You might have noticed by now how I’m a big fan of using network cables — as opposed to Wi-Fi — as a way to extend a home network.
While it might sound counterintuitive, getting your home wired is the only way to get the best-performing system, including one with lots of Wi-Fi clients. And the wiring is a must if you want to go Multi-Gig or enjoy Gigabit broadband.
Running cables can be such pain and, sometimes, is so for a rather unusual reason. A reader named Martin wrote to me a while back, saying in part:
[…] I had to drill a bunch of little holes to push the wire through. Not a huge deal. The thing is, by the time I got it to where I wanted, the connector’s head was damaged. Now I have a non-working cable. […]
Well, Martin, I feel you. But using ready-made network cables is not ideal in your case. Most importantly, that cable still works fine, and you’re very close.
That’s right, the actual physical work of running the cables from one place to another (and installing the mounting boxes) is the hardest part of getting a home wired.
If you’re willing to do or have done that, this post will help you deal with the rest. It’s easier than you think and will come in handy when you need to fix, build, or upgrade a home network.
Table of Contents
Getting your home wired: What you need
First and foremost, you need to figure out the places to run the cables to and from. A network cable has two ends. Generally, they are both the same. But for the sake of this post, let’s call them A and B.
A is where the cable starts, and B is where it ends. More specifically, the A end goes into a switch (or router), and the B end goes into a wired device — a computer, a Wi-Fi access point, or another switch.
Figuring out the locations
You only need one or two cables to have a mesh system with a wired backhaul in many homes.
In case you’re new to mesh Wi-Fi systems
When you use multiple Wi-Fi broadcasters — in a mesh network or a combo of a router and an extender — there are two types of connections: fronthaul and backhaul.
A Wi-Fi connection between two direct parties occurs in a single band, using one fixed channel, at any given time. This principle applies to all existing Wi-Fi standards, at least up to Wi-Fi 6E.
Fronthaul is the Wi-Fi signals broadcast outward for clients or the network ports for wired devices. It’s what we generally expect from a Wi-Fi broadcaster.
Backhaul (a.k.a backbone,) on the other hand, is the link between one satellite broadcaster and another, which can be the network’s primary router, a switch, or another satellite unit.
This link works behind the scene to keep the hardware units together as a system. It also determines the ceiling bandwidth (and speed) of all devices connected to the particular broadcaster.
The connection type, a Wi-Fi band or a network port, used for the backhaul is often referred to as the uplink. A Wi-Fi broadcaster might use one of its bands (2.4GHz, 5GHz, or 6GHz) or a network port for the uplink.
When a Wi-Fi band handles backhaul and fronthaul simultaneously, only half of its bandwidth is available to either end. From the perspective of a connected client, that phenomenon is called signal loss.
When a Wi-Fi band functions solely for backhauling, it’s called the dedicated backhaul.
In a mesh system, only traditional Tri-band hardware — those with an additional 5GHz band — can have a dedicated backhaul band without ostracizing clients of the same band.
Generally, it’s best to use a network cable for backhauling — wired backhauling. And that’s an advantage of mesh hardware with network ports. In this case, a satellite broadcaster can use its entire Wi-Fi bandwidth for front-hauling.
In networking, network cables are always much better than wireless in speed and reliability.
In this case, you run the cable(s) from where the router is to where you want to put the Wi-Fi satellite unit(s), which should be the other end of the home or at least the middle of it.
Alternatively, you can run a cable from the cable modem or a Fiber-optic ONT (or any Internet source) to where you want to place the Wi-Fi router. It’s all about proper hardware placement so that you get the best coverage.
On the other hand, if you want to go all out and get the entire home wired, you’ll need to have a place where all the cables’ A ends converge. It’s best to have them all in a small room or closet where your Internet service line comes into the house.
From there, have the B ends of the cables go to different parts of the house, as many as you want, including places where you intend to mount your TV, PoE cameras, access point, and what’s not. Personally, I have two for each room in my home. In the place I use as my office, I have a couple for each wall.
What network cable to get
If you only need to run a cable in an open space, it’s OK to use a long ready-made cable. But chances are you will have to run the cables behind a wall, in the attic, outside the house, etc.
In this case, it’s best to buy them in bulk. Now you can cut any length you want, and bulk cables are a lot more affordable than ready-made alternatives.
By the way, if you intend to run cables in the attic or outside of your home, it’s a good idea to use weatherproof ones or use a conduit if you live in areas with rough weather or extreme temperatures.
In the San Francisco Bay Area, where I live, my experience is indoor cables can last decades outdoors with no issue. The weather plays a big role. But generally, it’s always better to use high-quality cables.
Get the bulk long enough for the entire home. (Note that each cable needs some slack.) Generally, a spindle of 1000 feet (330 m) is more than enough for a large house.
Cable grades (CAT5e vs. CAT6 vs. CAT7 vs. CAT8)
As for cable grades, there’s no discernible difference between CAT5e and CAT6 (or CAT6a) for home applications. Both can deliver up to 10 Gbps but at different max lengths.
CAT5e can indeed do ten Gigabits per second, despite conventional wisdom that the grade maxes out at 1Gbps.
CAT7 is similar to CAT6, just better in terms of continuous length. CAT8 can deliver up to 40 Gbps. More on them in this post about setting up your home network.
The higher the number that follows CAT, the more expensive the cable gets.
Generally, your switch (or router) and end devices determine a connection’s final speed. The point is that CAT5e cables will suffice for virtually any home.
But it doesn’t hurt to go with CAT6 (or any higher grade). And generally, if you expect full Gigabit or faster real-world speeds, go with CAT6 or a higher grade to be safe.
In terms of cost, the rule is that the harder it is to run the cables, the more you should use a higher (and more expensive) cable grade. Pick the part-over-labor-cost ratio that makes sense for you. You can also use cables of different grades in different parts of a home.
The basic rule of network wiring
Running network cables is different from wiring a home for electricity. You need one cable for each connection. You can’t split a network cable the way you do an electrical wire or service line (phone or coaxial) and expect it to work.
The only way to make one network connection available to multiple wired devices is via a switch. And that involves multiple cables.
