range, which includes pre-made multi-RJ45 sockets and RJ45 and TV aerial combos.

 

How we installed our cable network

 

To replicate tUse multi-aperture grid plates with ethernet inserts to create network distribution pointsUse multi-aperture grid plates with ethernet inserts to create network distribution pointshe network at our house:

 

  • Connect a five-point ethernet switch to the LAN port on the back of the modem-router.

 

  • Add a three-aperture grid plate with RJ45 sockets to the wall beside the modem-router. Connect to the ethernet switch by patch cables and mouse a new cable to each room.

 

  • For the media room, run an ethernet cable down the same route as the TV aerial line and convert the aerial wall socket to a dual-output aerial and ethernet outlet. Connect a five-port ethernet switch to the RJ45 wall socket and then connect your devices to the switch with patch cables.

 

  • For the home office, mouse through a single line to a single-outlet ethernet wall socket. Connect a five-port ethernet hub to this and then plug devices in to the switch with patch cables.

 

  • For the lounge room, run an ethernet cable down the same route as the TV aerial line and convert the aerial wall socket to a dual-output aerial and ethernet outlet. Connect the TV with a patch cable.

 

Tips for your networking project

 

Here are some more handy tips for setting up your cabled network: 

 

  • Add vents to the top and bottom of cupboardsAdd vents to the top and bottom of cupboardsEnsure that you have enough power outlets where you plan to have your networking hub. Have an electrician install more if necessary.

 

  • Your equipment can generate a lot of heat so if it’s in a closed cupboard ensure there is good air circulation. Add vents at the top (or the side towards the top) and at the bottom. You’ll find snap-in vents are easiest and neatest to fit. Just jigsaw the correct-sized hole and their flanged edge provides a neat finish. Leave a 10mm space in front of or behind shelves. This allows for passive convection cooling airflow – hot air escapes at the top and sucks cooler air in through the bottom.

 

  • Allow space between pieces of equipment for air circulation and cooling.

 

  • Elevate your modem-router as much as possible to maximise your Wi-Fi range and signal strength. Aim to lift it above the height of things like fridges as they can be serious signal blockers.

 

  • If you need to run cables along skirting boards or benchtops, check out cable-management products such as D-Line 2m White Cable Management Quadrant Adhesive Covers that can conceal and protect cables and be painted to match the background.

 

  • Use colour-coded patch leads to reduce confusionUse colour-coded patch leads to reduce confusionUse colour-coded patch cables to feed different areas and then repeat this coding from the wall plate in that area. This reduces confusion and can help when troubleshooting any issues. If you have multiple devices connected to an ethernet switch, somewhere such as a media room or home office, use colour-coded patch leads to make setting-up and moving devices much simpler.

 

  • Having trouble getting some smart devices to connect or stay connected to your network via Wi-Fi? Many new modem-routers are dual-band wireless (2.4 & 5MHz) and have a feature called band steering that attempts to direct devices to what it assumes is the correct band. Many devices only use 2.4MHz and this re-steering can cause them to drop out or be slow to connect. Go into your modem-router's set-up page via your browser or smartphone app, locate "band steering" in “Wi-Fi” or “Advanced network > Wi-Fi settings” and turn it off. This way devices will automatically connect to their preferred band. If you don’t know how to access your modem’s settings via a web browser your ISP’s webpage will have simple instructions on how to do this.

 

Let us know if you need a hand with this project and check out Bunnings smart home guides for more project inspiration.

 

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13 Replies
Neo19
Experienced Contributor

Just what the doctor ordered!

 

Thanks Adam! This has been on the to 'to do list' for too long.. 

MitchellMc
Bunnings Team Member
Bunnings Team Member

Keep us updated on your project @Neo19 and make sure to take plenty of before and after shots. I'm looking for some inspiration to improve the rats nest of cabling at my house. 

 

Reach out if you need any assistance.

 

Mitchell

 

Clanman
Budding Browser

The term "hub" should not be used as the use of these devices (if you can find then) WILL create network congestion and slow down your network. They are akin to driving along a road, coming to a 4 way intersection where all roads are major roads and they all have a give way sign - all drivers have negotiate with all other drivers so there is no collision and when one driver gets through all that negation would have to start again. The thing with a hub is there is no negotiation.

 

You should always look for switches. These are "smart hubs" in that they learn where all the other devices are and will send the signal destined to the device it is meant for out the port that device is connected to instead of a hub which sends the signal out all ports (except the port it came in from) because it does not know which port what device is connected to.

MitchellMc
Bunnings Team Member
Bunnings Team Member

Welcome to the Bunnings Workshop community @Clanman. It's wonderful to have you join us and many thanks for jumping into the discussion.

That's some great feedback which I'll pass on. As you've mentioned, hub devices have typically been largely replaced by switches and routers and would generally only be found in older installations.

 

We look forward to hearing all about your projects and plans around the home and garden and encourage you to reach out anytime you need assistance or have something to share.

Mitchell

 

Adam_W
Valued Contributor

Hi @Clanman , thanks for the feedback.
I used the term 'hub' in reference to ethernet or network switches as it is a term less tech-savvy users are likely familiar with from USB hubs so it will immediately provide a degree of recognition - turning one connection of one type into many of the one type.
Searching google for 'ethernet hub' in-fact takes you primarily to ethernet/networking switch results.
I'll have a chat with the Workshop editorial team & see if we can make it a little clearer.

thelaw
Newbie

I would just like to point out a number of things that have been missed in this post.

1. Patch cables are not designed for use inside of walls. Patch cables use a stranded copper cable which is different from the solid core cable that should be run in the walls of a house. I'm also pretty sure the ACMA (Australian Communications and Media Authority) guidelines actually state that solid core cable should be used inside of walls and it actually makes more sense as it's cheaper to buy it by the meter and then terminate yourself (There are further issues though with this as discussed in point 3).

