There are times when streaming online content, hard wiring your home for Internet just works better. Wireless Internet is generally fast, but if you are far away from the main router your signal will be low. WiFi extenders can work well for most of those applications. The best solution is to hard wire your house with (Cat 6) Ethernet cable. This will create a good solid connection to all of your devices. The speeds of hard wiring your home for Internet are hard to match. Most of the new computers and devices allow for gigabit Ethernet speeds, which are far faster than wireless. By hard wiring the home with Ethernet you eliminate the chance of wireless interference from neighboring wireless routers. This will offer better consistency in your data transfer. It also offers security. If you have a hard wired network, you are not broadcasting your wireless signal to everyone. My home is hard wired for Internet and all my streaming devices are too. This ensures I have the best and most reliable connection possible. Let’s look at what it takes to hard wire the home for Internet.
Hard Wiring Your Home For Internet
Central Point and Rooms
Your first step is to determine what rooms in the house would need Internet. Then determine where the central cable runs will live. In my house, all of my cables and snake runs are centralized into to the basement. This may not be the case for you. It maybe a closet or bedroom. Check to see if there are any existing cable runs in your house and see where they end.
This end point is also where your Ethernet switch will live and patch panel (optional). You will also need power in this area to plug in your switch. Your cable/internet modem or router does not have to be next to your switch. It will make it easier to plug in, but you can always run an Ethernet cable from the modem or router to the switch from a different room. Just snake an additional CAT 6 cable to the room in which your cable modem and router live. If you plan on using Gigabit Ethernet just remember it is limited to 300 feet (100 meters) over copper wiring.
Existing Gang Boxes and Cabling
In many cases, you may already have some wall plates with cabling already run. Many houses already have coaxial and telephone cable run to rooms. You can follow these existing runs with your new CAT 6 cables and use the existing gang boxes. Just replace the existing gang box with new covers that allow you to add quick connect Ethernet jacks and covers. If you do not have existing gang boxes, then you will have to install them yourself. This can take some time and planning.
Using Old Gang Box
As you can see in the pictures above, I used my existing gang box on the left and snaked some new Ethernet cable to it. Then I replaced the wall plate and connections with new quick connect RJ-45, Coaxial inserts and covers. RJ-45 is basically what they call the connection type of an Ethernet cable. Note: My old wall plate had existing Coaxial and phone cable ran to it.
New Wall Plates and Inserts
The Tools You Will Need:
Ethernet (RJ-45) Crimping Tool
RJ-45 Cable Tester
Punch-Down Impact Tool
Supplies You Will Need:
Bare Cat 6 Cable (RJ-45 Ethernet Cable)
Patch Panel (optional)
Quick Connect RJ-45 Ethernet Inserts
Ethernet RJ-45 Ends (If not using Patch Panel)
Snaking the Ethernet (Cat 6) Cable
This will take some effort and time depending on the size of your home. In this description I will stick to how to run Cat 6 cable to existing gang boxes. To accomplish this you will need a cable snake and some electrical tape. It can also be nice to have a second person help you run the cabling. You need to determine how many rooms you want to wire. First start by taping one end of your Cat 6 cable to the top of your snake and make sure the cable is running parallel with the snake wire. Picture below.
Use the snake to run the cable to the location. Make sure you removed the wall plate covers so you can see the snake and pull the cable thought the gang box hole. You may have to run the cable between walls. It may take a few tries to get to your end location, be patient. Once you reached the desired gang box you can remove the tape from the cable. Then cut the cable on the other end that is running to your central cable stack using a wire cutter. Make sure that you leave enough slack on each side of the cable for stripping and tying down. Also label each end of the Cat 6 cable with a sharpie or sticky label with the room location. Repeat this step until you have all the rooms you want wired.
When it comes to wiring your Cat 6 cable there are two methods. The T-568 A and T-568 B method. Each method uses a different color code system to wire your CAT 6 cables. You are basically matching the colors of the cable to the colors on the connections of the patch panel and the quick connect inserts. I would recommend using the T-568B method, it is the most widely used and is how all patch cable are wired. Just make sure you maintain the same wiring method each time. See diagram below.
Crimping Cat 6 Cable
Now it is time to strip, crimp or patch your Cat 6 cable. At the wall plate end, you can use the quick connect RJ-45 inserts. First start by stripping the cable, with a cable stripping tool to cut and reveal the 8 pairs of cables that are inside. You want to strip away about 1 inch of cable. You will see 4 pairs of twisted cable. Untwist the pairs to reveal 8 color coded wires. Each of these wires will correspond to a color on the quick connect inserts. Use the T-568B wiring method shown in picture above. Just match up the colors and use a punch down tool to push the wires into each slot and place the wire cap on the insert to ensure that the wires are protected. Pictured above.
If you plan on using a patch panel you will have to find a place to secure it to the wall or rack. Just match up the colors on the back of patch panel with the colors on the CAT 6 cable for each room. You can then label the outputs for each room. Then use a short Ethernet cable to come out of the patch panel into an input of the switch. This method is optional. It makes for a professional setup. Pictured below.
Straight Into The Switch
The other method is to crimp the CAT 6 cable and bypass the patch panel and go straight into the switch. This will require some time to crimp each end with a RJ-45 plug. Use the wire stripping tool to cut the CAT 6 cable shield to around 1/2 in to expose the wires. Arrange the wires using the T-568B color code and snip the wires so the are straight and even. Then place the RJ-45 plug over the wires. Make sure that the RJ-45 plug goes on with the orange/white wire in the pin one direction and all of the wires are fully to the front of the plug. Then use the RJ-45 crimping tool to crimp the plug firmly on. The blue cable housing should also be some what crimped in the plug to ensure that the plug will not come undone. Picture below.
Repeat this step for each cable that was snaked. After you are done with all the cables you should test them to make sure you connections are correct. This is where the RJ-45 cable tester comes in handy. Just plug an Ethernet cable that you know works into the wall jack you want to test. Then plug that cable into the remote end of the RJ-45 cable tester and the master end of the tester into the cable where the switch is located. Turn on the tester from the master end. The RJ-45 cable tester has 8 lights that correspond to each wire in the CAT 6 cable. The lights will began to flash in sequence from the remote and master ends. Make sure that each 8 light flashes on both ends are in sequence. Pictured below. If you are missing a light, there is a problem with the connection. Check your wiring and crimping to make sure all is secure. If all 8 lights are flashing one after another then you know you did it right!
Next you can plug in all your Ethernet cables into the switch. You may want to find a good mounting point to secure the switch. Most switches have a slotted screw hole on the bottom that will allow it to be hung from a wall. A shelf will also work fine. Once all is working you can clip down and zip tie all your new cabling.
Hire an Electrician
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Main image courtesy of cp2studio at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Hard wiring your home for Internet can take some time, but in the end it allows for the fastest and the most secure connection. Check your home, some of the work many already be done for you and all you need to do is add the finishing touches. This can be a nice weekend project.