That said, let’s take this specific scenario:
Your Internet service line comes in your basement, and that’s where you want to put your router. Now, if you want to use a wired device in your living room (like your Xbox) and another in your office (a desktop computer), here are the two ways to run the wires:
Getting a home wired the standard way — recommended
- One cable from the basement to the living room.
- Another cable from the basement to the office.
- Connect the cables’ A ends to the router and B ends to the wired devices.
Getting a home wired the daisy-chain method — not ideal, but more real
- One cable from the basement to the living room.
- A switch in the living room.
- Another cable from the living room to the office.
- Connect the first cable’s A end to the router.
- Now connect the first cable’s B end and the second cable’s A end to the switch
- Then connect the second cable’s B end to the desktop computer.
- Use a third short (ready-made) cable to connect the Xbox to the switch.
Either wiring method will work equally well in terms of speed — they’re just different in the amount of wiring, parts, and labor.
And in reality, you’ll probably use both. That’s because even when you use the standard way, there’s always a chance you need to connect more wired devices than the number of network ports available at a location.
And that brings us to the next important part: The things you attach to the ends of the cables.
What parts to get
Bulk cables don’t include the parts that make them work as network ones out of the box.
They are generic wires that can be used for many different applications. Before a section can work as a network cable, we have to turn each end into a network connector or port.
So, we need to get these modular bits and install them at the A and B ends of each cable.
Connector vs port (Crimp vs Jack)
A connector is an end that goes into a network port. A jack is a network port you can plug a connector into. They are male and female terminals.
The parts for these ends are normally called connectors and ports, but you also find them labeled as RJ45 Crimps and RJ45 Jacks, respectively. (There are many other names, too, like plugs, couplers, and so on.)
If you buy a ready-made network cable, you will note that both ends are crimped connectors. And that’s a good thing, when applicable, always use ready-made cables, which come in many appropriate (short) lengths, to connect wired devices to your network.
We can make such cables — I’ve made plenty myself — but I’d recommend against using connectors (crimps) for the cables’ ends when it comes to getting a home wired. It’s best to turn them into network ports. I speak from years of experience.
Here are a few reasons:
- Less work: It’s much easier and faster to attach a port (RJ45 Jack) to a cable.
- Higher chance of success: The possibility of making a mistake with a jack is much slimmer than with a crimp. Pay a bit of attention, and you can make a perfect network port on the very first try — more below.
- Stability: A network port remains stationary, which allows the cable behind it to stay unchanged.
- Flexibility: Once you have a network port, you’re free to use a (ready-made) cable of any length to connect to it.
That said, let’s agree that we’ll go with using RJ45 Jacks. The objective now is to create a network port at either end of a cable.
You can also buy jacks in bulk. You need two for each cable, so get however many per your need and then a couple more as spares. They are relatively inexpensive.
Getting a home wired: Matching cables and jacks
The bulk cable grade mentioned above (CAT5e, CAT6, and so on) is just part of the deal. A network cable’s actual grade depends on what you put at each end, too, whichever is lower.
So if you use a CAT5e bulk cable with CAT6 jacks, you’ll get a CAT5e network cable. And the rule is always to use the cable and modular bits of the same grade.
If you have to mix them up for some reason, keep this in mind:
Chances are they are going to work, but, again, always at the speed of the lower grade. Generally, it’s more acceptable to use CAT6 jacks (or crimps) on a CAT5e cable than the other way around. So, if you decide to go with CAT6 wiring, don’t use any CAT5e end bits.
Also, it’s best to use the same type at both ends of a cable.
Extra: Patch panel
A patch panel is basically many RJ45 Jacks (network ports) arranged in one place for easy management.
If you want to run five or more cables, it’s a good idea to get a patch panel for their A ends instead of having many separate network ports.
A patch panel tends to have 12 ports or more — those with fewer ports can be quite expensive –but you don’t have to use them all. The idea is to get one that has the same or more ports you’d need.
Each port on a panel is numbered, which is a great way to know which cable goes to which location. (That is if you also number the other end of the cables with the same digits.)
By the way, if you need to run more cables than the number of LAN ports on your router, then it’s also time to get a switch to add more ports to the router.
The tools you need
For the job we’re about to do, namely turning a cable’s ends into network ports, we need two pieces of equipment. Both are relatively inexpensive, costing about $20 each.
A Punch-down tool
A punch-down tool is a device that you use to punch the cable’s internal wires onto a jack. It’s super easy and fun to use.
A Crimping tool (or a pair of scissors)
A crimping tool is primarily for crimping the network cable and turning its ends into network connectors. But it’s also great for cutting a cable or removing its shielding to reveal the internal wires.
For what we do here, though, you can get away with a pair of scissors.
Getting your home wired: The inside of a network cable
Inside each network cable (CAT5e grade or higher), you find eight little wires in four twisted pairs.
Each pair has a color of its own, including Blue, Orange, Green, and Brown, with one wire being a solid color and the other mostly white with a color stripe.
It’s important to be aware of these colors since each wire needs to match the jack in a particular order.
Other than that, you’ll also find a pull string, which is thin but very strong, that works as support when you need to pull the cable from one place to another.
As a result, you can pull pretty hard on a network cable without damaging it. Just don’t pull too hard.
By the way, when running a network cable, make sure you give it some slack and then leave some extra at both ends. You can always cut it shorter or roll it up, but the other way around is very hard.
Understanding the wiring pattern
You need to know the wiring pattern to add a port (or a connector) to a cable’s end. There are two, including T-568A and T-568B.
(Don’t worry about the details of these numbers. Consider them as proper names.)
These are popular terminations, or pinouts, for Ethernet cables of CAT5e and higher (CAT6/a, CAT7, CAT8, and so on). They are two specific ways to match the colors of the wires with the pins of the terminal pieces (connector or port).
T-568A vs. T-568B
Either of these patterns will work as long as you use the same at both ends. In this case, we have a Straight-Through Ethernet standard cable.
If you use T-568A at one end and T-568B at the other, you’ll make a Crossover Ethernet cable. This cable won’t work as the straight-through one, but it’s great to connect two devices directly without a router in between.
That said, generally, it’s not a good idea to mix up the cable’s two ends. Pick one and go with it. Consistently!