 

2. It is always a good idea to test cables especially patch cables as they aren't designed for use inside of walls and so during the installation of these cables there is always the chance, as there is in fairness with solid core cables, that the cable will be damaged during installation. Checks on standard ethernet cables are very easy to do with the appropriate testers which are available fairly cheaply in bunnings which basically just checks the continuity between the cable and certain pairs or individual wires of the cable. When using these testers you may find that multiple lights illuminate when testing, this is a sign that there is a break/short in the cable and the cable needs to be replaced. Ethernet Tester - Bunnings 

 

3. While it is perfectly ok for you to install consumer side cabling, such as patch cables between wall jacks and switches or between wall jacks and devices, the rules of installation wiring are governed by the ACMA (Australian Communications & Media Authority). These rules generally state that all installation data cabling should be carried out by a licensed cabler. This ensures that all wiring is up to code and appropriately tested. You may also find that in the case of needing to file an insurance claim and they investigate the cause of whatever you're claiming and they find that it was due to the cabling that you installed then you may not receive any funds from your insurance company, especially if you are unable to prove that this cabling was completed using the correct type of cable for the install and correctly installed by a cabler. 

 

As much as I get that everyone on here wants to do stuff themselves and don't get me wrong I'm the same, you really need to think about the potential implications of doing the cabling work on your own. Do with this info what you will.

Jason
Community Manager
Community Manager

Many thanks for your feedback @thelaw. Very much appreciated. Let me tag @Adam_W so he is alerted to your post.

 

It sounds like you have a lot of knowledge and experience to share with the Bunnings Workshop community, so we look forward to reading more of your posts soon. Welcome to the community. 

 

Jason

 

Mick0s
Established Contributor

One of the things that I did as a part of our recent home renos was to relocate the "internet line" coming into the house from our son's bedroom into a more central location in the bottom of a living room cupboard, letting me run a few points out from here to behind TVs etc. and hide the modem, home server, printer, and other random tech bits-and-pieces away.

Nowhere near as neat and tidy as yours @Adam_W , and in desperate need of some custom length cables and zip ties (on the to-do list)!

AP.jpg

The other major upgrade was to give the modems built-in WiFi the boot in lieu of a PoE (Power over Ethernet) powered WiFi Access Point smack bang in the middle if the house (hallway roof fit the bill nicely).  Not only does this help with the wireless range throughout but is also expandable and relatively easily upgradable / replaceable in the future as better wireless protocols become more mainstream.

shelf.jpg

Pugs
Occasional Browser

someone beat me too it.. but yeah no diy in Aus...

MitchellMc
Bunnings Team Member
Bunnings Team Member

Welcome to the Bunnings Workshop community @Pugs. It's great to have you join us, and many thanks for jumping into the discussion.

 

Do you have any networking projects in the works? We'd be keen to hear all about them. Please reach out anytime you need assistance or have something to share with the community.

Mitchell
 

CSParnell
Experienced Contributor

I used to be a big advocate for wiring the whole house in previous houses mainly because I'd grab a box or 2 of cat 5e or 6 from the back of the bosses truck (don't tell him), although this house some devices I have run as a LAN I have also found with majority of my house being on home automation the need for a very good Wifi network needed to be in place and that came in the form of a mesh Wifi system to cover the area and also handle the amount of devices and traffic. It also means less time fishing cables down walls and patching over noggins for internal walls.

 

Worth having a look at as an option.

Mick0s
Established Contributor

Just to touch on some points by @CSParnell 

Yes, yes and yes, absolutely, a good WiFi setup is all but mandatory these days, and a good mesh Wifi with good coverage around your home / property will likely serve you well.

 

That said, there is still a need for good old ethernet connections to high throughput devices, and Wifi "backhaul".

 

Each mesh access point can easily become congested and will need to talk "back to base" on effectively a single channel back to the endpoint, especially as more and more "smart" devices come along.  Mesh wifi typically will do this over a dedicated wifi channel also (which means you have a bunch of wifi connections all backing up onto a single connection back to base), which is usually fine for a typical home consumer situation.  This "back to base" connection can, in a lot of circumstances (mesh device permitting), be performed over a more reliable, higher throughput, and faster, ethernet connection.

 

In my previous post for my home setup, while I only have a single WiFi AP (Access Point), not a mesh, its centrally located within the house, and wired back to the modem / router via a gigabit connection.  I can very easily add additional AP's to this setup, and  typically, i you have these all setup using the same WiFi name (SSID) your devices will negotiate and jump to the more approriate point.  I also have dedicated ethernet runs to behind the TV / XBox, and another outlet that might one day hold a TV or a general use PC.  I figure these are the biggest users of the network traffic, for Netflix streaming, and gaming, etc, hence, faster, dedicated lines.  When the kids grow up and start getting devices of their own (*shudder*) they'll most likely be portable, and wifi connected so I haven't factored in any network points for their betrooms, but again, its not too dofficult to run some additional cables under the house.

 

Adam_W
Valued Contributor

Hi @thelaw, thanks for those detailed comments and sorry for not replying sooner.
Totally agree with your comments on patch cables, they are designed for device-to-device or wallplate-to-device connection.

If you were to be running cables for your own network you would not be buying long patch-cables, you would be buying a roll or spool of data cable which is, as you say, solid core. 
Data cabling is in the same category as TV aerial cabling - there are specialist registered installers but in a domestic situation it is not law that you use them and have your system certified.

99% of home installs are downstream of the telco connection, i.e - it's on the output side of the NBN box, so you are connecting patch-cable between outlet and your modem/router.

If there was need to do anything on the service side then absolutely 100% that must only be done by a suitably licensed installer.

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