It’s worth noting that generally, T-568B is the preferred wiring pattern and the one I’m using for this post as well as in real life. If you buy a ready-made cable, chances are it also uses this wiring pattern.
By the way, if you use wrong patterns (even when consistently so at both ends), the cable will not work at all or work at reduced speed (10Mbps or 100Mbps). Not a good thing.
Extra: How to find out if a cable uses T-568A or T-568B
To find out if a cable uses which pattern, take a look at its connector. First, flip it so that the clip side is away from you. Now, if the first pin is stripe green, it’s a T-568A; if it’s stripe orange, it’s a T-568B.
Now, look at the other end. If it’s the same, then it’s a straight-through cable. If not, then it’s a crossover. (By default, all network cables are straight-through, you have to specify that you want a crossover to find one.)
Of course, you can always cut off the tip of the cable and re-crimp it. However, again, we don’t do that in this post.
Extra: Why making your own network connectors is not a good idea
As you can imagine from the pattern above, crimping a cable is quite painful and prone to errors.
- You first have to arrange all eight little wires in a specific pattern as shown above — good luck with that!
- Then cut off the tips of the wires to make them all even — good luck again!
- Then stick all of them into a tiny crimp plug without messing up the pattern — make sure you hold your breath when you’re at it.
- After that, insert the plug itself — with the wires loosely attached — into the crimper’s hole.
- Finally, crimp the whole thing with one hand while keeping your other’s fingers crossed in high hopes that the wires’ order won’t be shoved around during the process.
OK, it’s not that painful, but you get the idea.
Getting your home wired: How to make a network port
Making a network port (CAT5e or higher) out of a cable’s end is much easier than turning it into a connector.
You only need to deal with a single wire at a time. As long as you’re not severely color-blind, you can’t make a mistake. The steps below will help.
I used CAT5e parts for the photos, but everything is the same if you use CAT6 and higher equivalents.
By the way, I picked CAT5e because the cable generally has fewer protective layers than higher-grade cables and therefore is easy to take clear photos of the process. Also, the pictures only serve as examples and are not part of a real project — I’d be too busy to take photos (and my hand wouldn’t be that photogenic).
1. Determine the wiring pattern
Take a look at the jack and determine which wiring pattern you’ll use. Again, either will work, but the T-568B is the most common.
Note how each groove has its own color corresponding to the cable’s wires, as mentioned above.
2. Prepare the wire
Cut the cable tip to remove the parts of internal wires you might have inadvertently damaged during the installation — something that happened in Martin’s case mentioned at the top of the post.
Now use the crimp tool (or the scissors) to remove about 1 inch (2.5 cm) of the shielding to reveal the copper wires. Spread them out as twisted pairs. (You can cut off the pull string or just put it out of the way.)
3. Install the wires on the jack
Keep the pairs as together as possible. Now press them down individually on the grooves of the jack, matching the colors of the pattern (T-568B in this case.)
There’s no need to press them down too hard, just tight enough so they won’t fall out.
4. Punch ’em down!
Now comes the fun part. Use the punch-down tool to push the wires down onto the groove — one at a time.
You need a surface for this (the wall will do). Make sure you put the blade side of the tool’s tip on the outside — it’ll cut off the extra wire. Now press it down in a quick action. You’ll hear a satisfying click sound.
Repeat that with the rest of the wires, and you got yourself a network port perfectly attached to the cable. (The attachment is actually really tight, much more durable than a hand-crimped connector head.)
5. Attach the port to a face plate
Now, if you have a mounting box, attach the port to the box’s faceplate. Mission accomplished!
If not, you can get a surface-mount box. Even if you leave the cable loose, you still just got yourself a network port.
And that’s it. Now repeat the same process at the other end of the cable and the rest of the cables, and you just seriously got your home wired.
Extra: How to wire a patch panel
Wiring a patch panel is like wiring a bunch of jacks at the same spot. The principle is the same: You match the colors of the wires with the grooves on the panel.
Under each panel, you’ll also see the pinout patterns of both T-568A and T-568B wiring methods. Pick one, and go with it consistently. By the way, on a patch panel, you might find all eight wires of a cable on one side.
Wire one port of the panel and its corresponding cable’s B-end. Test that to make sure you get everything correctly. That’s to avoid the case where you might misread the pattern or color positions on the panel and apply that to the rest of the ports.
Also note that if you make a mistake in the wiring of one port, that might cascade to the rest of the ports.
If you make a mistake, you can just jank the wires out of the panel — you won’t damage it — trim the cable and try again.
Again, make sure you get a panel that has enough ports for the number of cables you’ve run. In this example, I used a 12-port panel even though I only ran six lines. By the way, I finished this job in less than 30 minutes, including the time spent on the photos.
Getting your home wired: The takeaway
Again, what I described above is the easiest part of wiring a home, though it can seem the most intimidating. Hopefully, the latter is only so before you’ve read this post.
So here’s the trick: Get someone lanky to do the actual work of running the cables. Once they’ve gotten the cables’ ends sticking out of the wall (or the floor), send them home! It’s time for you to have fun while saving some money on labor.
It’s very satisfying to see how much better your home (Wi-Fi) network becomes afterward, especially when you can claim you did that (all) by yourself!
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85 thoughts on “How to Get your Home Wired with Network Cables (Almost) Like a Pro”
Does it matter which transceiver you use to connect the SFP+ port on the router to your 10Gb port on the PC or PC Card?
I have the ASUS RT-AX89X router and want to run a CAT8 ethernet cable to the motherboard.
I’ve read a lot on line, but can’t seem to find an answer.
It generally does, Edgar, but it’s also generally OK to pick one among those I linked, most worked in my XP.
Hello Special Man 🙂
You explained that the speed of the data that will be transferred is depending on the weakest component.
I bought a cat 7 cable, but I can’t find Cat7 connectors & jacks.
In your examples you used cat 5e (T-568B) (from your post RJ45 Crimps https://amzn.to/2YdNvGd & RJ45 Jacks, https://amzn.to/34jlPTQ) I’m looking for exactly the same for Cat 7
Can you recommend me a suitable Cat 7 connector & jack to buy?
Thanks for your hard work & help in this amazing Web-portal!
Honestly, Niv, I’ve never built CAT7 cables from bulk. But I know the process is the same as mentioned here. You can try these:
Good luck! 🙂
Nicely explained! I have problems getting up ladders etc now (after spinal cord tumour removal I’m now a bloody-minded active individual that happens to be 80% disabled 😎) but I just enjoy the look on my wife’s face as I pull myself up to run cables around the roof eaves etc. Yep, Buy 100m exterior Cat6 and put the ends on yourself … did 5 external cameras on house; just pulled Cat6 through sleeve under driveway (that was fairly easy cos I could sit down and wife was helping at other end) which was 35m for Robin doorbell.
Some guidance please: We are getting fibre-optic in the village early next year (hurrah), so I’ll probably ditch the 4G Netgear LAX20 with AP’d RBR50/2 x RBS50 (Large stone built house 280sq m on 2 levels, external & internal walls are 2′ ft thick) which currently gives us 155 down/ 15-20 up. Any thoughts on a router and sats that’ll take advantage of the supposed gigabit connection please? With consideration of our thick walls … I suspect your answer may involve drilling 1 cm holes through 2′ thick walls, I know how much you prefer cable! But I’m in my 60s so give me a break (please!). Based in France, so most gear is available.
Nice job, Vern! Now drill that 1cm hole! 🙂
Generally, if you want to enjoy true Gigabit you will need a router with a Multi-Gig WAN port. After that, it’s hard to get the signal expanded wireless without a huge reduction. So for your case, I’d recommend getting the ZenWiFi XT8 or better yet the XT12. Fiber is definitely the way to go. Bonne chance!
Very quick reply!
I see the XT12 are readily available in France. Just for you, and watch my wife’s face once more 😂, I can see myself drilling one hole at each end of the house and running exterior sheathed Cat6/7 to get the best out of the system. I’ll hopefully run Cat7 under the tiled floors to sitting room, boiler room etc (I left some trunking empty under the concrete when planning the layout). Looks like the tech moved on a pace from my current setup, the RBR50 plus 3 RBS50 (forgot the one in the stone-built, by me, double garage/workshop). I presume I can add a third XT12 if required? Again many thanks, Vern
You might not need a third unit considering what you’re using right now — you just need to rearrange the hardware. But only you can find out. If you can really run cables to all broadcasting units, the ZenWiFi Pro ET12 makes more sense, but the XT12 will work well, too.
Brilliant! Thank you Sir 👍. I’ll sit down with a pen and sketch out what I have under the floors … SWMBO (She Who Must Be Obeyed) may vote for the XT12s, she tends to get upset with me limping around leaving tools scattered willy nilly; whereas I would love to leave the house flooded with CAT5/6/7. Still, taken my meds so that’s me horizontal, again many thanks, Vern
Afterburner report 😁 Took your advice and we bought a pair of XT8s, drilled the requisite holes through 2′ thick stone walls and laid 6a cable to each ground floor room. Finished cables with a keystone at either end. Really helped our wifi and download speeds, can’t wait for the upgrade to fibre-optic next year. Next Spring will have the bedrooms similarly equipped.
Good job, Vernon! Why wait until next Spring, though?
Good evening Dong,
Too cold for a 63 year old disabled chap to cling to a ladder or platform, ladder steadier (SWMBO) is feeling the cold too! Seriously, we may have a better idea where our supplier will put our fibre-optic (in the power cabinet, rather stone alcove, gets my vote). If it is in the power cabinet, sat central to our old house, I’ll buy a XT9 (or another XT8) and have the other 2 x XT8 out on each end of the rectangular footprint our house sits on. That way everything is done, great signal/data to all, and I’ll drink some malt … sunnier climes beckon!
I wouldn’t have done this without your pages to check my understanding. Thank you.
Best regards, Vern
Got it, Vern! Stay warm! Et je vous en prie! 🙂
I would like to connect modem to Orbi RBK752 main router and then connect Orbi main router to Orbi satellite using wired backhaul (conceal into wall) using Cat8 ethernet cable.
May I know which type of connection for (crossover 568B-568A or straight 568B-568B):
1) Modem to Main Router
2) Main Router to Satellite
As mentioned in the post, you need to use standard network cables in all cases, Benedick. No crossover cable. Also, you shouldn’t use the Orbi if you have wired backhauls — it’s a waste of money. More in this post.
I’m taking the plunge and running a cat8 cable to my second floor. I looked at Amazon and there’s lots of possible choices. Would this work? (https://amzn.to/3iSaWhY)
Also, while I’m certain a cat6 cable will do the job just fine (I got the super thin and flat kind) I’m wondering if there’s any real benefit of having higher Mhz (2000 vs 250). Can you advise?
Thanks very much for all the content in your site, this place is a gold mine!
I’ve never used CAT8, Sergio, mostly still CAT5E and CAT6/a. My guess, though, is it will work — it’s the same principle just better wires on the inside. As for benefits over older cable grades, I will not see them, not in a long time. But it doesn’t hurt to use it.
Thanks a lot for que quick reply, Dong.
I have an Asus RT-AX86U router on the first floor of my house and I plan to set up a 2nd one (wired connection with the cable mentioned above) in mesh mode on the 2nd floor. I was thinking of using either an RT-AX55 or RT-AX58U for this purpose, which one would you recommend, or any different one if these are overkill?
Either will work or you can get the RP-AX56. In any case, read the reviews for more, I didn’t and don’t test every single combo. More in this post. Good luck! 🙂
Greetings all. Network newbie here and trying to solve somewhat of a mystery with the network wiring in this new house I’ve recently moved into. The house appears to be wired for Ethernet, but I have never been able to get the wall jacks to work.
Looking around, I found a junction box in the master bedroom closet where the ethernet cables converge, but the weird part is that all of the wires are capped together by color. For example, the “green” wires from each of the cables are joined together at the end with some type of plastic sheath that looks to be heat shrunk to ensure a tight connection.
I’ve never seen anything like this in any of my previous homes networks so if anyone has any ideas what this is I would be most appreciative of the knowledge. I have a photo if that would help, but no way to upload.
They are not necessarily network cables as is, Mike. You might be able turn them so, though. Make sure you read this post CLOSELY. Or hire a professional.
Thank you for your response Dong. I misstated my actual question. I was curious if there was any practical reason why the installer joined the ends of each wire together in the manner in which they did.
That’s either for organizing purposes with particular patch panels or a different type of wiring that’s not for Ethernet. Like I said in this post, the little wires inside the cable can be used for many applications. The cable only becomes a network cable when its terminals are wired as described in this post.
Currently I have a netgear extender which is decent but maxes out at 200mb transfer speed between my network NAS and main computer plus is not stable over long zoom calls. I have been considering upgrading my old netgear (R8500 & EX7000) router/extender to an Orbi system and will do so at some point when the price comes down more. To solve multiple issues I have really considered hard wiring as the best long-term solution.
My Situation is the FIO’s router is on the 2nd floor. I want to run an enet cable to the 1st floor and to another room on the 2nd floor. Both cables must be run through the basement (via different risers). My thought is use Cat6 cable (plenum type since it will run next to the heating pipes) from Fio’s router to the basement and into a switch. From the basement switch, a cable to the 1st floor to another switch (eventually into a Orbi satellite) where it can be wired to my entertainment system devices. The second line from the basement switch up another riser to my office and be connected to a switch to my PC (again eventually into a Orbi satellite). I realize I can run 2 wires as home runs from the router to each endpoint but then I run into the wife aesthetic challenge so my goal is to run only 1 wire to the basement and fan it out from there.
It will be:
Router-> down riser0 -> basement switch -> up riser1 -> 1fl switch -> devices
basement switch -> up riser2 -> 2fl switch -> devices
For the switches I was thinking 5-port unmanaged switch that will do 2.5gbps full duplex.
So based on what you said it seems it will not degrade speed or reliability if I daisy chain switches. If I am wrong, please let me know.
As ALWAYS, thank you for your help and guidance in taking the time to do all the hard work investigating and sharing with us your experiences and knowledge.
For you needs, Daniel, you need to run network cables to connect the broadcasters. There’s no way around that. The Orbi might deliver better coverage (and possibly faster), but the video call experience will be similar. Once you’ve run cables, though, I’d recommend getting dual-band hardware, like the ZenWiFi XD6. They are more affordable and much better.
For wired devices, it’s OK to daisy chain them — more in this post. Make sure you use unmanaged switch(es) though.
Fantastic website, THANK YOU! I have read this article many times, as well as others on your site. I’m a novice at networking, but I think I did ok for my first time: I’m refinishing my basement, and while everything is open I took the opportunity to run Cat6 throughout the rooms, as well as poked a few up to the main level. I followed your advice to terminate in network ports and I also incorporated a 12-port patch panel and 16-port switch.
I successfully ran a new long cable from the FIOS delivery point (which is cat5e coming in from outside the house) to my new cat6 cable, and then to port 1 on my patch panel. I then have a small cat6 cable from port 1 patch panel direct into the WAN port on my Fios G1100 (AC1750) gateway router. It lights up green! I then have another small cable from a LAN port into port 1 on a TP-Link switch. Also green! Anything plugged into the switch directly gets nice blinky green status, no problems there. I have a whole set of small cat6 cords connecting the remaining patch panel ports to the open ports of the switch. However, other than the single port I’ve used through the patch panel for the FIOS source, none of the other patch panel ports work.
FIOS -> patch panel port 1 -> cable -> G1100 WAN (success!)
G1100 WAN -> cable -> TP-Link 16p switch (success!)
TP-Link 16p switch -> any connected device (success!)
TP-Link 16p switch -> cable -> patch panel ports 2-12 (nada…)
I’ve terminated each port of the patch panel using the same punchdown tool that I used for the Cat6 ports, and run the wires carefully to various locations in my basement. When I connect devices at the end-points, the best I get is an intermittent orange light on the switch. Mostly there’s no lights at all.
What have I done wrong with my switch? Why does one port successfully allow FIOS through to the router, and I can get direct connections to my switch to work, but nothing else through patch panel 2-12? Advice? Thanks again.
1. Your description was a bit confusing… I assumed by “G1100 WAN -> cable -> TP-Link 16p switch (success!)” you actually meant “G1100 *LAN* -> cable -> TP-Link 16p switch (success!)”. If not, I have no idea what you’re talking about. Generally, here is the correct diagram:
Internet source -> (WAN port) Gateway (LAN port) -> (LAN) switch (LAN) -> (Patch Panel) -> (LAN) End Device.
2. If so, you might have picked an incorrect pattern on the patch panel and used it consistently. This can happen. Specifically, you might have *misinterpreted* the wiring colors on the panel then wired all cables consistently with the wrong pattern.
I’d recommend rereading this post and paying close attention. Also, try ONE port on the panel and ensure that it works before doing the rest of the ports. In any case, assuming there’s no issue with the panel itself, this is going to be an easy fix — you can jank the wires out from the panel, trim them and rewire. Good luck!
Hello Dong, thanks for the prompt reply!
1. you are correct, I meant “G1100 *LAN* -> cable -> TP-Link 16p switch (success!)”
2. Good call, I will in-fact review. Port 1 worked (and was the last one I did), which makes me think that I did them correctly since it was repetition at that point. But I’m prone to errors much like anyone so I will double-check!
Thanks for the encouragement, very helpful resources and feedback.
Sure, Jason! It’s frustrating, but you’re very close.
Well, after some end-to-end testing with a cheap tester and a couple different iterations of test cables, I determined that it was a bad/broken pin on the patch panel! I ordered a replacement thru Amazon, installed the new one, and all is well. Appreciate your website and all the feedback. Thanks again.
Excellent, Jason! Glad you figured that one out. 🙂
Dong, A question on your usage of patch panel above.
Why have the patch panel right in front of the switch? What are the advantages of adding the patch panel and wiring this way? or was this just for illustrative purposes.
Seems like all cables coming into the switch directly would be better/easier?
I am planning running cables in the house and was wondering if I too should introduce a patch panel between all long runs and the switch.
That’s mostly for illustrative purposes, Mat. But even in this case, you won’t need to turn a cable into a connector but a port instead, as I mentioned I the post, which is much better in terms of durability, organization, and stability.
I had a 10 year old house that has CAT5 runs terminated in 568 already for telephone POTS in each room. I went to the distribution panel and installed a 16 port switch and removed the POTS punchdown board and terminated all the jacks with 568 crimps (whew, that is the hard part to get all the colors right order) – but I now have 1Gbps full speed throughout the house! I left a few POTS connections as they were for old telephone service in a few rooms.
Question: All the attic cables are the blue (plenum?) rated type. Should I go with this kind of cable if I ever needed to add more runs – is it more fire safe?
Great job, Shawn! You should go with CAT5e or later. What type doesn’t really matter much. Generally you don’t need to worry about fire hazzard with network cables. But if you are unsure, get a conduit.
I am no expert, so don’t take this as a final authority, but my understanding is that plenum rated cable is required anywhere that cabling is run where it is part of an air distribution system. The idea is that the jacket is more flame resistant (and smokes less?), so in the event of a fire, smoking cables don’t distribute the toxic smoke throughout a building and cause occupants to be unable to find there way out (or cause them to lose conciousness on their way out). My thought is that an attic space wouldn’t necessarily be considered a plenum. I am also not sure if the color is a reliable indicator of plenum rating. There is another rating for cable, too (riser), which is less stringent, as a riser isn’t part of the air distribution system.
I used this link when I was researching the possibility of running cables through HVAC ducts – which I haven’t yet attempted: https://www.bwcfla.com/blog/plenum-vs-riser-cabling
Thanks for the input, Jeff.
thank you, this is very helpful as I have to run my cables along a steam pipe (we have steam heat in my house) which gets hot.
Thanks for all the good information. I’ve run new wire in an older house I had to clean up an old home network before wireless was popular. We’re building a new home and I want to do as much as I can to future-proof it for my remaining days. I’ll have 2 access points for complete coverage. I also plan to run LAN wire to TV locations, computer locations, surveillance cameras, appliances (IoT), and probably a few more things I haven’t thought of yet. Not all will be used immediately, but I won’t have to go back and try to run wire later.
Everything will go to a dedicated closet where the service comes in.
I haven’t had luck in finding someone to help plan this for the new home. Everyone wants to do all the work for a ridiculous price. Any suggestions on how to get it planned so I can do the install?
Read the post and follow its general guidelines, Joey. Good luck!
I’m finally taking the plunge and will be wiring my apt shortly. I’ve ordered all the equipment (will go with Cat6) and will have professionals install the wires, but am planning on connecting the jacks/crimps (for ceiling AP) & patch-panel myself, as you suggested. I’ve also ordered a basic test kit (one that goes through each pin individually at both ends of the cable) to check for faulty connections. My questions:
– testing kits: is it worthwhile getting anything more sophisticated than what I mentioned above? If yes, do you have any recommendations?
– speed test: I keep reading about people getting only very low real-world speeds on their cables. Is this a real concern? And if yes, what’s the best/easiest way to test for it? Could I just connect two computers at either end of a cable, then measure the speed at which a file is copied (eg. LAN speed test)? Or would you recommend a throughput test ( eg Tamos)? If I understand correctly, the throughput test involves router & switch, so might make it harder to pinpoint the reasons for a slow connection.
The cables I’m using are obviously not crossover ones & I’m aware that the max measured speed would be capped at 1Gbps due to my ethernet adapters/Gigabit-switch, but it would nevertheless be reassuring to know that I get the max out of my equipment/the cables aren’t defective before I patch up those walls again….
Thanks for your input!
If you do your job properly, don’t worry about speed testing, Roman. It’ll work. But if you mess up (which is hard), you can always cut the cable’s tip and rewire it. So a simple test kit, for correct wiring, will do. I don’t even use that anymore. 🙂
Hello, this is very helpful. In the past I have meshed(activated AIMesh) 2 Asus RT-68us(former TMO AC1900), but I think I daisy chained them, meaning I had a cable from the primary RT-68u running to the secondary/node RT-68u, they were both on AIMesh. I wanted the secondary to be wired for a stronger Wifi signal, so what was I actually doing AIMesh or daisy-chaining the routers? can you do both? I have multiple IoT devices, cameras, lights, Chromecast, Google Max, Google hub, minis etc.
For the next setup I am looking for an Asus Wifi 6 to act as primary and run the RT-AC68s as nodes. I can wire the nodes. What is the ideal Asus Wifi 6 for a setup like this. Probably I need the strongest connection to a PS5, plex server and also work laptop.
Check out this post on AiMesh and this one of AiMesh hardware, Lou. Those two will answer ALL of your questions, make sure you read them.
I appreciate this article very much. I have a question about the cabling itself. We’re planning to build a new house in the next year, and my plan is to have a network closet and run cabling from various rooms to the closet and create my network. A couple of the devices will be Power over Ethernet devices. Does that impact the type of cabling I should buy? I’d prefer not to carry different types of cabling just for ease of install and maintenance, but I also don’t want to break the bank of providing PoE cabling throughout the house where 90% won’t be PoE devices. So, I’m thinking it’s either Cat6 Plenum or Cat6 CMR Riser cabling. There will be one cable that will go to a garage-mounted camera, which suggests to me that outdoor Cat6 will be necessary as well. Any guidance would be appreciated.
Generally, all network cables will work with PoE, Brad, it’s the injector or the switch that matters. I’d recommend getting CAT6 since why not but I think you’re overthinking it. 🙂 This one will work fine for any home (and small office) purposes.
Thanks, Dong, I will follow the advice of a wise person who said “Get someone lanky to do the actual work of running the cables. ” 🙂 I’ve seen some pictures where the cables are different colors. Does it help if you lay, say “blue” for 2nd floor and another color for first floor? (along with marking the cables separately) Is there any benefit for color coding?
Not really. It’s fun but in the end, it’ll make you more confused using different color for the same type of connection. That said you can use colors for specific ones like between the modem and router, router and switch, etc. Use a panel and number the ports as I mentioned in the post, that’s the best.
Tremendous article—the best I’ve found so far. I have 5 ports on my router, which I rent from my internet provider. I need to add two more. Since two of my room are 100 feet away from the router, I was going to add an internet switch near those rooms. Then I’ll run new internet cable (cat5e?) to create two additional jacks. Do you recommend a particular wire. There are so many out there and I don’t know the differences. Thanks for a great article.
The switch is a good idea, Jake. As for cables, I’ve been personally using this CAT5E one and this CAT6 one. No matter which, you can always use these CAT6 ports. But you can use those of your choice. They are very similar. Have fun! 🙂
Hey Dong—in a previous message I asked you about what kind of cable to run after adding an ethernet switch. I bought the kind you recommended and all seems good.
However, for one of the lines, I want to run the cable in a place where it will cross over the electrical Romex lines. Does this mean I need a shielded ethernet cable?
My intention is to take the ethernet line into a floor recessed electric outlet. I want to have one electrical outlet and one ethernet port. Do you think this is okay, and will it necessitate using a shielded ethernet cable?
Thanks for your help. Much appreciated.
Not really, Jake. Just make sure there’s some cushion between the two.
Line voltage and low-voltage should be separated. Here’s a link from a supplier that explains the code and how to work around it:
I have learned so much about home networking from your site. You’ve convinced me that wired backhaul is the way to go and I’m going to take the plunge and run a few wires on the outside of my house. After a lot of reading, I’m still not sure about one thing related to multi gig ports and how it relates to my router.
I’ve just ordered the Asus RT-AX86U and it has one 2.5Gb port. I know that the system is limited by its weakest part, however, I’m wondering if there’s any benefit of connecting the router to my wired network via the multi gig port as a LAN. For example, if I chose to connect the node to the network using the 2.5 GB WAN port.
My internet is stupid slow, and I know this wouldn’t help with that, but I’m wondering if it would add anything to internal network speed for any wired devices with multi gig capabilities over a standard gigabit connection.
No, unless you have a Multi-Gig switch which you likely don’t, Kristin. You can use that port for a fast Multi-Gig device, or as the WAN port if you have Gig+ or faster Internet (which it seems like you don’t.) More on Multi-Gig in this post. Way to go on getting your home wired, by the way!
Thank you for all the helpful information around your site.
Unfortunately I am still lost on which option to go for.
We are in at 4 floor townhouse with the fiber internet (1000 mbps) coming in at ground level, which is connected to the router supplied by the internet provider (an Icotera i4850-00), which is not possible to put in bridge mode. From there, I have direct wired connections from the ground floor to almost every room in the house. At present, I have wired the icotera directly to each satellite in an old Eero mesh system (one wired satellite in the 1st, 2nd and 3rd floor respectively). From the satellite in the 1st floor I have connected the TV also by cable.
My problem is the wifi and the wired TV loose internet connection very often, which is driving us nuts.
I believe we need 3 satellites to cover our house, and I prefer to wire the TV in the 1st floor.
I would also prefer to use power over ethernet.
1. Which system should I choose? (It seems the Asus ZenWiFi AX XT8 AX6600 is a good choice, but can I connect 3 of those and do they work with PoE)?
2. Should I replace the provided router Icotera i4850 with the router unit of the new system or run cables from the Icotera to router unit of a new system and then wired from there to the satellites?
3. How and where in the line do I set up the PoE injector ?
Really hope you can give some guidance..
1. Check out this post on picking an AiMesh combo.
2. Check out this post on using multiple routers.
3. Check out this post on PoE.
I hired a telecommications pro to wire my home, patch panel and all. I opted for Cat 6a cable but I realized the installer installed a Cat6 patch panel. Will it make much difference? My speeds are now are excellent but perhaps they could have been even better if the panel was Cat6a rated?
Thanks Dong, you the best!
For your case, Marc, that’d make zero difference, no matter how you try. Also, the patch panel is easy to replace and the difference between CAT6 and 6a is in the cabling, not the terminals. You’re in a good place.
I live in a 3000 sq ft house with a slab foundation and have an Asus XT8 mesh system (thanks for the recommendation Dong!) The mesh system gives me great wireless coverage right now for 11 devices (I have 400 mps service), so I have two questions:
1. Should I even bother with the hassle of ethernet wiring? I think I would need to bring the cable up from the router and then through the attic and then down to the node to make this happen.
2. Assuming the answer to the above is “heck, yeah!” I’m guessing the Cat 7 cable I would use should be connected to any LAN port of the router, yes? However, which node port should be connected with the cable? WAN or LAN?
Thanks for your great site!
1. Not really if it’s working well right now. The XT8 is tuned for wireless (as most tri-band sets). Using wired backhaul is fine with it, but major firmware might break the mesh (because developers make the firmware assuming that folks use the wireless configuration). Then you need to wait for a minor firmware release to fix that.
2. CAT5e is fine but it doesn’t hurt to go with a higher grade. More here. Use the WAN port on the node. More here.
Moved into my home 10+ years ago and learned it was already wired with ethernet – 15 lines all home-run to a point in the garage. But I learned a year later that it is all Cat 5, not 5e or 6.
Currently I have Gigabit internet and see 800 down/900 up. I am trying to set up a Wifi 5 mesh network for the first time, but would also like to look ahead to upgrading to Wifi 6e mesh network in 2022 or 2023.
Should the speed limitations of Cat 5 wiring in my home be a concern as I prepare to set up a mesh network with a wired backhaul for a Wifi 5 router (Asus RT-AC88u or Netgear Orbi) and 2 or 3 mesh nodes/satellites?
No, Tony. 10Gbps is plenty for decades to come.
Hi Dong, isn’t Cat 5 officially intended/supported up to 1000Base-T only ? For 2.5G Ethernet you’d need Cat 5e – and then Cat 6 or better for 10GBase-T ? Speeds higher than ones in the official spec might work on lower-spec-cable, especially on shorter distances and when there is less interference and crosstalk from other cables – but that’s just “might” ? Then commenting on Tony’s question I would say trying to use existing cables, with new termination – would likely make sense in a home user scenario, if only to save time and effort needed to lay new wiring – but would require some testing, also for CRC errors etc. Just my 5c 😉
CAT5 is generally 100Mbps, Dobry, some cable *might* be able to handle 1Gbps. CAT5E sure can do 10Gbps easily, I’ve been using that. More here. And yes your suggestion makes sense.
Alright, looks that we agree. If you meant “they will likely work in real life” then this is what I meant too. I was more referring to the standards which define what speed each of the cable categories must support, over the rated max distance – in order to be compliant with it’s category rating. And because the cable manufacturers need to provide some margin – so then often cables actually work also with higher speeds than those for which they were officially rated. Cheers !
Thank you Dong. I have read this right through.
1. Running cat6 from living room (router is here) to office for my Mac
2.Want to put face plate with two jacks in the living room wall and the same type in the office (only need 1 cable but it seems most say run an extra cable in case)
3.Then run short cable from router to jack and short cable on office from jack to Mac
4.It seems difficult to buy bulk cat6, but best buy has Lan cable with connectors, can I cut those off and add RJ45 connectors to same cable?
Then you should already have ALL the answers, Labren.
1. Sure, CAT5e is fine too.
2. Yes, remember one cable per jack (each end). You can’t split the cable the way you do a phone line.
3. Yes, just like you’d use any device with a wall network port.
4. Yes, I mentioned that specifically in the post. Make sure you use CAT6 end bits on a CAT6 cable.
I was having trouble getting internet in the basement and my current WiFi router setup and extender just doesn’t cut it so I was about to buy an expensive WiFi mesh system and read this article and it motivated me to run CAT 6 cable to the basement. Anyways, I bought the tools your recommended, ran the wire, and everything now works great in the basement with a two router setup(one in basement connected to the one upstairs by CAT 6 cable).
Great article Dong! I also really like abundant use of pictures in this article which makes the process so much easier to follow.
Awesome, Joe! Thanks for sharing! 🙂
How do you quickly identify which Cat5E cable connects to which room? We have Cat5E already run in the house, but it terminates in RJ-11 ports, so I’m trying to replace the terminations with Cat5E ones. The problem is, in the basement it’s just a bunch of unlabeled Cat5E cables without connector pins and I don’t need/want to attach them all to a jack.
You can get an inexpensive toner. That’s what I had to do as I bought one of those kits that have the numbered ends so that I would know which room had which but there were no RJ11 connectors.
Instead I just used an inexpensive toner to determine where each one terminated. The side that generated the tone plugged into the RJ11 jack and the I used the other end where the cables were loose. I could have also just gone ahead and changed the the RJ11 jacks to RJ45 and then used the kit I had.
There’s no quick way to do that. You need a test kit and another person to help you. You then can check one cable after another.
Dong: re modems, if I set up an AiMesh w/ wired backhaul (2 AX58U routers), what about the modem (Xfinity); does that play any meaningful role in establishing a reliable, good system? If so,
– Thoughts re brand/model? Not all work with Xfinity of course.
– Hard wire or wi-fi connection from router to modem? Does it matter?
You must connect a router to a modem via a network cable, Randy. There’s no other way. More on modem here. Also, check out this post on how you can get your own modem using Xfinity.
Thanks for your wonderful reviews, posts and tips, Dong. Appreciate the insights!
I moved into a 4-level, 2000SF townhome and am using a TP-Link Deco M5 mesh with generally decent but certainly mixed results. I’ve had to use 4 nodes: basic modem/router +1 M5 on basement/level 1, and one M5 on levels 2-4. A daisy-chain style setup is the only choice given cable/internet comes in to the basement/level 1, and then it’s in a closet. So that, plus multiple floors – in spite of an overall small footprint – seem to be challenges, though I’ve never experimented with a higher-end modem/router or other mesh units (M9 didn’t exist when I installed).
It’s time for a faster, more consistent system. I am following your lead and exploring a wired AX system: the initial owner installed a complete home wired system/board (10+ years ago – so I need to confirm exactly what I have). Here are my questions:
1. On the presumption that it is at least CAT5 am I correct that all I’d need to do is swap out the current modem/router in the basement/level 1 for a WiFi6 unit, and then hardwire that to an additional WiFi 6 router(s) on the other levels (I’m thinking first trying just one additional router on level 3)?
2. Sounds like you’d still recommend one of the Asus dual-band AX routers in this instance (RT-AX88U, AZ89X, AX3000) and skipping the tri-band, wireless mesh systems?
3. If I do hav the ability to go wired/wired backhaul, is it really as simple as buying 2-3 new AX routers, connecting them, and then simply connecting all our devices wirelessly to the routers?
Many thanks, Dong!
Get a bunch of dual-band AiMesh routers (any of those you mentioned or a mix of them will do) and swap them out with the TP-Link hardware, Randy. Daisy-chaining is fine with wired backhaul. You will need to set up your network from scratch but it’ll work much better.
I’ve been poking around the site a bit trying to find the right place to ask this question. Based on some old columns of yours (I thought here, but maybe on CNET back in the old days) I wired my a fews house using Actiontec Moca adapters/wifi access points to run from my upstairs router to the downstairs family areas. Well with everyone at home we’ve got Zooms running all the time and the wifi doesn’t reach the porch, so I’m looking to up my game.
I don’t know whether I should try and add another moca adaptor/wifi access point near the porch. Upgrade my existing router or scrap everything and get a mesh system. Right now having the entertainment center hard wired for streaming is really nice.
I’d say it’s time to step up the game and wire your home with real network cable, K. But if you still want to stay with MoCA, it’s good to change the adapters into newer standard that Gigabit-capable, like this one: https://amzn.to/2D9pzfM
Doing. Your a total idiot or really smart. I wonder how much money your making off all the just right placed ads throughout the article.
As for your article, did you watch a few YouTube videos to figure it out? If people do it your way, they’ll have slower speeds than with their wifi. With your suggestions, I promise!
How would they get slower speeds? Can you elaborate? As for your questions, I’d say I’m more comfortable in my own skin than you can ever imagine. 🙂
I can’t believe you actually bothered responding to that totally disrespectful comment of that idiot, Dong. But that says a lot about you, too. Have a great day! Love your website. Thanks for the honest and useful information!
He did give me a choice of “smart”, so maybe he had a point there, Gail. It’s all good. I’m happy to have any real input, as opposed to the crazy amount of spams I have to go through daily. 🙂 And you’re welcome!
Any tips on running cable in a house with completely finished basement (and no accessible attic? Can cables be run in HVAC ducts, and if so, how does one manage to get the cable fished through all the turns?
Jeff, I have the same type of basement. I just ran the cable loose under the floor and drill a couple of holes on the floor itself. I did use outdoor cables for this part.